Numbers 1:38
Of the children of Dan, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
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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.The enrollment, being taken principally for military purposes (compare Numbers 1:3, Numbers 1:20), would naturally be arranged by hundreds, fifties, etc. (cf. 2 Kings 1:9, 2 Kings 1:11, 2 Kings 1:13). In eleven tribes the number enrolled consists of complete hundreds. The difference, in this respect, observable in the case of the tribe of Gad here Numbers 1:25, and of the tribe of Reuben at the later census Numbers 26:7, is probably to be accounted for by the pastoral, and consequently nomadic, habits of these tribes, which rendered it difficult to bring all their members together at once for a census. Judah already takes precedence of his brethren in point of numbers (compare Genesis 49:8 note), and Ephraim of Manasseh (compare Genesis 48:19-20). 20-44. These are those that were numbered—In this registration the tribe of Judah appears the most numerous; and accordingly, as the pre-eminence had been assigned to it by Jacob [Ge 49:8-12], it got the precedence in all the encampments of Israel. Of the two half-tribes of Joseph, who is seen to be "a fruitful bough" [Ge 49:22], that of Ephraim was the larger, as had been predicted. The relative increase of all, as in the two just mentioned, was owing to the special blessing of God, conformably to the prophetic declaration of the dying patriarch. But the divine blessing is usually conveyed through the influence of secondary causes; and there is reason to believe that the relative populousness of the tribes would, under God, depend upon the productiveness of the respective localities assigned to them. [For tabular chart, see on [51]Nu 26:64.] No text from Poole on this verse. Of the children of Dan, by their generations,.... See Gill on Numbers 1:20. Of the children of Dan, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
Verse 38. - Of the children of Dan. The enormous numerical increase in this tribe is the more remarkable because it is clearly intimated that Dan had but one son, Hushim or Shuham (Genesis 46:23; Numbers 26:42). It may, of course, be said that he had other sons not enumerated, but such an assumption is arbitrary and improbable in the face of the family genealogies in chapter 26. If he had any other sons, they did not leave any families behind them. But if the sojourning of the Israelites in Egypt was 430 years, according to the plain statement of Exodus 12:40, even this increase is quite within possible, and even probable, limits, considering the peculiar circumstances and the known fecundity of the race. For if Hushim, who came into Egypt with his grandfather, had only three sons born to him within the next twenty-five years, and if his descendants doubled themselves every quarter of a century, which is not an uncommon rate of increase under certain circumstances, then his numbers would have fully reached 200,000 by the time of the exodus. Perhaps the most puzzling feature about the increase is the great inequality with which it was spread over the various tribes, a fact of which we cannot even suggest any explanation. This command was carried out by Moses and Aaron. They took for this purpose the twelve heads of tribes who are pointed out (see at Leviticus 24:11) by name, and had the whole congregation gathered together by them and enrolled in genealogical tables. התילּד, to announce themselves as born, i.e., to have themselves entered in genealogical registers (books of generations). This entry is called a פּקד, mustering, in Numbers 1:19, etc. In vv. 20-43 the number is given of those who were mustered of all the different tribes, and in Numbers 1:44-47 the total of the whole nation, with the exception of the tribe of Levi. "Their generations" (Numbers 1:20, Numbers 1:22, Numbers 1:24, etc.), i.e., those who were begotten by them, so that "the sons of Reuben, Simeon," etc., are mentioned as the fathers from whom the mishpachoth and fathers' houses had sprung. The ל before שׁמעון בּני in Numbers 1:22, and the following names (in Numbers 1:24, Numbers 1:26, etc.), signifies "with regard to" (as in Isaiah 32:1; Psalm 17:4, etc.).
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