Numbers 33:1-49, Camps along the Trail (1/9/12)
I’ve been a compulsive reader almost from infancy; if nothing else is available I’ll read bus timetables. For those of you who are normal, however, I’ve tabulated today’s reading, and volunteer and fellow-reader RPB has provided a map and indexed it for us! (Many locations are not on the map.)
Index to the Map of the Lands of the Wandering
D1, E1, E2, F1, F2|
|Wilderness of Sin||
Numbers 33:50—34:29, God’s Orders about the Occupation of Canaan (1/10/12)
Etham on the edge of the waste land|
Turning back to Pi-hahiroth near Baal-zephon, they put up their tents near Migdol|
Through the sea into the waste land: three days' journey through the waste land of Etham to Marah|
Elim, where there were twelve water-springs and seventy palm-trees|
By the Red Sea|
Waste land of Sin|
Waste land of Sin||
Rephidim, where there was no drinking-water|
Waste land of Sinai|
Waste land of Sinai||
Waste land of Zin which is Kadesh. |
Mount Hor, on the edge of the land of Edom|
Iye-abarim at the edge of Moab|
Mountains of Abarim, near Nebo|
Take a look at the map of the Holy Land
The boundaries in today’s first table start down in the lower right of the map east side of the Dead Sea, swing across slightly off the bottom of the map to the Mediterranean, go up the coast almost to top, cross over slightly below the top of the map to the right, and then go down to Kadesh in 4B, down to the Sea of Galilee, and down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. Notice that these boundaries do not include the lands east of the Jordan already given to Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.
The tribes are located as follows: Asher, 3B; Dan, 4B and 2E; Zebulon and Issachar, 3C; Manasseh, 3D and 4C; Ephraim, 3D; Gad, 4D; Benjamin, 3E; Reuben, 4E; Judah, 2E and 3E; Simeon, 2F. We’ll read about Levi in a day or two.
Chiefs of Tribes
waste land of Zin by the side of Edom, and your limit on the south will be from the east end of the Salt Sea [=Dead Sea]||
south of the slope of Akrabbim, and on to Zin: south of Kadesh-barnea, as far as Hazar-addar and on to Azmon|
the stream of Egypt as far as the sea|
The Great Sea [=Mediterranean] and its edge||
Mount Hor toward Hamath to Zedad and Ziphron||
Hazar-enan to Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain||
east side of the sea of Chinnereth [=Sea of Galilee]|
Down the Jordan ||
Reader Question: With regard to the map, do we have any idea why Dan is listed twice at opposite ends?
Numbers 35:1-8, Cities for the Levites (1/11/12)
Response: The answer appears to be mostly given in Joshua 19, and partly speculative. From the English Standard Version, we see the following:
Joshua 19:40-46 The seventh lot came out for the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans. And the territory of its inheritance included Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh, Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, Elon, Timnah, Ekron, Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, Jehud, Bene-berak, Gath-rimmon, and Me-jarkon and Rakkon with the territory over against Joppa.
47 When the territory of the people of Dan was lost to them, the people of Dan went up and fought against Leshem, and after capturing it and striking it with the sword they took possession of it and settled in it, calling Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor.
48 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans – these cities with their villages.
Dan was originally assigned the coastal area shown in yellow in the southern part of the map (per vss. 40-46). Unfortunately, and this is mildly speculative part that would occur between vss. 46 and 47, the Philistines were strongly entrenched along the coast, and Dan apparently was unable to hold its allotment. So then, getting to vs. 47, the tribe looked around for some land that wasn’t too far away and also wasn’t assigned to any of the other tribes. They took the small yellow area in the very northern part of the map away from the Canaanites who lived there and renamed it Dan.
In its later history, Israel never completely drove out the Philistines along the coast, so we shouldn’t think too badly of the tribe of Dan.
Those of us who remain awake after 34 chapters of Numbers will have noticed that the tribe of Levi received no portion in the allotment of tribal lands. There seem to be at least three reasons for this. One is that the Levites (including priests) were given a portion of the meat, oil, grain, and wine sacrifices made by the general populace; in a subsistence economy, this represented a large portion of their needed income. (And a good thing, too, because they had other duties than farming to occupy their time.) Secondly, prior to the creation of the Temple, people needed to have access to priests and Levites so that they could be certified as clean, make offerings, etc.
Finally, six of the cities of the Levites were also the cities of refuge (see below), and to be useful a city of refuge has to be close enough that the hunted man can reach it before dropping from exhaustion. The cities of refuge are marked with a dot in a circle on our map of the Holy Land.
It looks to me like you’d never be more than one day’s good, hard run from a city of refuge, especially since the Israelites really never did control the coast.
Numbers 35:9-34, Cities of Refuge (1/12/12)
Throughout history, the vendetta has been one of the standard ways of dealing with violent death, and it has the advantage that it doesn’t require a lot of police and legal infrastructure. Unfortunately, it does tend to trigger another violent death, which becomes the subject of an expanded vendetta, and so on until eventually you get the Hatfields and the McCoys.
The cities of refuge that we learned about yesterday have more than one purpose. For one thing, they give someone who killed someone else, either by accident or on purpose, a safe place to go before the “trial.” If it turns out to have been murder, then the perpetrator must be put to death, but with any luck it will end there. If it wasn’t murder, the second purpose comes into play: the perpetrator must stay in the city of refuge until the death of the current high priest, but then he’s free to go home.
Numbers 36:1-13, Inheritance of Daughters, Revisited (1/13/12)
Study Tip for Friday the 13th: Today is your lucky day! It’s the end of the book of Numbers!
When I first mentioned to Pastor Craig that I was going to do a study on Numbers, he said, “count backward from 100…..you’re getting sleepy….sleepier…” Fellow-reader Pauleta H. said that reading Numbers is “like reading the white pages.” Fellow-reader Don F. asked me whether this study would excuse him from ever reading Numbers again. (What I want to know is, where were all these people when I decided to do Job
? I could have been talked out of Job at the drop of a hat.) On the other hand, several readers wrote to say that Numbers wasn’t half bad, once the censuses and offerings were tabulated.
By now you have probably realized why Numbers is important
. At the end of Exodus, the people of God were a bunch of crybabies who had no confidence in God and were incapable of carrying out God’s program. By the end of Numbers they are spiritually fit, aware of God’s power and authority, and ready to follow his instructions. This transformation took a while – 40 years – and it’s documented in the book of Numbers.
More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness
Census and Organization
The Order of March
Failure to Enter Canaan
Laws and Consequences
Complaints in the Desert
Balaam and Barak
Almost Ready to Leave
Getting Close to Canaan
Home at Last!
Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
The map showing the the lands of the wandering is from the Thomas family Bible, now in a private collection of a family member.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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