Numbers 1:2
(2) After their families.--The family or clan, mishpahah, included several fathers' houses (see Kurtz's Hist. of the Old Covenant, 2, pp. 8-10).

With the number of their names.--Better, according to the number of names. The reference is probably to the previous numbering recorded in Exodus 30:12. There is no corresponding clause in the account of the later numbering in Numbers 26:2.

By their polls--i.e., man by man. The word gulgoleth denotes a man's head, or skull. Cf. Matthew 27:33.

Verse 2. - Take ye the sum of all the congregation. The census here ordered had clearly been anticipated, as far as the numbers were concerned, by the results of the half-shekel poll-tax for the service of the sanctuary levied some time before on all adult males on pain of Divine displeasure (Exodus 30:11, sq.). Since all who were liable had paid that tax (Exodus 38:25, 26), it would only have been requisite to make slight; corrections for death or coming of age during the interval. The totals, however, in the two cases being exactly the same, it is evident that no such corrections were made, and that the round numbers already obtained were accepted as sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes. After their families. This was to be a registration as well as a census. No doubt the lists and pedigrees collected at this time laid the foundation of that exact and careful genealogical lore which played so important a part both in the religious and in the secular history of the Jews down to the final dispersion. Every Jew had not only his national, but also (and often even more) his tribal and family, associations, traditions, and sympathies. Unity, but not uniformity, - unity in all deepest interests and highest purposes, combined with great variety of character, of tradition, and even of tendency, - was the ideal of the life of Israel. The number of their names. It is impossible to help thinking of the parallel expression in Acts 1:15, of the similarity in position of the two peoples, of the contrast between their numbers and apparent chances of success, of the more striking contrast between their actual achievements.

1:1-43 The people were numbered to show God's faithfulness in thus increasing the seed of Jacob, that they might be the better trained for the wars and conquest of Canaan, and to ascertain their families in order to the division of the land. It is said of each tribe, that those were numbered who were able to go forth to war; they had wars before them, though now they met with no opposition. Let the believer be prepared to withstand the enemies of his soul, though all may appear to be peace.Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel,.... Excepting the Levites; nor were any account taken of the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt with the children of Israel, only of them; and this account was taken, partly to observe the fulfilment of the divine promise to Abraham concerning the multiplication of his seed, and partly that it might be observed, that at the end of thirty eight years from hence, when they were numbered again, there were but three left of this large number, their carcasses falling in the wilderness because of their sins; and chiefly, as Aben Ezra observes, this sum was now taken to fix their standards, and for their better and more orderly journeying and encampment; for on the twentieth of this month they set forward on their journey from hence, Numbers 10:11; the word for the order is in the plural number, take ye, being given both to Moses and Aaron, who were to take the number, and did, Numbers 1:3,

after their families; into which their tribes were divided:

by the house of their fathers; for if the mother was of one tribe, and the father of another, the family was according to the tribe of the father, as Jarchi notes, a mother's family being never called a family, as Aben Ezra observes:

with the number of their names; of every particular person, whose name was inserted in a list or register:

every male by their poll; or head (b); for none but males were numbered: the Lord's spiritual Israel are a numbered people, written in the book of life, placed into the hand of Christ, and exactly known by him, even by name; yea, all that belong to him are numbered, and the very airs of their heads,

(b) "per capita sua", Pagninus, &c,

Numbers 1:1
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