Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Chapter by Chapter Summary of the Book of Numbers


Moses wrote the Book of Numbers. The first part of the book is a census of the Israelites who came out of Egypt; thus, the name Numbers. Most of the book, however, continues the story of the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness toward the Promised Land of Canaan.



Numbers Chapter 1

God named one leader from each tribe of Israel to help Moses and Aaron take a census of the Israelites. They registered each man 20 years old or older who was fit to serve in the army. In total, there were 603,500 old enough and fit enough to fight.


They did not count the Levites in the census because the Levites were to be the priests and the tribe in charge of taking down and setting up the Tent of Meeting whenever the Israelites moved camp. The Levites were to set up their tents surrounding the Tent of Meeting.



Numbers 2

God ordered that each of the twelve tribes set up their tents in a specific location in the camp. The members of each tribe were to camp with their tribe and family clan, not spread out and intermixed in camp.



Numbers 3

God chose Aaron of the tribe of Levi, Moses’ brother, to be high priest and his sons to be priests in perpetuity. He chose the other Levite families to take care of the Tent of Meeting.


God said,


“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites

in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman.

The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine.

When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt,

I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel,

whether human or animal. They are to be mine.

I am the Lord.”

- Numbers 3:12-13


God ordered Moses to count the Levites and assign each family clan a task in taking care of the Tent of Meeting.



Numbers 4

God ordered each Levite family clan to perform specific duties in caring for the Tent of Meeting. Levites aged 30-50 could perform service in the Tent.



Numbers 5

Anyone who was unclean was to be sent outside the camp. God said,


“…send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.”

- Numbers 5:3


If anyone wronged another, they were guilty of being unfaithful to the Lord. They were to pay restitution to the one they wronged, but if this wasn’t possible, they were to pay the priest, along with making a sacrifice.


If a man suspected his wife of committing adultery, he could bring her to the priest, along with a grain offering. The priest would have her drink holy water mixed with dust from the floor of the Tent of Meeting. If she had committed adultery, her abdomen would swell and her womb would miscarry. If this didn’t happen, she was proven to be innocent.



Numbers 6

A man or woman could dedicate themselves to God as a Nazirite. They would:


Not drink alcohol or eat anything from the grapevine

Not cut their hair

Not go near a dead body, not even for a close relative


If they are near someone when they die, they were to cut off their hair and offer sacrifices to atone for the sin of being near a dead body.


When their period of dedication was over, they were to make sacrifices and shave off their hair, also burning it.  


God told Aaron to bless the people like this:


“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”

- Numbers 6:24-26



Numbers 7

Each tribe donated an ox and the value of half of a cart to be used for moving the Tent and its furnishings. They also brought offerings of silver and gold, grain and incense, and animals for sacrifice. Each tribe brought their offering in turn, one per day for twelve days.



Numbers 8

The seven lamps on the Lampstand were to light up the area in front of the Lampstand.


Moses purified the Levites to make the ceremonially clean by sprinkling them with water and having them shave their bodies and wash their clothes. They brought sacrifices, and the Israelites placed their hands on the Levites as if they were also sacrifices.


Levites from the ages of 25-50 were eligible to work at the Tent.



Numbers 9

It came time for the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, but some among them thought they could not eat the Passover because they were unclean; they had come into contact with a dead body.


Then God said that anyone could celebrate Passover, whether they were clean or unclean, in Israelite territory or away, native Israelite or foreigner, as long as they celebrated it in the prescribed way. Any Israelite who did not celebrate Passover was to be put to death.


A cloud covered the Tent during the day, and fire covered it at night.


Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out;

wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.

At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped.

As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.

When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time,

the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out.

Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days;

at the Lord’s command they would encamp,

and then at his command they would set out.

Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning,

and when it lifted in the morning, they set out.

Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out.

- Numbers 9:17-21



Numbers 10

God had Moses make two silver trumpets for the priests to sound orders to the people. Different blasts of trumpets signaled the leaders to gather, the entire nation to gather, the tribes to set out, to go to battle, to sound over the sacrifices at the festivals, etc.


When the Israelites completed moved from in front of Mount Sinai, Moses ask his father-in-law to come with them as a guide and share in God’s blessings to Israel.



Numbers 11

The people complained about how hard their life in the wilderness was, and God became angry. He sent fire to burn the outskirts of the camp. Moses prayed, and the fire died down.


Some people then began to complain about having no meat to eat, only manna. Moses became frustrated at having to deal with the people.


The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders

who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people.

Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you.

I will come down and speak with you there,

and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them.

They will share the burden of the people with you

so that you will not have to carry it alone.”

- Numbers 11:16-17


God then promised to give the people enough meat to eat that they would loathe it. Moses doubted this could happen.


The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?

Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

- Numbers 11:23


When the elders gathered, the Spirit came on them, and they prophesied briefly. This even happened to two of them who had remained in camp. Joshua was alarmed and wanted Moses to stop them from prophesying.


But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake?

I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets

and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

- Numbers 11:29


Then God sent a wind to bring quail into the camp. Quail covered the ground all around camp and as far as a day’s walk in any direction. The people had more than enough meat to eat.


But while the meat was still between their teeth

and before it could be consumed,

the anger of the Lord burned against the people,

and he struck them with a severe plague.

- Numbers 11:33



Numbers 12

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife,

for he had married a Cushite.

“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked.

“Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”

And the Lord heard this.


(Now Moses was a very humble man,

more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

- Numbers 12:1-3


God summoned Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to the Tent of Meeting. He then called Aaron and Miriam to step forward. God said,


“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”

- Numbers 12:6-8


God then gave Miriam leprosy. Aaron asked Moses to forgive them, and Moses prayed to God to heal Miriam. God ordered that she be sent outside the camp for seven days for her unclean skin disease. Then she was cleansed of the disease and brought back.



Numbers 13

God told Moses to send one man from each of the twelve tribes to explore the land of Canaan. Caleb, the representative from Judah, said the Israelites could take the land, but most of the others said,


“We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”

And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.

They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it.

All the people we saw there are of great size.

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).

We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

- Numbers 13:31-33



Numbers 14

After hearing the scouts, the Israelites wanted to choose a new leader and go back to Egypt. They didn’t want to stay in the wilderness and didn’t think they could go into the land of Canaan.


Caleb and Joshua said God would give them the land if the Israelites didn’t rebel against Him by turning back. But instead of listening to them, the crowd wanted to stone them.


The glory of the Lord then shone at the Tent of Meeting. God said He would kill the Israelites but make Moses into a great nation. Moses argued that if God killed the Israelites, the Egyptians and the Canaanites would think God wasn’t strong enough to lead them into Canaan. He then asked God to forgive the Israelites, and He did.


“Nevertheless, as surely as I live

and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth,

not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt

and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—

not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors.

No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly,

I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

- Numbers 14:21-24


God then said that the Israelites would wander in the wilderness for 40 years, one year for each day the scouts explored the land, until that entire generation died. Only Joshua and Caleb would be still be alive to enter the Promised Land.


Then the scouts who said the Israelites couldn’t take the land died suddenly of a plague.


The next day, the people said they were ready to go into the land and take it. Moses counseled them not to go up and attack the Canaanites because God would not be with them, but some of them did and were defeated.



Numbers 15

The Lord repeated His instructions for some of the sacrifices.


Once, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath, and God ordered that He be stoned.


God then ordered the Israelites to make tassels on the corners of their garments, with a blue cord on each tassel, to remind them to follow the commands of God.



Numbers 16

A group of men – Kohath, Dathan, Abiram, and On – along with 250 community leaders challenged Moses and Aaron, saying all the Israelites were holy and that Moses and Aaron shouldn’t set themselves up as the supreme leaders above everyone else.


Moses fell facedown, then said that the next day, God would show who was truly holy. Those opposing him were to bring censers full of incense to the Tent of Meeting. Aaron would do the same. Then God would show who He chose.


The next morning, Dathan and Abiram refused to come before Moses. Then God told Moses to tell the people to move away from Korah and Dathan and Abiram’s tents. Moses went and stood in front of their tents and said that if they died by the earth swallowing them up, the people would know God was punishing them.


As soon as he finished speaking, the earth opened up, and Moses’ opposition fell into it, and the earth closed back up. Then God sent fire to burn up the 250 men holding the censers of incense.


The next day, the Israelites gathered in front of the Tent, angry with Moses for causing the death of the other men. God said He would destroy them, but Moses told Aaron to take his censer of burning incense out to the crowd to make atonement for them. God had started a plague among the crowd, killing 14,700 people, but it stopped when Aaron ran into their midst.



Numbers 17

God told Moses to have a leader from each of the twelve tribes bring a staff for him to place in front of the Ark of the Covenant. The staff that budded would show which tribe God had chosen to lead the people.


The next day, Aaron’s staff had budded and produced almonds. Moses showed the people, then God told Moses to put Aaron’s staff back in front of the Ark as a testimony for the future.  



Numbers 18

God told Aaron that he was to direct the Levites in the work at the Tent of Meeting but that only his family line was to serve as priests.


God then told Aaron what parts of the sacrifices he and his family he could eat, including the firstfruits of the Israelites’ harvests and the firstborn of every animal that is not paid for. The Levites were to live off the tithes the Israelites brought to the Tent. The Levites were then to give God a tenth of the tithe they received.



Numbers 19

God ordered that Eleazar, one of Aaron’s sons, sacrifice a red heifer that had never been yoked outside of camp. He was to burn it up, then gather the ashes to be used in the water of cleansing, when someone or something needed to be cleansed from being unclean.


If anyone became unclean and did not submit to purification by the water of cleansing, they were to be put to death.



Numbers 20

Miriam died in the Desert of Zin.


There was no water there, and the people complained, saying they wished they had stayed in Egypt.


God told Moses to take Aaron’s staff from in front of the Ark and strike a rock, and it would pour out water. Moses then struck the rock twice, and water gushed out.


But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

“Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites,

you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

- Numbers 20:12


Then sent messengers to the king of Edom asking his permission to travel through his territory and promising not to eat his people’s food or drink their water.


The king of Edom refused and sent his army to defend his border, so the Israelites went a different direction.


At Mount Hor, God told Moses and Aaron that Aaron would die there because he had rebelled against God in calling water from the rock. God told them to take Eleazar with them up the mountain and take the priestly garments off Aaron and put them on Eleazar. Then Aaron died on the mountain.



Numbers 21

The Canaanite king of Arad came and attacked Israel. The Israelites vowed to destroy his cities if God would help them defeat Arad, and they did so.


Then the Israelites complained again about having no water or food, only manna, so God sent poisonous snakes to bite them. The people admitted their sin, and Moses prayed for them.


The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole;

anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

- Numbers 21:8


When they came to Amorite territory, Moses sent messengers to ask King Sihon to let them pass through his land. Sihon refused and sent his army to attack Israel. The Israelites defeated Sihon and took over the cities of the Amorites.


King Og of Bashan attacked Israel, but Israel defeated him and took over his territory as well.



Numbers 22

King Balak of Moab was afraid of the Israelites, so he sent for the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. God, however, told Balaam not to go with the messengers and not to curse the Israelites because God had blessed them.


King Balak sent more messengers Balaam, offering to pay him a large price to curse the Israelites. God then told Balaam to go with the messengers but to do only as He commanded.


Balaam went with the messengers, riding his donkey. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in front of him with a sword drawn, so the donkey turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat the donkey to get it back on the path.


Next, the angel stood in a narrow passageway, and the donkey had to press to one side to avoid the angel. In doing so, the donkey smooshed Balaam’s foot, and he beat the donkey again.


The next time the angel stood in the front of the donkey, the donkey laid down on the road. Balaam beat it again.


Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam,

“What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam answered the donkey,

“You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

The donkey said to Balaam,

“Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?

Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes,

and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn.

So he bowed low and fell facedown.

The angel of the Lord asked him,

“Why have you beaten your donkey these three times?

I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.

The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times.

If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

- Numbers 22:28-33


The angel then warned Balaam again to say only what He told him to.


King Balak came out to meet Balaam and made sacrifices. The next morning, King Balak took Balaam to a place where he could see the outskirts of the Israelites’ camp.



Numbers 23

King Balak and Balaam built seven altars and sacrificed seven bulls and rams. Then God told Balaam to bless Israel.


Balak was upset and took Balaam to another location where he would see a smaller portion of the Israelites. Again, they built seven altars and sacrificed seven bulls and rams. Balaam then received another message:


God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?

- Numbers 23:19


God then had Balaam bless Israel again.


Balak took Balaam to another location and repeated the sacrifices.



Numbers 24

The Spirit of God came upon Balaam and he again blessed Israel. King Balak was angry, but Balaam said he could only deliver the messages God gave him.


Then Balaam prophesied again:


“I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
    the skulls[b] of[c] all the people of Sheth.[d]
Edom will be conquered;
    Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,
    but Israel will grow strong.
A ruler will come out of Jacob
    and destroy the survivors of the city.”

- Numbers 24:17-19


This prophecy of defeat and destruction also included some of the other surrounding nations.



Numbers 25

Israelite men then began to have sex with Moabite and Midianite women and sacrifice to their gods. God told Moses to have everyone killed who had sacrificed to another god.


Then an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman into camp, right in front of Moses while he was standing in front of the Tent of Meeting. Phineas the priest took a spear and followed them to the Israelite’s tent. He drove the spear through both of them, and a plague that the Lord had sent stopped. The plague had already killed 24,000.


Because of what Phineas did, God renewed his covenant with his family line to be priests.


Then God told Moses to treat the Midianites as enemies because they caused Israelites to sacrifice to other gods.



Numbers 26

God then told Moses and Eleazar to take another census. The total number of men aged 20 and older was 601,730.


Then God gave instructions for how to divide the land of Canaan among the tribes.


The number of Levite males aged a month or more was 23,000.


Besides Joshua and Caleb, none of these men were the same as had been counted before. The previous generation had all died, as the Lord had said.



Numbers 27

Five daughters of a man named Zelophehad from the tribe of Manasseh came and presented their cases to Moses and Eleazar. Their father had died and left no sons. They wanted Moses to promise them land in Canaan to represent their father’s clan.


Moses asked God, and God said that when a man died with no sons, the inheritance due his family was to go to his daughters or next closest relative.


Then God told Moses to go up a mountain and look at the land of Canaan. After he saw it, he was going to die for disobeying God when he struck the rock to produce water.


Moses asked God to appoint someone to succeed him, and God chose Joshua. As God commanded, Moses took Joshua to stand in front of Eleazar and the people and commissioned him to be his successor.



Numbers 28

Every day, the Israelites were to sacrifice one lamb a year old in the morning and one lamb a year old at twilight as burnt offerings, along with a grain offering and a drink offering of wine.


Each Sabbath, they were to double the sacrifice.


They were also to make additional sacrifices for the New Moons, the Passover, and the Festival of Weeks. These sacrifices were to be two young bulls, a ram, and seven male lambs for a burnt offering, along with grain and drink offerings. For the New Moon and Festival of Weeks, they were also to sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering.



Numbers 29

Additional sacrifices were also required for the Festival of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and the Festival of Tabernacles. This last festival was to have sacrifices every day for a week.



Numbers 30

A man was bound to keep his vow to the Lord or oaths he swore. A woman was bound unless her father or husband nullified it. The Lord would forgive a woman for breaking her vow or oath if her father or husband nullified it.



Numbers 31

God told Moses to take vengeance on the Midianties, then he would die. The Israelites attacked and defeated the Midianites. Those killed included Balaam.


The Israelites burned the Midianite towns but took the women and children, livestock, and goods as plunder. Moses was angry that they brought back the women because it was the women whom Balaam had encouraged to sleep with the Israelite men and entice to their gods. Moses made the Israelites kill the boys and all the women who weren’t virgins.


Because the soldiers had killed and come into contact with dead bodies, they were unclean and had to stay outside camp for seven days.


God commanded that half of the plunder be given to the soldiers and the other half to the rest of the community. The soldiers were to give the Levites one out of every 500 person or animal, and the rest of the community was to give the Levites one out of every 50.


The commanders of the army then realized they hadn’t lost one man in the fighting, so they gave God all the gold from the plunder.



Numbers 32

The leaders from the tribe of Reuben and Gad then came and asked that they be allowed to keep the territory the Israelites had already conquered, rather than taking territory on the other side of the Jordan River in the land of Canaan. They promised that if they could leave their women and children livestock on this side of the river, they would send their men to help the rest of the Israelites take the territory on the other side.


Moses agreed to their plan and also included half of the tribe of Manasseh to be given land on this side of the Jordan.



Numbers 33

The Israelites camped at a number of places in the desert. When they camped by the Jordan River, God told them…


“When you cross the Jordan into Canaan,

drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you.

Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols,

and demolish all their high places.

Take possession of the land and settle in it,

for I have given you the land to possess…

“‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land,

those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.

They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.

And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.”

- Numbers 33:51-53, 55-56



Numbers 34

God set the borders of Israel and told them how far they were to go when they entered Canaan. It was to extend from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean, and from Mount Hor to Edom. God also chose Eleazar and Joshua and one leader from each tribe to determine each tribe’s territory by lot.



Numbers 35

God ordered that the Levites be given towns and pastureland spread out among the territories of the other tribes. The Levites weren’t going to have a territory of their own.


Six of the Levite towns would be cities of refuge, where someone who had killed someone accidentally could flee. God said…


“They will be places of refuge from the avenger,

so that anyone accused of murder may not die

before they stand trial before the assembly.”

- Numbers 35:12


If someone killed another person intentionally, the avenger of blood was allowed to hunt them down and put them to death. But if someone killed another person unintentionally, they could flee to one of these cities of refuge. If they were judged to be innocent, they had to stay in the city of refuge until the death of the current high priest. Then they could go home. If they left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, the avenger of blood could put them to death.


There were to be at least two witnesses of the crime to convict someone accused of murder.


“Do not pollute the land where you are.

Bloodshed pollutes the land,

and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed,

except by the blood of the one who shed it.”

- Numbers 35:33



Numbers 36

Concerning Zelophehad’s daughters and any woman who inherited land, God commanded that they marry within their own clan so that the land they inherit will never pass to another clan or tribe through marriage.




No comments:

Post a Comment