I’m finding it hard getting through Numbers.
The story continues: Having finished building the tabernacle and consolidating their spiritual life together, now the Israelites take stock of their numbers for military purposes (Num 1:3), finding that they had 603,550 men 20 years old or older (Num 1:46). This did not include the Levites, the women, or the children. So it is estimated that their total population was about two million.
As they journey through the wilderness, sometimes they have problems finding water or food. The people get upset at these moments. The Lord gets upset with them for getting upset. When they want meat, they are given lots of quails, but then also become afflicted with plagues (See Num 11:18-20 and Num 11:31-34). Spies are sent forth to scope out the land they want eventually to settle. When they come back with reports about how hard it will be to conquer the people already there, the Israelites begin to question whether this is really what they want to do: to fight for this land they thought they were promised. The Lord gets even more angry, and finally reveals that in fact the first generation will never make it to the Promised Land (Num 14:29-30). When a group organizes themselves to challenge Moses’ and Aaron’s authority, the earth opens up and swallows some of the people; fires come forth and consume others (Num 16:31-35). The rest are terrified back into submission.
But a bit later on, the Lord even inexplicably gets upset with Moses and Aaron, and tells them that they will not make it either (Num 20:12). Sure enough, Aaron does die (Num 20:28).
And now, as the people continue to advance, the battles against those they meet begin … (to be continued).
So, hmm, I’m finding all of this difficult: a struggling people; an angry Lord; a violent invasion…
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4 months ago