Numbers 1-4

Numbers 1‑4  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
UM 1-4{Mamma. This evening we will begin a new book in the Bible. It is called Numbers. For the Lord spoke to Moses on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of Egypt—and He told Moses to number the people.
Sophy. Why did God say he was to number the people?
M. Because He wished Moses to know how many were able to go out to war in Israel. He was only to count the men that were twenty years old or more, for they were not to go to war till they were twenty years old.
S. Who were they going to fight with?
M. The Lord was going to bring them at once into the land, and there they would have enemies to fight against, for Canaan was full of wicked people, whom the Lord said He would drive out before them; but the children of Israel were to fight as the Lord's army. He told Moses to choose one man in tribe, to be a prince in that hl and God told Moses whom to choose in each tribe. How many tribes were there?
S. Twelve; because Jacob had twelve sons.
M. Yes. So there were twelve princes called by God to be heads over the thousands in Israel. Then they called the tribe of Reuben, Jacob's eldest son, and they counted forty-six thousand and five hundred men in the tribe of Reuben that were able to go to war Then they counted each one in the same way, and Judah had more fighting men than any of the tribes.
S. I love Judah, the best of all Jacob's sons, because he said such beautiful things about little Benjamin and his poor old father.
M. Yes; the blessing that Jacob gave to Judah was a very great one. And he said, Thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies. We see God's faithfulness to His promise in this numbering of the people; and the reward of His servant Abraham's faith. Abraham had only one son, Isaac, and here, in the wilderness, God counted the thousands in Israel that were able to go to war; and there were a great many women and children besides.
S. Was Aaron one of the twelve princes?
M. No. Moses and Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi, and it was not counted with the other tribes, because the Levites were specially given to the service of the tabernacle, they were to take tare of it, and to pitch their tents all round it. And when the children of Israel went on their journey the Levites were to take down the tabernacle, and they were to carry it, and they were to set it up again, and any stranger who came near it was to be put to death.
S. I think the Levites had the best part of all. But how were there twelve tribes if Moses did not count the tribe of Levi?
M. Do you not remember what Jacob said to Joseph when he was dying? That Joseph's two sons should be counted with his children, so that Ephraim and Manasseh made up the twelve tribes.
But now they were in the wilderness of Sinai, and the Lord was speaking to Moses out of the tabernacle. He said the Levites were to pitch their tents close round Himself, just outside the court of the tabernacle; then He said where all the other tribes were to be, afar off, but still all round the tabernacle, and they were all to pitch by their own standard, with the ensign of their father's house. Judah was to be on the east side, towards the sun-rising. Next to Judah were to be the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun. The camp of Reuben was to be on the south side, and beside him were to be Simeon and Gad. On the west was Ephraim, with Manasseh and Benjamin by him; and on the north side Dan, with Asher and Naphtali by him. So they all pitched their tents as the Lord commanded Moses.
S. How nice it must have looked! The tabernacle in the middle—that was God's house—then the Levites all round it, and three tribes on every side of it.
M. Yes; and when you think what a multitude it was, thousands of people in each tribe, how great was the goodness of God to feed them day by day, and to keep them around Himself by His own power, for in the wilderness they had nothing else but God. It was a dry and barren land. Everything had to come direct from Heaven-the Word that sent the manna, or the Word that made the water flow out of the rock.
And now the Lord told Moses to bring the tribe of Levi near, and to present them before Aaron, that they might minister to him; they were given to Aaron and his sons out of the children of Israel. Do you remember what the Lord raid about the first-born of Israel, when He destroyed all the first-born of Egypt?
S. That the children of Israel were to give all their first-born to Him.
M. Yes. And now the Lord said that He would take the whole tribe of Levi instead of all the first-born. So He told Moses to count the Levites, and also to count the first-born, and Moses did so, and found that there were a great many more first-born than there were Levites, and these the Lord said were to be redeemed with money; that is, they were each to give five shekels of silver to Moses, and he gave it to Aaron and to his sons. Now Levi had three sons, and their names were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, so the Lord told Moses and Aaron to count the sons of Kohath by their families, and He called them Kohathites, and He told Moses what they were to do in the tabernacle. Only those Levites who were from thirty to fifty years old, were appointed to this service. And the Lord said: When the camp is going to set forward, Aaron and his sons shall come and take down the vail and cover the ark with it; and they shall put the covering of badgers' skins over it, and spread a cloth of blue over all, and put in the staves to carry it by. Then they shall spread a cloth of blue on the table of shewbread, and put the dishes, and spoons, and bread upon it, and spread a cloth of scarlet over them, and then the covering of badgers' skins, and put in the staves. And they shall put a cloth of blue upon the candlestick, with all its vessels, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins; and the golden altar, and all the things belonging to the holy place, were to be covered in the same way. But the brazen altar was to have a purple cloth and a covering of badgers' skins.
S. How curious and wonderful the things must have looked with all their coverings on.
M. Then the sons of Kohath their charge from the hands of Aaron an& his sons, and they carried all the things that were inside the tabernacle; and Eleazar, Aaron's son, was chief over these Levites, and he took care of the oil and sweet incense, and of all the things that the Kohathites carried.
S. Did they see the beautiful things they carried?
M. No; they were not to go in to look while the holy things were being covered lest they die. Then Moses counted the sons of Gershon with their families, and he gave some work to do in the tabernacle to all the men that were from thirty to fifty years old. The Gershonites were to carry all the curtains and hangings of the tabernacle, and of the court, and all the cords and instruments belonging to it, and Ithamar, Aaron's son, was over the Gershonites. Then Moses counted the sons of Merari, and gave them charge of all the boards, and bars, and pillars, and sockets, of the tabernacle and of the court; and Moses counted all the things that none might be forgotten. And Ithamar was also chief over the Gershonites.
S. The Kohathites carried the most precious things.
M. Yes; and the Merarites carried the heaviest part of the tabernacle.