The Book of Numbers (from Greek Ἀριθμοί, Arithmoi; Hebrew: במדבר, Bəmidbar, "In the desert ") is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah.
Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary. The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land. The people are numbered and preparations are made for resuming their march. The Israelites begin the journey, but immediately they "murmur" (complain or kvetch) at the hardships along the way. They arrive at the borders of Canaan and send spies into the land, but on hearing the spies' report the Israelites refuse to take possession of Canaan and God condemns them to death in the wilderness until a new generation can grow up and carry out the task. The book ends with the new generation of Israelites in the plain of Moab ready for the crossing of the Jordan River.
Numbers is the culmination of the story of Israel's exodus from oppression in Egypt and their journey to take possession of the land God promised their fathers. As such it draws to a conclusion the themes introduced in Genesis and played out in Exodus and Leviticus: God has promised the Israelites that they shall become a great (i.e. numerous) nation, that they will have a special relationship with Yahweh their god, and that they shall take possession of the land of Canaan. Against this, Numbers also demonstrates the importance of holiness, faithfulness and trust: despite God's presence and his priests, Israel lacks faith and the possession of the land is left to a new generation. The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction (i.e., editing) of a Yahwistic original text some time in the early Persian period (5th century BCE).
Read more about Book Of Numbers: Contents According To Judaism's Weekly Torah Portions, Structure, Summary, Themes
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... of the Pentateuch (1978), identified the overarching theme of the five books as the partial fulfilment of a promise to made by God to the patriarchs, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ... hands down an elaborate set of laws (scattered through Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers), which the Israelites are to observe they are also to remain faithful to Yahweh ... The theme of descendants marks the first event in Numbers, the census of Israel's fighting men the huge number which results (over 600,000) demonstrates ...
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