1:2 “Take a census 1 of the entire 2 Israelite community 3 by their clans and families, 4 counting the name of every individual male. 5 1:3 You and Aaron are to number 6 all in Israel who can serve in the army, 7 those who are 8 twenty years old or older, 9 by their divisions. 10 1:4 And to help you 11 there is to be a man from each 12 tribe, each man 13 the head 14 of his family. 15 1:5 Now these are the names of the men who are to help 16 you:
from 17 Reuben, Elizur son of Shedeur;
1 tn The construction is literally “lift up the head[s],” (שְׂאוּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ, sÿ’u ’et-ro’sh). This idiom for taking a census occurs elsewhere (Exod 30:12; Lev 5:24; Num 1:24; etc.). The idea is simply that of counting heads to arrive at the base for the standing army. This is a different event than the one recorded in Exod 30:11-16, which was taken for a different purpose altogether. The verb is plural, indicating that Moses had help in taking the census.
2 tc Smr lacks the Hebrew word “all” here.
3 tn Heb “the congregation of Israel.”
4 tn The tribe (מַטֶּה, matteh or שֵׁבֶט, shevet) is the main category. The family groups or clans (מִשְׁפְּחֹת, mishpÿkhot) and the households or families (בֵּית אֲבֹת, bet ’avot) were sub-divisions of the tribe.
5 tn This clause simply has “in/with the number of the names of every male with respect to their skulls [individually].” Counting heads, or every skull, simply meant that each person was to be numbered in the census. Except for the Levites, no male was exempt from the count.
6 tn The verb (פָּקַד, paqad) means “to visit, appoint, muster, number.” The word is a common one in scripture. It has as its basic meaning the idea of “determining the destiny” of someone, by appointing, mustering, or visiting. When God “visits,” it is a divine intervention for either blessing or cursing. Here it is the taking of a census for war (see G. André, Determining the Destiny [ConBOT], 16).
7 tn The construction uses the participle “going out” followed by the noun “army.” It describes everyone “going out in a military group,” meaning serving in the army. It was the duty of every able-bodied Israelite to serve in this “peoples” army. There were probably exemptions for the infirm or the crippled, but every male over twenty was chosen. For a discussion of warfare, see P. C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament, and P. D. Miller, “The Divine Council and the Prophetic Call to War,” VT 18 (1968): 100-107.
8 tn The text simply has “from twenty years old and higher.”
9 tn Heb “and up.”
11 tn Heb “and with you.”
12 tn The construction uses the noun in a distributive sense: “a man, a man for a tribe,” meaning a man for each tribe.
13 tn The clause expresses a distributive function, “a man” means “each man.”
14 sn See J. R. Bartlett, “The Use of the Word ראשׁ as a Title in the Old Testament,” VT 19 (1969): 1-10.
15 tn Heb “the house of his fathers.”
16 tn The verb is עָמַד (’amad, “to stand”). It literally then is, “who will stand with you.” They will help in the count, but they will also serve as leaders as the camp moves from place to place.
17 tn The preposition lamed (ל) prefixed to the name could be taken in the sense of “from,” but could also be “with regard to” (specification).