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A numbering book : all Israel twice enrolled,
This book contains two enumerations of the Israelites. The first was made early in the second year after the departure; the second about thirty-eight years later, in the plains of Moab, before entering the promised land.
The enumeration consisted of all males above twenty years of age, except the Levites, who were not included.
The second census includes only two men who were in the first enrolment. All that vast host except these two, had perished during their long wanderings in the desert.
603,550 Second census,
How long were the Israelites encamped at Sinai ?
About a year. They left Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, and proceeded directly to Kadesh, on the southern border of Canaan.
The Tabernacle is now completed, and its daily services established. The laws have been proclaimed; the form of civil government is fixed, and all things seem prepared for entering Canaan without delay. What preparatory measure was taken?
Twelve messengers or spies, one from each tribe, were sent forth to view the land. They passed through various parts of it in disguise, and returned after forty days' absence, bringing specimens of the fruits of the land. A single cluster of grapes, which they gathered by the brook Eshcol, was so large that "they bare it between two upon a staff.” These clusters of Eshcol were an emblem and a foretaste of the blessings of the Promised Land.
Did the returned messengers agree in their report of the land and its people?
The messengers, with one voice, said that it was a beautiful country, abounding in wholesome fruits, and flowing with milk and honey; that the people were strong, the cities large and well fortified, and some of the men of gigantic stature. But ten of them said, We cannot conquer the people; they are stronger than we; let us not go up against them: all the people are giants; the sons of Anak are there, and we were as grasshoppers in their sight.
“And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.” Num. 14:1.
But Caleb and Joshua, the messengers of the tribes of Judah and Ephraim, stood boldly forth and said, “Nay, not so: we are well able to overcome the people, for their defence is departed from them, and Jehovah is with us; let us go up at once and take possession of the land.”
The people would not hear. They murmured against Moses and against God, and in their madness they said,
“Let us make us a captain, and let us return into Egypt."
Again the two faithful messengers endeavored to calm the tumult,
"But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.” Num. 14:10.
Would Jehovah let these proud rebels go unpunished ?
Certainly not. The glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle before all the people, and the voice of God proclaimed to Moses, that
they should wander forty years in the wilderness, and that all over twenty years of age should perish during that period, and only their children should enter the promised land.
Caleb and Joshua were excepted from this decree. Eleazar the priest, and perhaps other priests and Levites not included among the murmurers, also lived to pass over Jordan into Canaan. See Josh. 14:1.
ANOTHER REBELLION. A great conspiracy was now organized to wrest the government from Moses, and the priesthood from Aaron.
Three of the most noted captains and princes were the leaders of the revolt: Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And in league with them, were "two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, men of renown." Num. 16:2.
The charge which they brought against Moses and Aaron was in these words :
" Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them : wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord ?"
Here then is a claim that every man might take upon himself the office of a priest. How was this controversy decided ?
While the two hundred and fifty princes of the conspiracy stood around the door of the tabernacle, with their censers in their hands, burning incense, Korah their leader being also with them, “fire from the Lord” came out from the tabernacle and consumed them.
Dathan and Abiram had remained in their tents : it was the government, and not the priesthood, to which they aspired. At the same time that the princes were consumed, the earth opened and swallowed up them and their tents, and all that were in them, or appertained to them.
Was this judgment sufficient to quell the mutiny?
By no means. The next day, à cry sounded from all parts of the camp against Moses and Aaron, “Ye have killed the people of the Lord!”
How will God manifest his vengeance against this fresh rebellion ?
A cloud covered the tabernacle, the glory of God appeared, and a plague-a scourge of instant death—was sent among the people, which consumed fourteen thousand seven hundred