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The People of Israel Are Counted

The people of Israel had left Egypt and were living in the Sinai Desert. Then on the first day of the second month[a] of the second year, Moses was in the sacred tent when the Lord said:

2-3 I want you and Aaron to find out how many people are in each of Israel’s clans and families. And make a list of all the men twenty years and older who are able to fight in battle. 4-15 The following twelve family leaders, one from each tribe, will help you:

Elizur son of Shedeur
    from Reuben,
Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai
    from Simeon,
Nahshon son of Amminadab
    from Judah,
Nethanel son of Zuar
    from Issachar,
Eliab son of Helon
    from Zebulun,
Elishama son of Ammihud
    from Ephraim,
Gamaliel son of Pedahzur
    from Manasseh,
Abidan son of Gideoni
    from Benjamin,
Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai
    from Dan,
Pagiel son of Ochran
    from Asher,
Eliasaph son of Deuel
    from Gad,
and Ahira son of Enan
    from Naphtali.

16-17 Moses and Aaron, together with these twelve tribal leaders, 18 called together the people that same day. They were counted according to their clans and families. Then Moses and the others listed the names of the men twenty years and older, 19 just as the Lord had commanded. 20-46 The number of men from each tribe who were at least twenty years old and strong enough to fight in Israel’s army was as follows:

46,500 from Reuben,
the oldest son of Jacob,[b]

59,300 from Simeon,
45,650 from Gad,
74,600 from Judah,
54,400 from Issachar,
57,400 from Zebulun,
40,500 from Ephraim,
32,200 from Manasseh,
35,400 from Benjamin,
62,700 from Dan,
41,500 from Asher,
53,400 from Naphtali.

The total number of men registered by Moses, Aaron, and the twelve leaders was 603,550.

47 But those from the Levi tribe were not included 48 because the Lord had said to Moses:

49 When you count the Israelites, do not include those from the Levi tribe. 50-51 Instead, give them the job of caring for the sacred tent, its furnishings, and the objects used for worship. They will camp around the tent, and whenever you move, they will take it down, carry it to the new camp, and set it up again. Anyone else who tries to go near it must be put to death.

52 The rest of the Israelites will camp in their own groups and under their own banners. 53 But the Levites will camp around the sacred tent to make sure that no one goes near it and makes me furious with the Israelites.

54 The people of Israel did everything the Lord had commanded.

Instructions for Setting Up Israel’s Camp

The Lord told Moses and Aaron how the Israelites should arrange their camp:

Each tribe must set up camp under its own banner and under the flags of its ancestral families. These camps will be arranged around the sacred tent, but not close to it.

3-4 Judah and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the east side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 74,600 troops of the tribe of Judah will be arranged by divisions and led by Nahshon son of Amminadab. 5-6 On one side of Judah will be the tribe of Issachar, with Nethanel son of Zuar as the leader of its 54,400 troops. 7-8 On the other side will be the tribe of Zebulun, with Eliab son of Helon as the leader of its 57,400 troops. These 186,400 troops will march into battle first.

10-11 Reuben and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the south side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 46,500 troops of the tribe of Reuben will be arranged by divisions and led by Elizur son of Shedeur. 12-13 On one side of Reuben will be the tribe of Simeon, with Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai as the leader of its 59,300 troops. 14-15 On the other side will be the tribe of Gad, with Eliasaph son of Deuel as the leader of its 45,650 troops. 16 These 151,450 troops will march into battle second.

17 Marching behind Reuben will be the Levites, arranged in groups, just as they are camped. They will carry the sacred tent and their own banners.

18-19 Ephraim and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the west side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 40,500 troops of the tribe of Ephraim will be arranged by divisions and led by Elishama son of Ammihud. 20-21 On one side of Ephraim will be the tribe of Manasseh, with Gamaliel son of Pedahzur as the leader of its 32,200 troops. 22-23 On the other side will be the tribe of Benjamin, with Abidan son of Gideoni as the leader of its 35,400 troops. 24 These 108,100 troops will march into battle third.

25-26 Dan and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the north side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 62,700 troops of the tribe of Dan will be arranged by divisions and led by Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 27-28 On one side of Dan will be the tribe of Asher, with Pagiel son of Ochran as the leader of its 41,500 troops. 29-30 On the other side will be the tribe of Naphtali with Ahira son of Enan as the leader of its 53,400 troops. 31 These 157,600 troops will march into battle last.

32 So all the Israelites in the camp were counted according to their ancestral families. The troops were arranged by divisions and totaled 603,550. 33 The only Israelites not included were the Levites, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

34 Israel did everything the Lord had told Moses. They arranged their camp according to clans and families, with each tribe under its own banner. And that was the order by which they marched into battle.

Footnotes

  1. 1.1 second month: Ziv, the second month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-April to mid-May.
  2. 1.20-46 Jacob: The Hebrew text has “Israel,” Jacob’s name after God renamed him.

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