Book of Numbers

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The Book of Numbers is the fourth book in the Pentateuch. The name of the book comes from the part where Moses is commanded by God to count the Israelites in the desert who can bear arms (there are 603,550 Israelites who are fit for military duty, which means that Moses spent a helluva lot of time counting people[note 1]). The book is exactly as interesting as that sounds.

ONE… Israelite who can bear arms! Ah, ah, ah! TWO… Israelites who can bear arms! Ah, ah, ah!
—The Count, Sesame Street

The book starts out with Moses and the Israelites wandering through the desert, having escaped Egypt some time before. Because they wrote the book For some unknown reason, God likes the Tribe of Levi (not the jeans) more than the other tribes and tells Moses to assign them special duties in the Tabernacle. After this, the Israelites suffer from short-term memory loss and are constantly rebelling against God, so He sends a plague which destroys 14,700 Israelites, and demands that those Isrealites spend another 40 years in the desert to ensure the rebellious generation dies off.

Somewhere along the 40-year march, some Israelites get thirsty. Being in a desert with at least 603,550 thirsty Jews (plus women, children, and Levites) probably would not have been a fun experience, and Moses realized that pretty quickly. In quite possibly the greatest piece of LSD-induced writing ever made, God tells Moses to speak to a rock. Moses refuses, and hits the Rock instead. God gets mad, and tells Moses that he won't enter Canaan.

Now is as good a time as ever to wonder how God talked to Moses. One would like to think that God boomed a commanding voice from the Heavens, but that would defeat the purpose of Moses being "special" in his ability to talk to God. If God appeared as a voice inside Moses' head, then he would be a crazy, senile old person who got locked up because he heard "voices." An alternative would be thirst- and/or starvation-induced hallucination. We know that he once talked to Moses via a "Burning Bush" (how Moses deciphered a message from flame is not known, but it is obvious that Moses must have been a time-traveling superspy). However, a burning bush would be impractical for the frequent conversations that Moses had with God, especially because bushes are scarce in the desert.[note 2]

Numbers 5:14-31 includes a how-to guide to performing abortions. The instructions are rather woo-based as they rely on an herbal bitter-water concoction that has the mystical ability to distinguish between a pregnancy occurring within a marriage and a pregnancy resulting from adultery or fornication. This priestly abortion method purportedly only works if the woman got pregnant out of wedlock, according to Numbers 5. Nonetheless, it's a fun chapter to pull out and beat over the heads of anti-abortion advocates.

Numbers is infamous for its portrayal of the Israelites, under the command of Moses, committing genocide. After an incident in which an Isaelite man named Zimri and a Midianite woman named Cozbi are both impaled for having sex, which pleases God so much that he ends a plague against Israel, God tells the Israelites to vex and smite the Midianites.[1] The Israelites duly kill all of the Midianite men, burn all of their cities, and take the women, children, and livestock captive.[2] Moses then declares that the women and boys should all be killed as well, while the girls can be kept by the Israelites.[3]

Numbers fun[edit]

The book of Numbers was (supposedly) written by Moses. In Numbers 12:3, he wrote: Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. If Moses were alive today he would be a ghost-writer for politicians seeking the White House. (Given he can open up the earth to swallow people with the chasm,[4] he really should seek to become the supreme ruler eternal emperor president instead of being a mere ghost writer.)

Interestingly enough, the book of Numbers talks nothing about number theory or sequence of integers.Wikipedia

See also[edit]


  1. If he found one person who could bear arms each second, then he would have spent a whole week counting nonstop.
  2. A lot of burning bushes would also create smog in the air, and give some the Israelites emphysema, but that isn't mentioned. The bushes would also make nice smoke beacons for the Egyptians to follow, which is a bit counterproductive to the plan of an all-knowing God to escape the Egyptians.