The book of Numbers is one of the units in the Pentateuch. But among the Jewish Scribes, it was known mainly as “in the Wilderness” which in Hebrew is one word “Bemidbar”, a title taken from the first verse.
This is appropriate; since the theme of the book is the vicissitudes and victories of the people of Israel from the time they left the area of Sinai until they reached the borders of the Promised Land.
Numbers seems at times to be a rather loosely-knit collection of data, narrative and ritual of civil law. Yet these data are always pertinent to the history, while the legal enactments often arise out of the exigencies of the situation in life such as the allowance for a special Passover (91;14) in circumstances, which precluded observance of the regular
Passover, or the claim of the daughters of Zelophehad (27; 1-11) which called forth the Lord’s provision for the inheritance by daughters where there is no surviving son.
Historically, Numbers begins where Exodus ends, with necessary allowance, of course, for the scattered narrative sections of Leviticus. It covers a period of approximately forty years in the story of Israel’s advance upon Palestine. While these are usually described as years of wandering, it is clear that people lived South of Canaan proper, partly in the area known as the Neger, not far from Kedesh Barnea, for about thirty-seven years. During this time; the tabernacle was the focal point of civil as well as religious life. Since it was here that Moses carried out his administrative duties, it may be assumed that the people followed the domestic pursuits of nomads, living in tents, pasturing flocks in the semi-arid steppes.
These circumstances required special Divine provision of food and water.
God is presented in Numbers as a Sovereign, who demands absolute obedience of His Holy will, but who also shows mercy to the penitent and believing.
As a father nurtures and chastens his children, so God directs Israel, His beloved. He chooses to deal with men through mediators. Of these, Moses is unique, though others may be endowed with prophetic gifts and even a heathen Balaam may be used, since God is the God of the spirit of all flesh.
Several references to Numbers are found in the New Testament, where the deliverance from Egypt is regarded as an earthly pattern of eternal Redemption. The Wilderness experience are said to be recorded for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11). Our Lord, Jesus Christ, used the incident of the brazen serpent in illustration of the way He Himself was to be lifted up so that those who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life.
OUTLINE Of THE BOOK OF NUMBERS
PREPARATION FOR LEAVING MOUNT SINAI-CHAPTER 1:1;10:10.
Numbering and Arrangement of the people-Chapter 1:1:2:34
Choosing of the Levites. Their Priestly Service-Chapter 3:1;4:49
Cleansing and Blessing of the people-Chapters 5:6:27
Removal of Various Defilements-Chapters 5:1-31.
The Law of Nazarene Separation-Chapter 6:1-21.
The Priestly Blessing-Chapter 6:22-27.
Offerings of the Tribal Chieftains-Chapter 7:1-89.
The service of the Lamp Stand-Chapter 8:1-4.
Consecration of the Levities-Chapter 8:5-26
Second Passover-Chapter 9:1-14.
The Guiding Cloud-Chapter 9:15-23
The Silver Trumpets-Chapter 16:1-10.
WILDERNESS WANDERING-CHAPTER 10:11-20:13
Departure from Sinai-Chapter 10:11-36.
A Disobedient and gain saying people-Chapter 11:1-14:45.
The Fire at Taberah-Chapter 11:1-3.
Moses Complaint Against a people who prefer Bondage Chapter 11:4-30.
Graves of Lusting-Chapter 11:31-35.
The Murmuring of Miriam and Aaron-Chapter 12:1-16.
Spies sent into the Land-Chapter 13-33
The Great Failure:An Unworthy People-Chapter 14:1-45.
Additional Laws, offerings, Sabbath- breaking the Ribbon of Blue – Chapter 15 :1-41.
Rebellion of Koran, Dothan and Abram-Chapters 16:1-17:13.
Duties and revenues of the Priests and Levites -Chapter 18:1-32.
Ordinance of Red Heifer-Chapter 19:1-22.
Waters of Meribah: Moses Failure-Chapter 20 :1-13.
Journey Into Trans Jordan-Chapters 20:14-36:13
Futile Negotiating with Edom-Chapter 20:14-22
Aaron’s Death-Chapter 20:23-29
Victory over Arad, a Canaanite Chieftain -Chapter 21:1-4.
The Brazen Serpent-Chapter 21:5-9
Journey to Pisgah in Moab-Chapter 21:10-20.
Conquest of the Amorites under Siphon and Og-Chapter 21:21-35.
Balaam’s Efforts of Curse lsrael-Chapters 22:1-24 :25.
Phinehas Campaign against Apostasy -Chapter 25:1-18.
Second Census of lsrael-Chapter 26:1-51.
A fair method of dividing the Land-Chapter 26:52-65
The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad-Chapter 27:1-11.
Appointment of Moses Successor-Chapter 27:12-23.
Regulations for various offerings-Chapters 28:29-40.
Laws relating to vows-Chapter 30:1-16
Vengeance upon Median-Chapter 31:1-54
Settlement of Tribes beyond the Jordan -Chapter 32:1-42
Journey from Egypt summarized-Chapter 33:1-49
Directions for the Division of Canaan -Chapter 30:50, 34:29.
Leviticus cities and Havens of Refuge-Chapter 35:1-34.
Law of Female Inheritance Amended-Chapter 36:1-13.