A Census in the Wilderness
One of the reasons that scholars cite for the Lord directing Moses to take a census is to show that his promise to Abraham about multiplying his descendants was not forgotten, but was being fulfilled. Though it is true that the Lord made such a promise to Abraham, the census here isn’t necessary to show this. Abraham’s descendants branched out in several directions, through both Isaac and Ishmael.
Further, the promise to Abraham was also inclusive of those who are spiritually his sons by faith. To brush up on that, take time to read Galatians 3. As far as Abraham is concerned in this regard, it was Isaac who was the son of promise, not Ishmael. And therefore, the list of physical descendants isn’t completely reflective of what is given in the census of Numbers Chapter 1.
The same is then true with Isaac. He was also given the promise of Abraham concerning many descendants, even as the stars of heaven. And again, like Abraham, there are physical descendants that are not of the line of promise, meaning those from his son Esau. So, some of them are sons of promise, and some of them are not. Therefore, the list of physical descendants from Isaac isn’t completely reflective of the lists given here in Numbers Chapter 1.
However, Jacob was also given the promise of Abraham and Isaac. But unlike them, his sons would all become sons who would share in the promise. They would be a unique group of people, known by his name, Israel. The promises made to Israel include what is seen in the census of Numbers Chapter 1.
As you can see, we need to carefully look over the entire panorama of what the Bible says in order to form our conclusions about a matter. If not, then unfounded claims can be made about spiritual blessings and the like. This is exactly what Islam has done. They claim their ancestry through Ishmael, and thus claim the blessings of Abraham. But this is a giant theological error. Each step of Scripture is a logical progression, intended to lead us to sound theology, and a proper understanding of why things are detailed the way they are in the Bible.
Text Verse: Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel. 11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” Genesis 35:9-12
So here we have the promise to Israel carefully, and meticulously recorded. We can know from Paul’s letters that we are sons of Abraham through faith, but just as the Muslims incorrectly make claims about their status, unfortunately people in the church do it all the time too. The promises to Abraham include a spiritual promise – that of faith, and also a physical line of people who are sons of promise, and who were to be given a land inheritance.
In the church, these set and clear lines are often obscured or even erased, and extremely poor theology is the result. There is never a time in the Bible that the Gentiles are called Israel. Though we may share in the commonwealth of Israel, we remain Gentiles, and no land promise is made to us. We have a heavenly inheritance awaiting us, not an earthly one.
It is the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and who are called Israel collectively, who are now being gathered at the beginning of the book of Numbers for a census. It is this same group of people who will be detailed throughout the rest of the Old Testament, into the New Testament, and who have been in exile for the past two thousand years, but who have been returned to their land once again. Let us not make the error of placing ourselves into their story. We should be content to be included alongside of them in the great unfolding plan of God for the people of the world. A plan which Israel is being used for in order to reveal types and shadows as we continue on our journey, now in the book of Numbers. Great things are to be found here because it is an integral part of His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. An Introduction
The book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Law of Moses and of the Holy Bible. Its Hebrew name is derived from the fifth word of the book, b’midbar, which literally means “in the wilderness.” In Hebrew, the word consists of the letters beit, mem, dalet, beit, and resh which numerically equal 248. This is numerically the same as the Hebrew word for mercy, rakham, something that will be needed towards Israel during the book.
It is also the same numerical value as the phrases b’tselem elohim, or “In the image of God,” of Genesis 1:27; and qol Yehovah elohim, or “the Voice of the Lord God,” of Genesis 3:8. Both of these in Hebrew have a numerical value of 248. Israel is a nation of people created in the image of God, but will they heed the voice of the Lord their God? That is a major question to be asked concerning them in the book.
There is dispute as to when this, along with the other 4 books of Moses, was written; however, the conservative and traditional dating can be figured based on when Solomon’s Temple was built. By tracing back from that day as stated in 1 Kings 6:1, which indicates 480 years from the Exodus, we can assert with relative confidence that it was penned approximately 1445 BC.
There was a 45-day journey to reach Mount Sinai, where the Israelites worked to construct the Tabernacle. In Exodus 40:2 it stated, “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” This was the beginning of the second year, 345 days after the Exodus, and 300 days since their arrival at Sinai. It would also be the year 2515 AM.
As we will see, Numbers will begin its text thirty days later on the first day of the second month of this same year. The book of Leviticus was compiled during a very short period of time between the ending of Exodus and up to Numbers 10:11, a period of fifty days. Numbers, however, will last much longer. The trek from the time of setting out from Sinai until arriving at the border of Israel should have been an 11-day journey.
However, events will occur, which are recorded in Numbers, and which will extend this journey out until their fortieth year after the Exodus, or exactly 38 years, 9 months. This will be explained in verse 1. Thus, the name b’midbar, or “in the wilderness” is a most appropriate name for the book. They will be in the wilderness during the entire period.
The English name for the book is derived from the Greek name given to it, Arithimoi. This is translated into Latin as Numeri, and thus into English as Numbers. The reason for the name will become obvious because detailed numbering of the people will be made during times of census. And it will be a lot of numbers!
As far as a historical context, the book is given to describe the mercy of God upon the Israelites, despite their faithlessness to Him. It also presents examples of case law which had not yet been tested, such as a violation of the Sabbath in Chapter 15. Numbers also details the period of preparation of the people before they would enter the Land of Promise.
Concerning a redemptive context, Numbers is filled with pictures of Christ, including His cross. Several key themes which look forward to Him are Christ, the Cloud and the Fire – the Leader of His people; Christ, the Water in the desert – the eternal Fount of life; Christ, the Star and the Scepter of Israel – the King and Ruler of His people; and Christ, the Serpent on the Pole – the crucified Savior who became sin so that man could possess new life. Direct references to events in Numbers are found interspersed throughout the New Testament.
We can look back on the great prophetic fulfillments of these types in Numbers with absolute surety that Jesus Christ was and is the Messiah, and therefore is God come in human flesh. Reading and understanding Numbers also reminds us of the sincerity of God’s promises and curses. When He speaks, His word will come to pass.
The first book of Moses, Genesis, looked to the work of God the Father through Christ in creation – directing that creation in the initial process of redemption. The second book of Moses, Exodus, then looked to the work of God the Son in Christ in the actual redemptive process, mirroring His own work countless times. The third book of Moses, Leviticus, highlighted the work of the Holy Spirit applying the purification and sanctification of Christ to the people of God. This fourth book of Moses, Numbers, will highlight the crucified Savior who rose to lead His people in the wilderness of their lives, ever faithful to bring them along the path of life, difficult as it may be, and despite our faithlessness along the way.
In all four books, it is Christ, the anticipated Son of God who is on prominent display. Nothing is more obvious, and in a thousand different ways this will again become evident. When the book of Numbers is complete, the Person and work of Jesus Christ will have been highlighted so many times that you will never look at this book in the same way again.
If we were to sum up the book of Numbers with a single thought which carries us from Leviticus and then into the continued life of Israel, it would be that “The Lord has prepared a path for His people, and despite our failure to walk upon it, the mercy of God found in Jesus Christ remains open for His redeemed people.”
A new book to study, seeking out its veins of gold
A new adventure as we seek the Lord’s face
Thirty-six chapters set before us, ready to unfold
Lessons for all people, in every generation and every place
What is in store for us as we begin our trek?
Numbers seems so vast and complicated at this time
Will we have a headache even down to our neck?
Or will the book come to seem glorious and sublime?
Open our eyes, O Lord, to what lies ahead
Direct the understanding of our eyes and our heart
This is what we petition; looking to be fed
This is what we ask for, today as we start
Show us the riches of Christ in this new book
Be with us as we open it, and for its treasures we look
II. A Census of All the Congregation (verses 1-19)
Now the Lord spoke
v’daber Yehovah, “And spoke Yehovah.” Though the Hebrew name of the book is b’midbar, or “In the wilderness,” as in most Hebrew Bibles, some call the book v’daber, or “And spoke.” Despite this, beginning the book with the word “And” signifies that this is a continuation of what has already been presented. The book of Leviticus closed out, but it did not really end. The thought process is simply continued with the opening of the book of Numbers.
1 (con’t) to Moses
Despite liberal criticism of the Bible concerning the authorship and dating of Numbers, the book was undoubtedly written by Moses. Several times, Jesus mentions “Moses and the prophets” when speaking of those who authored the Old Testament books. That is a term speaking of the body of Scripture known at that time. Further, Numbers 21 details the account of the bronze serpent raised on a pole. Jesus equates that with Himself with these words in John 3 –
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:13-15
Referring to Moses in these ways means that either what Jesus says is correct, or the Bible is not the authoritative word of God.
1 (con’t) in the Wilderness
b’midbar, “in the wilderness.” It is the fifth word of the book in the Hebrew, and it is the basis for the common Hebrew name. The entire duration of the events of the book are in the wilderness.
1 (con’t) of Sinai,
The Wilderness of Sinai is where the Israelites have been. They arrived there after the Exodus, and it is where they received the Ten Commandments, and where Moses continued to meet with the Lord, receiving the law. During this time, the sanctuary was constructed and set up, and the laws of Leviticus have been received. They have stayed in this same location during that entire time. It is in this area where the Lord speaks to Moses…
1 (con’t) in the tabernacle of meeting,
The translation is poor. The Hebrew says b’ohel moed, or “in the tent of meeting.” It is Moses who meets with the Lord, and it is in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle, but the location is given as “the tent of meeting.” The terminology is used because it is in this spot where the Lord meets with Moses to give him instructions.
1 (con’t) on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying:
The Israelites arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai on the first day of the third month of the first year (Exodus 19:1). Therefore, It is now exactly 11 months since their arrival. It is also exactly one month after the Sanctuary was raised up, as was seen in Exodus 40:17. This is the book’s starting date. For the exact length of time that the book of Numbers details, two key verses must be compared. The first is this verse. The second is Deuteronomy 1:3, which says –
“Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him as commandments to them,”
Deducting one date from the other gives us a period of exactly 38 years, 9 months in which the events of Numbers occur. In the books of Moses, no name of the second month is given. However, we find its Hebrew name, Ziv, in 1 Kings 6:1. The name signifies “brightness,” and thus it is figuratively, “the month of flowers.” The name was changed to Iyar after the Babylonian exile. The second month corresponds to April/May in our calendar.
There are several reasons why a census should be taken, especially now that the trek to Canaan was to commence. The people were to depart shortly, and they should have arrived at their destination soon after that. The fact that it would actually be a total of forty years in the wilderness is irrelevant at this point. When the tribes came into the land promised to them, there would need to be an exact genealogical record for the purposes of land and inheritance rights, something specified during the book of Leviticus. Also, the known strength of each tribe would be needed for the granting of land appropriate to the numbers, and for the mustering of the people for wars as well. However, doing the census now, instead of at the borders of the Land of Promise, was also necessary so that the people could be properly arranged according to family around the tabernacle as they traveled, thus maintaining order.
2 (con’t) by their families, by their fathers’ houses,
Two distinctions are made here. First “by their families,” and then “by their father’s households. The terms are somewhat changeable though. In general, it would be by clans and then by closer relationships. At this point, some scholars include in their comments that this excluded any of the mixed multitude who came out with Israel during the Exodus.
However, Exodus 12 explicitly states that “when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it” (v. 48). Any of the mixed multitude were to be counted as natives if they met this requirement in either the original Passover, or the one just observed. Understanding this can help alleviate difficulties in the numbers recorded in this book.
2 (con’t) according to the number of names,
The words here probably concern the previous numbering of the people which was recorded in Exodus 30:12. Thus, the term “according to the number of names” is used.
2 (con’t) every male individually,
kal zakar l’gulgelotam – “all males to the skulls.” In other words, the skull represents the man, and so it is a head by head count.
The census is solely for the males, and only those who are twenty and older. It is then explained by, “all who are able to go to war.” In this, there appears to be an allowance for the aged or infirm, but no specific age is given. At David’s time, the men fought until they could no longer fight, without regards to age, and it appears that this was the case here. This is seen, for example, in 2 Samuel –
“When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. 16 Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, ‘You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.’” 2 Samuel 21:15-17
3 (con’t) You and Aaron shall number them by their armies.
Moses and Aaron are called by name to conduct the census, and they would be in charge of anyone selected for the counting of each clan and family. This would be a major undertaking considering the number given in verse 46. In 2011, the US Census Bureau showed Sarasota, Florida totaled 382,448 people. The number of men above 20 alone is more than a third more than that.
There will be twelve tribes counted, and yet the tribe of Levi will not be counted. The way this comes about is that Joseph is divided into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. This is in accord with Joseph’s words recorded in Genesis 48:5. From each of these tribes, one man would be selected as the head of that tribe, ensuring that the census would be conducted in accord with the oversight of Moses and Aaron. These men are selected by the Lord, and they are generally listed in order of birth mother, Leah first, Rachel next, and then of the handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah.
The first tribe is Reuben, the first son of Israel. Elizur means God of the Rock. Shedeur means Spreader of Light.
Simeon is the second son of Israel. Shelumiel means Peace of God. Zurishaddai means Rock of the Almighty.
Judah is the fourth son of Israel. Nahshon means Enchanter, or Serpent-person. Amminadab means My Kinsman Is Noble or People of the Prince. Nahshon, and Amminadab, are included in the genealogy of King David in Ruth 4 and then they, along with Judah are listed in that of Christ Jesus in Matthew 1.
Issachar is the ninth son of Israel, but the fifth son of Leah. It is interesting that his name is derived from what was said by Leah when her son Issachar was born, natan elohim sekhari, or “God has given me my wages.” The leader of the tribe fits the naming of the tribe. Nethanel means Given of God. Zuar means Little One.
Zebulun is the tenth son of Israel, but the sixth son of Leah. Eliab means My God is Father. Helon means Very Strong.
10 from the sons of Joseph: from Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud;
Now instead of selecting a man from Joseph, the eleventh son of Israel and the first son of Rachel, the line of Joseph is divided. First from Joseph is Ephraim the younger son of Joseph, but whom Jacob placed first in his blessing. Elishama means God has Heard. Ammihud means My Kinsman is Glorious.
10 (con’t) from Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur;
Manasseh is the first son of Joseph. Gamaliel means Reward of God. Pedahzur means The Rock has Ransomed.
Benjamin is the twelfth son of Israel, and the second son of Rachel. Abidan means Father of Judgment. Gideoni means Feller (as in one who cuts down).
12 from Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai;
Dan is the fifth son of Israel, and the first son born to Bilhah. Ahiezer means Brother of Help. Ammishaddai means My Kinsman is the Almighty.
13 from Asher, Pagiel the son of Ocran;
Asher is the eighth son of Israel and the second son of Zilpah. He is listed out of the ordinary birth order according to birth mother. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but this is because of how the tribes will ultimately be placed around the sanctuary in their midst. He is mentioned before his older brother born to Zilpah for this reason. Pagiel means Occurrence of God. Ocran means Troubled.
Gad is the seventh son of Israel and the first born to Zilpah. Eliasaph means God has Added. Deuel means Known of God. As a side note to consider, this same person is listed as Reuel in Numbers 2:14. The letters Dalet and Resh are extremely similar in appearance and so they are often interchanged.
The list ends with Naphtali, the sixth son of Israel, and the second born to Zilpah. Ahira means Brother of Purpose. Enan means Having Eyes. It is hard to be dogmatic about Hebrew names, and the meaning may vary with the translators choice of root words, but the twelve men selected by name by the Lord have names which closely reflect the Person of Jesus – God of the Rock / Peace of God / Serpent-person / Given of God / My God is Father / God has Heard / Reward of God / Father of Judgment / Brother of Help / Occurrence of God / God has Added / Brother of Purpose. And more curiously, the names of the leader’s fathers closely reflect the people of Israel in relation to Christ Jesus – Spreader of Light, Rock of the Almighty, My Kinsman Is Noble or People of the Prince, Little One, Very Strong, My Kinsman is Glorious, The Rock has Ransomed, Feller (as in one who cuts down), My Kinsman is the Almighty, Troubled, Known of God, Having Eyes.
Apart from the names, this verse has the first new word in the Bible found in the book of Numbers, qari, or chosen. It is an adjective, not a verb, and so it would better be translated as “the named” or “the called.” They were leaders, well known from their congregation, and called by God as such, and so they are…
16 (con’t) leaders of their fathers’ tribes, heads of the divisions in Israel.
In their capacity as the called, they are considered as the leaders of their father’s tribes of the twelve sons of Israel. As a secondary designation, they are rashe alphe Yisrael, or literally, “heads of the thousands of Israel.” However, “thousands” simply describes the highest number specified, and so we say “divisions.”
As instructed in verse 3, both Moses and Aaron went forth and identified those called by God specifically. It is these fourteen men who went forth…
On the same day as he was instructed to accomplish the task (as seen in verse 1), Moses went forth, got Aaron, rounded up the twelve called men, and together they called forth the entire congregation to conduct what the Lord had determined.
18 (con’t) and they recited their ancestry by families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, each one individually.
The census is taken of the males, twenty and above, each according to his skull (meaning a head-count), and they recited their ancestry. This would have been by the tribe, then by the family within the tribe, and then finally by the father’s house within the tribe. It is these records which would be maintained carefully from this point on. It is certain that each family had kept a genealogical record up to this point which could be referred to. In the gathering of this information, the genealogy of all of Israel’s great people would have been known. But the listing is especially important in tracing out the most important genealogy of all; that of Christ Jesus. From this point on, the records would be carefully maintained as is evidenced by the books of Chronicles, and even the genealogical records of Christ which are found in Matthew and Luke.
This is an important closing verse for today in a couple of ways. The words reflect the general sentiment of the conduct of Moses’ affairs. Words such as this are noted about Moses’ obedience from time to time, showing his faithfulness to the Lord. This includes his faithfulness to carrying out the census directed here.
The words, “As the Lord commanded Moses,” mean that Moses had not undertaken the census on his own. Despite being chosen as leader, he had not thought to magnify himself in such a manner. He simply led the people without caring about the size of those he was leading. It is, therefore, a statement of the humility of Moses. It is for reasons such as this that he will be called “very humble, more than all men who on the face of the earth,” in Numbers 12.
On the contrary, the words are then to be contrasted to those concerning David. In 2 Samuel 24, and a parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 21, David took a census without being directed by the Lord, and without seeking the Lord’s approval. It was an act of pride which ended in a great loss of life. As the King of Israel, David was instructed to read the words of the law every day of his life. That is recorded in Deuteronomy 17:18-20 –
“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”
David either didn’t read his Bible, or he failed to pay attention while he was reading it. Either way, the lesson of Moses didn’t transfer to him, he left the word behind, and it ended as a sad part of his story. But the failings of David in this situation led to other important developments in redemptive history, and at his death, the affair of the illegal census was not counted against him. The only failing that is noted as a permanent stain is found in 1 Kings 15 –
“…because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings 15:5
In speaking of Moses, however, a stain upon his record is recorded for us as well. What he did is found here in the book of Numbers, and it was something that kept him from ever entering the Land of Promise. The Bible doesn’t hide the faults of its heroes. Instead, it carefully records them to lead us to directing our eyes to the true Hero who has no faults at all.
*19 (fin) so he numbered them in the Wilderness of Sinai.
Again, the Wilderness of Sinai is mentioned explicitly here as it was in verse 1. This is then given to contrast it from another census which is recorded in Numbers 26, and which is said to have been conducted in the plains of Moab by the Jordan. By that time, very few of the people who are counted in this census will be left alive; literally a mere handful. And of them, only two will actually enter into the Land of Promise. It would be for a new generation, not counted in those twenty and above here, to enter the land and carry on the mission which should have been just a month or so away for the people at this point in the story.
So you know, the word “number” is found about 265 times in the Bible, of those about 108 are found in this book. There is a lot of counting, a lot of detail, and a jillion names to sort through. If it seems like a daunting task, remember that when we started Leviticus, that did too. And yet that turned out to be a pile of gold sitting in a golden bowl. Surely Numbers will be that way too.
For now, let us be happy to have entered into this book which is logically placed here by our loving Creator to show us hints and shadows of the glory which lies ahead in Christ Jesus. As we wind through its pages, we already have the assurance that He is to be found here. Wonderful references to Him are openly and explicitly cited in the New Testament, right out of Numbers. And so we can be sure that the few examples they have provided will be complemented by many that aren’t.
Indeed all of Scripture is given to lead us to an understanding of who Jesus is and what He came to do. And so as we close today, let me take just a minute to explain to you what Christ means to each person, and why it is so important that you understand who He is and how what He has done will affect your eternal destiny.
Closing Verse: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39
Next Week: Numbers 1:20-54 Surely it will all eventually become clear and make sense… (Men of War, Offense and Defense) (2nd Numbers sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It may seem at times as if you are lost in a desert, wandering aimlessly. But the Lord is there, carefully leading you to the Land of Promise. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
A Census in the Wilderness
Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai
In the tabernacle of meeting, these things he was relaying
On the first day of the second month, in the second year after they
Had come out of the land of Egypt, saying:
“Take a census of all the congregation
Of the children of Israel; take it carefully
By their families, by their fathers’ houses
According to the number of names, every male individually
From twenty years old and above
All who are able to go to war in Israel
You and Aaron shall number them by their armies
So shall you do as to you I tell
And with you there shall be a man from every tribe
Each one the head of his father’s house as I describe
“These are the names of the men who shall stand with you
From Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur
From Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai
From Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab for sure
From Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar
From Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon, him for sure
From the sons of Joseph: from Ephraim
———-Elishama the son of Ammihud
From Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur
From Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni
From Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai
From Asher, Pagiel the son of Ocran
From Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel
From Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan
These are chosen as to you I tell
These were chosen from the congregation; as the word did compel
Leaders of their fathers’ tribes, heads of the divisions in Israel
Then Moses and Aaron took these men
Who had been mentioned by name
And they assembled all the congregation together
On the first day of the second month, together they came
And they recited their ancestry by families
By their fathers’ houses, as instructed accordingly
According to the number of names
From twenty years old and above, each one individually
As the Lord commanded Moses, by and by
So he numbered them in the Wilderness of Sinai
Lord God, we are even now in a wilderness
And we are wanting to be led by You
Without You to direct, our lives would be a mess
And so be our guide, O God; You who are faithful and true
We long for the water in this barren land
May it flow forth from the Rock, our souls to satisfy
Give us this refreshing, spiritual hand
And may we take it, and to our lives daily it apply
And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to you for all of our days
Hallelujah and Amen…