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Numbers Overview





BY: Jeremy Witt

As we look at the 4th book written by Moses, we read of the numbers of Israelites counted in the census.  It happens twice in the book (chapter 1 and chapter 26) which is why its name is what it is.  It takes from Mount Sinai and preparing to go to the Promised Land the first time, wandering in the wilderness due to their unfaithfulness and disobedience, and finally to the 2nd approach to the Promised Land.

The outline of the book is as follows:

  1. Preparations for the journey to the Promised Land (1:1-10:10)
    1. 1st census
    2. Role of the Levites
    3. Purity of the camp
    4. God’s guidance for the journey
  2. First Approach to the Promised Land ( 10:11-14:45)
    1. People complain
    2. Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses
    3. Scouts report and incite rebellion
  3. Wandering in the wilderness (15:1-21:35)
    1. More regulations and laws
    2. Leaders rebel against Moses
    3. Duties of priests and Levites
    4. The new generation
  4. Second Approach to the Promised Land (22:1-36:13)
    1. Story of Balaam
    2. 2nd census
    3. Offerings and instructions for them
    4. God repays the Midianites
    5. Tribes of the Transjordan region
    6. Camp at the Moab plains


The nation of Israel is a nomadic people without a land of their own.  God has promised them a land.  They have left Egypt, and they are dreaming of this promised land.  They are led by Moses who is following the LORD.  God has given them directions on how to be different (pure and holy) from the peoples around them.  It is not easy.  In their first approach to the Promised Land, they send 12 spies into the land.  When the spies return, 2 spies are positive on what they see, (Joshua and Caleb) but the remaining 10 spies put fear and doubt into the conquest because the land has giants, chariots, and walled cities.  These spies say that they cannot take the land and should go back to Egypt (back to slavery).  The lack of faith of the spies and the people who doubted the LORD brought punishment from the LORD for their disbelief.  The people doubted God and Moses both.  They were griping and complaining. 

The consequence was that the entire nation would wander in the wilderness for 40 years, and those who disbelieved would never see the Promised Land.  This generation of doubters were replaced by a generation who did not remember Egypt, but had seen the power and miracles of God in the wilderness.  This 2nd generation would be the ones who would trust God and enter into the Promised Land for conquest. 


Here are some great stories and passages to read in Numbers.


Numbers 11:1-6, 14:1-4, 16:3, 16:41, 20:2-3, 21:5 the people complain

Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses (He married a black woman) and they were jealous of

Moses.  God’s response to them and their punishment.

Numbers 13 Spies and their report.

Numbers 14 People rebel

Numbers 14:18 Verse to highlight and memorize

Numbers 14:22-23 God’s punishment for the disbelieving generation.

Numbers 20:1-13 Moses disobedience which cost him from entering the Promised Land. 

Numbers 21: 4-9 the bronze snake

Numbers 22 Balaam and the donkeyNumbers 27:12-23 Joshua chosen to replace Moses after his death.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with