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Bamidbar in a Nutshell

Bamidbar in a Nutshell

Numbers 1:1–4:20


In the Sinai Desert, G‑d says to conduct a census of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses counts 603,550 men of draftable age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 males age one month and older, is counted separately. The Levites are to serve in the Sanctuary, replacing the firstborn, whose number they approximated, who were disqualified when they participated in the worshipping of the Golden Calf. The 273 firstborn who lacked a Levite to replace them had to pay a five-shekel “ransom” to redeem themselves.

When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They then erected their own tents around it: the Kohathites, who carried the Sanctuary’s vessels (the Ark, menorah, etc.) in their specially designed coverings on their shoulders, camped to its south; the Gershonites, in charge of its tapestries and roof coverings, to its west; and the families of Merari, who transported its wall panels and pillars, to its north. Before the Sanctuary’s entranceway, to its east, were the tents of Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons.

Beyond the Levite circle, the twelve tribes camped in four groups of three tribes each. To the east were Judah (pop. 74,600), Issachar (54,400) and Zebulun (57,400); to the south, Reuben (46,500), Simeon (59,300) and Gad (45,650); to the west, Ephraim (40,500), Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400); and to the north, Dan (62,700), Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400). This formation was kept also while traveling. Each tribe had its own nassi (prince or leader), and its own flag with its tribal color and emblem.

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Discussion (5)
April 26, 2015
So cool! I love the TORAH!
Lisa Monica Rachel Sephora Timby
Buford, Wyoming USA
May 20, 2014
Referring to the off-count in the initial comment: as far as I understand (or mis-understand) it there are two different counting methods, the one referring to the Levites, who were honorable before HaShem, is counted with the "assistance" of haShem, whereas the count of the "firstborn," who honored the Golden Calf, were counted based on, essentially, as it was reported essentially. The former more accurate than the latter since the latter turned their collectives on HaShem. Maybe someone will correct me.
don lively
Philadelphia, PA USA
May 19, 2014
To Chabad on Torah portion Bamidbar.
The Torah states that the men were to be 20 years and older, but says nothing about 60 years. Also, the Levites were counted at 22,273 with 273 being yet to be redeemed. Studying this, I have learned that one is not supposed to add or subtract anything from the Torah. If I am wrong or is the article inaccurate? Please let me know as soon as possible. Thanks, David.
David Levant
May 11, 2013
May 10, 2013
Menorah in the dessert?
How did the Kohenites have a menorah when it wasn't a big thing until way after being given the Torah?
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