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And unto Aaron was born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 60

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60. And unto Aaron was born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

60. Natique sunt ipsi Aharon, Nadab et Abihu, et Eleazar et Ithamar.

61. And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the Lord.

61. Porro mortui sunt Nadab et Abihu dum offerrent ignem alienum coram Jehova.

62. And those that were numbered of them were twenty and three thousand, all males, from a month old and upward: for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel.

62. Et fuerunt numerati eorum, viginti tria millia: omnes mares filio mensis et supra: non enim numerati ruerant inter filios Israel, quod data non sit illis haereditas inter filios Israel.

63. These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab, by Jordan, near Jericho.

63. Isti sunt numerati Mosis et Eleazar sacerdotis, qui numeraverunt filios Israel in campestribus Moab juxta Jordanem Jericho.

64. But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai:

64. Inter istos autem non fuit quisquam de numeratis Mosis et Aharon sacerdotis qui numeraverant filios Israel in deserto Sinai.

65. For the Lord had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

65. Dixerat enim Jehova de illis, Moriendo morientur in deserto, et non fuit superstes ex eis quisquam, nisi Caleb filius Jephuneh, et Josue filius Nun.

1. And it came to pass after the plague. This is the second census which we read of having been made by Moses; nevertheless it is easy to perceive, from Exodus 38, that it was at least the third; although it is more probable that either yearly, or at stated times, those who had arrived at the age of twenty gave in their names. Still the number of the people could not be thus obtained, unless there were also a comparison of the deaths. This, at any rate, is incontrovertible, that those who had grown up to manhood were three times numbered in the desert, for we gather thus much from the passage before us, since it is said in the fourth verse that this enrolment was made “as the Lord had commanded Moses, and the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt;” from whence it is plain not only that they followed as their rule the custom established from the beginning, but that the census of the people was again taken, as it had been in the wilderness of Sinai. From hence again a probable conjecture may be made, that, from the time in which they came out from thence, nothing similar had taken place in the interval. For Moses there records how many talents were collected from the tribute of the people, and mentions their number, viz., 603,550 f191 and he adds afterwards, when they moved their camp from Mount Sinai, how the census was taken according to God’s command; but I pass over this subject the more cursorily, as having been already spoken of elsewhere. f192

Now let us see with what object God desired to have His people numbered before He led them into the possession of the promised land. In less than forty years the whole generation of an age for military service had perished: many had been carried off by premature deaths; nay, a single scourge had lately destroyed 24,000; who would not have thought that the people must have been diminished by a fourth? We must then account it a remarkable miracle, that their numbers should be found as great as they were before. It was a memorable proof of God’s anger that only two of the 603,000 still survived; but that by continued generation the people were so renewed, as that, at the conclusion of the period, their posterity equalled their former number, was the work of God’s inestimable grace. Thus, in that awful judgment wherewith God punished His sinful people, the truth of His promise still shone forth. It had been said to Abraham,

“I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore,” (<012217>Genesis 22:17;)

and it was by no means fitting that this blessing should be obscured at the time, when the other part of the promise was about to be fulfilled: “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” (<011207>Genesis 12:7;) For, whilst the people had been instructed by punishments to fear God, still they were not to lose the savor of His paternal favor. And thus does God always temper His judgments towards His Church, so as in the midst of His indignation to remember mercy, as Habakkuk says, (<350302>Habakkuk 3:2.) This was the reason why the people was numbered immediately after the plague, in order that it might be more conspicuous that God had marvellously provided lest any diminution should appear after the recent loss of so many men.

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