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The book of Numbers is so called because it records the 2 censuses or 'numberings' of the Israelites:

    • At Sinai (Ch 1-3)
    • Later in the Plains of Moab (Ch 26)

In Chapter 13 we read of the 12 spies being sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land. Their report on returning was of heavily fortified cities and powerful armies and the Israelites lost faith in God's promise to give them the land.

As a consequence, God caused the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for a further 38 years. Their journeyings, especially in the 40th and final year, are recorded in chapters 21-36. All the generation which left Egypt (from 20 years old and upwards) died in the desert, except some of the faithful Levites, and Joshua and Caleb, the only 2 spies who showed faith in God.

Main events:

    • 1st census
    • The encampment of the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The tabernacle erected in the centre and the 12 tribes arranged along the four sides of the square
    • The service of the Levites
    • The laws of the Nazarites
    • Keeping of first Passover since leaving Egypt
    • Israel on the move from Sinai - order of marching
    • The people crave meat. God sends quails and subsequent plague
    • Miriam and Aaron are punished for speaking against Moses
    • Twelve spies sent to Canaan to spy out land. The people have no faith in God and are condemned to wander 40 years in the desert
    • Korah, Dathan and Abiram rebel and are punished when the earth opens and swallows them up
    • Aaron's rod made to bud and produce almonds as sign God had chosen him as High Priest
    • Water from rock in Kadesh
    • Israel grumble and God sends fiery serpents among them. Moses told to make a bronze serpent on a pole. People looking at it could be healed from deadly serpent bite
    • Balaam's prophecies
    • 2nd census
    • Various laws and feasts
    • List of journeyings.

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