Numbers Chapters 1 through 5

Chapters 1 through 4

It turns out that the name of this book is pretty accurate. It starts off with God asking Moses and Aaron to take a census of the entire congregation of Israelites…but only if they’re male…and over twenty years old…and able to go to war. This isn’t a census, it’s a draft.

The book goes on to list all of the individual tribes and the number of able-bodied men who will be going to war. I will not be adding up all of those numbers because I really don’t want to. The Levites will not be counted with the Israelites because they have to guard the tabernacle.

Chapter 2 is nothing but marching orders…seriously. The order and direction that the tribes will set out.

Chapter 3 is the all about the Levites. It talks about their duties, such as setting up and furnishing the tent of meeting. Then there’s another census, this time of the Levites. There is also the redemption of the firstborn of the Levites which God is now willing to accept. It’s a money grab.

Chapter 4 is about taking yet another census of yet more tribes. It describes the duties of these groups ad nauseum, including very, very detailed instructions about how to lay the cloths on the altar. It’s gripping stuff really.

Chapter 5

This chapter is one that makes me cranky. It starts off with directions for “unclean” people, both male and female. Anyone who is leprous or has a discharge, or anyone who had contact with a corpse will be sent out of camp because the defile it. The camp must not be defiled while the Lord is living there.

Confession and restitution comes next. A person who is wronged will be reimbursed the value of the wrong, plus one-fifth. If the injured party has no next of kin, then the restitution goes to the priest. Makes me wonder who’s writing this book.

The next section, and the section that makes me really cranky, is about an unfaithful wife. The worst part about this section is that a man need only have a feeling of jealousy that his wife was unfaithful. Perhaps in some cases she didn’t have her period when she should have or she was pregnant when it would not have possible if she was faithful to her husband. These things need not happen, he just has to notice that maybe she looked at the neighbor for a little too long, even if nothing happened between them. Anyway, if this happens, the husband brings the wife and a grain offering of jealousy. The priest will set her before the Lord and mix water and some dirt from the floor of the tabernacle. She will hold the grain offering and repeat an oath and then she has to drink the cursed potion (the water and tabernacle dirt). If she was not unfaithful, then nothing will happen to her. However, if she was unfaithful then the priest, at the instruction of God himself, will make her drink a potion that will cause an abortion to occur.

27When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people.


Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 292). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

There is no other way to describe this passage. God is condoning abortion. “But wait,” I hear you ask, “what if a husband is unfaithful?” That’s a good question. If a husband has been unfaithful to his wife, the first sign will be a new girl/woman in the harem.

Leviticus Chapters 12 through 15

Chapter 12

This chapter is about the purification of women after childbirth. If a women bears a male child, she is unclean for seven days (on the eighth, the boy gets the snip-snip) and her blood purification takes thirty-three days where she can’t touch anything holy or go into the sanctuary. Oh, double all of that if she has a girl because…of course.

After the purification, then she has to bring a lamb and pigeon to the tabernacle. The lamb is for a burnt offering and the pigeon is for a sin offering. Is that a sin offering because she is a woman or because she gave birth? My guess is the latter since it was in Genesis that God made childbirth a punishment.

Chapter 13

What’s that? You want to know everything about leprosy? You’ve come to the right chapter.

I am not going to go over everything in here because this is a long chapter and there is a lot of repetition. This chapter is regarding diseases of the skin and not just leprosy, but it’s all collected under the same banner. The priest examines the skin and makes his determination whether the person is clean or unclean and might require confinement. If it is determined to be leprosy, then that person’s clothing is burned. Of course, if the disease didn’t spread further, then only the section of cloth that touched the diseased tissue will be cut out.

I understand that people in those days had very little knowledge of diseases such as these, but the way this is written, it could have simply been a chart. I’m sure the cleansing process in the next chapter with be totally scientific.

Chapter 14

It’s not. Not. At. All.

The cleansing ritual is for a person who has apparently recovered will be sprinkled with bird blood. That doesn’t seem sanitary at all. I am not going to go through this chapter. It’s a lot of sprinkling of blood with cedarwood, red yarn, and hyssop. Also, tearing down houses if it’s believed that the disease is still in there.

I feel like it’s these previous two chapters that results in people believing that illness is a result of moral failure rather than a virus, bacteria, or genetics. There’s a lot of “guilt offering” or “sin offering” after a person recovers from a disease in these chapters. No, disease is not the result of sin.

Chapter 15

This whole chapter talks about bodily discharges including blood (for women), semen, and other discharges that sound like gonorrhea. Essentially, everything that people touch, sit on, or  wear during this time is unclean and they must be purified.

Naturally, the once the person is no longer having the discharge, then they have to burn animals, cut open birds, and pray at the tabernacle because they’re filthy sinners or something. They also have to bathe and wash their clothes.

Honestly, these past few chapters have been hard to read because of all of the repetition. Not only repetition within the chapters, but between the chapters. I mean, why couldn’t God make a chart? Put the animals and birds on one axis, the reason for the sacrifice on the other axis and then just put an X in the square. That would be a lot easier.

I feel like I could write this book better. Also, I don’t think anyone wants pictures for the last three chapters.