Monday, July 2, 2012

The Reason For The Census

Numbers 26:52-64

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.  To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.  Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.  According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.” (Numbers 26:52-56) 

The land was to be divided up among the various tribes, with each family of each tribe receiving an adequate piece of property.  The census would determine how large an area each family received, based on the number of children, although which piece each family received was to be determined by lot to prevent any appearance of unfairness.

“And these are they that were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites: of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites: of Merari, the family of the Merarites.  These are the families of the Levites: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korathites.” (Numbers 26:57-58a) 

The Levites did not receive a country of their own but were given cities within each of the other tribes.  Levi himself had three sons, Gershon, Merari, and Kohath.  Each of these had sons as well.  Numbers 3:17-21 lists all the sons.  “And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.  And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families; Libni, and Shimei.  And the sons of Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel.  And the sons of Merari by their families; Mahli, and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to the house of their fathers.  Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these are the families of the Gershonites."  

It is not clear why the rest are not listed in Numbers 26, but Korah was the son of Izehar the son of Kohath, and all his descendants, the Korathites, were destroyed in Numbers 16:32-33.  “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.  They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.”

“And Kohath begat Amram.   And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister. 

And unto Aaron was born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.  And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD.” (Numbers 26:58b-61) 

Moses and Aaron were first cousins of Korah so perhaps it is understandable that he was jealous of their leadership, not recognizing the call of God.

“And those that were numbered of them were twenty and three thousand, all males from a month old and upward: for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel.” (Numbers 26:62)

The Levites did not receive a land of their own, but were given cities to live in within the other tribes, ensuring that the tribe of Levi could not easily isolate themselves from or exalt themselves above the other tribes as they were forced to live among them.

“These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.

 But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.  For the LORD had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.” (Numbers 26:63-65)

This census revealed that of the adult men who who had been counted in the first census, only Caleb and Joshua were still alive, fulfilling God’s promise in Numbers 14:29-32.  “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.  But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.  But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. "

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