Numbers 26 & Psalm 69

Numbers 26

    After the plague, the LORD said to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron, the priest, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers' houses, all in Israel who are able to go to war.” And Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, “Take a census of the people, from twenty years old and upward,” as the LORD commanded Moses. The people of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt were:

    Reuben, the firstborn of Israel; the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the clan of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the clan of the Palluites; of Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the clan of the Carmites. These are the clans of the Reubenites, and those listed were 43,730. And the sons of Pallu: Eliab. The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram, chosen from the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. But the sons of Korah did not die.

    The sons of Simeon according to their clans: of Nemuel, the clan of the Nemuelites; of Jamin, the clan of the Jaminites; of Jachin, the clan of the Jachinites; of Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites; of Shaul, the clan of the Shaulites. These are the clans of the Simeonites, 22,200.

    The sons of Gad according to their clans: of Zephon, the clan of the Zephonites; of Haggi, the clan of the Haggites; of Shuni, the clan of the Shunites; of Ozni, the clan of the Oznites; of Eri, the clan of the Erites; of Arod, the clan of the Arodites; of Areli, the clan of the Arelites. These are the clans of the sons of Gad as they were listed, 40,500.

    The sons of Judah were Er and Onan; and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Judah according to their clans were: of Shelah, the clan of the Shelanites; of Perez, the clan of the Perezites; of Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites. And the sons of Perez were: of Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; of Hamul, the clan of the Hamulites. These are the clans of Judah as they were listed, 76,500.

    The sons of Issachar according to their clans: of Tola, the clan of the Tolaites; of Puvah, the clan of the Punites; of Jashub, the clan of the Jashubites; of Shimron, the clan of the Shimronites. These are the clans of Issachar as they were listed, 64,300.

    The sons of Zebulun, according to their clans: of Sered, the clan of the Seredites; of Elon, the clan of the Elonites; of Jahleel, the clan of the Jahleelites. These are the clans of the Zebulunites as they were listed, 60,500.

    The sons of Joseph according to their clans: Manasseh and Ephraim. The sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the clan of the Machirites; and Machir was the father of Gilead; of Gilead, the clan of the Gileadites. These are the sons of Gilead: of Iezer, the clan of the Iezerites; of Helek, the clan of the Helekites; and of Asriel, the clan of the Asrielites; and of Shechem, the clan of the Shechemites; and of Shemida, the clan of the Shemidaites; and of Hepher, the clan of the Hepherites. Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters. And the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. These are the clans of Manasseh, and those listed were 52,700.

    These are the sons of Ephraim according to their clans: of Shuthelah, the clan of the Shuthelahites; of Becher, the clan of the Becherites; of Tahan, the clan of the Tahanites. And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the clan of the Eranites. These are the clans of the sons of Ephraim as they were listed, 32,500. These are the sons of Joseph according to their clans.

    The sons of Benjamin according to their clans: of Bela, the clan of the Belaites; of Ashbel, the clan of the Ashbelites; of Ahiram, the clan of the Ahiramites; of Shephupham, the clan of the Shuphamites; of Hupham, the clan of the Huphamites. And the sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the clan of the Ardites; of Naaman, the clan of the Naamites. These are the sons of Benjamin according to their clans, and those listed were 45,600.

    These are the sons of Dan according to their clans: of Shuham, the clan of the Shuhamites. These are the clans of Dan according to their clans. All the clans of the Shuhamites, as they were listed, were 64,400.

    The sons of Asher according to their clans: of Imnah, the clan of the Imnites; of Ishvi, the clan of the Ishvites; of Beriah, the clan of the Beriites. Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the clan of the Heberites; of Malchiel, the clan of the Malchielites. And the name of the daughter of Asher was Serah. These are the clans of the sons of Asher as they were listed, 53,400.

    The sons of Naphtali according to their clans: of Jahzeel, the clan of the Jahzeelites; of Guni, the clan of the Gunites; of Jezer, the clan of the Jezerites; of Shillem, the clan of the Shillemites. These are the clans of Naphtali according to their clans, and those listed were 45,400.

    This was the list of the people of Israel, 601,730.

    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Among these the land shall be divided for inheritance according to the number of names. To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance; every tribe shall be given its inheritance in proportion to its list. But the land shall be divided by lot. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. Their inheritance shall be divided according to lot between the larger and the smaller.”

    This was the list of the Levites according to their clans: of Gershon, the clan of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the clan of the Kohathites; of Merari, the clan of the Merarites. These are the clans of Levi: the clan of the Libnites, the clan of the Hebronites, the clan of the Mahlites, the clan of the Mushites, the clan of the Korahites. And Kohath was the father of Amram. The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister. And to Aaron were born Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD. And those listed were 23,000, every male from a month old and upward. For they were not listed among the people of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the people of Israel.

    These were those listed by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who listed the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among these there was not one of those listed by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had listed the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

(Numbers 26 ESV)


Psalm 69

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

    Save me, O God!
        For the waters have come up to my neck.
    I sink in deep mire,
        where there is no foothold;
    I have come into deep waters,
        and the flood sweeps over me.
    I am weary with my crying out;
        my throat is parched.
    My eyes grow dim
        with waiting for my God.
    
    More in number than the hairs of my head
        are those who hate me without cause;
    mighty are those who would destroy me,
        those who attack me with lies.
    What I did not steal
        must I now restore?
    O God, you know my folly;
        the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
    
    Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
        O Lord GOD of hosts;
    let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
        O God of Israel.
    For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
        that dishonor has covered my face.
    I have become a stranger to my brothers,
        an alien to my mother's sons.
    
    For zeal for your house has consumed me,
        and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
    When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
        it became my reproach.
    When I made sackcloth my clothing,
        I became a byword to them.
    I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
        and the drunkards make songs about me.
    
    But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
        At an acceptable time, O God,
        in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
    Deliver me
        from sinking in the mire;
    let me be delivered from my enemies
        and from the deep waters.
    Let not the flood sweep over me,
        or the deep swallow me up,
        or the pit close its mouth over me.
    
    Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
        according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
    Hide not your face from your servant;
        for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
    Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
        ransom me because of my enemies!
    
    You know my reproach,
        and my shame and my dishonor;
        my foes are all known to you.
    Reproaches have broken my heart,
        so that I am in despair.
    I looked for pity, but there was none,
        and for comforters, but I found none.
    They gave me poison for food,
        and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
    
    Let their own table before them become a snare;
        and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.
    Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see,
        and make their loins tremble continually.
    Pour out your indignation upon them,
        and let your burning anger overtake them.
    May their camp be a desolation;
        let no one dwell in their tents.
    For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
        and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
    Add to them punishment upon punishment;
        may they have no acquittal from you.
    Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
        let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
    
    But I am afflicted and in pain;
        let your salvation, O God, set me on high!
    
    I will praise the name of God with a song;
        I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
    This will please the LORD more than an ox
        or a bull with horns and hoofs.
    When the humble see it they will be glad;
        you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
    For the LORD hears the needy
        and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
    
    Let heaven and earth praise him,
        the seas and everything that moves in them.
    For God will save Zion
        and build up the cities of Judah,
    and people shall dwell there and possess it;
        the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
        and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

(Psalm 69 ESV)


Something to Consider

Numbers 26: In comparing this census to the original census at Mount Sinai (Numbers 1), we notice that the total number of Israelites has hardly suffered at all despite the various judgements of death brought on by their various acts of disobedience. The first numbering totaled 603,550 whereas this second numbering totaled 601,730. 

Perhaps the most striking observation from this second census is that literally Joshua and Caleb are the only two men of Israel remaining from the original census at Sinai. God's promise of judgement upon all Israel with the exception of these two men has come to its perfect fulfillment.

As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. (Numbers 14)

There is an encouraging yet difficult truth that we might gain from this numbering of Israel: Death is not as random as we might assume. God is sovereign over all things and is working out His plans and purposes for His people in His own perfect wisdom and timing. May we find this a comforting truth no matter how confusing it often appears. 

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11)