So were you wondering about the title of Numbers, what could this book be about? I guess chapters one and two made you fear that the book stay true to its title for the next 36 chapters! Well, don’t worry. There is a numbering and census of God’s people but it is mixed in with much more.
Most censuses done were for military purpose, but there were other reasons as well, like land distribution in chapter 26. This census is the first formal census recorded in the Bible…the next one will come 38 years later (ch 26). The total numbers for the people was 603,550, and remember that it only included the men over 20, so we are talking well over 2 million people!
Now I don’t mean to burst your bubble about these numbers, but most biblical scholars agree that these numbers are an exaggeration by a multiplier of 10! They have all kinds of fancy reasons they spell out. It is true that it seems impossible for 2 million people to survive in the desert for 40 years and to be sacred of any people group in the land of canna since the total population was only 900,000! Not to mention the amount of sacrifices and Tabernacle ministry a population like that would require. The tabernacle would seem very under sized. If you hold to this interpretation, that means there were 60,000 men and a total population of around 200,000 people. You decide…
This blog was originally written by Pastor Doug Bartel of Hillcrest Church, starting in Spring 2009. Keep that in mind if you read anything that doesn't quite add up to the time of year.