Book of Numbers

Yikes, it’s almost halfway through May, and I’ve packed about 6 boxes. We did adopt the dog who came to visit us in April, though…priorities, right?

Angel

Angel

The main topic of this post is one I’ve been meaning to write since last fall…but backing up even further, in January 2013, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was the read the Bible straight through–start at Genesis, read a chapter every day until I finished.

Now in May 2014, I’m on the book of 1 Samuel. Not very far in. The Bible is, of course, a very long book, but the main problem would be me not reading every day. Anyway, I have at least kept with it enough that I’m still going, instead of having given up back in Exodus. One of my main reasons for doing this is that I’ve read the whole New Testament (taking a NT survey class in college where it was required reading sure helped!), but there are lots of books in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible that I hadn’t really read before, and I would like that to change.

The book of Numbers is one of those books that I had never read before, and it definitely took me awhile to find it interesting. After all, it’s called “Numbers” in part because the first section of the book is a series of censuses of the Israelites. But it does pick up from there. For one thing, the story of Balaam and the donkey? I had heard that it was in the Bible, but had never encountered it until I finally read Numbers (Ch. 23). It’s a great story, too…not only is the donkey smart enough not to go where there’s an angel standing with a drawn sword, but God lets the donkey talk long enough to question Balaam about beating him until Balaam himself can see the angel.

There’re two other stories that I wanted to mention. One is a rebellion by some of the Israelites in which the ground swallows up the rebels (Ch. 16). Not perhaps the most pleasant story, but certainly as exciting as anything in most novels. The second seems to me like it might be one of the earliest feminist stories. In Chapter 27, daughters of a man who died without having any sons ask that their father’s inheritance be given to them instead of passed over to one of their uncles, and it is! There is still certainly lots of signs of the patriarchal system in Numbers, including that the women have to marry within their own tribe to keep the inheritance from passing to another tribe, but I still found it exciting and fascinating.

So if you are looking to explore a lesser-known book of the Bible, I would recommend giving Numbers a try…just skim all those censuses!

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