The *Israelites at the Start of their Journey
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Numbers chapters 1 to 10
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
The first 5 books in the Bible are called the Ď5 Books of Mosesí. The Book of Numbers is the 4th of these books. The *Hebrew name for these books is the ĎTorahí, which means Ď*Lawí. These books are very important. They contain Godís instructions about how his people should live.
This book is called ĎNumbersí because there are many lists of numbers in it. There are two *censuses (Numbers 1:1 to 4:49; Numbers chapter 26). These record the numbers of male *Israelites who were over 20 years old. These were all the men who could fight in a battle. Also, there is a list of men and boys over one month old from Leviís *tribe. The men from Leviís *tribe did not fight. They helped the priests. There are other lists, too (Numbers 7:10-83; 28:1 to 29:38; 31:32-52). But these lists are not the most important part of the book.
The *Hebrew name for this book is ĎIn the *desertí. This name describes well what the book is about. In fact, the words Ďin the *desertí are in the first sentence of the book in the *Hebrew language.
The book begins two years after the *Israelites had escaped from the country called Egypt. They had been *slaves there. They had made a camp in the Sinai *desert. God had given the *Law to Moses. They were preparing to go to the *Promised Land.
As they travelled, God was with them. He looked after them. He provided food and drink for them. But the *Israelites complained about life in the *desert. They did not trust God. They did not obey God. So God punished them. They wandered in the *desert for nearly 40 years. All the adults who had left Egypt died in the *desert, except Joshua and Caleb.
However, God did not take the *Promised Land away from the *Israelites. He gave it to their children, who had grown up in the *desert. The first *generation, the adults who had left Egypt, did not enter the *Promised Land. But the second *generation, their children, did enter the *Promised Land. God always does what he has promised.
When the book ends, this second *generation had reached the edge of the *Promised Land.
The book does not just record what happened in the *desert. Also, it contains instructions about how the *Israelites should *worship God. There is information about *purification, *sacrifices, and the duties of priests. Also, there are many lists of names and numbers.
Many people believe that Moses wrote the first 5 books in the Bible (the ĎTorahí, which means Ď*Lawí). This includes the Book of Numbers. This is the traditional opinion. There are several reasons to believe this.
1. Moses recorded events that happened. He wrote about them. The *Old Testament records many times that he did this (for example, Numbers 33:1-2; also Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27).
2. Moses could write well. He had received a good education. He had lived in the palace of the king of Egypt.
3. Moses was the peopleís leader. He saw most of the events in the *desert.
4. The *New Testament records that Moses was the author of the ĎTorahí, the first 5 books of the Bible (for example, Matthew 19:8; John 5:46-47; Romans 10:5).
There are other opinions about who wrote the ĎTorahí (the first 5 books in the Bible). Some writers think that several people wrote it. They think that some of these people were priests. They think that these people wrote it many centuries after Mosesí death. Probably, they would have used information that Moses provided. This information may have been what Moses wrote. It may have come from stories that people told about these events.
But the ĎTorahí (the first 5 books in the Bible) is an accurate and true account of what the *Israelites did in the *desert. Also, it is an accurate and true record of the laws that God gave to Moses.
The book is not one complete story with a beginning, middle and end. It contains many stories about events in the *desert. Also it contains lists, instructions, poems and *prophecies.
It may be easier to study this book if we divide it into three parts. This follows the *Israelites on their journey.
The first part describes what happened at Sinai. The second part describes what happened in the *desert. This was near to a place called Kadesh. The third part describes what happened in the region next to the country called Canaan, the *Promised Land.
This book teaches us some very important things about God.
God guided the *Israelites by means of a cloud (Numbers 9:15-23). They carried the *Ark with them wherever they went. The *Ark showed them that God was with them always. He protected them from their enemies (Numbers 10:33-36).
God had chosen Moses as the *Israelitesí leader. But they opposed Moses many times. They complained about the food in the *desert (Numbers 11:4-6). They refused to enter the *Promised Land. They believed that the people there were stronger than them. They did not trust God to help them (Numbers chapters 13 and 14).
God loved them. But he had to discipline them (to teach or to control, sometimes by means of a punishment) (Numbers 14:26-35). God disciplines those people whom he loves (Hebrews 12:6).
God never allowed the *Israelites to *worship false gods (Numbers chapter 25).
God had promised to give to the *Israelites their own land. He rescued them from the *Egyptians. He guided them through the *desert. They arrived at the *Promised Land. But they were afraid to enter it.
However, God did not take back his promise. Instead, he gave the *Promised Land to their children.
God is different from people, whom he made. He is good completely. But all people are *sinful. *Sin is like dirt because it spoils our lives. *Sin makes us dirty inside, in our hearts and minds. In other words, it ruins our thoughts, our attitudes and our behaviour.
The *Israelites washed themselves in special ways before they *worshipped God. They made their bodies clean. They offered *sacrifices. They believed that the blood from these *sacrifices washed their *sins away. So they felt *clean inside their hearts. There were many special rules about how to *worship God. All these rules showed that God is *holy.
But we do not need to follow these special rules still. We do not need to kill animals as *sacrifices. God has given us a new way to come to him. That way is by means of his son, that is, Jesus *Christ. When people killed Jesus on a *cross, he became the *sacrifice for our *sins. This *sacrifice was for all people, for all time. Jesusí blood washes our *sins away. When we believe in Jesus, God forgives our *sins. Jesus suffered the punishment for our *sins.
Jesus is *holy. When we believe in Jesus, God considers us *holy, too. We can come to God at any time, in any place. God is our friend because of what Jesus did.
The *Israelites had camped near Sinai Mountain. They were preparing to travel to the *Promised Land. Before they left, God told Moses to do four things.
1. *Celebrate the *Passover (Numbers 9:1-14).
2. Count the soldiers (Numbers chapter 1).
3. Tell each *tribe where to camp round *Godís Tent (Numbers chapter 2).
4. Give duties to the priests (Numbers chapters 3 and 4).
This part of the book describes these four things. But the accounts are not in the order that these things happened. The events in chapters 7:1 to 9:15 happened before the events in chapters 1 to 6. But all these events happened during a period of less than 50 days (Numbers 1:1; 10:11).
Verse 1 ĎThe *LORD spoke to Moses.í This is a very important sentence. It appears over 80 times in this book. God had chosen Moses to be the *Israelitesí leader. God spoke to Moses. Then, Moses told the people what God had said. Also, Moses spoke to God on behalf of the people.
*Godís Tent was a very special tent. God had told Moses how to build it (Exodus 25:8 to 27:21). The *Israelites took it with them on their journey. In the *desert, it was the place where they *worshipped God. It showed them that God was always among them.
It had two rooms. A curtain separated these rooms. The bigger room was called Ďthe *Holy Placeí. The smaller room was called Ďthe *Most Holy Placeí. The *Ark was inside this room. The *Ark contained two pieces of stone. God had written his *Law on these pieces of stone (Exodus 34:1). We shall learn more about *Godís Tent in Numbers 9:15-23.
ĎIt was the first day of the second month during the second year after they had left the country called Egyptí (verse 1). This verse tells us clearly when these events happened. It reminds us that we are reading about real people and real events. Many writers say that the people left Egypt during the first half of the 13th century *BC. BC is the period of time before Jesus was born.
Verses 2-3 God told Moses to count all the men who were able to fight. This was the purpose of the *census. Also, it showed that every person mattered to God. Mosesí brother Aaron could help him count.
The *Promised Land, which was the country called Canaan, was not empty. The people who lived there would fight the *Israelites. So *Israel needed a strong army.
Moses and Aaron had to count everyone group by group. Families were the smallest groups. There were several people in a family. A *clan consisted of several families. A *tribe consisted of several *clans. The nation called *Israel consisted of 12 *tribes.
Verse 4 The *census was a very big responsibility. One leader from each *tribe had to help Moses and Aaron. It is important for leaders to share responsibilities.
Verses 4-9 This list reminds us that this is a book about history. These are the names of real people, with their fathersí names and their *tribesí names.
The *Israelitesí *ancestors were Jacobís sons (Genesis 35:23-26). Each of Jacobís sons started a *tribe. Each sonís name became the name of his *descendantsí *tribe.
In this list, two half *tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, are there on behalf of Josephís *tribe. Leviís *tribe had a special job to do. So Moses counted them separately (Numbers 3:14-39).
Names were very important to the *Israelites. They chose names carefully. If you knew a personís name, you knew something about their character.
Apart from the names of the *tribes, there are 24 names in this list. Many of these names have one of the *Hebrew names for God inside them. These *Hebrew names are ĎElí (God), ĎShaddaií (All-Powerful) and ĎZurí (Rock). For example, Elishama means ĎMy God listensí. Zurishaddai means ĎThe All-Powerful God is my Rock (security).í Often, the *Israelites said that God is like a rock. A rock can be a shelter for people. It can provide security. It can protect people. God does these things for his people.
6 of these names, like Abi (My Father) and Ahi (My Brother), also refer to God. God is like a father and a brother to us.
These names show us that God was very important to the *Israelites. They were very aware of him.
Verses 20-46 There were 603 550 strong, healthy men who were 20 years old or older. This number does not include women, girls, boys under 20 years old, old people or ill people. It does not include Leviís *tribe. Leviís *tribe were not soldiers. They had a different job to do. So Moses counted them later.
This means that there were between two and five million people in the camp. This was a very large group of people.
Verses 47-54 God did not want Leviís *tribe to be soldiers. They had a different job. It was a very important job. They had to look after *Godís Tent.
Levi was Jacobís third son (Genesis 29:34). Levi had three sons. Their names were Gershon, Kohath and Merari (Genesis 46:11). Moses and Aaron were Kohathís *descendants (Numbers 3:14-24). Aaron was the first *High Priest. The *High Priest had the most important duties in *Godís Tent. Aaronís sons were priests. They helped Aaron. Men from Leviís *tribe helped the priests to do their duties. The *High Priest was their leader. They had to carry the parts of *Godís Tent whenever the *Israelites travelled. Men from Leviís *tribe had to put the parts together again when the *Israelites stopped to camp.
Also, Leviís *tribe had to look after *Godís Tent. It was the most important place in the camp. God is everywhere. But he was in *Godís Tent in a special way. The priests *worshipped God there. It was a very *holy place. The *Israelites had to respect it. If they came too near to it, they would die.
God is good completely. But every person has *sinned. So, in order to come close to God, the *Israelites had to offer *sacrifices.
But it is different for us. *Christians can be close to God. This is not because we do good things. It is because Jesus, Godís son, suffered the punishment for our *sins on our behalf. Jesus was the perfect *sacrifice. So we do not need to offer *sacrifices of animals. Jesusí blood takes away all our *sins and makes us *clean inside our hearts. We must confess our *sins to God, so that he will forgive us. We must believe that Jesus died on our behalf. And we must invite him into our lives. We can come and talk to God at any time. God invites us to come close to him! (Hebrews chapter 10).
Only Leviís *tribe served God in his *holy Tent. They belonged to God in a special way. But, because of Jesusí *sacrifice, all *Christians belong to God in a special way, like priests (1 Peter 2:5).
But the events in this book happened many centuries before Jesus came. So Leviís *tribe had to make sure that the *Israelites respected *Godís Tent.
The people did everything that God wanted (verse 54). They obeyed him completely. But they did not obey him afterwards. The rest of the book emphasises this.
Verses 1-34 God told Moses and Aaron how to arrange the *Israelitesí camp. So each person knew the exact place where they must put their tent.
The *tribes formed a square with *Godís Tent in the middle. In the 13th century *BC, the army of Egypt camped in a square. (BC is the period of time before Jesus was born.) The kingís tent was in the middle. In the *Israelitesí camp, *Godís Tent was in the middle, because God was *Israelís king.
Leviís *tribe camped in the space between the other *tribes and *Godís Tent. They looked after it. They did not allow the other *Israelites to come too close to *Godís Tent.
The *tribes camped in four groups. There were three *tribes in each group. The *tribes of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim and Dan commanded one group each. Each group had its own flag. They would carry this flag in a battle. Also, each *tribe had its own flag. There was a *Jewish tradition that the *tribesí flags were the colours of the 12 jewels (precious stones) in the *High Priestís special clothes (Exodus 28:15-24). But there is nothing in the Bible about the colours of the flags.
It seems the *tribes had to camp in order of importance. East was the most important position. It was on the same side as the entrance to *Godís Tent. So the largest and most important group of *tribes (Judahís group) looked after it. Reubenís group of *tribes camped on the south side. Ephraimís group camped on the west side. Lastly, Danís group camped on the north side.
Whenever the *Israelites travelled, the *tribes had to walk in this same order. Leviís *tribe carried the parts of *Godís Tent. They walked between the other *tribes. *Godís Tent should have reminded them that God was with them always. When they camped, God was with them. When they travelled, God travelled with them.
God told Moses and Aaron to arrange the camp in a military way. Every time the *Israelites set off, they marched as an army. They had to be ready to fight for the *Promised Land.
Verses 1-4 Aaron was the *High Priest (Leviticus chapter 8). All his sons were priests. But Nadab and Abihu did something that was very wrong. God punished them. He sent fire to burn them until they were dead. We know this because this story is in Leviticus 10:1-3, too.
However, it is not certain what Ďunholy fireí means. Priests sometimes burned *incense in *Godís Tent. Nadab and Abihu were burning *incense when they died. The fire was Ďunholyí because God had not ordered them to offer it (Leviticus 10:1). So they were opposing God on purpose.
Nadab and Abihu had not obeyed God. They were his priests. They had neglected to serve him properly. They had not shown honour to God. This teaches us something very important. God loves us. He is our friend. But also he is the maker of everything that exists. He is *holy completely. We must remember this. We must show honour to God always.
Verses 5-10 Aaron and his sons were the priests. The rest of Leviís *tribe acted as their servants. These servants helped the priests to look after *Godís Tent. They had two main duties. Whenever the *Israelites travelled, Leviís *tribe had to take down *Godís Tent. Then they had to carry the parts as they travelled. This was heavy work!
Also, they had to look after *Godís Tent always. If any of the other *Israelites came too near to *Godís Tent, that person would die. Then God would not punish all the *Israelites because one person had not obeyed him (see Numbers 1:53; 16:40; 25:8).
Verses 11-13 Before they escaped into the *desert, the *Israelites were *slaves in the country called Egypt. Moses had asked the king of Egypt to let the *Israelites go free. But the king had refused. So God had allowed 10 bad things to happen to the *Egyptians (Exodus chapters 7-11). For example, their main river had changed into blood. And many insects had eaten their crops. Finally, all the *Egyptiansí *first-born sons had died. But all the *Israelitesí *first-born sons had remained alive. When this happened, the king of Egypt let the *Israelites go free.
The *Israelitesí *first-born male animals and also their *first-born sons belonged to God. They had to redeem both their animals and their sons (Exodus 13:1-2; chapters 11 to 13; 22:29-30; 34:19-20). (To redeem means to buy back by means of a *sacrifice or a payment).
But when God was giving the *Law to Moses, the *Israelites made an *idol. They *worshipped it. Only Leviís *tribe were loyal to God (Exodus chapter 32). So God wanted Leviís *tribe to serve him, instead of the other *Israelitesí *first-born sons. And so Leviís *tribe served God instead of the *Israelitesí *first-born sons.
Verses 14-39 God told Moses to count all the males in Leviís *tribe who were one month old or older. The men from Leviís *tribe would help the priests. So the members of that *tribe belonged to God in a special way. He had accepted them to belong to him instead of the *Israelitesí *first-born sons (Numbers 3:11-13).
Again, Moses did what God asked him to do. Moses counted Leviís *tribe by *clan. He told each *clan where to camp.
The priests camped on the east side of *Godís Tent (verse 38). Kohathís *clan camped on the south side of *Godís Tent (verse 29). Kohathís *clan was the biggest group. They had a very important job. They were responsible for the special furniture in *Godís Tent.
Gershonís *clan camped on the west side of *Godís Tent. They were responsible for the covers, curtains and *ropes.
Merariís *clan was the smallest group. They camped on the north side of *Godís Tent. They had to look after all the parts of the Tentís *frame and the things in the yard that surrounded it. Whenever the *Israelites travelled, each *clan had to carry their own parts of *Godís Tent.
Verses 40-51 The *first-born *Israelites belonged to God (see note on verses 11-13). A person who belongs to someone is a slave. So these *first-born *Israelites were really Godís slaves. But God had decided to accept the males from Leviís *tribe instead of the *first-born *Israelites. However, there were 273 more *first-born *Israelites than males from Leviís *tribe. So Moses had to buy these 273 *first-born *Israelites from God.
Moses had to collect five pieces of silver for each *first-born *Israelite. This was the price of a slave at that time. It was a lot of money. Many people earned less than one piece of silver in a month. We do not know who paid the five pieces of silver. Perhaps Moses collected it from all the *first-born *Israelites. Perhaps just the 273 males paid it. But again, Moses obeyed God.
At that time, people used pieces of silver for money. But the pieces of silver were not all the same weight. The Ďofficial weightí (verse 47) was the same weight as a piece of silver that people kept in *Godís Tent. The weight of this piece of silver was about 11.5 *grams. So the pieces of silver that people paid for their *first-born sons had to weigh about 11.5 *grams. Still the *Jews today make this payment to redeem their *first-born sons. (To redeem means to buy back by means of a *sacrifice or a payment.)
Verses 1-3 There were three groups of families in Leviís *tribe. These were Gershonís *clan, Kohathís *clan and Merariís *clan. Each *clan had different duties. The priests told them what to do.
Moses counted all the men in Leviís *tribe who were between 30 and 50 years old. These men had to work in *Godís Tent and in the yard that surrounded it. They had to take all the parts down and to carry them whenever the camp moved.
Verses 4-6 Moses counted Kohathís *clan first. They were responsible for the most *sacred objects in *Godís Tent. But the priests had to cover these *sacred objects before Kohathís *clan saw them. Only priests could look at the *sacred objects. Anyone else would die if they looked at the *sacred objects.
The most *sacred object was the *Ark. There were two rooms in *Godís Tent. The *Ark was in the smaller room. This room was called the *Most Holy Place.
A curtain divided the smaller room from the larger room. The larger room was called the *Holy Place. The priests wrapped the *Ark in this curtain. They put a cover of leather over this. The *Hebrew word that we translate as Ďleatherí means Ďthe skin of an animalí. But we do not know to which type of animal the skin belonged. Experts think that it was probably an unusual animal.
Lastly, the priests wrapped the *Ark in a blue cloth. Probably, the colour blue reminded the people of heaven (see Exodus 24:10).
There were rings on the *Ark. The priests put poles through these rings. When the camp travelled, four men lifted these poles onto their shoulders. They carried the *Ark in front of all the *Israelites as they marched. This showed that God was leading them.
Verses 7-15 Next, the priests wrapped all the *sacred objects that were in the *Holy Place.
There was a special table in the *Holy Place. There were 12 loaves of bread on it (see Leviticus 24:5-9). This was the number of the *tribes of *Israel. The loaves showed that God was with all the *Israelites. On every *Sabbath, the *High Priest took away the old loaves. He put new loaves on the table. There was bread on the table always. This showed that God was with his people always.
The priests covered the special table first. Next, they covered the *stand for the lamps. This *stand was very important. We shall write more about it in the notes on chapter 8:1-4. Also, they covered the *altar of gold. The priests did not *sacrifice animals to burn on this *altar. Instead, they burned special *incense.
Then, they covered the *altar on which the priests burned *sacrifices of animals. Also, they wrapped all the things that they used with the table, the *stand for the lamps and the *altars.
The priests had to prepare everything so that it was ready for Kohathís *clan. The men from that *clan had to carry these objects on their shoulders. The poles made it easier for the men to move all the objects. They carried the *sacred objects on poles so that they did not touch them.
Verse 16 Aaronís older son, Eleazar, had a very important job. He had to make sure that everyone obeyed these instructions. He told everyone what to do in *Godís Tent. Also, he carried the different oils, the *incense and the grain for the *sacrifices.
Verses 17-20 Again, God warned Moses and Aaron. Only the priests could look at these *sacred objects. If anyone from Kohathís *clans saw the *sacred objects, they would die.
God is *holy completely. When we *worship him, we must remember this. We can come near to God only by means of Jesus, Godís Son. Jesus became the only *sacrifice for our *sins that God accepts. When we *believe in Jesus, God allows us to come near to him. In fact, he invites us to come near to him!
Verses 21-28 Gershonís *clan was responsible for all the curtains and *ropes in *Godís Tent. This included the curtains that surrounded the *Most Holy Place and the *Holy Place. Also, it included the outer covers of leather.
Gershonís *clan was responsible for the curtains and equipment of the yard, too. God allowed the men from Gershonís *clan to touch these things. But the priests, especially Ithamar, watched them and gave them instructions.
Verses 29-33 Merariís *clan was the smallest *clan in Leviís *tribe. Their duties may not seem as important as the duties of Kohathís and Gershonís *clans. Merariís *clans were responsible for the equipment that supported *Godís Tent. This included the pegs. The pegs were like thick nails. People hammered the pegs in to the ground. They tied *rope round each peg. They attached the other end of the *rope to the corner of the tent. This held the tentís cover in place over the *frame.
If any of this equipment broke, *Godís Tent would fall down. The *Israelites needed all of it, even the smallest parts. So the tasks that God gave to Merariís *clan were as important as the other *clansí tasks. The *clans worked together to serve God. *Christians must work together to serve God, too. Every task that we do for God is necessary. God has important work for every *Christian to do.
Verses 34-49 In this second *census of Leviís *tribe, Moses and his helpers counted the men who could work in *Godís Tent. The beginning and end of this passage emphasises again that Moses and the leaders obeyed God. However, later in the book, we shall read about how the *Israelites did not obey God.
Verses 1-4 In *Old Testament times, it was not proper for an *unclean person to enter a holy place. It was not proper for an *unclean person to mix with other people. In the camp, people might be unkind to a person with an infectious disease of the skin. ĎInfectiousí means the disease can spread from one person to another. So people with infectious diseases of the skin lived together outside the camp, where they would be safe. Also, the people inside the camp would be safe, because the disease would not spread. ĎOutsideí meant at the edge of the camp. They lived in caves or in tents there.
Everyone was *unclean sometimes. There were many reasons why a person was *unclean. It did not mean just that the person needed to wash their hands or body. Leviticus chapter 15 and Numbers chapter 19 describe the laws about this. For example:
∑ A person became *unclean if they had a disease of the skin. They might give this disease to another person.
∑ A person became *unclean if blood or other liquid came out of the sex parts of their bodies. A disease might have caused this. Also, women were *unclean during the time of the month when they were bleeding.
∑ A person who touched a dead human body was *unclean for a week.
God was living among the *Israelites in a special way, in *Godís Tent. Anyone who came near to *Godís Tent had to be *clean. God is not like a man. He is *holy completely.
There were different ways that people became *unclean. So there were different rules about this. Some people who were *unclean had to separate themselves from the rest of the camp. Other people had to wash in a special way.
Today, people do not need to follow these rules in order for God to accept them. Everything changed when Jesus came. He touched people who had diseases of the skin. He cured them. He touched dead people and they became alive again (for example, Luke 17:12-19; Luke 8:40-56).
However, people who do not *believe in Jesus are *unclean because of their *sins. They cannot come near to God. The only way to come near to God is by means of Jesus. We must believe that Jesus died as a *sacrifice for us. If we *repent, his blood cleans us from all our *sins (1 John 1:7). Only Jesus can make us *clean, so that God will accept us.
Verses 5-6 ĎDo a wrong actí probably refers to Leviticus 6:1-5. Leviticus 6:1-5 describes the rules about a person who takes something for himself. And then he is not honest about the matter. All *sins against other people are *sins against God, too. In this passage, God reminds Moses of this fact.
Verse 7 The laws of *Israel were much more strict than the laws of other nations. A person had to confess that they had done a wrong act. But this was not enough. Also, they had to pay money to the person against whom they had done the wrong act. This amount of money paid for any loss or damage. Then, the guilty person had to add an extra one fifth to the amount. They had to give that, too.
So, God taught the *Israelites that it costs a lot to *sin! If a person was really sorry, they would be glad to pay more. This showed that they were sincere. Also, when a person paid this money, the other person had to forgive him or her. The other person must not try to do another wrong act against the guilty person.
Verses 8-10 The guilty person had to pay money, even if the other person had died. The dead personís relatives received the money instead. If the relatives were all dead, the guilty person had to pay the priest. The priest was Godís representative (a person who acts on behalf of someone else). Also, the priest had to *sacrifice a male sheep that the guilty person had bought.
This law was very important. The *Israelites were preparing to march together to the *Promised Land. There had to be no quarrels between them. They had to respect God and other people. This law helped to prevent crimes. It helped people whom other people had hurt in any way. Also, it helped people who had hurt other people. They could show God that they were sorry. Then he could forgive them.
Verses 11-14 Families were very important to the *Israelites. They kept records of their *ancestors. If a manís wife had sex with another man, this was a serious crime. Her husband could not be certain that he was the father of her children. Godís *Law warns husbands and wives that they must never be *unfaithful to each other (Exodus 20:14).
The punishment for this crime was death. But there had to be evidence. The husband had to prove that his wife was guilty. If the husband had no evidence, he could follow the instructions in this passage. And then God would act as the judge.
It is likely that many innocent women carried out this *ritual. Because they were innocent, they would not be afraid to follow the *ritual. God would protect them. But if a woman was guilty, she would be very afraid of Godís judgement. So probably she would tell her husband that she was guilty first. And she would hope that he would forgive her. Or she might run away.
However, if a woman was not guilty of *adultery, this *ritual proved this fact to her husband and everyone else. Her husband would not be able to punish her. He had to take her back to live with him as his wife again. So, this *ritual provided Godís protection for innocent women.
The passage includes many details about this ancient *ritual. It records the words that the people had to say. The husband and wife went to the priest with an *offering. Barley was a type of cheap grain. The man did not add oil or *incense to the *offering. So it was like a poor manís *offering, for when someone was *unclean (Leviticus 5:11-13).
ĎHoly waterí (verse 17) was water that the priests kept in *Godís Tent. The priest mixed it with dust. Also, he mixed it with the ink that he had used to write the *curses. This was not magic. The water and the dust were *symbols. Perhaps the dust reminded people that the *unclean snake ate dust (Genesis 3:14). Perhaps it reminded them also that God had made people from dust (Genesis 2:7). However, we cannot be certain, because the passage does not explain the meaning.
ĎThen the priest must untie the womanís hairí (verse 18). This showed that the woman was *unclean. People who had diseases of the skin had to untie their hair.
ĎThe bitter water brings a *curseí (verse 18). The water was not just bitter because it tasted bad. It was bitter because it could cause bad things to happen. If the woman was guilty, she would not be able have babies. In the *Israelitesí society, this was a bad thing to happen to a woman. A woman who was not able to have babies felt very sad.
But if the woman were not guilty, the water would not hurt her. It proved that she was innocent.
This passage reminds us that *adultery is a serious *sin. God does not want husbands or wives to be *unfaithful. *Adultery hurts people and destroys families. But also we need to remember that God forgives *sins if people are sorry. Jesus forgave a woman who had been *unfaithful (John 8:2-11). He did not punish her. However, he told her that she must not *sin again.
Also, Paul warned people that they must not continue to *sin in this way. If they did continue, they could not belong to the *church (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
Godís people must not be *unfaithful to their husbands or wives. Also, it is bad for a husband to suspect his wife without evidence. It can destroy his love for her. It can destroy her love for him. Husbands must be able to trust their wives. Wives must be able to trust their husbands.
By means of this *ritual, God showed everyone whether a woman was guilty or innocent.
Verses 1-21 The word Ď*Naziriteí is from the *Hebrew word Ďnazirí. ĎNazirí means to separate someone (or something) from everything else for a special purpose. The *Naziritesí special purpose was to give themselves to God completely for a period of time.
*Nazirites were not priests. A person chose to become a *Nazirite. Women could become *Nazirites too. But in this passage and notes, we have used the word Ďheí to make it easier to read.
A person did not have to be a *Nazirite for all of his life. He promised to give himself to God completely for a particular period of time. This period of time varied. When his time as a *Nazirite finished, he had to bring *sacrifices to *Godís Tent (verses 13-20). Then, he was free from the promise.
It was usual for the *Israelites to make promises to God. Usually, people promised to give or to do something for God. People became *Nazirites for different reasons. Perhaps they had problems that had made them depend on God only. So they wanted to show this when they gave themselves to him completely.
*Nazirites made special promises. In verse 2, the *Hebrew word for Ďto make a promiseí means Ďto do something wonderful or extraordinaryí. *Nazirites had to obey special rules.
1. God did not allow them to eat *grapes or raisins (*grapes that people have dried in the sun), or to drink alcohol or vinegar (a type of sour wine). A *Nazirite could never become a drunk!
2. *Nazirites had to grow their hair. Hair that was growing was a *symbol of their life. They had given their life to God for a particular period of time. During that time, they did not cut their hair. Their long hair showed that they belonged to God completely. Female *Nazirites had long hair anyway. Probably, they did not tie it up.
3. *Nazirites had to avoid dead bodies. If an ordinary *Israelite touched a dead body, he had to wash in a special liquid (Numbers chapter 19). But if someone died near a *Nazirite, the *Nazirite had to bring expensive *offerings to *Godís Tent. He had to shave off his hair and he had to make his promises again. Even if his time as a *Nazirite had finished almost, he had to start again!
*Nazirites were holy, like priests. But *Nazirites could not enter *Godís Tent or offer *sacrifices. Priests wore special clothes, but *Nazirites did not. People gave *offerings to the priests. *Nazirites did not receive *offerings. They had to give *offerings to the priests, too. When a personís time as a *Nazirite was over, they gave the four main types of *offering (see Leviticus chapters 1 to 4).
The animal that the person offered had to be perfect, without any spots or marks. The person put his hands on the animal. This showed that the animal represented him. (To represent means to do something on behalf of someone else.) He wanted to show that he had given himself to God completely.
This offering showed the end of a personís time as a *Nazirite. Then the priest burned the whole animal on the *altar. The smell pleased God. It was an act of the total *sacrifice of the *Nazirite.
Flour, bread and biscuits were types of *grain offerings. People burned part of the *grain offering on the *altar. The grain had to be the best that the person could give. It was a gift to God. Also, it was a gift for the priests.
This was similar to the *burnt offering. However, the priests burned the animalís fat only. The *Israelites thought that this was the best part of the animal. But they offered it to God because God had told them to offer it. It was usual for the person who brought it to share the meat with their family. The priest received some of the meat also. Usually, he received the front part and the back leg only. But from a *Nazirite, the priest received the shoulder, a loaf and a biscuit too. This was an *offering to show that the person was at *peace with God. It showed that God accepted that person.
The person made this *offering so that God would forgive their *sins.
It was the custom to give *offerings of wine with the *burnt offering and the *peace offering.
Verses 22-27 This beautiful prayer is one of the most popular poems in the Bible. Both *Jews and *Christians still say it today. The prayer asks for Godís *blessing. His *blessing is life with him always. His *blessing includes all that we need to live this kind of life. It includes all that we need to help other people. It includes strength to do what God wants. And it includes Godís protection from bad things. We must not use Godís gifts to do things that are wrong and selfish.
All of us deserve Godís punishment for our *sins. But God is kind. We can ask him to forgive us. He will answer that prayer always, if we are sincere (1 John 1:9). Then we will know his *peace. Jesus died to make this possible (John 3:16).
The *Hebrew word for *peace is Ďshalomí. It is one of the most important words in the *Hebrew language. It is a gift from God. We have *peace when we obey God. Godís *peace helps us not to be anxious, even when we are in danger. We feel content inside our spirits, whatever happens to us. God takes care of us. He provides everything that we need. When we realise this, we have *peace.
Verses 1-89 This is the longest chapter in the *Old Testament, apart from Psalm 119. The original text repeats the same list of gifts 12 times, once for each leader. However, to make it easier to read, there is just one list of gifts in our translation of verses 12-83.
These events happened one month before the *census in Numbers 1:1-4. The list of men and *tribes is in the same order as in Numbers 2:1-34. Each leader brought the same gifts. Each *tribe was equally important to God. Perhaps the author repeated the list 12 times to show this. The list of the leaders reminds us that God knows every personís name. Every person is special to God.
The leaders gave carts and *oxen to transport *Godís Tent. They gave objects for the priests to use in *Godís Tent. The objects were beautiful and practical, too. Also, the leaders brought animals to offer as *sacrifices.
The gifts and *offerings were very expensive. But the leaders were happy to give them. The *Hebrew word for *offering is from a word that means Ďto come nearí to someone or something. When the leaders brought gifts to *Godís Tent, they brought them near to God.
*Godís Tent was the special place where God met with the *Israelites. But we know that God does not live in one place only. He is everywhere.
God spoke to Moses in *Godís Tent, when Moses stood by the *Ark. Although the *Ark was very holy, God did not live in it! Verse 89 reminds us of this. When God spoke, his voice came from above the *Ark.
Gold covered the *Ark on the inside and the outside. On the top, there was a big piece of gold. There was a model of an *angel at each end. Godís voice came from between these *angels.
Today, we do not have to go to a special place to meet God. We can meet God by means of his son, Jesus *Christ. When we pray to Jesus, we are talking to God. Jesus brings Godís message to us also, by means of the *Holy Spirit. We can pray to Jesus wherever we are. We can speak to him at any time.
Verses 1-4 The *stand for the lamps was in the *Holy Place. It was with the table for the special bread and the *altar of gold. There is a longer description of it in Exodus 25:31-40.
The person who made it used one piece of gold only. That person hammered the gold to make a beautiful object. This was very difficult to do. The *stand was very precious.
The *stand was the shape of a tree with 6 branches. There were models of flowers on the branches. Each branch held one lamp. The trunk (main stem) of the tree held the 7th lamp. The *Israelites gave oil to burn in the lamps.
There were no windows in the *Holy Place. The lamps provided the light so that the priests could do their work. It was the priestsí duty to look after the lamps so that there was light always.
The table with the special bread was in front of the lamps. When the light shone towards the front, it shone on this table. The 12 loaves were a *symbol of the 12 *tribes. The light was a *symbol of God. It reminded the *Israelites that God was with them always. It reminded them that he wanted to *bless them.
Also, it reminds us that Jesus described himself as Ďthe light of the worldí (John 8:12). Jesus is like a light for all people. He shows us the way to live. He guides us. He *blesses us. Nothing can hide in the light. Jesus knows everything about us.
But also the *stand is very important because it is a *symbol of *Christ and his people. Jesus said that he is like a *vine (John 15:1-8). And we, his people, are like the branches. The branches stay strong and alive because they are part of the *vine. The branches cannot live away from the *vine. They cannot produce fruit if they are not part of the *vine.
People had made this *stand from one piece of metal. It would have been easier for them to stick different pieces of metal together. But they had not done this. They had made the main part of the *stand and its branches from one piece of metal. This reminds us that we are one with *Christ. He is like a *vine and we are like its branches. We cannot do Godís work if we are not united with *Christ. Jesus said this (John 15:5).
Verses 5-7 Leviís *tribe belonged to God in a special way. God accepted them instead of the *Israelitesí *first-born sons (see note on Numbers 3:40-51). Leviís *tribe had remained loyal to God when the other *Israelites had *rejected him (Exodus 32:25-29). He had chosen them to belong to him and to serve him.
But before they could work in *Godís Tent, Moses had to make them *clean. He had to splash on them the special water that *purifies. This was important because they had to carry *sacred objects. Also, they had to camp near to *Godís Tent.
ĎThe special water that *purifiesí (verse 7). Numbers 19:1-10 describes how people made this special water. They mixed water with the ashes of the reddish brown cow that they had burnt in a special ceremony. Also, this water was called Ďthe water of the *sin offeringí.
This special water made Leviís *tribe *clean. The water washed away the physical dirt. Also, it was a *symbol to show that they were *clean from their *sins. Then God could accept them, because they were *clean physically and *spiritually. Then they could serve God properly. Hebrews chapters 9 to 11 explain how Jesusí blood makes us *clean inside our hearts so that we can serve God properly. Hebrews 9:13 refers to the water of the *sin offering. Jesusí *sacrifice of himself on the *cross is the *sin offering on behalf of all people. His blood makes us *clean so that God will accept us. Moses had to splash the special water on Leviís *tribe. In the same way, we must allow the *Holy Spirit to make us *clean by means of Jesusí blood.
Verses 8-19 Leviís *tribe had to bring *sacrifices. Then, the *Israelites had to put their hands on Leviís *tribe. This act showed that the other *tribes recognised Leviís *tribe as Godís choice. (To recognise means to accept as correct and legal). Also, this showed that they agreed with Godís choice.
After this, Leviís *tribe had to put their hands on the animals. When they did this, they passed on their *sins to the animals. The animals died instead of Leviís *tribe. They had to die because death was the punishment for *sin. The animals became *sacrifices instead of Leviís *tribe.
There was a *burnt offering and a *sin offering. The *burnt offering showed that Leviís *tribe were giving themselves to God completely. The *sin offering made them *clean from *sin. In this way, they showed that they would serve God instead of the *Israelitesí *first-born sons.
*Sin is like a wall that separates all people from God. In the period of the *Old Testament, people could offer *sacrifices for *sins that they had done by accident. This might be if they touched something that was *unclean. They could offer *sacrifices with payment for a few particular *sins that they had done on purpose (Leviticus 6:1-7). But in general, if someone *sinned on purpose, they could not make this right with a *sacrifice. That person had to *repent and ask God to forgive them. King David did this (Psalm 51).
Jesus died on behalf of us. He received the punishment that we deserve for our *sins. He became the one *sacrifice for all people, for all time. Jesus removed the wall (*sin) that separates us from God. Every time that we *sin, we must ask God to forgive us. If we are sincere, he will forgive us.
Leviís *tribe belonged to God. But the work that they did in Godís Tent was Godís gift to the priests. Leviís *tribe could never become priests. God did not allow Leviís *tribe to serve him at the *altar. He did not allow them to wear special clothes or to enter the *Holy Place (Numbers 3:10-38 and 18:1-7; Exodus 28:1 and 29:8-9). They had to guard *Godís Tent, so that the *Israelites did not come too near (see note on Numbers 1:47-54). The *Hebrew word for Ďbad thingsí (verse 19) means a disease that can cause death.
Verses 20-22 Again, this passage emphasises that the people obeyed Godís instructions. God had decided to accept Leviís *tribe instead of the *Israelites *first-born sons. Aaron offered them to God by means of a special ceremony. They *sacrificed the *bulls on behalf of Leviís *tribe. Leviís *tribe made themselves *clean, so that God could accept them.
Verses 23-26 From the ages of 25 to 50, men from Leviís *tribe did heavy work. They carried the parts of *Godís Tent when the *Israelites moved. But they did not help the priests in *Godís Tent until they were 30 years old (Numbers 4:3). When they were 50 years old, they did not have to work any longer. But if they wanted to work, they could do other things to help. For example, they could help to teach the young men who had just started their duties.
Verses 1-5 This passage refers to events during the month before the *census (Numbers 1:1). It is about the second *Passover. There is a description of the first *Passover in Exodus chapter 12. Exodus chapters 7 to 11 describe the events that happened before the *Passover. We shall examine these events first. It will help us to understand why the *Passover was so important.
The *Israelites had been *slaves in the country called Egypt. Moses had asked the king to let them leave that country. But the king had refused. So God let 10 bad things happen in Egypt (see note on Numbers 3:11-13). Finally, God let all the *Egyptiansí *first-born sons die. This had happened during the night of the first *Passover.
God had spoken to Moses and Aaron. He had given instructions to them for the *Israelites. He had wanted each family to kill and to eat a young sheep. He had told them to eat the meat with thin bread and bitter herbs (plants that people use to give flavour). The bitter taste would remind them of their bad life in Egypt. There was no *yeast in the bread, because they could not wait for it to rise. They were ready to leave immediately.
God had told them to put some of the sheepís blood round their doors. That night, God had allowed all the *Egyptiansí *first-born sons to die. But he had promised to Ďpass overí the houses that had blood on them. So the *Israelitesí *first-born sons did not die. That same night, the king had let the *Israelites leave the country.
This passage describes the second *Passover. The *Israelites *celebrated it regularly every year after this. Today, *Jewish people all over the world *celebrate the *Passover still. It is very important for them to remember how God rescued them.
Verses 6-14 God expected all the *Israelites to *celebrate the *Passover. But there was a problem with three groups of people.
1. *Unclean people. *Unclean people could not eat meat from *sacrifices (Leviticus 7:19-21).
2. People who were away from the camp.
3. People who were not *Israelites. This referred to people who had left Egypt with the *Israelites.
Moses did not answer these people immediately. Instead, he waited for Godís decision. God told him what to do. God wanted everyone to *celebrate the *Passover. So he allowed the first two groups of people to *celebrate it one month later.
Nobody could make an excuse not to *celebrate the *Passover. If someone refused, they would not belong to Godís people. They were not an *Israelite! In the *Old Testament, this *Hebrew word for Ďcannot belongí (verse 13) meant sometimes that the person or people died (for example, Genesis 9:11; Isaiah 29:20). Sometimes it meant that people killed them. Sometimes it meant that they could not continue to live among the *Israelites. So the *Israelites sent them away. This was to punish them, because they had not obeyed Godís commands (for example Genesis 17:14; Leviticus 7:20-27 and 19:8). So people who refused to *celebrate the *Passover were guilty of a serious crime. They received a serious punishment, perhaps death. They did not deserve to live with Godís people.
God allowed foreigners in the camp to *celebrate the *Passover too. They wanted to *worship him, so he allowed them to. They became his people, like the *Israelites. But before they could *celebrate the *Passover they had to follow all the rules of the *Jewish religion. This included circumcision (to cut off the end part of skin from the male sex part. For *Jews this showed that the man agreed to obey God) Ė Exodus 12:48.
Verses 15-23 When the *Israelites had escaped from the country called Egypt, God had guided them through the *desert (Exodus 13:21-22). They could not see him because a cloud and fire hid him. When they set up *Godís Tent, God came to guide them again. Again, the cloud and the fire hid him. They set up *Godís Tent on the first day of the second year. They were preparing to travel to the *Promised Land.
The priests and Leviís *tribe camped near to *Godís Tent. Probably, some of them watched the cloud in the day and the night. Then, they could tell the other *Israelites when the cloud moved.
Again, this passage emphasises that the people obeyed God. They did not decide when to move the camp. God decided. He was with them always. He guided them and he protected them. But not all the *Israelites realised this. That is why they complained often to Moses. However, they stayed under the cloud. It gave to them shelter from the sun during the day. And it gave to them heat during the night.
Verses 1-10 The *trumpets were long, thin tubes. They were wider at one end. We know this because there are pictures of this type of *trumpet on ancient coins. Josephus, a *Jewish writer, described this type of *trumpet also.
The priests used the *trumpets for four reasons:
1. To call the *Israelites or their leaders to meet together.
2. To give the signal to set out.
3. To ask God for help in a battle.
4. To call the *Israelites together at their *festivals.
The priests made different sounds to give different signals. Probably, they made long sounds to call the people to meet together. And probably, short sounds were a signal to set out and to ask God for help. The priests also used the *trumpets at their *festivals. They used them when there was a war. Also, they used them when there was peace.
In verse 10, God said, ĎThis will help you to remember meí. This reminded the *Israelites that they must ask God to help them. Also, it reminded them that he had helped them before. He had rescued them from the *Egyptians. He would rescue them from their enemies again. But they had to ask him!
When we need God to help us, we must pray to him. God wants to help us, but he wants us to talk to him first. God is our friend. We talk to our friends. We tell them how we are feeling. We ask for their help. We must talk to God like this, too.
Verses 11-28 The *Israelites had been in the Sinai *desert for nearly one year. They set out in the order that God had described in chapter 2. Leviís *tribe carried the *Ark in front of the *Israelitesí army (verse 33). This showed that God was their leader. But the *clans in Leviís *tribe did not march together. Gershonís *clan and Merariís *clan marched before Kohathís *clan. This was so that they could put up *Godís Tent to be ready for the *sacred objects.
Verses 29-36 Moses invited his relative Hobab to come to the country called Canaan with them. Hobab was not an *Israelite. He came from the *tribes of Midian. The *tribes of Midian lived in the *desert that was next to Canaan. Hobab knew the *desert well. So he was able to give them practical advice. For example, he could tell them where to find water.
This teaches us something very important. God guides us by means of the *Holy Spirit. But also, he helps us by means of people. We must let God speak to us by means of people.
Although the passage does not record Hobabís answer, he agreed to come. We know this because his *descendants lived with the *Israelites (Judges 1:16 and 4:11).
Whenever the cloud started to move, Moses prayed. He asked God to protect the *Israelites. Whenever the cloud stopped, Moses prayed again. He asked God to live among them in the camp. Moses prayed every time that the *Israelites set off. And he prayed every time that they stopped. Moses knew that God, not Moses, commanded *Israelís army. The *Israelites needed God to protect them from their enemies. They needed God more than anyone or anything else.
We need God more than anyone or anything else, too. When we trust him completely, he will look after us, too. *Christians are in a battle against the devil. The devil tries to make us do bad things. He makes troubles for us. But when we ask God for his help, he will protect us. He has defeated the devil already. He did this at the time of Jesusí death, and when Jesus became alive again. So we must remember to pray for Godís help always.
This passage ends the first part of the Book of Numbers. The *Israelites had begun their journey to the *Promised Land.
adultery ~ when a man or a woman has sex with someone who is not their wife or husband.
altar ~ a special table where the priests burned animals or other gifts as a *sacrifice to God (or, to a false god).
Amalekite(s) ~ a group of people who lived in the southern part of the country called Canaan.
Ammonite(s) ~ a group of people who lived north of the Dead Sea, between the Arnon river and the Jabbok river.
Amorite(s) ~ a group of people who lived in the country called Canaan and on the east side of the Jordan river. The *Israelites defeated them in a battle.
Anakim ~ a group of very tall people who lived in the country called Canaan. People thought that the Anakim were the *descendants of the *Nephilim.
ancestor ~ a previous member of a family, especially someone who was important during a past century.
angel(s) ~ Godís servant who takes messages from God to people on the earth. Angels live with God in heaven.
anoint ~ to pour oil over a person. This shows that God has chosen that person for a special purpose.
Ark ~ a wooden box that contained things that were special to the *Israelites. God said that he would meet his people at the Ark. It was a *symbol that God was there in a special way.
BC ~ the period of time before Jesus was born.
believe (in) ~ to follow someone or something that you are sure is true.
blaspheme ~ to insult God.
blasphemy ~ an insult against God.
bless ~ 1. To ask God to do good things for a person or people. 2. God blesses us when he does good things for us. He guards us and he keeps us safe from evil things.
blessing(s) ~ a good thing or things that God does for us.
bodily discharge ~ liquid that comes out of the body.
bronze ~ a kind of metal.
bull(s) ~ the male animal that mates with a cow.
bunch ~ a group of things that join together. For example, a Ďbunch of *grapesí means *grapes that are growing together.
burnt offering ~ an animal that the priests burnt on the *altar as a *sacrifice.
Canaanites ~ a group of people who lived in the country called Canaan.
capture ~ 1. to catch a person and to make that person your prisoner. 2. To take something from an enemy and to possess it.
celebrate ~ to do something special or to have a party on an important day or days.
census ~ an official list which records the number of people in a particular place.
Christ ~ a title for Jesus. It means Ďthe person whom God *anointedí. This means that God chose him to save us from the results of our *sins.
Christian(s) ~ a person who follows Jesus *Christ. A Christian believes what Jesus taught.
church(es) ~ 1. All *Christians everywhere. 2. The members of a local group of *Christians.
clan(s) ~ a group of several families who are the relatives of each other.
clean ~ in the *Jewish religion, this means something or someone that God accepts. People had to be clean in order to approach *Godís Tent. People had to be clean to be in the *Israelitesí camp. There is no human way to explain what was clean or *unclean. We know only because God has shown us, in the Bible.
covenant ~ a special promise that God made to the *Israelites. The *Israelites had to remain loyal to God because of the covenant.
cross ~ two pieces of wood that someone has fixed together. The Romans fixed people to a cross in order to *execute them. (The Romans were people from the city called Rome. They ruled many countries during Jesusí life on the earth.) Jesus died on a cross. The cross is now the sign of the *Christian *church.
curse ~ a declaration that something bad will happen. In the early books of the Bible, a curse was a type of *prophecy from God. This *prophecy described something bad that would happen in the future. To curse means to speak this *prophecy.
dedicate ~ to say that something belongs to someone for a special purpose.
dedication ~ a ceremony in order to *dedicate something.
defiant(ly) ~ a person is defiant if they refuse to obey. A person is defiant towards God if they oppose his authority.
descendant(s) ~ a future member of a family or a nation.
desert ~ a dry region, or a region where there is just a little water. A few wild plants are able to grow in some deserts. So people who are travelling can live in these deserts in their tents. And they can lead animals through the desert. The *Israelites lived in a desert for nearly 40 years.
donkey(s) ~ an animal like a small horse. It carries people and things.
Egyptian(s) ~ the people who lived in the country called Egypt.
execute ~ to kill a person legally because they are guilty of a crime.
festival(s) ~ like a party, when people *celebrate a special occasion or event.
first-born ~ the first child to be born to a mother; the oldest child in a family. The word can refer to animals as well as people.
follower(s) ~ a person who accepts another person as their guide and their leader.
frame(s) ~ something that people make with poles and bars in order to support something.
generation(s) ~ the word that describes a group of people who were born at a particular time.
glory ~ everything that makes God great and beautiful. A bright light that comes from God or Jesus to show that they are beautiful and *holy.
Godís Tent ~ a special tent that had two rooms. There were special objects in these rooms which included the *Ark. Godís Tent showed the people that God was living among them.
grain offering ~ an *offering of something that people made from grain.
gram ~ a measurement of weight today. 28 grams make one ounce. 1000 grams make one *kilogram.
grape(s) ~ a kind of fruit. People made wine from grapes.
guilt offering ~ an *offering for particular *sins (see Leviticus 5:14 to 6:7).
Harvest Festival ~ a *festival when the *Israelites thanked God for the grain harvest. In the *New Testament, this *festival is called ĎPentecostí. (The *Festival of Shelters was a different *festival, when the *Israelites thanked God for the fruit harvest.)
Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews.
High Priest ~ the most important priest.
Hittites ~ a group of people who lived in the country called Canaan.
holiness ~ a quality of God. Complete goodness. The opposite of *sin.
holy ~ what God is like. Godís character: perfect, completely good with nothing bad in it. Separate from *sin.
Holy Place ~ the bigger room in *Godís Tent.
Holy Spirit ~ Godís Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person, but not human as we are. He lives and works for God. There is only one God. The Holy Spirit is God, with God the Father and God the Son. He comes to give to people the power to do what God wants.
holy war ~ a special war that God had ordered against *Israelís enemies. Not all wars that *Israel fought were holy wars. Holy wars happened only until the *Israelites had *settled into the *Promised Land.
idol(s) ~ a false god; anything that people *worship instead of the real God.
incense ~ a substance that people make from plants. It has a good smell when people burn it.
inherit ~ to receive land or property when a relative dies.
inheritance ~ the land and property that relatives receive when a person dies.
intentional ~ when someone does something on purpose, this is intentional. They know what they are doing. And they mean to do it.
Israel ~ the *Israelites and their nation.
Israelite(s) ~ a *Jewish person; the people to whom God promised the nation called Israel.
Jebusites ~ a group of people who lived in the country called Canaan. Their city, Jebus, became Jerusalem, the capital city of the *Israelites (2 Samuel 5:1-9).
Jew(s) ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Jewish ~ the word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to the *Jews.
keep a promise ~ to do what you have promised.
Kenite(s) ~ a group of people who lived among the hills south-west of the Dead Sea.
kilogram ~ 1000 *grams.
Kingís highway ~ the road that travellers used in the country called Edom.
Law ~ the rules that God gave to Moses for the *Jews.
live ~ alive.
LORD ~ a special name for God that his people use. In *Hebrew, it is Yahweh. This name means something like ĎI amí or Ďalways aliveí.
Lord ~ one who rules. God is the Lord who rules everyone.
lots ~ pieces of wood or stones that people used to divide territory or to make a decision. The lots seemed to make the decision by chance. But people believed that, in fact, God had made the decision.
manna ~ food that God provided for the *Israelites when they were in the *desert.
Midianite(s) ~ a name for any of the people who lived in the Sinai *desert and the *deserts east of the Jordan river. Probably, the *Moabitesí king ruled some of these people.
miracle(s) ~ wonderful works that only God can do by his power.
Moabite(s) ~ the people who lived in the country called Moab.
Most Holy Place ~ the smaller room in *Godís Tent. The *Ark was in that room.
murderer(s) ~ a person who murders another person or people.
Nazirite(s) ~ someone who promised to give themselves to God completely for a particular period of time. (See Numbers chapter 6.)
Nephilim ~ the giant people who lived on the earth before the flood (Genesis 6:4).
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on the earth. It is about the things that Jesus did. And it is about the things that he taught. It is also about the *church and what *Christians should believe.
occupy ~ to use military force in order to possess territory. To live in the territory of an enemy whom you have defeated.
offering(s) ~ a gift that people offer to God.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the *Jewsí holy book. The writers wrote this before the life of Jesus.
olive(s) ~ a type of fruit. People made oil out of olives.
olive oil ~ oil that people make from fruit called *olives. They use the oil to cook food. Also, they put it on their hair and their bodies.
ox/oxen ~ a strong farm animal; a type of cow or *bull. (Oxen is the plural of ox.)
Passover ~ an important holy day for the *Jews. They ate a special meal on this day every year. This was to remember that their families were *slaves in the country called Egypt. And, that God had freed them.
pasture ~ land where grass grows that is suitable for animals such as cows and sheep.
peace ~ a calm and content attitude, even when there are problems.
peace offering ~ an *offering that a person makes to be at *peace with God. God gave people the rules about *offerings so that they could receive *blessing from him (Exodus 20:24).
Philistines ~ a group of people who lived near the south coast of the country called Canaan.
prey ~ any animal that another animal has killed.
Promised Land ~ the country that God promised to give to Abraham and his *descendants.
prophecy/prophecies ~ words and messages from God.
prophesy ~ to speak or to write Godís words.
prophet(s) ~ a person who hears Godís words and tells them to other people. Some prophets wrote books in the *Old Testament. Sometimes, they told about future events before those things happened.
purify/purification ~ to make something or someone *clean.
rebel ~ to oppose or to fight against a leader or a government.
redeemer of blood ~ a person who had the right and the responsibility to do certain acts on a personís behalf, usually their closest relative. If a person murdered someone, the dead personís redeemer of blood had the right to kill the *murderer.
reject ~ not to accept or not to believe in someone or something.
repent ~ to decide not to do bad things that you did before. To decide to do what God wants.
ritual ~ when people follow particular instructions in a particular order, this is called a Ďritualí.
rope(s) ~ thick string.
Sabbath ~ the Sabbath was the 7th day of the week (Saturday) which was special to the *Jews. It was the day on which the people had to rest from work (Exodus 20:8-11).
sacred ~ special for God. ĎSacredí means that something is separate from other things, for Godís purposes only.
sacrifice(s) ~ a gift to God (or, to a false god). God gave the rules about sacrifices so that people could receive *blessing from him (Exodus 20:24). The *Jews killed animals as sacrifices. Also, the word means Ďto make a sacrificeí.
safe town(s) ~ a special town where a person could go if they had killed somebody by accident.
Saviour ~ Jesus, who saves us from the results of our *sins.
settle ~ to decide to stay in a place and to make a home there.
Sheol ~ a word that the *Israelites used to describe death. Another word for Ďthe graveí.
shepherd(s) ~ a person who looks after sheep as their job.
sin ~ the nature of all people since Adam chose not to obey God. Peopleís lives are not acceptable to God because of sin. ĎSinsí are states, attitudes and acts that are not acceptable to God. A person sins whenever that person is guilty of a sin.
sinner ~ someone who *sins.
sin offering ~ an *offering that God accepts in place of a *sinnerís *sin. The opportunity to give an *offering is Godís gift. In this way, a person can know that God forgives him or her.
slave(s) ~ a person who has to work hard for someone else. The *Egyptians forced the *Israelites to make bricks (Exodus chapter 5) and to build cities (Exodus 1:11). Also, the *Israelites had to work in the fields on behalf of the *Egyptians. But the *Egyptians allowed them to keep their own animals and to produce their own crops.
Spirit ~ the *Holy Spirit.
spiritual ~ a description of something that belongs to the spirit rather than to physical things.
spoils ~ things that soldiers take from their enemies after they have defeated them.
stand ~ an object that supports another object, for example, a lamp.
symbol(s)/symbolic ~ a thing that points to something else and reminds us of it, especially an idea or a quality. Something that is a symbol is called Ďsymbolicí.
tassel(s) ~ a *bunch of threads that people tie together at the top. (Threads are thin pieces of material, often cotton. People use them to sew.)
trial ~ the time when a prisoner is in a legal court. The purpose of the trial is to decide whether the person is guilty of a crime.
tribe(s) ~ a group of *clans who live together and who have the same *ancestor.
trumpet(s) ~ a musical instrument that people blow.
unclean ~ in the *Jewish religion, an unclean person could not go near to *Godís Tent or into the *Israelitesí camp, depending on the type of *uncleanness. There is no human way to explain what was *clean or unclean. We know only because God has shown us, in the Bible.
uncleanness ~ the state of something that is *unclean.
unfaithful ~ a person is unfaithful if you cannot trust them. A wife or husband is unfaithful if they have sex with another person.
unintentional ~ when someone does something by accident, this is unintentional. They do not realise whether they are doing something wrong.
vine ~ a plant that grows *grapes.
vineyard(s) ~ a farm where people produce *grapes.
vision(s) ~ a dream that God gives to someone when that person is awake.
wine offering ~ an *offering of wine that the priests poured on the *altar.
worship ~ to give honour to God and to thank him. Sometimes, people worship false gods.
yeast ~ a substance that people use to make bread. It makes the bread rise.
Tokunboh Adeyemo (general editor) ~ Africa Bible Commentary ~ Zondervan
Pat Alexander (editor) ~ The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible ~ Lion Publishing
Pat & David Alexander (editors) ~ The New Lion Handbook to the Bible ~ Lion Publishing
Ronald B Allen (general editor - Frank E Gaebelein) ~ The Expositorís Bible Commentary, Volume 2 ~ Zondervan
W H Bellinger, Jr. ~ New International Biblical Commentary, Leviticus, Numbers ~ Paternoster Press
D Guthrie & J A Motyer (editors) ~ New Bible Commentary (Third Edition) ~ Inter-Varsity Press
Walter Riggans (general editor, John C L Gibson) ~ The Daily Study Bible, Numbers ~ The Saint Andrew Press
Merrill C Tenney (general editor) ~ The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary ~ Zondervan
Gordon J Wenham (general editor, Professor D J Wiseman) ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Numbers ~ Inter-Varsity Press
Warren W Wiersbe ~ Be Counted, Living a Life that Counts for God, An Old Testament Study Ė Numbers ~ Chariot Victor Publishing
Bible versions: Contemporary English Version, The Good News Bible, New Century Version, New International Version, The Amplified Bible
© 2009, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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