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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on Numbers

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1.1–54 : A census of the tribes.

In anticipation of departure from Sinai ( 10.11 ) and of armed opposition by the Canaanites (chs. 13–14 ), a survey of military potential is conducted.

1 :

Second month: one month since the construction of the Tabernacle (Exod. 40.2 ); on the priestly chronology, see Gen. 7.24 n.

5–15 :

Although Israel as a league of twelve tribes took shape only after the conquest of Canaan (Exod. 6.3 n. ), here each tribe is represented as part of a united Israel in the wilderness. On the omission of Levi, see vv. 47–49 n.

6 :

Simeon: see Gen. 34.1–31 n.

10 :

Joseph is subdivided (Gen. 48.5 n. ) in order to keep the total number of tribes at twelve (compare Gen. 22.20–24 n. ).

20–46 :

A preserved ancient census, possibly taken well after the conquest of Canaan (Exod. 30.11–16 n. ), is here presented as conducted at Sinai, for the wilderness could scarcely have supported this aggregate (v. 46 ) of persons for a sustained period ( 33.38 ).

47–49 :

Contrast 3.14–39 , where a census for nonmilitary purposes is taken. On the lack of a list…, see Gen. 49.5–7 n.

50–53 :

On the duties of the Levites, see ch. 3 .

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