Old Testament
New Testament
Bible Studies


Author: Moses
Date: ca. 1,400 BC


This book tells about the experiences of the people of Israel in the desert. From the earliest times, Jewish scholars call the book "In the Desert," after the 1st word of the text in the Hebrew language. The name Numbers refers to the many numerical lists that play a major role in this book. The book of Numbers is difficult to summarize, because it contains very diverse material about the experience of the people of Israel:

  • Issues,

  • To travel,

  • Judgements,

  • Admonitions

  • Wars,

  • Conflicts,

  • Complaints.

All these things indicate that a person's life presents a number of difficulties, which can only be solved by the grace of GOD.
When you approach difficulties in this way, they can become a blessing.
The main events during Israel's sojourn in the wilderness were:

  • The departure at Sinai,

  • Sending spies to explore the promised land of Canaan,

  • The rebellion of the people of Israel, who refused to enter Canaan,

  • God's punishment for that, living 40 years in the desert,

  • The misstep of Moses,

  • The ultimate victory of the people of Israel, after the 40 years.

Theological Themes 

Theme 1 in this book is the role of the tabernacle: God is central in the life of the people of Israel. Unfortunately, worship, to the glory of God, becomes a superficial formality. It's a warning to you. 

Theme 2 is the leading of God. There is not a moment in doubt as to who is directing the events. That is a comfort: You can trust in the strength and might of God. It is also a warning: Any resistance is futile.

Theme 3 is that it is clear that God demands obedience. He expects you to fight and overcome obstacles with His help. Life is described as a pilgrimage. This plays a role in which Numbers is referred to in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:10-11 that all these subjects are an admonition and a teaching for you.

In theme 4 it becomes clear that the problem of sin is recognized by the people of God. Even Moses made a mistake. The way he handles this is an example for you. You often expect that your life will be without problems or temptations. Numbers show that this expectation is wrong. You should always be on your guard lest you be sent into the 'desert'. The book of Hebrews elaborates on this subject, pointing out the future rest with God and the battle to be fought here (Hebrews 4:1-6)

Main features

1. The arrangement of the tribes of Israel (1:1-8:26),
2. The 2nd Pasha (9:1-10:10),
3. The Desert Journey, Judgment and Law (10:11-21:35),
4. The Further Journey through the Desert, Judgment and Law (22:1-36:13).