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every man by his own standard, throughout children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep their hosts.
| the charge of the tabernacle of testimony. 53 But the Levites shall pitch round 54 And the children of Israel did accordabout the tabernacle of testimony, that there ing to all that the Lord commanded Moses, be no wrath upon the congregation of the 1 so did they.
Numbers.--The Jews generally call this book , va-yedabbér, “and he spake;" from the first word of the original ; but there are some who rather call it 72723, be-midbar, " in the desert,” which is the fifth word of the first verse, and which appears to have been selected as descriptive of the contents of the book, which relates parts of the history of the sojourning of the Israelites in the wilderness. The Septuagint calls it APIOMOI, after which the Vulgate calls it Numeri, and our own version, NUMBERS, being the first instance in which the title of a book is translated. It derives this name from the accounts of a census being found at the commencement and towards the conclusion (ch. xxvi). The period embraced in this book extends from the early part of the second year after the exodus to the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year after that event; it therefore comprehends a pericd of thirty-eight years and nine or ten months. The events recorded, however, seem chiefly to have taken place towards the beginning and the end of this period. The Israelites still remain at Sinai till ch, x. 11, where it is mentioned that on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, they were directed to remove and advance towards the Promised Land. They proceed as far as Kadesh on its borders, where we find them in ch. xiii. 26, and where, on account of gross rebellion, the nation was sentenced to wander in the desert for forty years, till the existing generation should have died away (ch. xiv). It is impossible to determine at what part of this period the laws were given and the transactions occurred which are recorded in the ensuing chapters, till ch. xx., when, towards the end of the period, we find the Israelites again at Kadesh, taking measures to enter Canaan. The rest of the book relates the transactions in their retrogressive march from Kadesh to the Promised Land, on the borders of which, “in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho," the book leaves them at its close.
Verse 2. “ Take ye the sum of all the congregation.”—This is the earliest census on record; but we have no reason to conclude that it was the first. We have no distinct information concerning the Egyptian usage in this respect; but it appears manifest that the Israelites while in Egypt had been accustomed to enumerations of the population, and that they had themselves been previously enumerated, but whether by themselves or by their Egyptian tyrants, it is impossible to say. Thus we find that, at the time of the exodus, the number of the males above twenty years of age was well known (Exod. xii. 37). We would not indeed rest the point on this alone, as the statement may be thought to have been derived from subsequent enumeration ; but it is of importance, when considered in connection with the circumstance that the first time when a census is distinctly mentioned (Exod. xxx. 12), it is not enjoined as a new thing; but it is pre-supposed, as a matter of course, that Moses would number the people. But if the Israelites were then acquainted with the practice of periodical or occasional enumeration, they must have learnt it in Egypt; for a census is certainly not a practice of wandering shepherds, or one of which, untaught, they would have been even likely to think. It is however interesting to find this important measure of national policy in use at this early time, particularly when we recollect that it is of comparatively recent adoption in modern Europe. It was only in the course of the last century that the attention of governments began to be turned to the subject; and then attempts to obtain an accurate census were attended with great difficulty, and were in many instances perfectly fruitless. It is difficult to determine at what intervals the Hebrew census were made. Four or five are mentioned in the Old Testament, but they are all at very unequal periods; and judging from this we might suppose they were occasional only. But the later Jews thought the enumeration was intended to be annual, a construction inculcated for the purpose of making annual the poll tax of half a shekel mentioned in Exod. xxx. 12. This tax is not, in Scripture, mentioned in connection with any other census; and we are of opinion that it was only a temporary measure to raise funds for the making of the tabernacle. The later Jews however exacted the tax, without making the enumeration on which it should have been founded. There was the poll-tax, but not the census ; even those who contended for the annual census, allowed they had no such census, or indeed any census at all, except so far as that the amount of the tax formed a datum on which a calculation might have been founded as to the number of the people. An annual census would indeed have been quite unnecessary and scarcely practicable. On this ground we may doubt whether the enumeration in Exod. xxxvii. 26, is the result of a different census from that now before us. A census must always occupy some time in making, and yet we find an interval of only a few months between the two periods; and if we suppose them different, it is impossible to conceive why a second enumeration should so immediately follow the first. Besides the amount stated in both instances is the same, namely 603,550-an identity of numbers scarcely possible even in the interval of a few months, had the enumerations been different. We therefore think that the census is the same: it was completed doubtless in time to make the poll-tax available for the works of the tabernacle, and the result is stated incidentally in Exod. xxxviii., in connection with the amount; while here we have a more particular account of the same enumeration in order to show the relative strength of the different tribes. The second census took place, apparently, about thirtyeight years subsequent, on the borders of Canaan, in the next generation ; from which, if we are at liberty to infer any thing, we may suppose it was the intention of Moses that there should be a census in every generation. It is, however, doubtful whether the enumeration of the people ever was, or was intended to be, periodical. It is easy to discover a distinct object in every enumeration which the Scripture mentions. It will of course be observed that the enumeration only extends to males above twenty years of age, and could not therefore be useful for all the purposes to which national enumerations, in conjunction with tables of births and burials, are now applied. Still such an enumeration of adult males was highly important, as affording a safe criterion by which the increase or decrease of the national strength and population might be estimated. It would be interesting to know in what manner the census was taken. The modern usages of the East afford no analogy; as, except in China and Japan, no enumerations of population are ever made or even thought of. The population of towns is not known even to those to whom that knowledge would seem of importance. The want of at least an occasional census causes the most loose ideas on every subject relating to population. We have heard old men, of average intelligence, declare, in all sincerity, their belief that towns, in which they have lived for years, contained a million inhabitants, when they could not really have contained more than from fifty to eighty thousand. When a persun in authority really wishes to form some idea of the population of a town, it is formed either by a rough calculation as to the number of houses multiplied by the supposed average number of inhabitants to each house, or else by an account deduced from the consumption of a particular article of food. Thus,
when Mr. Morier wished to ascertain the population of the city of Ispahan in Persia, the following process was adopted :- A small duty is paid to the local government on every sheep killed by the butchers, and the daily amount of this duty being ascertained, the number of sheep slaughtered became known. It then remained to be guessed how many inhabitants one sheep would serve. The proportion assumed was 300 to one sheep, and this being multiplied by the total number of sheep consumed (175), afforded the amount of population. The defects of such a process we need not point out; and yet we find the Jews having recourse to a very similar method at a time when they had for many centuries ceased to have regular enumerations, such as that now before us. Josephus relates that the prefect Cestius, being desirous of impressing Nero with a more proper idea of the importance of the Jewish nation than he was known to entertain, applied to the priests to know whether they possessed any means by which the number might be ascertained. As the Passover was approaching, when all the adult males were to appear at Jerusalem, they proposed to number the lambs sacrificed on that occasion, and to make the number slain a datum for a calculation of the population; for that sacrifice might not be eaten alone, and it was known that not less than ten persons partook of each lamb. It was accordingly found that the lambs sacrificed amounted to 256,500, which they multiplied by ten to obtain the required answer, which therefore must have been 2,565,000, although Josephus, whose numbers are perhaps corrupted, says 2,700,200. The defects of this calculation as an estimate of the adult male population are palpable. Only persons ceremonially clean could eat of the passover ; many individuals were probably absent; and Josephus himself allows that the number who partook together of one lamb, was often not less than twenty; and indeed we know that thirteen were present at the passover which Jesus ate with his disciples.
16. "Princes of the tribes of their fathers.”—There are several expressions in this chapter which afford us considerable insight into the early national constitution of the Hebrews. Its forms were precisely those which we find to prevail, with slight modifications, in all nomade nations, and which all the tribes descending from Abraham followed, and which subsist among some of them (the Arabians, for instance) to this day. They were, as is well known, divided into twelve great tribes, all having one common ancestor, and yet each having a distinct ancestor of its own-after whom it took its name, its members being called Beni-Reuben, Ben-Levi, &c. "sons of Reuben, sons of Levi ;” or the nation, collectively, from the common ancestor, Beni-Israel, “sons of Israel,”-a principle of denomination which the Arabs exhibit to this day, calling their tribes Beni-Lam, Beni-Shammar, &c. Each tribe had its emir, sheikh, or chief, called here “ prince of his tribe ;” and the names of the whole twelve are here given to us. They were not appointed by Moses, but their existence and authority are here recognized as already established in their respective tribes, and probably represented the authority which the patriarch of the tribe transmitted in the eldest branch of his family. This organization appears to have been carried down into Egypt, and to have subsisted there ; and we probably shall not err in identifying these chiefs of tribes with the "elders” to whom Moses in the first instance communicated his mission when he arrived in Egypt (Exod. iv. 29). The great tribes were again subdivided into certain large divisions called Group (mishpachoth), and into smaller called mix in (baiti aboth), all having their heads or chiefs, who are probably the same persons called “elders” in Deut. xix. 12, and xxi. 1--9; Josh. xxiii. and xxiv ; and elsewhere. On what principle these inferior heads were nominated we do not know ; but as there is much apparent resemblance between this constitution and that which we find to prevail among the nomade tribes (Eelauts) of Persia, perhaps their usages on this point may throw light on those of the Hebrews. Each tribe has its hereditary chief or khan, whose influence in it is very great; and inviolable attachment to whom, under all circumstances, is regarded equally as a duty and a virtue. The people regard him as their only lawful leader, and can seldom be brought to obey any other person, although they are nominally subject to the king of the country. As it would be inconvenient, if not impossible, for a whole tribe to keep together while pasturing its flocks, it is divided into several branches, each of which encamps and wanders by itself. These branches have at their head inferior chiefs, called, as among the Hebrews, “elders." Their dignity is hereditary, like that of the chief, to whom they are more or less nearly related ; and they form the officers of the tribe in time of war, and its magistrates in time of peace. In the latter capacity it is their general endeavour to preserve the harmony of the tribe by effecting an accommodation of the differences which arise within it. Small matters are settled by the head of the branch in which the case arises ; but affairs of somewhat more consequence, or which the elder cannot settle, are referred to the chief, or, in his absence, to his deputy, who is always one of the elders. When, however, a matter of some importance is in question, a council of the elders is called, and the result is determined by a majority of voices. The parallel may not perhaps be thought to hold good in the case of magisterial functions ; but it seems to us very probable that the chief of the magistrates whom Moses appointed, at the suggestion of Jethro, were those heads of tribes and subdivisions to whom the people were accustomed to look up with respect and confidence. The tribes still continued to have their own chiefs even under the kings—at least in the early periods of the monarchy. A list of such chiefs, referring to the time of David, is given in 1 Chron. xxvii. 16–22; and they probably subsisted, at least in name, until the captivity. Their authority and influence in their respective tribes, while still possessed in any considerable degree, must have proved a strong restraint upon the power of the monarchs.
camp of Judah pitch throughout their The order of the tribes in their tents.
armies: and Nahshon the son of Ammi
nadab shall be captain of the children of And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Judah. Aaron, saying,
4 And his host, and those that were num2 Every man of the children of Israel bered of them, were threescore and fourteen shall pitch by his own standard, with the | thousand and six hundred. ensign of their father's house : 'far off about 5 And those that do pitch next unto him the tabernacle of the congregation shall they shall be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel pitch.
the son of Zuar shall be captain of the chil3 And on the east side toward the rising dren of Issachar. of the sun shall they of the standard of the 6 And his host, and those that were num1 Heb. over against.
bered thereof, were fifty and four thousand, 12 And those which pitch by him shall and four hundred.
be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of 7 Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Helon shall be captain of the the son of Zurishaddai. children of Zebulun.
| 13 And his host, and those that were 8 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thounumbered thereof, were fifty and seven thou- sand and three hundred sand and four hundred..
14 Then the tribe of Gad: and the cap9 All that were numbered in the camp oftain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph Judah were an hundred thousand and four- | the son of Reuel. score thousand and six thousand and four | 15 And his host, and those that were hundred, throughout their armies. These numbered of them, were forty and five thoushall first set forth. .
| sand and six hundred and fifty. 10 . On the south side shall be the stand- 16 All that were numbered in the camp ard of the camp of Reuben according to their of Reuben were an hundred thousand and armies: and the captain of the children of fifty and one thousand and four hundred Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur. and fifty, throughout their armies. And
11 And his host, and those that were they shall set forth in the second rank. numbered thereof, were forty and six thou 17 | Then the tabernacle of the congresand and five hundred.
gation shall set forward with the camp of
the Levites in the midst of the camp: as | numbered of them, were threescore and two they encamp, so shall they set forward, every thousand and seven hundred. man in his place by their standards.
27 And those that encamp by him shall 18 On the west side shall be the stand- / be the tribe of Asher: and the captain of ard of the camp of Ephraim according to the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son their armies : and the captain of the sons of of Ocran. Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Am- 28 And his host, and those that were mihud.
numbered of them, were forty and one thou19 And his host, and those that were sand and five hundred. numbered of them, were forty thousand and 29 | Then the tribe of Naphtali: and five hundred.
the captain of the children of Naphtali shall 20 And by him shall be the tribe of Ma- | be Ahira the son of Enan. nasseh : and the captain of the children of | 30 And his host, and those that were Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pe-numbered of them, were fifty and three thoudahzur.
sand and four hundred. 21 And his host, and those that were 31 All they that were numbered in the numbered of them, were thirty and two thou camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and sand and two hundred.
fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. 22 Then the tribe of Benjamin : and the | They shall go hindmost with their standards. captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be 32 These are those which were numAbidan the son of Gideoni.
bered of the children of Israel by the house 23 And his host, and those that were of their fathers : all those that were numnumbered of them, were thirty and five bered of the camps throughout their hosts thousand and four hundred.
were six hundred thousand and three thou24 All that were numbered of the camp sand and five hundred and fifty. of Ephraim were an hundred thousand and 33 But the Levites were not numbered eight thousand and an hundred, throughout among the children of Israel; as the LORD their armies. And they shall go forward in commanded Moses. the third rank.
34 And the children of Israel did accord25 The standard of the camp of Dan ing to all that the Lord commanded Moses : shall be on the north side by their armies : so they pitched by their standards, and so and the captain of the children of Dan shall they set forward, every one after their be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
families, according to the house of their 26 And his host, and those that were | fathers.
ANCIENT Persian STANDARDS. Verse 2. “Every man...shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house."- It is confessedly a matter of great difficulty to determine what the standards were which at this early time we find in use among the Israelites. It seems therefore the best course to look in the first instance at the standards which we find in use among ancient nations, as furnishing the only materials on which we can found any conjecture or conclusion.
The invention of standards is attributed by ancient authors to the Egyptians, and this with great probability, as they had the earliest organized military force of which we have any knowledge; we may therefore feel tolerably certain that the Hebrews had the idea of at least the use of ensigns from the Egyptians, for it is not at all likely that the small body of men which originally went down into Egypt had any such articles or any occasion for them. Diodorus informs
us that the Egyptian standards consisted of the figure of an animal at the end of a spear. Among the Egyptian sculptures and paintings there also appear other standards, which either resemble at top a round-headed table knife, or an expanded semicircular fan. These latter are attributed to the Græco-Egyptians; but we are unable to find any satisfactory data to show that they were other than varieties of most ancient Egyptian standards. The early Greeks employed for a standard a piece of armour at the end of a spear ; but Homer makes Agamemnon use a purple veil with which to rally his men. The Athenians afterwards, in the natural progress which we observe in the history of ensigns, adopted the olive and the owl, and the other Greek nations also displayed the effigies of their tutelary gods, or their particular symbols, at the end of a spear. Some of them had simply the initial letter of their national name. The ancient Persian standard is variously described. It seems properly to have been a golden eagle at the end of a spear, fixed upon a carriage. They also employed the figure of the sun, at least on great occasions, when the king was present with his forces. Quintus Curtius mentions the figure of the sun, inclosed in crystal, which made a most splendid appearance above the royal tent. We therefore presume it was the grand standard, particularly as even at this day, when Mohammedanism has eradicated most of the more peculiar usages of the Persians, the sun continues to divide with the lion the honour of appearing on the royal standard. Among the very ancient sculptures at Persepolis, we discover specimens of other standards, as exhibited in our engraving. One sort consists of a staff terminated in a divided ring, and having below a transverse bar from which two enormous tassels are suspended. The other consists of five globular forms on a cross bar. They were doubtless of metal, and probably had some reference to the heavenly bodies, which were the ancient objects of worship in Persia. The proper royal standard of that country, however, for many centuries until the Mohammedan conquest, was a blacksmith's leathern apron, around which they had at one time been rallied to a successful opposition against the odious tyranny of Zohauk. Many national standards have arisen from similar emergencies, when that which was next at hand being seized and lifted up as a rallying point for the people, was afterwards, out of a sort of superstitious gratitude, adopted either as the common ensign or the sacred banner. Thus also originated the horse-tails of the modern Turks, and the bundles of hay at the top of a pole which formed the most ancient Roman standard ; as mentioned in the following extract from the Introduction (p. liv.) of Dr. Meyrick's splendid work on Ancient Armour:'_“Each century, or at least each maniple of troops, had its proper standard and standard-bearer. This was originally merely a bundle of hay on the top of a pole; afterwards a spear, with a cross piece of wood at the top, sometimes with the figure of a hand above, probably in allusion to the word manipulus, and below a small round or oval shield, generally of silver or of gold. On this metal plate were usually re