Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Shed. Hebrew and Septuagint, “after the plague,” which destroyed so many. (Chaldean) After all who had murmured were cut off, the new progeny is numbered. (St. Jerome) (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Number. This was done, that the general might know what forces he could muster to attack the nations of Chanaan on the west side of the Jordan, and also in order that the lands might be properly distributed. The war lasted seven years, and the distribution of lands was not completed till some time afterwards. It is not clear that those who were not enrolled at this time, as being 20 years of age, would have any portion, except that of their fathers, allotted to them; but it seems however rational, that those who were arrived at that age when the distribution was made, would have their share like the rest. There were 1820 people fewer than in the register which was taken before, (chap. i.,) thirteen months after the departure from Egypt. The Levites seem not to have been numbered with the utmost exactitude, as only five families are mentioned, (ver. 58, Jansenius,) though there were many more, 1 Paralipomenon xxiii. 6, &c. Their numbers amount to only 23,000. (Calmet) — They had rather increased in the desert during 38 years; (see chap. iii. 39,) as had also the tribes of Juda, Issachar, and Zabulon, which lay to the east; of Manasses, (who perhaps on that account precedes Ephraim) and Benjamin, to the west; Dan and Aser to the north. Nephtali proved deficient; so did likewise the tribes of Ruben, Simeon, and Gad, who were stationed to the south of the tabernacle. When they were numbered the first and the second time (Exodus xxxviii. 25, and Numbers i. 46,) they amounted to 603,550, exclusively of the Levites. Now they could only count 601,730 men fit for war. Considering their frequent disasters, it is even a matter of surprise that their ranks were not thinned still more, particularly as we are assured that all who had been numbered before, except Josue and Caleb, the Levites, and such as had kept themselves free from murmuring, had perished, ver. 64. (Haydock) — In the particular accounts of the tribes, and in the names of persons, the Septuagint frequently differ from the Hebrew. But the total amount agrees.
Ver. 4. Them. Hebrew, “commanded Moses and the children of Israel, who came forth out of the land of Egypt.” The same plan was now to be pursued as formerly.
Ver. 7. Thirty. They had lost therefore 2870 men, chap. i. 21.
Ver. 9. Princes. Hebrew, “men of name in the congregation,” senators. (Vatable) (Chap. xvi. 2.)
Ver. 10. Miracle. Hebrew, “they became a sign,” of reproach, and a memorial of God’s just judgments, who caused the earth to swallow up Core and his companions alive, by a most disgraceful kind of death, to which the faithless vestal virgins were condemned at Rome, being buried alive; while those who had offered incense were consumed by fire. Many of the ancients assert that Core was also burnt, meaning perhaps by the fire of hell; to which he descended. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] iv. 3.) — Others have thought that the children of Core were swallowed up with their father. But this is not true, with respect to some of them at least, (Haydock) who by a miracle of the divine grace and goodness, were preserved from joining in his sedition; (Calmet) while Core, his wife and servants, all concurred to shew them such a pernicious example. (Haydock) — Lyranus and the Rabbins tell us, that the children stopped to intreat their father to repent; and while the earth opened under them, God supported them in the air, and gave them the spirit of prophecy; so that they sung, (Psalm xlv.) God is our refuge, &c., or, according to others, the Psalm xli. which has their name in the title. But these accounts are to be received with caution. The Samaritan text, fuerunt in fugam, (Calmet) may be translated, “out of this world they fled away, (11) and the sons of Core did not perish.”
Ver. 12. Namuel. N has been substituted for i, in the name of Iamuel, as it is read elsewhere, and in the Syriac, both here and 1 Paralipomenon iv. 24, where Ahod is by mistake written with r, instead of d. See also the Arabic. (Kennicott) (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Families. Ahod is not mentioned, as he, probably, died without children. See Genesis xlvi. 10. (Menochius) — Hundred. Their numbers were the most reduced. See chap. xxv. 9. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Hundred. Septuagint add, “4000.” This tribe had formerly 45,650. It had lost 5100.
Ver. 22. Hundred. Juda had increased 1900.
Ver. 25. Issachar had also 9900 more.
Ver. 27. Zabulon was more numerous by 3100; so that this division had an additional strength of 13,100, while the former was diminished by 45,070 men. (Haydock)
Ver. 29. Machir: 1 Paralipomenon vii. 20, we find Ezriel also mentioned. See chap. xxxi. 39.
Ver. 30. Jezer, who is called Abihezer, Josue xvii. 2, and Paralipomenon.
Ver. 34. Hundred. Manasses had increased his numbers by 20,500, while
Ver. 37. Ephraim had lost 8000. (Haydock)
Ver. 38. Bela was the father of two families, ver. 40. The other five children of Benjamin probably left no issue, Genesis xlvi. 21. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 41. Benjamin had 10,200 added to his former number. Hence this division of the army, though hurt by Ephraim, (ver. 37,) had an increase of 22,700.
Ver. 43. Suhamites. Their father is called Huthim in Genesis, and also by the Septuagint. This branch of Dan was more numerous than formerly by 1700 soldiers.
Ver. 47. Aser had an addition of 11,900; and, both together, 13,600. But they were let down by
Ver. 50. Nephtali, who had lost 8000; so that this division had only 5600 more. (Haydock)
Ver. 54. A less. God introduced among his people that equality, which was so much desired by Lycurgus, Solon, &c. The fertility of the land assigned to Benjamin, compensated for the smallness of its quantity.
Ver. 55. Lot. Josue appointed commissioners, who measured the land, and divided it according to its fertility; and the portions assigned to each of the tribes by lot, corresponded with the predications of Jacob and of Moses; God so regulating the lots by his allwise Providence, in order that the people might be more convinced of the truth of the prophecies, and that no undue favour was shewn to any one by Josue, Eleazar, or by the other men in authority. He took the whole upon himself, that none might complain of their rulers. (Calmet) — Masius supposes that the different divisions of the land were written down, and placed in an urn, and that the heads of the tribes drew according to their birth, Josue xv. 1. — The heads of families, such as Henoch, &c., (ver. 5.) probably also drew lots, to know what part of territory allotted to the tribe, should fall to their share; (Haydock) and they parcelled out their land among their children. (Menochius)
Ver. 58. Core. Three other families are mentioned, Exodus vi. 17, &c. They were not going out to war. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 59. Levi. Septuagint, “who bore these (Lobni, &c.) to Levi, in Egypt; and she bore to Amram, Aaron,” &c., as if Jochabed had been wife both of Levi and of Amram, which is very improbable. It is more likely that the wives of these two bore the same name. The Hebrew may agree very well with the Vulgate. See Exodus ii. 1. (Calmet) — It was afterwards forbidden for a person to marry his aunt, Leviticus xviii. (Worthington)
Ver. 64. Sinai, if we except the Levites. (Menochius) See chap. xiv. 23. — Origen (hom. 21.) makes a very good remark on this subject. This circumcised, but rebellious people, conducted by Moses into the desert, clearly points out the Hebrews, who come to the frontiers of the promised land, but are not suffered to cross the Jordan. The uncircumcised are introduced into the land flowing with milk and honey, not by Moses, but by Josue, the figure of our Saviour, who opens heaven to true believers. “The first people is rejected, which had received circumcision, and the second is introduced, which is gathered from the Gentiles; and it is this people which obtains its father’s inheritance….If Moses give any inheritance, it is not within the Jordan….it is a land fit for cattle….he does not distribute it by lot….nor can he know the merits of each. This is done by Jesus only, to whom his Father has given all judgment.” (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The people are again numbered by their tribes and families.
1 After *the blood of the guilty was shed, the Lord said to Moses, and to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest:
2 *Number the whole sum of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their houses and kindreds, all that are able to go forth to war.
3 Moses therefore and Eleazar the priest, being in the plains of Moab, upon the Jordan, over-against Jericho, spoke to them that were
4 From twenty years old and upward, as the Lord had commanded: and this is the number of them:
5 Ruben the first-born of Israel. *His sons were Henoch, of whom is the family of the Henochites: and Phallu, of whom is the family of the Phalluites:
6 And Hesron, of whom is the family of the Hesronites: and Charmi, of whom is the family of the Charmites.
7 These are the families of the stock of Ruben: whose number was found to be forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty.
8 The son of Phallu was Eliab.
9 His sons were Namuel, and Dathan, and Abiron. These are Dathan and Abiron the princes of the people, *that rose against Moses and Aaron in the sedition of Core, when they rebelled against the Lord:
10 And the earth opening her mouth swallowed up Core, many others dying, when the fire burned two hundred and fifty men. And there was a great miracle wrought,
11 That when Core perished, his sons did not perish.
12 The sons of Simeon by their kindreds: Namuel, of him is the family of the Namuelites: Jamin, of him is the family of the Jaminites: Jachin, of him is the family of the Jachinites:
13 Zare, of him is the family of the Zareites: Saul, of him is the family of the Saulites.
14 These are the families of the stock of Simeon, of which the whole number was twenty-two thousand two hundred.
15 The sons of Gad by their kindreds: Sephon, of him is the family of the Sephonites: Aggi, of him is the family of the Aggites: Suni, of him is the family of the Sunites:
16 Ozni, of him is the family of the Oznites: Her, of him is the family of the Herites :
17 Arod, of him is the family of the Arodites: Ariel, of him is the family of the Arielites.
18 These are the families of Gad, of which the whole number was forty thousand five hundred.
19 *The sons of Juda, Her and Onan, who both died in the land of Chanaan.
20 And the sons of Juda, by their kindreds, were: Sela, of whom is the family of the Selaites: Phares, of whom is the family of the Pharesites: Zare, of whom is the family of the Zareites.
21 Moreover the sons of Phares, were: Hesron, of whom is the family of the Hesronites: and Hamul, of whom is the family of the Hamulites.
22 These are the families of Juda, of which the whole number was seventy-six thousand five hundred.
23 The sons of Issachar, by their kindreds: Thola, of whom is the family of the Tholaites: Phua, of whom is the family of the Phuaites:
24 Jasub, of whom is the family of the Jasubites: Semran, of whom is the family of the Semranites.
25 These are the kindreds of Issachar, whose number was sixty-four thousand three hundred.
26 The sons of Zabulon, by their kindreds: Sared, of whom is the family of the Saredites: Elon, of whom is the family of the Elonites: Jalel, of whom is the family of the Jalelites.
27 These are the kindreds of Zabulon, whose number was sixty thousand five hundred.
28 The sons of Joseph, by their kindreds, Manasses and Ephraim.
29 Of Manasses was born Machir, of whom is the family of the Machirites. *Machir beget Galaad, of whom is the family of the Galaadites.
30 Galaad had sons: Jezer, of whom is the family of the Jezerites: and Helec, of whom is the family of the Helecites:
31 And Asriel, of whom is the family of the Asrielites: and Sechem, of whom is the family of the Sechemites:
32 And Semida, of whom is the family of the Semidaites: *and Hepher, of whom is the family of the Hepherites.
33 And Hepher was the father of Salphaad, who had no sons, but only daughters, whose names are these: *Maala, and Noa, and Hegla, and Melcha, and Thersa.
34 These are the families of Manasses, and the number of them fifty-two thousand seven hundred.
35 And the sons of Ephraim, by their kindreds, were these: Suthala, of whom is the family of the Suthalaites: Becher, of whom is the family of the Becherites: Thehen, of whom is the family of the Thehenites.
36 Now the son of Suthala was Heran, of whom is the family of the Heranites.
37 These are the kindreds of the sons of Ephraim: whose number was thirty-two thousand five hundred.
38 These are the sons of Joseph, by their families. The sons of Benjamin in their kindreds: Bela, of whom is the family of the Belaites: Asbel, of whom is the family of the Asbelites: Ahiram, of whom is the family of the Ahiramites:
39 Supham, of whom is the family of the Suphamites: Hupham, of whom is the family of the Huphamites.
40 The sons of Bela: Hered, and Noeman. Of Hered, is the family of the Heredites: of Noeman, the family of the Noemanites.
41 These are the sons of Benjamin, by their kindreds, whose number was forty-five thousand six hundred.
42 The sons of Dan, by their kindreds: Suham, of whom is the family of the Suhamites: these are the kindreds of Dan, by their families.
43 All were Suhamites, whose number was sixty-four thousand four hundred.
44 The sons of Aser, by their kindreds: Jemna, of whom is the family of the Jemnaites: Jessui, of whom is the family of the Jessuites: Brie, of whom is the family of the Brieites.
45 The sons of Brie: Heber, of whom is the family of the Heberites: and Melchiel, of whom is the family of the Melchielites.
46 And the name of the daughter of Aser, was Sara.
47 These are the kindreds of the sons of Aser, and their number fifty-three thousand four hundred.
48 The sons of Nephthali, by their kindreds: Jesiel, of whom is the family of the Jesielites: Guni, of whom is the family of the Gunites:
49 Jeser, of whom is the family of the Jeserites: Sellem, of whom is the family of the Sellemites.
50 These are the kindreds of the sons of Nephthali, by their families: whose number was forty-five thousand four hundred.
51 This is the sum of the children of Israel, that were reckoned up, six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty.
52 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
53 To these shall the land be divided for their possessions according to the number of names.
54 To the greater number thou shalt give a greater portion, and to the fewer a less: to every one, as they have now been reckoned up, shall a possession be delivered :
55 Yet so that by lot the land be divided to the tribes and families.
56 Whatsoever shall fall by lot, that shall be taken by the more, or the fewer.
57 *This also is the number of the sons of Levi, by their families: Gerson, of whom is the family of the Gersonites: Caath, of whom is the family of the Caathites: Merari, of whom is the family of the Merarites.
58 These are the families of Levi: The family of Lobni, the family of Hebroni, the family of Moholi, the family of Musi, the family of Core. Now Caath beget Amram,
59 Who had to wife Jochabed the daughter of Levi, who was born to him in Egypt. She bore to her husband Amram, sons, Aaron and Moses, and Mary their sister.
60 Of Aaron were born Nadab and Abiu, and Eleazar, and Ithamar:
61 *Of whom Nadab and Abiu died, when they had offered the strange fire before the Lord.
62 And all that were numbered, were twenty-three thousand males, from one month old and upward: for they were not reckoned up among the children of Israel, neither was a possession given to them with the rest.
63 This is the number of the children of Israel, that were enrolled by Moses and Eleazar the priest, in the plains of Moab, upon the Jordan over-against Jericho.
64 *Among whom there was not one of them that were numbered before by Moses and Aaron in the desert of Sinai.
65 *For the Lord had foretold, that they should all die in the wilderness. And none remained of them, but Caleb the son of Jephone, and Josue the son of Nun.
1: Year of the World 2553.
2: Numbers i. 2. and 3.
5: Genesis xlvi. 9.; Exodus vi. 14.; 1 Paralipomenon v. 3.
9: Numbers xvi. 1. and 2.
19: Genesis xxxviii. 3. and 4.
29: Josue xvii. 1.
32: Numbers xxvii. 1.
33: Numbers xxvii. 1.
57: Exodus vi. 16.
61: Leviticus x. 1.; Numbers iii. 4.; 1 Paralipomenon xxiv. 2.
64: 1 Corinthians x. 5.
65: Numbers xiv. 23. and 24.