Numbers 26 is another census. First, my ability to accurately translate large numbers from Spanish to English remains less than perfect. Second, it is interesting the little recaps that are snuck into these numbers. In recounting the numbers of the first born, Reuben, it notes that about 250 of them were swallowed up in the ground when they rebelled with the Levites. Num. 26:10. For Judah, the most numerous tribe now, it notes that a couple of his sons did not make it out of Canaan into Egypt (Er & Onan). Num. 26:19. Although not noted, it demonstrates that the older son of Joseph, Manasseh has more numbers than the younger son Ephraim. This is a swap that happened during the wanderings captured in Numbers and seems to contradict the blessing Jacob/Israel gave to the fathers. Finally, in counting the Levites, we learn that Moses, Aaron & Miriam are the children of the daughter of a Levite, but it appears their father is not a Levite. Num. 26:58-59. And, of course, we’re reminded of the profane fire that Aaron’s kids used that one time. Num. 26:60-61.
God tells Moses to use these numbers to apportion the land–which makes the Ephraim Manasseh thing more interesting. This seems a little “cart before the horse” since they do not yet have the land. But, I guess planning is important.
Also, the total number is only down 2000, which is impressive because just in 25:9 we have a record of God Godself killing 24,000 of them with a plague. Also impressive because none of those, except Caleb, Joshua, and Moses left with them out of Egypt. Num. 25:63-65.
Pause here: I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but the notion that none of those who start the journey finish the journey is a hella metaphor and not just for interstellar travel.
Then Chapter 27 has a huge legal point. If an Israelite dies without a living son, his property is inherited by his daughter. If no children, it goes to the Israelite’s brother. So, basically a women’s rights movement here.
Finally, at the end of this chapter, God tells Moses to turn things over to Joshua. Joshua will consult with Eleazar who will consult with God via the Urim. There’s a lot going on there. Peaceful transition of power, changing of roles, and a prediction about the bloody battles that are on the horizon.