Wandering in the
wilderness of sin
Numbers gets its title in
Hebrew (bemidhbar) from verse one, "in the
wilderness of," since most of the book records the
history of Israel wandering in the wilderness. The
English title "Numbers" comes to our English from
the Greek LXX because of the prominence of
the census (chapters 1-3, 26). The name of the book
is taken from the two numberings of the Israelites,
first at Mt. Sinai in chapter one and the second on
the plains of Moab in chapter twenty-six.
Moses kept detailed records of the events as an
eyewitness, and then wrote Numbers near the end of
his life in the early 1400’s B.C. (33:2). No one
else was better qualified to write the Pentateuch
The author uses a common
technique of the ancient authors when referring to
himself in the third person (8:23; 14:36; 15:1, 22;
cf. Ex. 24:1; Lev. 6:1; Deut. 5:1).
Clyde T. Francisco notes
the author is "an interpreter of the history of his
age. He saw in each event God’s hand, directing His
Chosen People, tending to their needs, enduring
their sins and weaknesses, keeping his covenant with
them, and disciplining them. Kadesh-barnea will
always be a condemnation of God’s people of any age
who refuse to go forward by faith."
is almost 39 years. Israel spent 39 years wandering
when they could have made the trip in 39 days.
Numbers forms a natural sequence to the book of
Leviticus because the first part is of a statistical
and Levitical character.
Numbers gives the official record of Israel’s
journey from Mt. Sinai to Moab. God demonstrates His
faithfulness to His chosen people. Little is
recorded of the aimless wanderings during these
years. Two events are mentioned. The rebellion of
Korah, a Levite, who challenged Moses and Aaron’s
leadership. The second event followed the rebellion
of Korah. When Aaron’s rod budded and produced
blossoms and ripe almonds.
Numbers is connected with the wilderness journeys of
Israel. It is the official record of the journey
from Sinai to Moab. It is a clear illustration of
the faithfulness of God to His people, and man’s
responsibility to live by faith in Him (Num. 10:29;
33:1). God’s people must walk by faith. God judged
Israel according to the number of days in which they
spied out the land, forty days, thus for each day
they would bear their guilt for forty years (14:34).
His divine mercy is seen in the provision of the
bronze serpent suggesting a greater provision in
God’s mercy at the cross of Jesus (21:4-9; John
3:14). The divine presence is seen in the pillar of
fire and the cloud (10:11), and the provision of God
is seen in the daily provision of manna for food and
the rock which provided water. Each of these
provisions prefigures the coming of the Lord Jesus
(John 6:31-33; I Cor. 10:4).
The book reveals the
painful process of testing and maturation as God
teaches His chosen people the consequences of
rebellion and walking by sight rather than by faith.
God’s people can move forward only as they depend on
Him. Divine judgment on Israel’s unbelief is also
prominent in Numbers. The last year of wandering is
recorded in 20:1-36:13 and Deuteronomy. After
thirty-eight years of wandering the children of
Israel find themselves at the same spot they were
thirty-eight years before.
10:29; 14:3; 33:1
Work, war, wandering, wickedness
TYPES IN NUMBERS
(6:2-8) typifying holiness, harmless, undefiled,
consecrated to god (Heb. 7:26; Phil. 2:6-8).
Aaron’s Budding Rod
(17:8) typifies Christ rising from the dead. Aaron’s
rod was dead, yet it budded.
(19:1-10) was without spot and blemish. She removes
defilement of death (Heb. 9:14; I Pet. 1:19; Phil.
2:8; Heb. 13:11-12; Rom. 3:24-25).
(21:4-9; Jn. 3:14-15)
Bright and Morning
Star (24:17) a ruler from Jacob
Cities of Refuge
(35:6ff; Rom. 8:1, 33, 34; Phi. 3:9)
in the Old Testament
Title: Introduction to
Series: Introduction to