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nasseh, the two sons of Joseph, were reckoned as two tribes.* The tribe of Judah proved the largest, numbering seventy-four thousand and six hundred warriors; that of Manasseh, the least, numbering thirty-two thousand and two hundred.* Ephraim and Manasseh together, composing the posterity of Joseph, were, within two thousand, as numerous as the posterity of Judah; these two rival families considerably exceeding any other in numerical force.

The whole number of men of full age proved to be six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty; the same number with that which is declared, several months before,f to have paid the half-shekel to Eleazar and Ithamar towards the building of the Tabernacle. The question has accordingly been raised, whether the same census was not intended in both places; the mention of it being either anticipated in the passage in Exodus, or retrospectively alluded to in the passage before us. The careful indication, however, of time in both cases, would seem to preclude either supposition. And when another fact is brought into view, the difficulty arising out of the exact coincidence of numbers may appear to be done away. All the enumerations of all the tribes in the first chapter of Numbers, present even tens.

The unavoidable conclusion is, that a perfectly exact enumeration was not intended. It contemplated a military organization of the people, which, in different parts of the Old Testament, we learn was made with reference to decimal numbers.Ş Units not being counted, the similarity between enumerations, made at periods of time so near to one another, is no longer matter of surprise; particularly if we suppose, what is in the highest degree probable,

| Ex. xxxviii. 26.

* Numb. i. 32-35.

f i. 27, 35. § See Deut. i. 15. Compare Ex, xviii. 25.

.

that the second was not so much a distinct counting, as a more formal verification of the first. When Eleazar and Ithamar had already so recently made out their enumeration of the people for one purpose, it is altogether unlikely that their lists would be disregarded, and a work so onerous be gone through, a second time, de integro. It is safely to be presumed, that the list first made would be put into the hands of the officers who were to superintend the new enrolment; and that, as the number, supposing it to have been accurately stated in the first instance, could not have become materially different in so short a space of time, the main purpose would be to authenticate it, without disturbing it any further than to count, instead of each individual of any company who had died in the interval, the name of some one who had grown up to full age. For the object had in view, such a course of proceeding would have been sufficiently precise. To aim at a greater exactness, would have been no better than a fastidious nicety.t And the particular and repeated mention of the agency of the prince of each tribe in the taking of this latter census, may be thought to show, that its object was to satisfy each prince, that his tribe was subject to do military duty to the extent indicated by the census of Eleazar and Ithamar.I

*

Compare Numb. i. 18. + I might urge further this view of a census only in round numbers having been intended. In all the tribes but one, (25,) the sum is given in even hundreds ; and in that, there is an even half-hundred. It is likely that in different tribes the reckoning was made with different degrees of precision.

| i. 4-16, 44.— I cannot forbear another suggestion on the perfect suitableness of the arrangement of this double census. The religious revenues were to consist, in great part, in tithes. It was fit, then, that the priests should know what amount of tithes was to be expected. Accordingly, advantage is taken of a particular measure, to make an enrolment under their direction. On the other hand, to satisfy the party which VOL. I.

40

The organization having been in this respect completed, the position of the several tribes in the camp

is next determined. On each side of the Tabernacle, east, south, west, and north, three tribes are to pitch their tents “afar off,” each tribe under its own general, and each division of three tribes, with one exception, * to be under the command of the general of the most numerous of the three. In the arrangement of these divisions, we see a regard paid to family affinities, and (if I may use the expression, in the qualified sense which will suggest itsell,) to considerations of policy. The tribes of Judah and Joseph are encamped in the front and rear of the Tabernacle, so as to occupy the posts of honor and danger, and at the same time, by being as far as possible from each other, to avoid interferences which might lead to collision. The tribe of Judah leads the host; a distinction due to its superior numbers, and at the same time, perhaps, designed to counterbalance the advantage of the family of Joseph, in having the military leader of the whole people, Joshua, from its own number. The secondary tribes of the camp of Judah were those of Issachar and Zebulun, whose ancestors were both, like Judah, children of Leah, Jacob's first wife. The arrangement of the western camp presents an

was to be taxed, that there had been no over-statement, which might be the ground of extortion, advantage is soon taken of another occasion to verify the list, under the auspices of other persons, whose interest was that of the tax-payers. And while each is thus made a check on the other, this is not ostensibly the case, so as to excite any jealousy or pride; but each seems to be doing his own proper business, the priests collecting a religious tax, the princes arranging a military levy. — Once more; the weaker party, the priests, make out the first list. Had the order been different, the stronger party would have been less manageable, had there been found any error to correct. — Here is one instance, I think, of that consummate wisdom of Moses' administration, which is constantly revealing itself to a careful attention.

* Numb. ii. 10, 11; compare 12, 13.

that the second was not so much a distinct counting, as a more formal verification of the first. When Eleazar and Ithamar had already so recently made out their enumeration of the people for one purpose, it is altogether unlikely that their lists would be disregarded, and a work so onerous be gone through, a second time, de integro. It is safely to be presumed, that the list first made would be put into the hands of the officers who were to superintend the new enrolment; and that, as the number, supposing it to have been accurately stated in the first instance, could not have become materially different in so short a space of time, the main purpose would be to authenticate it, without disturbing it any further than to count, instead of each individual of any company who had died in the interval, the name of some one who had grown up to full age.* For the object had in view, such a course of proceeding would have been sufficiently precise. To aim at a greater exactness, would have been no better than a fastidious nicety.t. And the particular and repeated mention of the agency of the prince of each tribe in the taking of this latter census, may be thought to show, that its object was to satisfy each prince, that his tribe was subject to do military duty to the extent indicated by the census of Eleazar and Ithamar. I

* Compare Numb. i. 18.

t I might urge further this view of a census only in round numbers having been intended. In all the tribes but one, (25,) the sum is given in even hundreds ; and in that, there is an even half-hundred. It is likely that in different tribes the reckoning was made with different degrees of precision

| i. 4-16, 44. - I cannot forbear another suggestion on the perfect suitableness of the arrangement of this double census. The religious revenues were to consist, in great part, in tithes. It was fit, then, that the priests should know what amount of tithes was to be expected. Accordingly, advantage is taken of a particular measure, to make an enrolment under their direction. On the other hand, to satisfy the party which VOL. I.

40

Asher, both descended from Zilpah, to fill the two yet vacant places in the southern and northern divisions of Leah and Rachel. To the former of these, the more numerous of the two, is allotted the place, with Reuben and Simeon, to which domestic affinities assign it; while Asher is placed, not after, as we might have expected, but between Dan and Naphtali ; an arrangement, which, perhaps, it is not going too far to suggest, may have been intended to overawe any discontent which may have been felt at its isolated position.

The tribe of Levi, excepted from the general reckoning, is now enumerated.* The nature of the claim upon the first-born of all the families of Israel, to be consecrated to the service of Jehovah, in consequence of their exemption when the first-born of Egypt were slain,) received our attention in a former connexion.† By an arrangement, obviously tending to a better organization of the sacerdotal order, as well as advantageous alike to both parties, - to those who were adopted, and those who were dispensed,

the tribe of Levi are now consecrated to that service, in the place of the first-born of all the tribes. This tribe consisted of three families, descended from Levi's three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Its census exhibited only twenty thousand

* “ These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses," Numb. ii. 1. Only the names of Aaron's children follow, in the immediate context. To explain this, it has been suggested, that, as Moses' sons were children of a foreign mother, they could not be reckoned among Levites; and accordingly his nearest kinsmen after these, his nephews, are reckoned as his family. But this is asserted without authority, and the contrary is declared, 1 Chron. xxiii. 14. I find no difficulty in the text. Verse 1 is the title of the whole chapter. Moses' children are included in the description in verse 19. And they are mentioned expressly in verse 1, in order to call the reader's attention more distinctly to the fact, that to Aaron's children the priesthood was assigned, while those of Moses, though he was leader of the people, only took the rank of common Levites. f pp. 144, 145.

| Numb. iii. 11 -13.

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