Monday, July 12

Book Overview: Numbers

The Book of Numbers is supposedly one of most difficult to read, merely because of the census and ongoing lists. However, it is not that we cannot learn from it. Like every other Book of the Bible, this book has something that we can learn. 

While there is not much to expound upon unless asked about a specific verse, the Book of Numbers is a book of record. It records the numbers of the Israelites, the camping sites, more Priestly Duties, and it shows that throughout everything God did for them, they still hardened their heart. 

So, a practical application would be this: Do you choose to listen, trust and obey God? Or will you be like the Israelites of Moses' time, and complain about what God hasn't done? The choice is yours alone, that is why God gave us free will.

This is the second Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews, as previously stated, do not interfere with the regular lessons, but these are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible, in fact, as God wants us to do. Now, onto the Book of Numbers

Title: Numbers (English), Bəmidbar (Hebrew) The word "Bəmidbar" means, "in the desert."

Authorship: Like Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, it is believed to be written by Moses. (See here.)

Written: Between 1400s-1200s BC, likely edited during Babylonian exile.

Summary: "Numbers tells how God guaranteed the Israelites that the Promised Land would be theirs if they trusted him. The Israelites initially refused to trust hum and they were forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years until God allowed them the opportunity to try to enter the Promised Land again." (NIV)

The first few chapters are census-centered, more laws, and in other words, Numbers is one long, sad story of how the Israelites never stopped complaining and being discontent. Here are some of the better known stories from Numbers:
-The Twelve Spies (Numbers 13)
-A Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21)
-Balaam and the Angel (Numbers 22)
-Joshua, the New Leader (Numbers 27)

*Points - Chapter Nine deals with the Second Passover. The Passover originated in the Book of Exodus. Passover was created because God Passed-Over the houses of the Israelites and struck the firstborn of the Egyptians. While Moses does not die until the end of Deuteronomy (The End of Deuteronomy is written by Joshua, speaking of the death of Moses), he has already chosen Joshua as his successor. (Numbers 27:22-23)

While Numbers is a book full of a Census here and there, it also gives us a picture of just how often and to where they traveled during the 40 Years. Numbers 33 details at least 40 Camping Sites, and most of them are unknown today. 

Miriam, Moses, and Aaron, all die in the same year. First Miriam, then Aaron, then Moses. But the death of Moses does not come until Deuteronomy, Miriam dies in  Numbers 20:1-13. All three die right on the "brink" of entering the land of Canaan, but only Moses is given the right to see it. The three are all brothers and sister.

Numbers paints a picture of nomadic life. Nomads are people who wander from place to place, with no set destination. More often than not, they move to find grazing for their herds. They usually live in tents, and while Nomadic Lifestyle can take several forms, the lives of Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites is a perfect example of a Nomadic Lifestyle.

Numbers can be divided into three parts:
  1. Number of the people at Sinai, preparations for resuming their march (Numbers 1–10:10).
  2. Account of the journey from Sinai to Moab, sending of the spies, the report that they brought back, the complaints (eight times) of the people at the hardships they faced, and the exile into the wilderness for 40 years (Numbers 10:11–21:20).
  3. Occurrences in the plain of Moab before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River (Numbers 21:21–36).
A fascinating event occurs in Numbers. In Chapter 22:21-41, Balaam encounters an Angel. Balaam, a "wicked man," went out one day on his donkey with Moabite Officials. The Donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing there.Three times the donkey saw the angel and moved from its path, and all three times, Balaam beat his donkey. Miraculously, God allowed it to speak. It said, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?" The angel interceded, and God opened his eyes to see the angel, who explained that all three times, the donkey had moved. If he had walked up to him, the Angel would have killed Balaam. Interesting, and one of the curiosities of the Book of Numbers.
    Next Overview: Book of Joshua
    Previous Overview: Book of Leviticus

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