Torah Study: Numbers Chapter 1:1-2:16

In Hebrew, this chapter in the Torah is called Bemidbar. Bemidbar in Hebrew means “in the wilderness”

Although on the surface, this book seems to be the most difficult to get through as far as being interesting, it just maybe the most important book to us. Getting through the book of Bemidbar requires discipline.

In the Septuagint (Greek), this book was named Arithri (like where the word arithmetic comes from)

In the Vulgate (Latin), this book was named Numeri (hence the word Numbers)

In review:

Genesis – took us from Creation to Egypt

Exodus – took us from Egypt to Mt Sinai

Leviticus – records what happened at Mt Sinai

Numbers – takes us from Mt Sinai to the edge of the Promised Land

Deuteronomy – takes us to the point when and where we are ready to enter into the Promised Land

The book of Bemidbar (Numbers) tells about living outside the Promised Land just before entering in.

Important topics in the book of Bemidbar:

The census                        Building

Natzarite Vows            Set Apart Levites

First Passover            Leading of YHWH

Murmurings                        Baalam

Battles                                    Division of the Land

Pretty interesting topics and historical accounts are found in the book of Bemidbar

The Book opens and closes with the taking of a census. Initially, the two censuses seem to be redundant, repetitive, maybe even boring. But lets take a closer look.

Chapters 1:1-10:10 tells us about a census

Chapters 26 – end of book tells us about another census

Here is list of things these 2 censuses have in common. They both have:

Naming of 12 Tribes

Role of Levites

Role of Women

Nazarite Vow

A Passover



Dealings with King Og

What is different are the “PEOPLE” involved!

In the first census in chapters 1-10, the counting involved the generation of Israelites who were brought out of the land of Egypt by YHWH’s strong right hand. THIS GENERATION DIES IN THE WILDERNESS. There is a reason why that we will see later.

In the second census in chapter 26 – end, the counting involved the children of the previous generation. THIS GENERATION LIVES TO ENTER INTO THE PROMISE LAND.

The stories for these two groups, and the teaching for these two groups are the same.

This book exhibits a structure of writing known as a chiastic structure: A   B   A

The A and A are similar with a B in the middle that is different.

The B, or middle area, Chapters 10:11-25 ARE THE STORIES OF REBELLION!

In these chapters, the Children of Israel are complaining, murmuring, involved in idolatry, whoredom, rebellion, not listening to the instructions of YHWH, and then direct disobedience to His instructions. 7 rebellions are recorded for us.

Keep in mind, these rebellions were done BY THE GENERATION THAT WAS BROUGHT OUT OF EGYPT!!!!


The plaques placed upon Egypt, parting of the Red Sea, destroying Pharoah’s Army, the voice that bellowed down from the Mountain.

What is this saying?


Seeing does NOT mean believing

Seeing does NOT generate Faith. Faith is the fruit of the Spirit of the Holy One entering our hearts and transforming us.

Faith is a gift of Mercy and Grace from YHWH our Father.

Remember the testimony of Shaul;  “We live by faith and not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7 takes on a deeper meaning.


The first generation of Israelites were a representation of the ‘old man’. They were people of flesh and they were full of rebellion towards YHWH. The old man nature must be put to death, while in the wilderness, before he can enter into the promised land (Kingdom of Yahweh)

But the new man lives in hope of the Resurrection.

Just like Yahushua said, “You must be born again to enter into the Kingdom.”

John 3:3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

We must go to the cross, the old man be put to death, the new man emerges to enter into the Kingdom.

So, we can see how fascinating this book of Numbers, Bemidbar REALLY is! Let’s get into the details now.

From 1:1 we see that this census took place on the 1st day of the 2nd Mo of the 2nd year

We know from Exodus that the children of Israel began building the Tabernacle on the 1st day of the 1st mo of the 1st year. So we can know exactly where we are on the timeline in the wilderness, which is a year and a month after the building of the Tabernacle when they were at Mt Sinai.

Another important, important thing to notice is that YHWH spoke to them “from the tabernacle” according to 1:1.  These words tell us that YHWH moved from the mountain to the tabernacle and WAS DWELLING WITH THEM AS HE PROMISED!

Because we can recall in Exodus 33:14; YHWH is dwelling among them. He will make the journey with YOU! HE IS THERE WITH YOU IN THE WILDERNESS TOO!!!!

As stated in the beginning, midbar means wilderness in Hebrew. But the Hebrew truly is more expansive than just wilderness. When we think of wilderness, we think of a desolate desert area, uninhabitable. In Hebrew, wilderness can mean any one of 3 types of landscape: pasture land, desert/uninhabitable land, or habitable land with cities and towns. Put simply, a diverse terrain.

All different types of threats could be there both natural and human and environmental.

We the children of Israel left Egypt, the Father KNEW they were a fearful, beaten down people, a defeated people. Not ready for war or having the capability to take on or deal with any type of threat. This is one reason he sent them south, away from the trade route of the Canaanites and also a reason for the census.

The census: only of the men of war

  1. men
  2. 20 yrs and up
  3. able to handle a spear and shield

Taking a census of the people was only to come at the command of Yahweh

There is also something very beautiful about all of the specific names in these verses. Our Elohim is an intimate Elohim. He knows us by name. He put the stars in the sky and he knows each one by name. The tribes of Israel go from a mass of about 2.5 million people to an organized and named treasure of people to Yahweh. He calls men by name. He gives the children of Israel something to belong to. He is developing a special continuity – a connection. THIS IS OUR HISTORY.

YHWH is honoring them, he honors headship.

Also, in Hebrew, names have meaning. You can notice that the generation that came out of Egypt had names containing El or Shaddai. El means God, Shaddai mean sufficient. They knew their Creator as “the all sufficient one” and their names were testament to this fact. Later on, we all know that the names began containing “THE NAME” of our Creator Yahweh. Names such as Eliyahu, Yermiyahu, etc.

Extra Revelation in Verse 2.

In Hebrew, the verse reads “lift up alef tav (head) of the Messiah to all of the congregation to the children of Israel.

Yahushua is the alef tav! The beginning and the end!