Chapter 25: Worshiping False Gods
While Israel was camped in a place called Shittim, a group of Israelites (about 24,000 of them), begin committing whoredoms with the daughters of Moab. They also started to worship false gods and bowed down to them. The Lord gets very angry with this and commands Moses to slay all of the people who worshiped these false gods in Baal-peor (the idol at peor, a mountain in Moab).
God is very specific when he speaks to Moses, he tells him to slay all the people and hang their heads facing the sun. This would kindle the fire of anger that was building from all the sinning.
Meanwhile the congregation of Israel is gathered at the opening of the Tabernacle, when a man brings a Midianitish woman (in plain view of everyone) to his tent. The congregation is “weeping” at the Tabernacle over the sins of the people, and here comes a man sinning in front of them. So, Phinehas (the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest) runs into the tent and drives a spear through both of them, including an unborn child so that the plague will not continue in Israel.
The Lord is pleased by what Phinehas had done and makes a covenant with him, that his priesthood should be an everlasting one throughout all the generations of his children.
The Lord then commands Israel to treat Moab as an enemy, because by deceiving and seducing the Israelites they too had treated them as enemies.
Chapter 26: The People in Moab
After the plague is over, Moses and Eleazar are commanded to take all the men (20 years and older) and are able to go to war and number them.
- Reuben: 43,730
- Simeon: 22,200
- Gad: 40,500
- Judah: 76,500
- Issachar: 64,300
- Zebulun: 60,500
- Manasseh: 52,700
- Ephraim: 32,500
- Benjamin: 45,600
- Dan: 64,400
- Asher: 53,400
- Naphtali: 45,400
This is a total of 610,730, which is very similar number to that of the first census done in Numbers 1: 4-51.
The Levites are not included in this census, they are numbered separately at 23,000 Levites. The reason for this, is that the Levites do not receive the same inheritance.
The Lord then speaks to Moses and explains a little about the inheritance the Israelites will receive:
“Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.” (Numbers 26:53-56)