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Numbers Bible Study Notes

Overview of the Book of Number

The book of Numbers takes it name from two censuses conducted during the period of the Exodus. Numbers covers the period from Sinai, beginning about the end of the first year after leaving Egypt, to the end of the period of wandering, roughly forty years later.

Numbers covers four basic eras during the years of wandering in the wilderness:
• The final days of the encampment at Sinai
• Sinai to Kadesh-barne
• Kadesh-barnea to the Plains of Moab
• The last encampment at Moab

However, most of the book is concerned with events in the last year of the wandering, with seventeen of twenty-six chapters being devoted to the final year in the wilderness. Consequently, little is know about Israel’s wandering in the wilderness.

Lack of faith and the need for a new generation to emerge are among the reasons the Israelites spent so much time in the wilderness before being permitted to enter the Promised Land. They learned that lack of faith lead to the worst of consequences, as did disobedience.

During the period of wandering the Israelites were dependants daily on the Lord to provide for them. The survived because the Lord literally gave them manna, their daily bread. They same was true of water. The lesson being taught was to depend on the Lord, both temporally and spiritually.

During this period of wandering, the Israelites were trained in using the institutions they would need in the Promised Land. They learned to be lead by a prophet and to be governed by the Lord’s law. The law they learned would ultimately protect them from assimilation by other peoples both within the land of Canaan and when exiled from Palestine.

During this period a new generation arose. Expect for Joshua and Caleb all those at Kadesh-barna over age twenty passed away. This generation, finally, was willing to enter the Promised Land. Numerically, their numbers were about the same when they entered Canaan as when they left Egypt. But it was a more obedient, better prepared people who entered Canaan than left Egypt.

Numbers Bible Study Tool:  Outline of the Book of Numbers

I. The Last Days at Sinai. (Chapters 1:1—10:10.)
A. The Camp of Judah
1. Judah                       74,000
2. Issachar                   54,000
3. Zebulun                  57,400             186,400
B. The Camp of Ruben
1. Reuben                    46,500
2. Simeon                     59,300
3. Gad                          45,650               151,450
C. The Camp of Ephraim
1. Ephraim                40,500
2. Manasseh               32,200
3. Benjamin               35,400              108,100
D. Camp of Dan
1. Dan                           62,700
2. Asher                       41,500
3. Naphtali                53,400               157,600
TOTAL                                                                           603,550
Note: The Levites were not numbered.

II. The Levites. (Chapter 3-4.)
A. The Levites to be responsible for religious duties.
B. The Levites to be responsible for the tabernacle.

III. Laws Given.. (Chapters 5-6.)
Segregation of lepers.
B. Laws regarding trespassing and adultery.
C. Law for the Nazarites.
D. Aaronic Blessing.

IV. Closing Events and Instruction Given at Sinai. (Chapters 7:1—10:10.)
A. Dedication of the altar and 12 days of offerings.
B. Consecration of the Levities.
C. Instance where the Passover was defiled.
D. The tabernacle over by a cloud, the “guiding pillar.”

V. From Sinai to Kadesh-barnea. (Chapters 10:11—14:57.)
A. The journey to Kadesh-barnea. (Chapters 10:1—12:8.)
1. The order of the march.
2. The people want food of flesh. They are punished.
3. The appointment of 70 elders to help Moses.
4. Quail.
5. Plague.
6. Mutiny by Aaron and Miriam. Miriam cursed with leprosy.
7. Moses, a meek man, accepted by the Lord.
8. Events in the wilderness of Paran.
B. The Camp at Kadesh-barnea. (Chapters 13-14.)
1. Twelve spies sent into the Land of Canaan.
2. The report: The majority is afraid of the Canaanites while Joshua and Caleb optimistic.
C. Israel punished through the Amalekites.

VI. Thirty-seven Years of Wandering in the Wilderness. (Chapters 15-19.)
A. Laws Given.
1. Laws given regarding people in Canaan. (Chapter 15.)
2. Violation of the Sabbath punished.
3. Blue fringe for garments.
B. Rebellion and punishment. (Chapters 16-17)
1. Korah, Dathan and Abiram lead revolt
2. Their complaint against Moses.
3. Leaders destroyed and people punished by plague.
4. Budding of Aaron’s rod indicating divine approval.
C. Additional Legislations. (Chapters 18-19)
1. Duties of the Priests and Levites.
2. Portion the Priests and Levites to receive.
3. Laws governing water of separation.

VII. The Last Year of Wandering. (Chapters 20-36.)
A. The Return to Kadesh. (Chapter 20:1—21:35.)
1. Death of Miriam.
2. Water from the rock.
3. Moses and Aaron punished. Not to enter Promised Land.
4. Malicious feelings towards the Edomites.
B. At Mount Hor. (Chapters 20:22—29:40)
1. Death of Aaron.
2. Eleazar, succeeds Aaron, his father.
C. Form Mount Hor to Moab. (Chapter 21.)
1. Canaanites defeated. (Israel’s second victory.)
2. Brazen serpent given to heal those bitten by the fiery serpents.
3. Defeat of the Amorites and Og, kind of Bashan.

VII. Camped on the Plains of Moab. (Chapters 22-36.)
Palestine is across the Jordan River.
The fear of Balak, king of Moab.
C. Balaam, his prophecy and sin.
D. Idolatry and lust punished among the Israelites.
E. The second numbering of Israel.
1. Judah                             76,500
2. Issachar                         64,300
3. Zebulun                         60,500
4. Reuben                           43,730
5. Simeon                            22,200
6. Gad                                  40,500
7. Ephraim                         32,500
8. Manasseh                       52,700
9. Benjamin                       45,600
10. Dan                                64,400
11. Asher                            53,400
12. Naphtali                     45,400
TOTAL                                                            601,730
F. Inheritance of daughters.
G. Laws governing offerings and feasts. (Chapters 28-30.)
H. Midianites defeated. Inheritance of Reuben and Gad. (Chapters 31-31.)
I. Commandment to expel the idolatrous peoples of Canaan.
J. The 48 cities assigned to the Levites. (Chapter 35.)

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