Numbers 1

Counting the people

1:1Numbers 1—10 tell us about the Israelites at the start of their journey.

1 The Israelites were in the Sinai desert. It was the first day of the second month of the second year after they left Egypt. Moses was in the Tent of Meeting.

The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Put the people into clans and families and count them. Make a list. Write the name of each man on the list. 3 You and Aaron must record the names of all the men in each group who can fight in the army. Record the names of men who are 20 years old or older. 4 A man from each tribe must help you. Each of them will be the leader of his family.

1:4The Tent of Meeting was a special tent where God came to meet his people. It was also called the tabernacle. God told Moses how to make it. See Exodus 25:8.

5 These are the men from each tribe who must help you:

  • Reuben: Elizur, the son of Shedeur.
  • 6 Simeon: Shelumiel, the son of Zurishaddai.
  • 7 Judah: Nahshon, the son of Amminadab.
  • 8 Issachar: Nethanel, the son of Zuar.
  • 9 Zebulun: Eliab, the son of Helon.
  • 10 Ephraim (Joseph's son): Elishama, the son of Ammihud.
  • Manasseh (Joseph's son): Gamaliel, the son of Pedahzur.
  • 11 Benjamin: Abidan, the son of Gideoni.
  • 12 Dan: Ahiezer, the son of Ammishaddai.
  • 13 Asher: Pagiel, the son of Ocran.
  • 14 Gad: Eliasaph, the son of Deuel.
  • 15 Naphtali: Ahira, the son of Enan.’

    16 These were the men that they chose from among the people. They were leaders of their clans. Each of them worked on behalf of the tribe of their ancestor. 17 Moses and Aaron told these leaders to come. 18 On the first day of the second month, they said that all the Israelite people must come together. The people were in clans and in families. They made a list of all the men who were 20 years old or older. 19 They did the things that the Lord had told Moses to do. So Moses recorded the names there in the Sinai desert.

    20-43 They recorded the names of all the men who were 20 years old or older. Those men could fight in the army. They recorded the names of the men in each clan and family. Reuben was the firstborn son of Israel, so they recorded his tribe first. These were the numbers of the men from each tribe:

  • Reuben: 46,500 men.
  • Simeon: 59,300 men.
  • Gad: 45,650 men.
  • Judah: 74,600 men.
  • Issachar: 54,400 men.
  • Zebulun: 57,400 men.
  • Ephraim (Joseph's son): 40,500 men.
  • Manasseh (Joseph's son): 32,200 men.
  • Benjamin: 35,400 men.
  • Dan: 62,700 men.
  • Asher: 41,500 men.
  • Naphtali: 53,400 men.
  • 44 Moses and Aaron counted the numbers of the men in each tribe. The 12 leaders of the Israelites helped them to do it. That was one man from each tribe. 45 They recorded the names of all the men in each family. All the men who were 20 years old or older were on the list. Those men could fight in the army. 46 The number of all the men was 603,550.

    The tribe of Levi

    47 But Moses and Aaron did not count the descendants of Levi among the other tribes. 48 The Lord had said to Moses, 49 ‘You must not count the tribe of Levi. You must not put the Levites on the list with the other Israelites. 50 The Levites' work will be in the special Tent of Meeting. They must take care of the Tent and everything that is in it. They must carry it everywhere. Their work is with all those things. They must put their own tents round the special Tent. 51 When the people move to another place, the Levites must pack the Tent. When the people arrive at a new place, the Levites must put the Tent up again. If any other person, not a Levite, comes near to the special Tent, they must die.

    52 All the other Israelites must camp in groups. Each man must camp with his own group. Each group must put up its own flag. 53 But the Levites must camp round the Tent of Meeting. They must keep it safe. Then I, the Lord, will not be angry with the people.’

    54 The Israelites did everything that the Lord had told Moses to do.