Another census (Num 26:1-26:56)

“After the plague, Yahweh said to Moses and to Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, ‘Take a census of the whole congregation of the Israelites, from twenty years old and upward, by their ancestral houses, everyone in Israel able to go forth to war.’ Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. ‘Take a census of the people, from twenty years old and upward,’ as Yahweh commanded Moses.”

After all these deaths, why not take another census. After all, the name of the book is Numbers. I will compare this census with the one taken in chapter 1 to indicate the differences. At the 1st census each tribe had 1 person to help take the census, but that is not the case here. After the plague, Yahweh told Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, to take a census of everyone over 20 years old, able to go to war. Notice that now that Aaron is dead, Eleazar his son speaks with God. This is the first time anyone other than Aaron or Moses is mentioned. They took the census of all the men over 20 who would be able to fight, in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. Men are not explicitly mentioned but able to fight seems to imply men.

“The Israelites, who came forth out of the land of Egypt, were:

Reuben was the first-born of Israel. The descendents of Reuben were: Hanoch, the clan of the Hanochites; Pallu, the clan of the Palluites; Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; Carmi, the clan of the Carmites. These are the clans of the Reubenites. The number of those enrolled was forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty.  The descendant of Pallu was Eliab. The descendants of Eliab were: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the same Dathan and Abiram, chosen from the congregation, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they rebelled against Yahweh. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men. They became a warning. Notwithstanding, the descendants of Korah did not die.”

1)                  Reuben was the first-born of Israel. His 4 descendants are the same as those mentioned in Genesis, chapter 46 and Exodus, chapter 6.

  1. Hanoch, the clan of the Hanochites;

There was another Hanoch in Genesis, chapter 25, who was the grandson of Abraham, by way of Keturah. He was the son of Median, not through the line of Isaac, although they had the same father. Sometimes the Hanochites refers to this Median group. However, this Hanoch is the grandson of Israel through Reuben, or the great-great grandson of Abraham via Isaac and Jacob.

2. Pallu, the clan of the Palluites;

Eliab son of Pallu and his descendants were

i. Nemuel, Simeon also had a son named Nemuel.

ii. Dathan,

iii. Abiram.

There is the reminder of the disobedience of Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram along with         Korah, the Levite, led the revolution against Moses and Aaron in chapter 16. They were part of the 250 who died. The complete families of Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up by the earth, along with the Levite Korah, but Korah’s descendants lived. Perhaps part of this dispute may have been about the role of Levites.

3. Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; There also was a son of Judah name Hezron, the son of Perez;

4. Carmi, the clan of the Carmites.

    This time their number was 43,730 as opposed to the original 46,500.

“The descendants of Simeon by their clans were: Nemuel, the clan of the Nemuelites; Jamin, the clan of the Jaminites; Jachin, the clan of the Jachinites; Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites; Shaul, the clan of the Shaulites. These are the clans of the Simeonites, twenty-two thousand two hundred.”

2)                  There are only 5 descendants of Simeon mentioned. There were 6 mentioned in Genesis, chapter 46, and Exodus, chapter 6. Ohad was listed as the 3rd son of Simeon in both those works, but there is no mention of him here. Nemuel was called Jemuel in the earlier works. Zerah was called Zohar. There are other instances of Zerah, especially as the son of Judah. Jamin, Jachin, and Shaul all have the same spelling as in the earlier works.

  1. Nemuel, the clan of the Nemuelites;
  2. Jamin, the clan of the Jaminites;
  3. Jachin, the clan of the Jachinites;
  4. Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites;
  5. Shaul, the clan of the Shaulites.

This time their number was 22, 200 down from 59,300, quite a big drop of over 37,000 individuals since this group was hit very hard and suffered the largest lost of population.

“The children of Gad by their clans were: Zephon, the clan of the Zephonites; Haggi, the clan of the Haggites; Shuni, the clan of the Shunites; Ozni, the clan of the Oznites; Eri, the clan of the Erites; Arod, the clan of the Arodites; Areli, the clan of the Arelites. These are the clans of the Gadites. The number of those enrolled was forty thousand five hundred.”

3) The 7 sons of Gad have 5 with the exact same spelling as in Genesis, chapter 46, Haggi, Shuni, Eri, Arod, and Areli. The name Zephon is usually associated as the son of Eliphaz, the son of Esau, Jacob’s brother. There is some indication that this might have been the name of a Canaanite god or angel, but in Genesis, chapter 46, he is called Ziphion. Ozni was called Ezbon in Genesis. Otherwise there is no mention of these people outside of these 2 passages.

1.  Zephon, the clan of the Zephonites;

2. Haggi, the clan of the Haggites;

3. Shuni, the clan of the Shunites;

4. Ozni, the clan of the Oznites;

5. Eri, the clan of the Erites;

6. Arod, the clan of the Arodites;

7. Areli, the clan of the Arelites.

The descendants of Gad were 40,500, reduced about 5,000 from 45,650 in the first census.

“The sons of Judah were Er and Onan. Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. The descendants of Judah by their clans were: Shelah, the clan of the Shelanites; Perez, the clan of the Perezites; Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites. The descendants of Perez were: Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites; Hamul, the clan of the Hamulites. These are the clans of Judah. The number of those enrolled was seventy-six thousand five hundred.”

4) There was no confusion about the 5 descendants of Judah, either in the name or spelling. 2 died before the Exodus. The name Shelah was also associated with the genealogy of the patriarchs in Genesis, chapter 11, where he is the son of Arpachshad and father of Eber:

1. Er, who died in Canaan;

2. Onan, who also died in the land of Canaan;

3. Shelah, the clan of the Shelanites;

4. Perez, the clan of the Perezites;

1)  Hezron, the clan of the Hezronites;

2) Hamul, the clan of the Hamulites

.                  5. Zerah, the clan of the Zerahites.

These are the clans of Judah, 66,500, down by about 8,000 from 74,600.

“The descendants of Issachar according to their clans were: Tola, the clan of the Tolaites; Puvah, the clan of the Punites; Jashub, the clan of the Jashubites; Shimron, the clan of the Shimronites. These are the clans of Issachar: sixty-four thousand three hundred enrolled.”

5) There was no confusion about the four descendants of Issachar since their names and spellings are exactly the same:

1. Tola, the clan of the Tolaites;

2. Puvah, the clan of the Punites;

3. Jashub, the clan of the Jashubites;

4. Shimron, the clan of the Shimronites.

The clans of Issachar actually increased in size by nearly 10,000 from 54,400 to 64,300. It is not clear why this tribe increased.

“The descendants of Zebulun, by their clans were: Sered, the clan of the Seredites; Elon, the clan of the Elonites; Jahleel, the clan of the Jahleelites. These are the clans of the Zebulunites. The number of those enrolled was sixty thousand five hundred.”

6) The 3 descendants of Zebulun all have the same name and spelling as in Genesis. Esau married the daughter of a Hittite man named Elon. Otherwise there is no mention of these three guys anywhere else.

  1. Sered, the clan of the Seredites;
  2. Elon, the clan of the Elonites;
  3. Jahleel, the clan of the Jahleelites.

These clans increased by 3,000 from 57,400 to 60,500.

“The sons of Joseph by their clans were: Manasseh and Ephraim. The son of Manasseh was Machir, the clan of the Machirites. Machir was the father of Gilead, the clan of the Gileadites. These are the descendants of Gilead: Iezer, the clan of the Iezerites; Helek, the clan of the Helekites; Asriel, the clan of the Asrielites; Shechem, the clan of the Shechemites; Shemida, the clan of the Shemidaites; Hepher, the clan of the Hepherites. Now Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters. The names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. These are the families of Manasseh. The number of those enrolled was fifty-two thousand seven hundred.”

7) The 2 descendants of Joseph included Manasseh, the 1st son who was not favored over Ephraim. Apparently he had only 1 son, Machir, so that his grandson Gilead is listed with more descendants. Gilead is both a mountain and an area east of the Jordan. This is a name that appears quite often. The Gilead clan must have been important because all his children are specifically mentioned. Shechem is both a place in Canaan, and another person named Shechem that was a Hivite prince in Genesis, chapter 34. Hepher is interesting because his only son Zelophehad had 5 daughters and no sons so that there is a list of these 5 women, one of the few to appear in the genealogies. They seem to play a bigger role as the daughters of Zelophehad.   One of the daughters is named Noah, the same as one of the central figures in Genesis, chapters 6-9. Milcah was also the name of the wife of Nahor, the brother of Abraham, and the daughter of Haran and the sister of Lot. She had eight children with Nahor. There was a place called Tirzah.

Machir, the clan of the Machirites

Gilead, the clan of the Gileadites.

1. Iezer, the clan of the Iezerites

2. Helek, the clan of the Helekites;

3. Asriel, the clan of the Asrielites;

4. Shechem, the clan of the Shechemites;

5. Shemida, the clan of the Shemidaites;

6. Hepher, the clan of the Hepherites.

Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but 5 daughters:

1. Mahlah,

2. Noah,

3. Hoglah,

4. Milcah,

5. Tirzah.

The clans of Manasseh increased by 12,000, and went from 40,500 to 52,700. There is no reason for the increase in this tribe.

“These are the descendants of Ephraim according to their clans: Shuthelah, the clan of the Shuthelahites; Becher, the clan of the Becherites; Tahan, the clan of the Tahanites.  These are the descendants of Shuthelah: Eran, the clan of the Eranites. These are the clans of the Ephraimites. The number of those enrolled was thirty-two thousand five hundred. These are the descendants of Joseph by their clans.”

8)  The second son of Joseph was the favorite Ephraim, who had 3 sons. One of the descendants of Benjamin had the same name, Becher, in Genesis, chapter 46. Otherwise there is nothing much about these names, except that Eran is the only third generation mentioned, unlike with Manasseh:

  1. Shuthelah, the clan of the Shuthelahites;

i.      Eran, the clan of the Eranites;

2. Becher, the clan of the Becherites;

3. Tahan, the clan of the Tahanites.

The clans of Ephraim was almost the same as the first census, but decreased about 300 people, 32,500 from 32,200.

“The descendants of Benjamin by their clans were: Bela, the clan of the Belaites; Ashbel, the clan of the Ashbelites; Ahiram, the clan of the Ahiramites; Shephupham, the clan of the Shuphamites; Hupham, the clan of the Huphamites.  The descendants of Bela were Ard and Naaman: Ard, the clan of the Ardites; Naaman, the clan of the Naamites. These are the descendants of Benjamin by their clans. The number of those enrolled was forty-five thousand six hundred.

9)                 There is substantial difference between the list of the descendants of Benjamin in Genesis and here. Here there are only 5 descendants, while in Genesis, there were 10 descendants. Only 2 are the same Bela and Ashbel. Bela was another name for the place called Zoar in Genesis. In fact, today there are many places throughout the world named Bela. There will be other people named Bela in other biblical tales. Those missing from this list are Becher, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. Becher is listed as a son of Ephraim, so that may be why he is not here. In later books of the Bible, Gera is listed as a son of Benjamin, but not here. Naaman and Ard are listed as the descendants of Bela, not of Benjamin as in Genesis. The mention of Ehi and Muppim in Genesis are the only mentions of these two in the biblical works. Rosh is some sort of kingdom in later works. It is possible that Hupham is just another way of saying Huppim, since they are both listed only once here in Numbers and Genesis. Both Ahiram and Shephupham are only listed here and in no other works.

  1. Bela, the clan of the Belaites;

i.      Ard, the clan of the Ardites;

ii.      Naaman, the clan of the Naamites.

2. Ashbel, the clan of the Ashbelites;

3. Ahiram, the clan of the Ahiramites;

4. Shephupham, the clan of the Shuphamites;

5. Hupham, the clan of the Huphamites.

These are the clans of Benjamin that increased by 10,000, 45,600 from 35,400. Once again, this tribe increased.

“These are the descendants of Dan according by their clans: Shuham, the clan of the Shuhamites. These are the clans of Dan by their clans. All the clans of the Shuhamites were sixty-four thousand four hundred enrolled.”

10)          Dan had only 1 son, but he has 2 different names between here and Genesis, where he is called Hushim not Shuham. Since the names do not appear elsewhere, we may assume that they are different spellings of the same name. There is no mention of his children. Actually this was a very large clan.

  1. Shuham, the clan of the Shuhamites.

The Shuhamites increased by only 1,700, 64,400 from 62,700.

“The descendants of Asher by their clan are: Imnah, the clan of the Imnites; Ishvi, the clan of the Ishvites; Beriah, the clan of the Beriites. The descendants of Beriah are: Heber, the clan of the Heberites; Malchiel, the clan of the Malchielites. The name of the daughter of Asher was Serah. These are the clans of the Asherites. The number of those enrolled was fifty-three thousand four hundred.”

11)          The descendants of Asher seem to have lost one son, Ishvah, who was in Genesis and later in Chronicles, but is not here in Numbers. The other three descendants and daughter are exactly the same. Somehow Beriah is more important since they mention his two descendants, Heber and Malchiel. Heber is mentioned again in the later works as well as a Heber who is a Kenite. Once again, Serah is mentioned as a daughter, but there is no group name for her descendants, no Serahites.

  1. Imnah, the clan of the Imnites;
  2. Ishvi, the clan of the Ishvites;
  3. Beriah, the clan of the Beriites.

i.      Heber, the clan of the Heberites;

ii.      Malchiel, the clan of the Malchielites.

4. Serah, the daughter of Asher;

The clans of the descendants of Asher increased by 12,000, 53,400 from 41,500, with no reason given.

“The descendants of Naphtali by their clan were: Jahzeel, the clan of the Jahzeelites; Guni, the clan of the Gunites; Jezer, the clan of the Jezerites; Shillem, the clan of the Shillemites. These are the clans of Naphtalites by their clans. The number of those enrolled was forty-five thousand four hundred.”

12)         The four descendants of Naphtali are exactly the same as in Genesis.

  1. Jahzeel, the clan of the Jahzeelites;
  2. Guni, the clan of the Gunites;
  3. Jezer, the clan of the Jezerites;
  4. Shillem, the clan of the Shillemites.

The families of Naphtali decreased 9,000, from 53,400 to 45,400.

“This was the number of the Israelites enrolled: six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty.”

The number of Israelite people “enrolled” decreased from the first census to this census by merely 1,470, from 601,730 to 603,500. “

“Yahweh spoke to Moses. ‘To these the land shall be apportioned for inheritance according to the number of names. To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance. To a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance. Every tribe shall be given its inheritance according to its enrollment. But the land shall be apportioned by lot. According to the names of their ancestral tribes they shall inherit. Their inheritance shall be apportioned according to lot between the larger and the smaller.”

Yahweh told Moses that the large tribes should get a larger inheritance, than the smaller tribes. This shall be done by lot or chance, but the large would be in one category and the small ones in another category. Thus the census served a purpose as they prepared to enter the Promise Land.


One thought on “Another census (Num 26:1-26:56)

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