Studies in Torah

Numbers 1:1-16: Meaning behind the names; Moses’ first census teaches us about Yeshua’s burdensome cup

Studies in Torah

Numbers 1 foretells Yeshua’s burden, the burden He tried to give up three times in the garden before His crucifixion (Matt. 26:39–44). That message is embedded in the meanings of the names of the tribes and clans, and that message becomes clear when the meanings are read together.

This book is a time consuming book. It is not a book to run through rapidly. Although the book is titled Numbers, there’s more to this book than a bunch of numbers. 

This book is not in chronological order. It divided subject to subject, topic by topic. The editors of this book aren’t concerned about chronology but concerned about how each issue popped up in Israel’s early history. 

We remember events and people more than we remember dates and times. That’s how we learn. That is how the book of Numbers is written as well. 

“Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head” (Numbers 1:2 NASB)

The families are not the individual nuclear families of the tribes but the clans within the tribes. 

This book is primarily about and His Son, not about Levite, Ephraimites, Greeks, Russians, etc. The names are important because God named them. It’s in the names and the meaning of their names that tell us more about God. 

For example, Shedur’s name was not given to him because he was an arsonist. It was given to him to teach us something about God, through the branches of Israel’s tree. This chapter is about preparation for war, not diplomacy, planting trees, etc. 

God chose these men and drafted them to prepare for war. These “noble” men were called to do this assignment. They aren’t called because they were greater than their brethren, but they were given responsibility by God. God would make them ready for the task. 

We are going through these names to learn about God, not about these men. God gave these men their names even though they didn’t know it. 

When God moves, they move. When God tells them to go to war, they will go to war. 

Their names tell the story of our Messiah who moved to the cross when God told Him the time was at hand.

Meanings of the tribe and clan names
Tribe Meaning Clan Meaning
Reuben Behold a son; builder Elizur God is a rock
    Shedur Fire
Simon God heard Shelumiel To be sound or complete
    Zurishaddai My right is the Almighty.
Judah Hands spread out to glorify or receive from God Nahshon Enchanter; one learns from experience and observation (Hebrew word is used in Gen. 30:27; 1Kings 20:33, Gen. 44:15)
    Amminadab My kinsmen are willing.
Issachar Here is recompense; something has to be paid Nethanel One who is set by God
    Zuar Little, insignificant, unimportant
Zebulun Exalted one Eliab God is his father.
    Helon Strong
Joseph God added or increased.    
Ephraim Doubled Elishama God heard.
    Ammihud My family is majestic or splendid.
Manasseh Calling to forget your family Gamaliel Payment from God; to repay
    Pedahzur The rock is the ransom or redemption price.
Benjamin Son of my right hand Abidan My father is a judge.
    Gideoni One who hews out a path or cuts in stone or wood
Dan Judge Ahiezer My brother will help.
    Ammishaddai My people (kingdom) are from the Almighty.
Asher One who goes straight Pagiel Event of God
    Ochran Trouble or disturbed
Gad Army Eliasaph God gathers together.
    Deuel Knows God
Naphtali I am wrestling. Ahira My brother is in pain, upset or unhappy.
    Enan Eyes to see

“These are they who were called of the congregation, the leaders of their fathers’ tribes; they were the heads of divisions of Israel.” (Numbers 1:16 NASB)

They are being prepared for war, they are being called to take on a burden. This is the story of Yeshua’s burden. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

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