Numbers 3 – Family

Let’s review. In the first chapter of Numbers God commands a census to be taken. The census is designed to answer the question, “how big is the army?” Moses is commanded to exclude the Levites from the count because they don’t go to war.

In Numbers, chapter two God arranges the camp. A grade school seating chart comes to mind. Every time they set up camp they were in the exact same position in relation to everyone else in the camp and they faced the exact same direction every time. 

Because we have recorded for us the exact number of the census we can fairly accurately guess the total number to be around two million people. This many people with their cattle and all their stuff occupied twelve square miles. You can imagine a camp that size would need to break and set up camp with military precision. God’s design for the camp nicely facilitated the massive undertaking.

I hope you will take the time to read all of Numbers 3 for yourself, it is rich with detail that should not be skimmed over. Look at Number 3:1-2.

Numbers 3:1-2

            3:1       Now these are the records of Aaron and Moses when the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. 

           2       And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab, the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 


Every word is, of course, important to notice when we read the Bible. But the first one I want to talk about is the word translated “records”. It is the word תּוֹלֵדוֹת (toledoth) and it actually means genealogy or “line of descendants”.

I find it fascinating that verse one tells us these are the generations of Aaron and Moses, but then only Aaron’s family line is given. It would make perfect sense if we were looking upward in their family tree because the brothers shared the same mother and father and every other ancestor. But chapter three isn’t recording their ancestors, it’s enumerating through Aaron’s sons. Moses’ sons are not given. As a matter of fact, I can think of no place in scripture where Moses’ family line is given. Moses’ branch of the Levitical family tree seems to end with him. Why is this? Is it significant?

I certainly won’t pretend to know the mind of God. I can surmise why the lineage of Moses was not given. But maybe more importantly, why was the Aaronic line given? This one seems obvious to me. In order to minister in the tabernacle and later the temple, one must prove he was a Levite. He must prove he is a descendant of Levi, and more specifically, a descendant of Aaron. 

Think about this. We know that according to Bible prophecy there will indeed be a third temple established. As this post is written they are awaiting a red heifer to be used in the re-dedication of the temple according to Mosaic law. This newly dedicated temple will require a priesthood for its operation. Have you ever stopped to think that the Jews have kept track of their family lineage? They know the identity of the descendants of Aaron! 

Hard to believe? Look at Revelation 7:3-8

Revelation 7:3-8  

3       saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 

           4       And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

           5       of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;

           6       of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;

           7       of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;

           8       of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;

    of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.


Why should we care? God cared enough to record it. If it was important for Him to tell us then it is important for us to know. Don’t dismiss the details in the Bible. Study them, understand them. Be blessed by them.


All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.


1 Reply to "Numbers 3 - Family"

  • Roger Streifel
    September 28, 2019 (12:08 pm)

    This passage would be entirely of no consequence if we are not to take the Bible literally. This would be a throw away passage if people could allegorize the meaning of these numbers.
    But as you say, all of the Bible is meaningful. In fact every word is meaningful. So obviously there is huge importance of what this exact number of Jews do in the future. We will find out as we read further into the Bible that these specific 144,000 Jews will have great significance in evangelizing during the Tribulation period as well as have great consequence in establishing worship at the new future temple

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