Numbers 26

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Read Numbers 26

The Second Census

26 After the plague the Lord said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by families—all those twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army of Israel.”So on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them and said, “Take a census of the men twenty years old or more, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

These were the Israelites who came out of Egypt:

The descendants of Reuben, the firstborn son of Israel, were:

through Hanok, the Hanokite clan;

through Pallu, the Palluite clan;

through Hezron, the Hezronite clan;

through Karmi, the Karmite clan.

These were the clans of Reuben; those numbered were 43,730.

The son of Pallu was Eliab, and the sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan and Abiram. The same Dathan and Abiram were the community officials who rebelled against Moses and Aaron and were among Korah’s followers when they rebelled against the Lord. 10 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them along with Korah, whose followers died when the fire devoured the 250 men. And they served as a warning sign. 11 The line of Korah, however, did not die out.

12 The descendants of Simeon by their clans were:

through Nemuel, the Nemuelite clan;

through Jamin, the Jaminite clan;

through Jakin, the Jakinite clan;

13 through Zerah, the Zerahite clan;

through Shaul, the Shaulite clan.

14 These were the clans of Simeon; those numbered were 22,200.

15 The descendants of Gad by their clans were:

through Zephon, the Zephonite clan;

through Haggi, the Haggite clan;

through Shuni, the Shunite clan;

16 through Ozni, the Oznite clan;

through Eri, the Erite clan;

17 through Arodi, the Arodite clan;

through Areli, the Arelite clan.

18 These were the clans of Gad; those numbered were 40,500.

19 Er and Onan were sons of Judah, but they died in Canaan.

20 The descendants of Judah by their clans were:

through Shelah, the Shelanite clan;

through Perez, the Perezite clan;

through Zerah, the Zerahite clan.

21 The descendants of Perez were:

through Hezron, the Hezronite clan;

through Hamul, the Hamulite clan.

22 These were the clans of Judah; those numbered were 76,500.

23 The descendants of Issachar by their clans were:

through Tola, the Tolaite clan;

through Puah, the Puite clan;

24 through Jashub, the Jashubite clan;

through Shimron, the Shimronite clan.

25 These were the clans of Issachar; those numbered were 64,300.

26 The descendants of Zebulun by their clans were:

through Sered, the Seredite clan;

through Elon, the Elonite clan;

through Jahleel, the Jahleelite clan.

27 These were the clans of Zebulun; those numbered were 60,500.

28 The descendants of Joseph by their clans through Manasseh and Ephraim were:

29 The descendants of Manasseh:

through Makir, the Makirite clan (Makir was the father of Gilead);

through Gilead, the Gileadite clan.

30 These were the descendants of Gilead:

through Iezer, the Iezerite clan;

through Helek, the Helekite clan;

31 through Asriel, the Asrielite clan;

through Shechem, the Shechemite clan;

32 through Shemida, the Shemidaite clan;

through Hepher, the Hepherite clan.

33 (Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons; he had only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah.)

34 These were the clans of Manasseh; those numbered were 52,700.

35 These were the descendants of Ephraim by their clans:

through Shuthelah, the Shuthelahite clan;

through Beker, the Bekerite clan;

through Tahan, the Tahanite clan.

36 These were the descendants of Shuthelah:

through Eran, the Eranite clan.

37 These were the clans of Ephraim; those numbered were 32,500.

These were the descendants of Joseph by their clans.

38 The descendants of Benjamin by their clans were:

through Bela, the Belaite clan;

through Ashbel, the Ashbelite clan;

through Ahiram, the Ahiramite clan;

39 through Shupham, the Shuphamite clan;

through Hupham, the Huphamite clan.

40 The descendants of Bela through Ard and Naaman were:

through Ard, the Ardite clan;

through Naaman, the Naamite clan.

41 These were the clans of Benjamin; those numbered were 45,600.

42 These were the descendants of Dan by their clans:

through Shuham, the Shuhamite clan.

These were the clans of Dan: 43 All of them were Shuhamite clans; and those numbered were 64,400.

44 The descendants of Asher by their clans were:

through Imnah, the Imnite clan;

through Ishvi, the Ishvite clan;

through Beriah, the Beriite clan;

45 and through the descendants of Beriah:

through Heber, the Heberite clan;

through Malkiel, the Malkielite clan.

46 (Asher had a daughter named Serah.)

47 These were the clans of Asher; those numbered were 53,400.

48 The descendants of Naphtali by their clans were:

through Jahzeel, the Jahzeelite clan;

through Guni, the Gunite clan;

49 through Jezer, the Jezerite clan;

through Shillem, the Shillemite clan.

50 These were the clans of Naphtali; those numbered were 45,400.

51 The total number of the men of Israel was 601,730.

52 The Lord said to Moses, 53 “The land is to be allotted to them as an inheritance based on the number of names. 54 To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. 55 Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe. 56 Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups.”

57 These were the Levites who were counted by their clans:

through Gershon, the Gershonite clan;

through Kohath, the Kohathite clan;

through Merari, the Merarite clan.

58 These also were Levite clans:

the Libnite clan,

the Hebronite clan,

the Mahlite clan,

the Mushite clan,

the Korahite clan.

(Kohath was the forefather of Amram; 59 the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam. 60 Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 61 But Nadab and Abihudied when they made an offering before the Lord with unauthorized fire.)

62 All the male Levites a month old or more numbered 23,000. They were not counted along with the other Israelites because they received no inheritanceamong them.

63 These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 64 Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaronthe priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. 65 For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

Go Deeper

The chapter tells us about the census that Moses and the new high priest, Eleazar, took of the people of Israel and how God told them they were to divide territories once they entered the promised land. There can be a temptation to gloss over passages abouts censuses and genealogies in the Old Testament. The names are foreign and unknown to us and we can get bogged down in the lists and details. However, beneath the surface is a wealth of insight that allows us just a glimpse into the heart and mind of God. Each name is a nudge–a reminder of who He is and what He has accomplished.

Let’s start at the end in verse 63: “These were those listed by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who listed the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jodan at Jericho.” This second census was taken after Israel had wandered in the desert for forty years. Forty years is a long time. While roaming because of their disbelief and disobedience, any number of things could have taken out the Israelites- harsh conditions, surrounding nations, disease, malnutrition, you name it. Instead, we see that the Israelite population has remained essentially the same size throughout its time of wandering.

What mercy and kindness God extended to his people! Hidden beneath this list of names is a reminder that God keeps his promises. He promised in Genesis 26:4 that he would make Abraham’s descendants “as numerous as the starts in the sky,” and we see here that nothing, not even the Israelite’s disobedience, is going to prevent him from keeping that promise. Verse 64 tells us that no one from the first census taken before their time of wandering, except for Joshua and Caleb, was left to inherit the promised land. Rewind to Numbers 14 when the spies returned from exploring the land of Canaan, and only Joshua and Caleb were confident that the Lord could accomplish what He said He was going to.

The Lord tells the people that no one besides these two “shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers” (v. 23). Now, forty years later, the Lord remembers the promise he made to these two faithful followers of his. In keeping with the promise, all of the wilderness generation has passed, yet Caleb and Joshua prepare to enter the promised land. The listing of the Israelites by tribe and number reveals to us the faithfulness and promise-keeping nature of our God!


  1. What do you think God is wanting you to learn about his character from this chapter? Where do you see Him at work?
  2. What promises has God made to you that you can trust He will keep? If nothing specific comes to mind, start by looking at the promises he makes to us in scripture.
  3. How can you reflect on and thank God for the promises that He has already fulfilled in your life?

Pray This


Thank you that you are a promise-keeping God. Thank you that we never have to wonder if you will keep your promises to us because we see your faithfulness displayed in scripture. Thank you that you promise eternal life to those who trust in you and that we can know that you will keep that promise!

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4 thoughts on “Numbers 26”

  1. Tucked into the details of the census were a few clan stories. From Rueben we’re reminded of the conspiracy of Dathan & Abiram, community leaders who along with 250 of their followers defied the Lord and received dire consequences (v8-11). From Levi we read of Aaron’s sons, Nadab & Abihu, who disregarded the command of the Lord in their sacred service and died (v61). Yet these names still are recorded in scripture to remind us of God’s holiness that never should be taken lightly. God was intentional about crafting a people who would follow him completely, no compromise or drifting into pagan ideology that surrounded them. What will our legacies look like? Because of the completed work of Christ who is now ascended into heaven, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit who helps, convicts and guides us into all truth. (Thank you, Dale, for this reminder yesterday at HC.) May we learn to detect the leading of the spirit as we move about our days and fully obey.

  2. God’s promises are yes and amen. All these numbers tells us that almost the exact same amount that went out to go to the promised land, went into the promised land but not the original people that were given the promise, just their decedents. But what does that say about growth? They griped and complained, God intervened and made their complaints into good but they just found more to complain about and they died off. What about you and me now, today? Do we continually just complain or follow through with what God is asking us to do? Am I growing into the person God needs to complete the work He has for me? Or am I just complaining, stagnate, and floundering? So I am reading “Practicing the Way” by John Mark Comer. I am wanting my apprenticeship of my life to reflect my walk with God. Be with Jesus, become like Him, and to do as He did. Learning, listening, praying, seeking, finding, searching, loving, abiding, sitting at His feet so that the numbers in my family tree grow to increase with making more apprentice’s.

    God maker of the heaven and earth, You are so Holy!! Thank You for loving this world. Thank You for everyone in this world to come to the knowledge of You, today in Jesus name amen

  3. Diane Frances Rogers

    This narrative of God’s grace, the people’s disobedience, repentance, obedience, God’s promise is ongoing.
    His Divine love for us is shown time after time. It is our gift of the Holy Spirit as our helper from Jesus to guide and convicts in truth.
    “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:19,20

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