Numbers 1: We Are The 603,550

I’m back!

Let me give you a slightly condensed version of all that has happened to me in the last month:

  • Got married
  • Got honeymooned in Mexico
  • Got honeymooned in LA (including a Civil Wars concert and Disneyland)
  • Got Thanksgivinged in my hometown of Danville, California
  • Got drived all over I-5.

And that’s about it. Pretty uneventful.

So let’s jump back into The Whole Dang Thing!

Previously, on TWDT

The Israelites, former slaves in Egypt, have been miraculously rescued by God and brought into the wilderness. God gave them a handful of laws and detailed instructions on how to build and take care of his house, the Tabernacle.

When we pick up in Numbers, two years have passed . . .

The Census

So the people have all been set free. They are wandering in the desert raising cattle, slaughtering cattle, and occasionally complaining about their menu options.

Then one day, God has a brilliant idea: Hey! We should count them! Why? Probably because he wants to be able to show off to other gods.

“Hey, how many of your people did you rescue from slavery? Was it more than 603,550? Because that’s how many I got. Oh, wait. That is only the men of fighting age. So there are a few more. Booyah!”

Ok, actually, that isn’t true. By my best guess, the census was taken to get an accurate picture of how big the Israelite army could be.

God gives Moses the criteria for counting the people and the last one on the list is “able to go to war.”

If that isn’t a foreshadow, I don’t know what is.

That’s Math, Homes

'Calculator dreams' photo (c) 2010, Keith Ramsey - license: had to know this was coming. How can you read a book like Numbers and not be prepared to do some serious adding, yo?

Each tribe is listed and the total number of men of fighting age is given. At the end of the list, the final number is 603,550. And  maybe it communicates a lack of trust in the text, but I wanted to make sure the numbers added up.

So I crunched them on my fancy smartphone calculator and found that, yes, the numbers were correct. 603,550.

But that got me thinking.

These numbers seem really high. This is only the men of fighting age. This does not include women, children, or any men who can’t fight.

So we are talking at least a million people. And that is a very conservative estimate. That makes me think these numbers are a bit of an exaggeration. But not too much of one because the numbers are just specific enough to make me think there might be something to them.

All that to say, I have no idea.

But that is a lot of people wandering around in a desert.


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