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(Authorised Version Annotated Numbers Inleiding)


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The Greek interpreters called this book ARITHMOI, which accordingly the Latinists rendered NUMERI, that is, Numbers. The reason of this name is that in this book are described many numberings which, according to God’s command, have occurred among His people as they journeyed through the wilderness, namely of the Israelites and of the Levites. Nevertheless, there are many other things yet recounted in this book besides the said numberings. For, here we find the order according to which the twelve tribes were to camp themselves round about the tabernacle and which they were to observe in their removing and marches. Here likewise is spoken of the offices of the priests and Levites, of their maintenance and of the wonderful confirmation of their priesthood. Here you meet with sundry ceremonial, moral and civil laws, and those which are of mixed sorts (of laws). Herein is described the most exceptional and wonderful manner, how it pleased God to lead and conduct the Israelites through the wilderness unto the land of Canaan. Many occasions are related here which have happened in this journey; the causes, occasions, means and issues whereof yield manifold instructions and warnings unto all men, as well for civil as ecclesiastical affairs and conversation. After the erection and hallowing of the tabernacle, the rulers of the twelve tribes came and solemnly presented the same with their gifts and sacrifices. Of sundry murmurings and mutinies of the ungrateful people, rising up against God and His servant Moses, and of the punishments ensued, very notable and terrifying examples are set before our eyes here. In the meantime Moses comes to be supported in the burdensome charge of his government by the subordinate assistance of seventy elders. And yet he meets with many encumbrances, yea, some from his own brother Aaron and from his sister Miriam. Upon the discovery made of the land of Canaan by the spies, and the ill report by most of them, and the murmuring of the people thereupon, divers grievous plagues ensue either suddenly surprising and seizing some of the people, or to be expected of others, who were to wander and die in the wilderness until the fortieth year after their exodus out of Egypt. Still other sins, of particular persons as well as of many others, are added and described with their punishments in this book. Neither are the virtues and good works of Godly and pious men concealed therein, together with their promised reward. Moreover, there is set forth in this book most eminently the incomprehensible mercy of God in hearing the intercessional prayer of Moses, His faithful servant, and pardoning the sins of a most refractory and rebellious generation of men, and in the continual proofs of so many mercies and favors unto them. Some of them were spiritual, consisting in the maintenance of God’s pure religion in doctrine and worship, others temporal in delivering them from mighty enemies by glorious victories and in the most liberal bestowals of many other temporal blessings upon them. At last there is related here the manner how the Israelites prepared themselves to enter into the possession of the land of Canaan, which limits and borders are described here as well. This they did according to God’s command by appointing the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh their inheritance in the land which they had conquered on this side Jordan; and setting order about the division of the land of Canaan in general, about the setting apart of some cities and places therein (whereof some were to belong unto the Levites, others to serve for cities of refuge). This book comprehends the historical acts of thirty-eight years and nine months, namely, from the second month of the second year after the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt until the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year.


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