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Bible - Book of Numbers

Numbers is the fourth book of the Old Testament. In Hebrew, the book of numbers is called "Bamidbar" -  meaning "in the desert" or "in the wilderness," from the first verse, "And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness (desert) of Sinai. Of the five books of the Pentateuch (Torah), the first, Genesis  relates the creation of the world and the start of the Jewish religion and Jewish "clan," the start of Exodus is devoted to the escape from Egypt, and the remainder of Exodus and last three books are devoted to the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert and the regulations and religious laws, very often repeating various laws word for word or in similar terms, and retracing the same time period. This may indicate differently traditions such as Priestly, Elohist and Yahwist, or it may be a result of the way in which different redactions of the same material were done in different times.

For the approximate dating of the events, see Exodus.

This book of numbers has these parts:

Numbers 1 The enumeration of the people for war purposes and the organization of society, especially the organization of religious worship, that continues through Numbers 8. Numbers 9 describes the keeping of the holiday of Passover, and specifies that it must be kept in the second month, and not the first as prescribed in Exodus 12

From Numbers 10, the book tells of the journey through Sinai and into Moav ("Moab") on the eastern side of the Jordan river, the dispatch of spies to Canaan (Numbers 13), and the largely bad report they brought back, and the repeated revolts and murmurings of the people at the hardships by the way. Numbers 16  tells of the rebellion of Korah.

From Numbers 21, the narrative is based in the plain of Moab, and tells of the various transactions before crossing the Jordan. In particular from Numbers 22, the book of Numbers tells us of Balak, king of Moav, who sent Balaam, sone of Beor, the seer to curse Israel. Instead, he was forced to bless Israel.

Balaam was apparently a historical or at least traditional figure, who was certainly known to the Moabites. An inscription from about 800 BCE, found in Deir Alla, in what is now Jordan, has this to say:

Scroll of [Ba]laam [son of Beo]r, the man seeing the gods; behold, the gods came to him at night, and [spoke to] him

according to these words, and they said to [Balaa]m son of Beor thus: “The last flame has appeared; a fire for judgment has appeared.”

And Balaam arose in the morning,[2 ] days, ..., and cou[ld not eat], and he wept abundantly. And his people came up to him and they [said] to Balaam son of Beor: “Why are you fasting and why are you weeping?”

And he said to them: “Sit! I'll show you what the Sh[addayin] are  . . . . . . . . . . . .] and come, consider the doings of the gods.”  The gods have gathered together, and the Shaddayin have held an assembly, and they have said to Sh[ama]sh: ‘Sew up, close the sky with your cloud! [Let] darkness be there, and not brightness, shadow and not radiance; For you'll strike terror [with the cl]oud of darkness, and do not make noise ever but [instead??] the passer, b-[??] -at, eagle, and peli[can], vultures, ostrich, st[ork], young of falcons, owl, chicks of heron, dove, bird-of-prey, pigeon and sparrow. [every bird of the s]kies ... [on earth?] below where the stick led the ewes, hares have eaten  [tog]ether [fr]eely.

Though this scroll has been suggested as a way of dating the book of numbers, there is no real validity to this idea. The scroll does not say when Balaam lived or had lived.

The period comprehended in the history related in numbers extends from the second month of the second year after the Exodus to the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, in all about thirty-eight years and ten months, a period of wanderings which reduced and presumably hardened the people of Israel. 

According to tradition, Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch (Torah). According to the documentary hypothesis accepted by many scholars, Numbers, with its dry style and emphasis on censuses and priestly organization, derives from the relatively late Priestly source, about 550-400 BCE. The elaborate specifications of priestly honors and importance could then be ascribed to an wish to provide biblical legitimation for them in the time of the second temple.


Contents: Bible Book of Numbers:

Numbers 1 | Numbers 2 | Numbers 3 | Numbers 4 | Numbers 5 | Numbers 6 | Numbers 7 | Numbers 8 | Numbers 9 | Numbers 10 | Numbers 11 | Numbers 12 | Numbers 13 | Numbers 14 | Numbers 15 | Numbers 16 | Numbers 17 | Numbers 18 | Numbers 19 | Numbers 20 | Numbers 21 | Numbers 22 | Numbers 23 | Numbers 24 | Numbers 25 | Numbers 26 | Numbers 27 | Numbers 28 | Numbers 29 | Numbers 30 | Numbers 31 | Numbers 32 | Numbers 33 | Numbers 34 | Numbers 35 | Numbers 36 |

Numbers - Bible - King James Version Bible: Old Testament  King James Version

History of the King James Bible

Meaning and pronunciation of Hebrew names in the Old Testament

Preface to the First Edition of the King James Bible

The bible and Zionism

The Bible, the Old Testament, has become a mainstay of human culture, but it is first and foremost a historical document of the Jewish people and our culture. It tells the story of our ancient kingdoms and civilization in the Land of Israel, and therefore it kept alive the tie of the people of Israel to the land of Israel for 2000 years. It forms the moral and cultural basis of Zionist ideology and aspirations.

The Bible, the Old Testament, is accepted by the three major Western faiths. It is a major work of Western civilization. The Bible documents the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, even for those who do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and even for those who do not believe in God at all. It is the historic epic of the Jewish people in our land.  

Additional Background

Maps of Israel (Canaan, Palestine)in Bible Times

Map of Canaan (Israel) in the time of Joshua (Black and White)
Map of ancient Canaan (Palestine) after the Conquest by the Israelites
Palestine (Israel, Canaan) in the Time of the Judges
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Map of Judah (Judea) in the Divided Kingdom
Map of Judah (Judea) in the Maccabean Kingdom of Alexander Janeus (Yannai)
Map of the Roman Province of Judea

Map - Canaan Before the Hebrews

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