Numbers 26:1-65 Recount

pie chart of percentage by tribe in Israel's 2 censuses

I couldn’t resist when I saw another graphic showing the breakdown form census #1. Had to try it with Levi included too. (Can you tell I like numbers?)

God calls for a new census. The old generation is now gone and it is time to number the new one. This is the people who will inherit the promise.

I read ahead a little bit earlier and when I came to this chapter’s heading I stopped. I wanted to save this so I could hit it new. If I HAD read on I would have noticed that the events with Moab happened at the very end of the 40 years in the wilderness. The last of the previous generation, with the exception of Moses, Caleb, and Joshua died in this plague.

I had to pause here because something just occurred to me. God told Moses that everyone 20 years and older would die in the wilderness. Aaron’s son Eleazar didn’t die yet. Does this mean that he was not 20 at the time he was called by God into the priesthood? The Levites were listed from one month and up. This would make the youngest on the original list 40 years old. Eleazar would be around 60 IF he wasn’t quite 20 at the time of the first census. Or was he maybe an exception because the Levites were not given an inheritance?

I wanted to look at the changes in the numbers of people too. This was a massive amount of people to die in a 40 year span. One might expect the remaining group to be much smaller. But then you also have to take into account that these people seemed to be prolific and multiply quite freely.

So here is what we see:

Tribe 1st Census 2nd Census Change
Reuben 46,500 43,730 -2,770
Simeon 59,300 22,000 -37,100
Gad 45,650 40,500 -5,150
Judah 74,600 76,500 +1,900
Issachar 54,400 64,300 +9,900
Zebulun 57,400 60,500 +3,100
Manasseh 32,200 62,700 +20,500
Ephraim 40,500 32,500 -8,000
Benjamin 35,400 45,600 +10,200
Dan 62,700 64,400 +1,700
Asher 41,500 63,400 +11,900
Naphtali 53,400 45,400 -8,000
Total 603,550 601,730 -1,820
Levi 22,300 23,000 +700

This gives Manasseh the biggest gain and Simeon the biggest loss. A total loss, including the change in the Levites is -1,120. I would call that a fairly stable population. I would also call that a miracle! These people were in the wilderness for 40 years. MANY things could have happened to them. They themselves were forever complaining that “God had brought them to the wilderness to die.” The first generation fulfilled that fear but the second was ready to go to war for the Lord. God’s mighty army was strong and had JUST had their hearts turned back to Him.

NOTHING is too difficult for our God! A nation started with an aged husband and an aged and barren wife. At this count the “men 20 years and older who could go to war” was over SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND! This doesn’t take into account women and children. And God was getting ready to keep that promise he made to that aged husband.

Father God, Your promises are TRUE and TRUSTWORTHY. Sometimes it takes a while for them to be realized but that doesn’t negate them. Most of the time the holdup is me being in the way. Israel was in their own way for a LONG time! Thank You for never giving up on them or me. I’m excited to see what promises You have in store for me, once I get out of Your way.

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