Census & Duties – Numbers 1-3





Wednesday 10/24/18 

Message – Census & duties – Numbers 1-3

Series: Thru the Bible


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Census & Duties – Numbers 1-3

Numbers Chapter 1


Believe it or not all that we just read in Exodus and Leviticus ALL took place in the first year of their wilderness wanderings.

The first month Nisan (or Abbib) they celebrated passover from the 10th to the 21st (in the paschal lamb and the 7 days of eating unleavened bread).

So Numbers begins with God talking to Moses in the Tabernacle of meeting on the first day of the second month of their 2nd year since leaving Egyt.

This is when God tells Moses to take a census.

This census included only the men who were 20 year old who were able to go to war (though the particulars of who was NOT able to go to war among the men 20 years of age and older is not given). This was to include all of Israel (not strangers with them) BY THEIR FAMILIES, by their father’s houses according to the number of their names.

God chose one man from each tribe to stand with Moses in this task of taking census. They were chosen from the congregation, leaders of their fathers’ tribes, heads of the divisions in Israel.

  • Elizur the son of Shedeur of the tribe of Reuben
  • Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai from the tribe of Simeon
  • Nahshon the son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah
  • Nethanel the son of Zuar from the tribe of Issachar
  • Eliab the son of Helon from the tribe of Zebulun
  • The sons of Joseph:
    • Elishama the son of Ammihud from the tribe of Ephraim
    • Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur from the tribe of Manasseh
  • Abidan the son of Gideoni from the tribe of Benjamin
  • Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai from the tribe of Dan
  • Pagiel the son of Ocran from the tribe of Asher
  • Eliasaph the son of Deuel from the tribe of Gad
  • Ahira the son of Enan from the tribe of Naphtali

Num. 1:17-18, “(17)Then Moses and Aaron took these men who had been mentioned by name, (18) and they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month; and they recited their ancestry by families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, each one individually.”

These totals are taken from Numbers 1 & Numbers 26.

The family fathers are in bold and the number beside their name represents the number of offspring God considered to be heads of family under (but not including) the Father of the tribe. Below this you will see Levi who appears in blue and Aaron and his sons (The Priesthood) in Red.

Reuben (8) – Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi  

  • Pallu’s sons were Eliab
    • Eliab’s sons were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram  

Note: Concerning Dathan & Abriam (See Num. 26:9-11)  

Simeon (6) – Jemuel (Nemuel), Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar (Zerah of the Zarhites), and Shaul

Gad (7) – Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ozni, Eri, Arod, Areli

Judah (7) – Er and Onan (who died in Canaan) Judah’s sons according to family were Shelah, Perez, Zerah

  • Perez’s sons were Hezron, Hamul.  

Issachar (4) – Tola, Puah (the Punites), Jashub, Shimron,

Zebulun (3)- Sered (Sardites), Elon, Jahleel.  

Ephraim (3) – Shuthelah, Becher (Bachrites), Tahan.

Manasseh (9) – Machir  

  • Machir’s son was Gilead
    • Gilead’s sons were Jeezer, Halek, Asriel, Shechem, Shemida, Hepher.  
      • Hepher’s son was Zelophehad.

Benjamin (7) – Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, Shupham, Hupham.

  • Bela’s sons were Ard, Naaman

Dan (1) – Shuham

Asher (5) – Jimna, Jesui, Beriah (Beriites).

  • Beriah’s sons were Heber, Malchiel.

Naphtali (4) – Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, Shillem.

How many heads of family were there? On average each tribe had 6.3 family heads each of which had approximately 9,433.96  members. (This number includes the Patriarchal head of tribe and the heads of family beneath them from the list above.)


Tribe of Levi exempted from Census:

Num 1:50-54, “(50) but you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle. (51) And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death. (52) The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his own standard, according to their armies; (53) but the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.” (54) Thus the children of Israel did; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they did.”

The following “census” of the tribe of Levi comes from Exod. 6:14-26

Levi (20) – Gershon, Kohath and Merari  

  • Gershon’s sons were – Libni and Shimi  
  • Kohath’s sons were – Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
    • Amram’s sons were Aaron and Moses
      • Aaron’s sons were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.  
        • Eleazar’s son was Phinehas
    • Izhar’s son’s were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri
      • Korah’s sons were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph (Family of Korahites)
    • Uzziel’s sons were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri
  • Merari’s sons were – Mahli and Mushi


Chapter 2 – The Camp

Num. 2:1-2, “(1)The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp under their respective banners beside the flags of their ancestral houses. They are to camp around the tent of meeting, FACING it but at a distance from it:


Birth order: 1 (Genesis 29:32)

Hebrew name: ראובן

Transliterated: Reuven

Meaning: “He has seen” (Genesis 29:32)

Mother: Leah

Color: red

Stone: ruby (Exodus 28:17)

Associated symbol: water (Genesis 49:4)

Position around tabernacle: south (Numbers 2:10-16)

Banner: the color of his flag was red, and embroidered on it were mandrakes.


Birth order: 2 (Genesis 29:33)

Hebrew name: שמעון

Transliterated: Shimon

Meaning: “he has heard” (Genesis 29:33)

Mother: Leah

Color: green

Stone: topaz (Exodus 28:17)

Associated symbol: Shechem (Genesis 49:5)

Position around tabernacle: south (Numbers 2:10-16)

Banner: his flag was green with the town of Shechem embroidered on it.


Birth order: 3 (Genesis 29:34)

Hebrew name: לוי

Transliterated: Levi (pronouned lev ee)

Meaning: “attached” (Genesis 29:34)

Mother: Leah

Color: black, red, & white

Stone: bareqet (emerald?) (Exodus 28:17)

Associated symbol: chosen

Position around tabernacle: around (Numbers 2:17)

Banner: the color of his flag was a third white, a third black, and a third red; embroidered on it were the Urim and Thummim


Birth order: 4 (Genesis 29:35)

Hebrew name: יהודה

Transliterated: Yehudah

Meaning: “I will praise” (Genesis 29:35)

Mother: Leah

Color: sky blue

Stone: carbuncle (turquoise?) (Exodus 28:18)

Associated symbol: lion (Genesis 49:9)

Position around tabernacle: east (Numbers 2:3-9)

Banner: the color of his flag resembled that of the heavens, embroidered on it was a lion.


Birth order: 5 (Genesis 30:5)

Hebrew name: דן

Transliterated: Dan (pronounced dahn)

Meaning: “judged”/”vindicated” (Genesis 30:6)

Mother: Bilhah

Color: blue

Stone: sapphire (Exodus 28:18)

Associated symbol: judge/scales (Genesis 49:16), serpent (Genesis 49:17)

Position around tabernacle: north (Numbers 2:25-31)

Banner: the color of his flag was similar to sapphire; embroidered on it was a serpent


Birth order: 6 (Genesis 30:7)

Hebrew name: נפתלי

Transliterated: Naphtali

Meaning: “wrestling”/ “twisting” (Genesis 30:8)

Mother: Bilhah

Color: medium red

Stone: diamond (Exodus 28:18)

Associated symbol: hind/doe (Genesis 49:21)

Position around tabernacle: north (Numbers 2:25-31)

Banner: the color of his flag was like clarified wine of a not very deep red; on it was embroidered a hind


Birth order: 7 (Genesis 30:10-11)

Hebrew name: גד

Transliterated: Gad (pronounded gahd)

Meaning: “fortunate” (Genesis 30:11)

Mother: Zilpah

Color: black and white

Stone: jacinth (Exodus 28:19)

Associated symbol:

Position around tabernacle: south (Numbers 2:10-16)

Banner: the color of his flag was neither black nor white but a blend of black and white; on it was embroidered a camp


Birth order: 8 (Genesis 30:12-13)

Hebrew name: אשר

Transliterated: Asher (pronounded ah SHAIR)

Meaning: “happy” (Genesis 30:13)

Mother: Zilpah


Stone: agate (Exodus 28:19)

Associated symbol: abundant food (Genesis 49:20)

Position around tabernacle: north (Numbers 2:25-31)

Banner: the color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves embroidered thereon was an olive tree


Birth order: 9 (Genesis 30:18)

Hebrew name: יששכר

Transliterated: Yisachar

Meaning: “wages” (Genesis 30:18)

Mother: Leah


Stone: amethyst (Exodus 28:19)

Associated symbol: donkey (Genesis 49:14)

Position around tabernacle: east (Numbers 2:3-9)

Banner: the color of his flag was black like stibium (antimony); embroidered on it were the sun and the moon.


Birth order: 10 (Genesis 30:19)

Hebrew name: זבולון

Transliterated: Zevulun

Meaning: “gift”/”dwell” (Genesis 30:20)

Mother: Leah

Color: white

Stone: beryl (Exodus 28:20)

Associated symbol: ships (Genesis 49:13)

Position around tabernacle: east (Numbers 2:3-9)

Banner: the color of his flag was white, with a ship embroidered on it.


Birth order: 11 (Genesis 30:22-23)

Hebrew name: יוסף

Transliterated: Yosef (pronounced YO sef)

Meaning: “add another” (Genesis 30:24)

Mother: Rachel

Color: black

Stone: onyx (Exodus 28:20)

Associated symbol: grapevine (Genesis 49:22)

Position around tabernacle: n/a (see Ephraim & Manasseh below)

Banner: the color of his flag was jet black; the embroidered design thereon for both princes Ephraim and Manasseh was Egypt because they were born there.


Birth order: n/a

Hebrew name: אפרים

Transliterated: Efrayim

Meaning: “fruitful”

Mother: Asenath (Joseph’s wife)



Associated symbol: bullock

Position around tabernacle: west (Numbers 2:18-24)

Banner: a bullock was embroidered on his flag.


Birth order: n/a

Hebrew name: מנשה

Transliterated: Menasheh

Meaning: “forgetfulness” (Exodus 41:51)

Mother: Asenath (Joseph’s wife)



Associated symbol: wild ox

Position around tabernacle: west (Numbers 2:18-24)

Banner: a wild ox was embroidered on his flag.


Birth order: 12 (Genesis 35:17)

Hebrew name: בנימין

Transliterated: Benyamin

Meaning: “son of my right hand”

Mother: Rachel

Color: mixed

Stone: jasper (Exodus 28:20)

Associated symbol: wolf (Genesis 49:27)

Position around tabernacle: west (Numbers 2:18-24)

Banner: the color of his flag was a combination of all the twelve colors; embroidered on it was a wolf.

Here is some further information concerning the tribes and some information associate with their banners…

Num 2:33-34, “(33) But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel, just as the LORD commanded Moses. (34) Thus the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses; so they camped by their standards and so they broke camp, each one by his family, according to their fathers’ houses.”

The Priests:

Aaron’s and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar (Ex. 28:1) and eventually Eleazar’s son Phinehas, lived on the East side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe.

The priests’ job in moving the Tabernacle of Meeting all pertained to the holy articles within the Tabernacle from the Holy of Holies to the entrance of the tent (Showbread table, Incense Altar and the Menorah) – these duties are enumerated in Numbers 4:3-16. Their job entailed preparing the articles to be moved, not the actually carrying of those articles from one camp site to another.  

The name Aaron is of uncertain origin but it is suggested that it is a original Hebrew proper noun meaning high mountain or exalted this would make a little since since mountains and hills are sometimes metaphorically used to represent kings, princes, nobles and other leaders.

Psa 72:2-4, “(2) He will judge Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice. (3) The mountains will bring peace to the people, And the little hills, by righteousness. (4) He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor.”

The meaning of Aaron’s name would seem to have several possible references. One would speak to his exalted position in ministering the holy things before and to God. Also, it was on the Mountain of God that Moses and Aaron were called and Moses alone received the initial instructions for the priesthood – Exodus 24-29. Several other things might be correctly derived from this name, but these are sufficient.

In addition to these duties the Priests had to maintain the tabernacle:  

  • Keep the oil filled in all lamps
  • The fire on the altar  
  • Maintain the Incense on the altar
  • Offer and aid in offering all manner of sacrifices.

In essence the Priests bore the iniquity of Israel through their priestly duties related to the sanctuary (Num. 18:1,5). They received their brothers in the tribe of Levi as gifts from God to aid them in their task of serving in the sanctuary (Num. 18:6). Also, the priesthood itself (including the people filling the position) were to be seen as a gift of service (Num. 18:7).

God made it a point of declaration that He Himself had given Aaron charge of His heave offerings, of all the holy gifts of the children of Israel – they were given to him and his sons as their portion (in addition to the tithes) as a commandment forever.

This was said to be given to them due to the anointing placed upon them (Num. 18:8). So you can see that it was the anointing that was being honored along with the one anointed.

Duties of the Levites:

The tribe of Levi (as divided into the three major families of Gershon, Kohath and Merari) had jobs which touched the components of construction of the tabernacle.

When moving the tabernacle these were the jobs of the tribes of Levi:

  • Gershon – This family lived on the west side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. They handled all woven materials of the Tabernacle. Gershon means exiled which could refer to the meaning of the curtains of the tabernacle with which they were directly concerned. Among these curtains was the great curtain blocking the way to the presence of God. In a sense, this curtain spoke of the exile of man from God presence until it was torn apart by the death of Jesus our Messiah. Also, the fact that the cherubim were woven into the fabric and thus served symbolically to stand sentinel – baring anyone’s path back to God’s presence (tree of life) just like in the garden.
  • Kohath – This family lived on the South side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. There service to the Tabernacle was to carry the holy things which were disassembled and properly covered by the Priests. The name Kohath means Assembly and “could” be a reference to the holy assembly realized under the New Covenant as the “church”. According to I Chron. 9:32, the sons of the Kohathites had charge of the baking and setting in order of the “bread of the row,” as the Hebrew describes it.
  • Merari – This family lived on the North side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. They served by handling all of the cords, sockets, bars, pins…etc. that supported and held the tabernacle together. Merari means bitter which could, in part, refer to the bitter cup Jesus drank from of crucifixion and death for our restoration. This bitter cup of Gall represents the sacrifice which He bore to draw the cords of mercy round about us in drawing us to the Father. It is also in dying to self and living for the benefit of our brothers (the bitter cup of dying to the self-life) that holds the body of Christ together by the joints and ligaments – Eph. 4:16.

In addition to these tasks associated with the mobility of the wilderness tabernacle, the Levites were to serve the Priests by attending to their needs for they were given to the Priests as a gift from God (Num. 18:2-4,6).

Also the Levites were to attend to the needs of the Tabernacle of meeting with the restriction that they could not come near the articles of the sanctuary or of the altar or they would die.

They bore their own iniquity and could have no natural inheritance in the land (Num. 18:23,32). Their inheritance and reward for their service was the tithes of the nation of Israel (Num. 18:24, 31).

They in turn offered 10% of the best of the tithe to the Priests (Num. 18:26-30) it was a type of heave offering to the Lord.

Num. 3:40-51, “(40) Then the LORD said to Moses: “Number all the firstborn males of the children of Israel from a month old and above, and take the number of their names. (41) And you shall take the Levites for Me–I am the LORD–instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the livestock of the children of Israel.” (42) So Moses numbered all the firstborn among the children of Israel, as the LORD commanded him. (43) And all the firstborn males, according to the number of names from a month old and above, of those who were numbered of them, were twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three. (44) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (45) “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites instead of their livestock. The Levites shall be Mine: I am the LORD. (46) And for the redemption of the two hundred and seventy-three of the firstborn of the children of Israel, who are more than the number of the Levites, (47) you shall take five shekels for each one individually; you shall take them in the currency of the shekel of the sanctuary, the shekel of twenty gerahs. (48) And you shall give the money, with which the excess number of them is redeemed, to Aaron and his sons.” (49) So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those who were redeemed by the Levites. (50) From the firstborn of the children of Israel he took the money, one thousand three hundred and sixty-five shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. (51) And Moses gave their redemption money to Aaron and his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.”


I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. …Blessings! 

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Hi I am Pastor Mark...

I have been a pastor for nearly 30 years now (2018), though never quite like I am today. (more on that in a moment)

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my best friend, greatest personal support and most valued critic.
As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught. I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled). Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then,

"If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling."

~ Fredrick Buechner

As I said, as of 2009 I’ve been a Pastor for nearly 20 years. Earlier in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our church was not in keeping with the New Testament. This was a shock to me and it is was a revelation that did not come all at once but over the course of a few weeks.

We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until about 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We believe the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly and though we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me. I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!