Ch 1 & 2     The encampments and numbering

Ch 3           The service of the tabernacle by the Levites

Ch 4           The continual service commencing age 30 

Ch 5           The Law of Jealousy

Ch 6           The Nazarite Vow

Ch 7           The dedication of the Tabernacle

Ch 8           The Levites separated and cleansed for service

Ch 10          The setting forth of the 4 camps

Ch 14           Faithless generation condemned to die in the wilderness - except Caleb and Joshua

Ch 18           Levites, Tithes, and the service of the tabernacle

Ch 19           Ashes of the Red Heifer and the water of separation

Ch 22-24    Balaam the waster of the people

Ch 26         The land divided by lot among the tribes

The Hebrew title appears in the first verse: Bemidbar, "In the wilderness." The Septuagint uses the Greek "Arithmos," the Latin "Numera." The book is called in English "Numbers" from the two numberings: of those who came out of Egypt (ch. 1) and of those who entered the Land (ch. 26).  

The theme of the book is "Behold the Goodness and Severity of God" (Rom. 11:22).

 The book provides a warning against presumption (1 Cor. 10:1-12), as well as against unbelief and lack of faith (Heb. 3:19; 4:6). Such dangers are evident in the last days, and a salutary warning in the Book of Numbers is most appropriate. So the key thought is the need for discipline. The called are separated to service, and must discipline themselves to that end. It is necessary to implement faith in action. In the wilderness of probation (Rev. 17:3), the holy principles taught by sacrifice (Leviticus), are to be revealed in the activities of daily life (Numbers). The type must become the antitype; the principles must be fulfilled in actions. - GEM, Logos.

We never tire of the fresh air and the beautiful light, or grow weary of the blue sky or the face of nature. Wholesome food is always acceptable to a healthy palate. There is something in the adaptations of things that makes these things perennial in their power to satisfy. So it is with the things of the Spirit of God to the new man formed within us by the Truth. They are always fresh and sweet to the taste.

They are always beautiful and holy and strengthening. They never grow stale or pall upon the spirits. They are adapted to our highest desires. They alone can supply the demand of our ultimate aspirations. This is true of the mental relations of this mortal state. How much more must it be true of the Spirit state in which all earthly affinities will have been absorbed in the wonderful physical transmutation which changes this corruptible and mortal body into the incorruptible and immortal.

For this emancipation we are longing. For it we are preparing. We would not know how to prepare if the Spirit of God had not instructed us in the Word written under its inspiration. With this Word in our hands and hearts, we do know...

In Numbers, we have the organization of the camp of Israel in the wilderness. It might seem at first as if this had no interest or use for us-a thing of the past-an inherently transient thing, which having answered its purpose during Israel's passage from Egypt to the promised land, could be of no possible service to those who came after. This must be a wrong thought in view of the elaborate record it has received among those "whatsoever things" which have been "written for our learning."

That it is a wrong thought we discover when we apply our minds to the subject itself. The mere circumstance of a large travelling body of people being arranged by divine direction would impart to that arrangement a supreme interest - as a thing to study - a thing certain to be characterised by ingenuity and wisdom - a thing to be delighted in by those who admire the works of God, and take pleasure in seeking them out. But when, in addition to this, we find that a typical significance was stamped upon all these arrangements, in foreshadowing of God's ultimate will concerning man, it is manifest that a subject of great depth and richness is opened out to the mind in these Mosaic specifications.

On the first head, we may note the perfect symmetry and convenience of all the arrangements. There was a system observed throughout. The whole congregation was sub-divided into tribes, consisting of descendants respectively of the twelve sons of Jacob. These tribes were grouped in three's, so as to make four camps of three tribes each, each camp having its own standard, the lion, the man, the ox, and the eagle. The camps were named after the leading tribe in each camp-Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan.

The four camps were arranged in a square around the tabernacle in the centre-the camp of Judah forming the east side, the camp of Reuben the south, the camp of Ephraim the west, and the camp of Dan the north. Inside these four camps, lying between them and the tabernacle in the centre, were four minor camps, consisting of the tribe of Levi, separated and sanctified for the priestly service in four sections, according to the sons of Levi-Gershon, Kohath, and Merari-the family of Moses and Aaron forming the fourth.

The order of march was accommodated to these divisions. When the time arrived to strike their tents, Aaron's sons blew an alarm on silver trumpets (made for the purpose). At this signal, the camp on the east (consisting of the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon) broke up and got on the march. At the same time, the Levites were getting the tabernacle down in the order of their service; and first went the Merarites with the sockets, pillars and boards, and then the Gershonites with the curtains, cords, and coverings.

When these had marched, another alarm on the trumpets summoned the south camp, the camp of Reuben, which marched, then marched the Kohathites, bearing the ark, the altars and holy vessels, for which, when the march ended, the Gershonites and Merarites had got the tabernacle erected in readiness. Next a blast of the trumpets brought forward the west and then the north camp, all halting in the same order at the end of their journey, and pitching in the original form of a square round the tabernacle.

No better arrangement could be imagined for the guidance of an immense body of people on the march. It bears the mark of divine wisdom on the face of it. But consider the spiritual significance which it yields. Here is a divine organization of human life in a national capacity; and what is its most conspicuous feature? The tabernacle of the divine presence in the midst-GOD IN THE CENTRE-the pivot upon which the whole system turns-the source of all direction and law. How great a contrast is this to human systems!

How complete the lesson that human life can never be and will never be what it ought to be until God's authority in visible administration is the heart and kernel of human society upon earth. It is nothing less than the Kingdom of God in miniature. Christ enthroned at Jerusalem, and ruling by the hands of his own immortal friends in all the earth, will soon establish the Father's name as the controlling power of human life-a fertilising and ennobling ideal that will generate joy and beauty everywhere. The antitypical tabernacle of God will thus be with men as the typical was with Israel; and they shall be His people, as Israel was; and, what Israel did not experience, God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and at last, there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying.

We look at the perfect order extending to the smallest minutiae of the Mosaic encampment, and we may conclude with certainty that the same principle of fitness and method will be carried out in the arrangement of the heavenly encampment in the Age to come. The saints will be a multitude that no man can number, but everyone will have his place and his work. There will be no loose or unallotted parts in the system-no surplusage-no misfits-no waste power-no confusion. Everything will fit perfectly. We see the salient points of this exactness of order when we see the Holy Land, the Lord's portion (Zech. 2:10); Jerusalem the Lord's throne (Jer. 3:17); Jesus the occupant of the throne (Luke 1:32); the twelve apostles, heads of the twelve tribes under him (Mat. 19:28); and the saints exercising dominion according to "their works" (Rev. 2:26; 22:12; Luke 19:16-17).

These features stand out like the spires and towers of a city seen from a distance. We cannot make out the details, but we know when we behold a city from a distance that the details of streets and houses are there, and that when we get to the city, we shall find out these details down to the very persons and their affairs. So we know from these indications of the leading features of the Kingdom, considered in the light of the perfect organization of the details of the Mosaic camp, that when we get there, we shall find everything arranged in a perfect system of order and fitness.

Then as we look at the camp in the wilderness, we find it a prophecy. It tells us the connection in which the goodness of God is to be manifested on the earth. The divine encampment which we see is a camp composed of the twelve tribes of Israel. So it was under the Law, and so under the gospel when the Gentiles were invited to become Jews. So it was at the beginning, and so at the end when the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are inscribed on the gates of new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12). So it has always been in the history of the earth; so it always will be. The work of God is inseparably associated with the race of Israel, "to whom pertaineth the adoption and the glory and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises"

(Rom. 9:4). In the past, the kingdom of Israel was the Kingdom of God (2 Chr. 13:8); and in the future, the Kingdom of God will be the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6; Micah 4:8; Isa. 60:14). First, the natural and then the spiritual, -this is the rule both of God's political work, and of His individual work. All are not Israel that are of Israel, still, there has always been throughout their generations, a remnant according to the election of grace, and these will in the end be all gathered in one glorious polity of righteousness, peace, strength, wealth, honour, life and joy everlasting-God in their midst forever, and the congregation wholly sacrificed to Him.

All this and much more is involved in the picture displayed to the mind's eye as we read the full particulars given us in Numbers of the organization of Israel under Moses as they came out of the wilderness.


The book of Numbers does not supply a true sequential chronological

order. For example, though it commences at "the first day of

the second month of the second year" (Num. 1:1), the celebration of

the Passover (Num. 9:4) actually took place on the 14th day of the

first month; and the instructions for it were given prior to that (Num.

9:1). The appointment of Levites (Num. 3:6-8), the instructions

regarding the lighting of the lamps and so forth (Num. 8:1-4)

obviously all took place before the celebration of the Passover, and

therefore before the period set down at the opening of the book. This

suggests that Numbers comprises a careful selection of subjects

designed to establish certain principles of spiritual importance, rather

than providing a complete history of events throughout the wilderness



11th mth - Deut. 1:3) a period of 38 years

9 mths from 1st day 2nd mth 2nd year (Num.

1:1) to 1st day 11th mth, 40th year (Deut. 1:3)

= 38 years 9 months. 38 9 mths.

Period from Creation to end Numbers 2552 10 mths

The time covered by the book is 38 years nine months (Deut. 1:3):

Dedication of the Tabernacle with the offering of the princes (7:1-2), and

the descent of the cloud (9:15) on the first day of Abib in year 2.

The second Passover (9:5) 14th day of Abib in year 2

The census at Sinai (1:1) 1st day of second month in year 2

The supplementary Passover (9:11) 14th day of Zif

The commencement of the march (10:11) 20th day of Zif.

The death of Miriam (day not given - 20:1) 1st month of 40th yr.

The death of Aaron (Ch. 33:38; 20:28) 1st day of Ab (5th mth) of 40th


Address of Moses - 1st day 11th month of 40th year (Deut. 1:3) a total

period of 38 years 9 months (cp. Num. 1:1 with Deut. 1:3).

The last of the old generation perished at the brook Zered after thirty-

eight years of aimless wandering. See Deut. 2:13-15.

(There were forty years from Exodus to death Moses: 2513 + 40 = 2553).



(Behold the goodness and severity of God)


1. Census of Warriors - Ch. 1:1-54

A census to be taken of those from 20 yrs upwards vv.1-3

The Twelve Princes over the Tribes vv.4-16

Only True Israelites Numbered w.17-43

General Summary vv.44-46

Levites Exempted from War vv.47-54

2. Order of Worshippers - Ch. 2:1-34

The Eastern Encampment under Judah vv.1-9

The Southern Encampment under Reuben vv.10-16

The Tabernacle in the Centre v.17

The Western Encampment under Ephraim vv.18-24

The Northern Encampment under Dan vv.25-31

General Summary


3. Service of Workers - Ch. 3:1-4:49

Aaron's Family Appointed to the Priesthood vv.1-4

The Ministry of the Levites Defined vv.5-10

The Levites Replace the Firstborn vv.11-13

Levites Numbered from One Month Upwards vv. 14-16

The Three Families of Levites vv.17-20

Number and Service of Gershonites vv.21.-26

Number and Service of Kohathites vv.27-31



Eleazar to Supervise Service of Levites v.32

Number and Service of Merarites vv.33-37

Moses and Aaronites at East of Camp v38

Total Number of Levites v.39

Firstborn Numbered w.40-43

Redemption of the Surplus of Firstborn vv.44-51

Period of Kohathites' Service Ch. 4:1-4

Kohathites' Service in transporting Tabernacle w.5-15

Eleazar's Service v.16

Special Dispensation for Kohathites w.17-20

Period of Gershonites' Service w.21-23

Gershonites' service in transporting Tabernacle vv.24-28

Period of Merarites'Service w.29-30

Merarites' Service in Transporting Tabernacle w.31-33

Number of Kohathites vv.34-37

Number of Gershonites w38-41

Number of Merarites w.42-45

Total Number of Levites vv.46-49

4. The Camp Cleansed From Defilement - Ch. 5:1-31

The Unclean Excluded (Purity Essential) w.1-4

Laws of Recompense and Offerings (Honesty Essential) w.5-10

The Trial of Jealousy (Exclusiveness in Worship Essential) w.11-31

5. Separated to Yahweb - Ch. 6:1-27

The Nazarite Vow w.1-21

The Formula of Priestly Benediction vv.22-27

6. Co-operating with Yahweb - Ch. 7:1-88

The Combined Freewill Offering of the Princes Accepted w.1-9

Instructions concerning the Altar Offerings of the Princes w. 10-11

Nahshon of Judah Offers the 1st Day w.12-17

Nethaneel of Issachar Offers the 2nd Day ;VV.18-23

Eliab of Zebulun Offers the 3rd Day vv.24-29

Elizur of Reuben Offers the 4th Day vv.30-35

Shelumiel of Simeon Offers the 5th Day. w.36-41

Eliasaph of Gad Offers the 6th day vv.42-47

Elishama of Ephraim Offers the 7th Day vv.48-53

Gamaliel of Manasseh Offers the 8th Day vv.54-59

Abidan of Benjamin Offers the 9th Day vv.60-65

Ahiezer of Dan Offers the 10th Day vv.66-71

Pagiel of Asher Offers the 11th Day vv.72-77

Ahira of Naphtali Offers the 12th Day w.78-83

General Summary vv.84-88

7. Yahweh With His People - Ch. 7:89-10:10

The Voice in the Most Holy v.89

The Light in the Holy Ch. 8:1-4

The Levites Cleansed and Consecrated for Service in the Court ..w.5-22

The Duty and Age of Levites in Service Defined w.23-26

The Second Passover Ch. 9:1-5

The Supplementary Passover vv.6-14

The Ever-present Cloud (Yahweh's guiding Presence) w.15-23

Divine Control By the Silver Trumpets Ch. 10:1-10


1. Journeying At Yahweh's Command - Ch. 10:11-36

The Departure vv. 11-13

The Standard of Judah and His Company vv.14-17

The Standard of Reuben and His Company vv.18-21

The Standard of Ephraim and His Company vv.22-24

The Standard of Dan and His Company vv.25-28

Hobab Invited to Join Israel vv.29-32



The Overshadowing Presence of Yahweh



Murmuring and Discontent - Ch. 11:1-12:16

Complaints at Taberah w.1-3

Murmuring by the Mixed Multitude w.4-9

Moses Discouraged w. 10-15

Seventy Elders Appointed to Assist Moses w.16-17

The People are Promised Flesh w.18-23

The Spirit given to the Elders w.24-30

Quails from Heaven vv.31-32

The Graves of the Greedy vv.33-35

Dissension Among the Leaders Ch.l2:l-3

Moses Vindicated w.4-9

Miriam's Leprosy w.10-16


Lack of Faith and Rejection - Ch. 13:14-45

Spies Selected < w.1-16

Moses Instructs Them vv. 17-20

The Expedition vv.21-25

The Report vv.26-33

Dismay and Faithlessness of the People Ch. 14:1-5

The Exhortation of Caleb & Joshua Rejected w.6-10

Yahweh Provoked to Anger vv.11-12

Intercession of Moses vv. 13-19

The Nation Forgiven but Criminals Condemned w.20-25

Sentenced to Hopeless Wandering: Spies Destroyed w.26-38

Further Rebellion; Further Punishment w.39-45


Instructions for the Next Generation - Ch. 15:1-41

Individual Offerings to be Resumed (vv. 1-29)


The Law of Offerings vv.1-16

b. The Law of Firstfruits


c. Ignorance to be Atoned vv.22-29

The Presumptuous Sinner to be Destroyed vv.30-31

The Sabbath-breaker to be Stoned (Example of Presumptuous sin) vv.32-36Distinguishing Fringes to be Worn (Reminder of the Law) vv.37-41

5. Revolt Against Yahweh's Appointments - Ch. 16-19

Rebellion of Korah and His Confederates & Its Suppression 16:1-50

Endorsement of Aaron's Appointment by the Budding Rod .Ch. 17:1-13

Privileges of the Priests Reaffirmed Ch. 18:1-32

Provision of the Sacrifice of the Red Heifer against the taint of


Ch. 19:1-22



The Fortieth Year: From Kadesh to Hor - Ch. 20:1-21:3

Death of Miriam v.l

Moses Provoked at the Waters of Strife w.2-13

Edom's Insolence: Passage Refused vv.14-21

At Hor: Death of Aaron w.22-29


To Moab via Ezion-Geber - Ch. 21:1-22:1

Defeat at Arad: Vengeance Promised Ch. 21:1-3

The Fiery Serpents and Brazen Serpent : w.4-9

On to the Border of Moab w.10-13

The Song of Triumph at Arnon vv.14-15

The Joyful Song of the Well w.16-20

Decisive Defeat of Sihon of the Amorites vv.21-32

Defeat of Og, King of Bashan vv.33-35

Encampment on the Plains of Moab Ch. 22:1


Balaam's Curse Turned Into A Blessing - Ch. 22:2-25:18

Moab and Midian Join in Alliance Against Israel vv.2-4



The Help of Balaam the Soothsayer Sought w.5-7

Yahweh Refuses Balaam Permission to Accept w.8-14

Further Rewards Offered: Balaam accepts vv.15-21

The Angel and the Ass vv.22-35

A State Welcome Granted Balaam vv.36-38

Offerings to Baal at Kirjath-Huzoth w. 39-41

Balaam Views the Camp of Israel Ch. 23:1-6

First Parable: Israel Immune from the Curse of Man vv.7-10

Balak's Anger and Disappointment vv.11-13

Second Parable at Zophim: Yahweh's Purpose With Israel Is

Immutable vv.14-24

Balak's Increasing Irritability vv.25-28

Balaam at the Sanctuary of Peor w.29-30

Third Parable: Israel's Future Glory, Triumph and Strength...Ch. 24:1-9Balak's Anger w. 10-14

Fourth Parable: Prophecy Of The Latter Days vv.15-24

Balaam Makes Ready to Leave v.25

Balaam's Insidious Counsel to Balak Israel Seduced Ch. 25:1-6

Phinehas Vindicates Yahweh's Honour w.7-9

Phinehas Granted an Eternal Covenant of Peace vv. 10-15

Israel Ordered to War Against the Midianites w. 16-18

4. Preparations to Enter The Land - Ch. 26:1-36:13

A Second Census w.1-51

Land Inheritances to be granted by lot w.52-56

Second census of Levites w.57-62

Summary: An Entirely New Generation w.63-65

Law of Inheritances Clarified Ch. 27:1-11

Moses told of his impending Death w.12-14

Joshua Appointed as Moses' Successor w.15-23

Re-instruction Concerning Offerings - Ch. 28,29

a. Daily Offerings w.1-8

b. Sabbath Offerings w.9-10

c. Monthly Offerings vv.11-15

d. Passover Offerings w.16-25

e. Harvest Offerings vv.26-31

f. New Year Offerings Ch. 29:1-6

g. Atonement Offerings w.7-11

h. Tabernacle Offerings vv.12-40

Laws of Vows - Ch. 30

a. A Man's Vow must stand w.1-2

b. A Father can Annul a Daughter's Vow vv.3-5

c. A Husband can Annul a Wife's Vow w.6-8

d. All other Vows shall Stand w.9-16

Yahweh's Vengeance On Midian - Ch. 31

a. The Army Selected vv.1-6

b. The Battle: Victory won but Instructions Ignored ....w.7-12

c. Moses' Anger: Judicial Punishment vv.13-18

d. Ceremonial Purification of the Army returned from slaying w. 19-20

e. Ceremonial Purification of things Taken in Battle w.21-24

f. Distributing the Prey vv.25-47

g. The Army's Offering to Yahweh vv.48-54

Conquered Territory Occupied by 2Vi Tribes - Ch. 32

a. Request of Reuben & Gad to Settle East of Jordan vv.1-5

b. Expostulation of Moses vv.6-15

c. Assurances of the Tribes vv.16-19

d. Moses' Stipulation vv.20-24

e. Conditions Accepted vv.25-27

f. The Nation Notified vv.28-33



Gad's Portion vv.34-36


. Reuben's Portion. vv.37-38

i. Manasseh's Portion vv.39-42

Review Of the Journeyings - Ch. 33

a. 1st Stage: From Egypt to Sinai vv.1-15

b. 2nd Stage: From Sinai to Kadesh vv.16-17

c. 3rd Stage: 38 yrs Wandering - Kadesh to Kadesh vv.18-36

d. 4th Stage: From Kadesh to Moab vv.37-49

Final Instruction and Exhortation on the Plain of Moab w.50-56

The Borders of the Land - Ch. 34

a. South Border vv.1-5

b. West Border v.6

c. North Border w.7-9

d. East Border , vv.10-13

e. Transjordan Area :.* vv.14-15

f. Leaders to Divide the Land by Lot w.16-29

Appointment of Levitical Cities & Cities of Refuge - Ch. 35

a. Cities for Levites w. 1-3

b. Description of the Type of City Required w.4-5

c. Six Cities of Refuge Appointed vv.6-8

d. Purpose of the Cities of Refuge vv.9-15

e. Murder Defined vv. 16-21

f. Manslaughter Defined .*... vv.22-25

g. Warning Against Refugees Leaving the City vv.26-29

n. More Than One Witness Required for a murder conviction v.30

i. No Atonement for a Murderer vv.31-34

Legislation Regarding Inheritances & Marriage of Heiresses - Ch. 36

a. Objections to the Existing Law w.1-4

b. Limitation of Partners to a Marriage w.5-9

c. Conditions Accepted w.10-13

With this Analysis before us, we can see that the Book of

Numbers can be briefly epitomised in three sections:


.. The old generation (1-14}

*.. The transition era (15-20)


3. The new generation (21-36)

In similar manner, the journeyings can be divided into three


1. Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea (1-14)

2. The wilderness wandering (15-20)

3. Kadesh to Moab (21-36)

Again, in the Book of Numbers there are:

Two generations (1-14; 21-36)

Two numberings (1-4; 26-27)

Two journeyings (10-14; 21-27)

Two instructings (5-9; 28-36)