Chapter 1: Israel during 40 Years
Moses recounts the stories and things that had happened to them during their 40 year march through the wilderness. Just like in Numbers 11, Moses again calls leaders. These leaders however (in comparison with the “70 Elders of Israel” he chose in 11, are more like government officials than religious authorities.
This chapter also recounts the story of sending spies into the land of Canaan. The Israelites plan to go in and defeat the Amorites, but the Lord tells them, that he would not be with them and they are chased out and weep to the Lord. He doesn’t listen.
Chapter 2: Israel Moves toward Promised Land
Israel moves forward (a recount of history by Moses) to the Promised Land. They pass around Seir, then on to a territory of the descendants of Esau. The Lord commanded the Israelites to not provoke them to war, and to pay for any food/water that they consumed. They pass on from the land of Esau and go to Moab. The Lord again commands the children of Israel to not provoke the Moabites to war, because they were descendants of Lot. After one generation of Israelites die, they once again go to Moab and are once again told to not provoke them.
Moses sends messengers to Sihon, the King of Heshbon with a peace offering, asking for permission to pass through his land. Well Sihon refuses (because the Lord hardened his heart) and the Lord commands his people to kill Sihon and his people and take his land. They accomplish this by killing everything!
Chapter 3: Aaron and his sons administer
Generations of Aaron:
The Tribe of Levi is commanded to come towards the Tabernacle, so that Aaron could take charge of them, and they are numbered.
The Tribe of Levi (the sons of):
- Gershon – The Gershonites are commanded to pitch their tents behind the Tabernacle westward, Eliasaph the son of Lael is appointed chief over the Gershonites.
- Kohath – Was the family of the Amramites, Izeharites, Hebronites and the Uzzielites. The family of Kohath and all of their sons are commanded to pitch their tents on the side of the Tabernacle southward, Elizaphan the son of Uzziel is appointed chief over the tribes of Kohath. These tribes are in charge of the ark, the table, the candlestick, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary and all the service within.
- Merari – Was the family of the Mahlites, and the Mushites; Zuriel the son of Abihail is appointed chief over the family of Merari. – The Family of Merari are put in charge of the boards, bars, pillars, sockets and all the vessels of the tabernacle. Also they are in charge of the courtyards of the tabernacle.
Eleazer the son of Aaron is appointed chief over the Levites.
Moses is commanded by the Lord to number all the males of the congregation of Israel from one month old and up.
Chapter 4: 30+ Years
Several times in this chapter it mentions 30+ years old to 50 years old. Verses: 3,23, 30, 35, 39, 43 and 47. Levitie Law required teachers and/or priests to be 30+ years old. Jesus was baptized at the age of 30 and began his ministry in the same year. He was following this Levite Law. See Luke 3:23.
When the camp of Israel moves, because at this point the Israelites had fled from Egypt and were still wandering in the wilderness. This meant that the Tabernacle was mobile. As we learned in the last chapter each family within the tribe of the Levites were in charge of one particular part of the tabernacle. The Levite Families of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari carry the burden of carry all of the tabernacle (in its mobile form) as they travel.