Book of Numbers
In the Wilderness (Hebrew Title)
Numbers, fourth book in the Old Testament of the Bible, derives its
name from the census lists at the beginning and middle of the book.
Its Hebrew title, meaning "in the wilderness," better characterizes
the work, however, because these lists as well as the book's
otherwise unrelated narratives and scattered cultic legislation are
all set in the wilderness. They continue the narrative, begun in the
Book of Exodus, of Israel's journey from Egypt to Canaan, the
Promised Land. Although Numbers contains elements of the early
traditions called J and E concerning challenges to Moses'
leadership, the reconnaissance and abortive assault on southern
Canaan, and the conquest of Transjordan, in addition to several
fragments of extremely ancient poetry (1250 - 1050 BC), the present
shape of the work is due largely to the source called P (c. 450). P
supplemented, edited, and occasionally altered the older
sources to present his own view of the Mosaic period.
J J M Roberts
F M Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1973);
M Noth, Numbers: A Commentary (1968); G E Wright and R H Fuller,
The Book of the Acts of God (1957).
Book of Numbers
- Additional legislation; organization of the host (1-10:11)
- March from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea (10:12-12:16)
- Debacle at Kadesh (13-14)
- Wanderings in wilderness (15-21:11)
- Conquest of Trans-Jordan and preparations to enter Canaan (21:12-36:13)
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