These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty.—As compared with the former census, the tribe of Reuben had decreased by 2,770. (See Numbers 1:21.) Dathan and Abiram had probably enlisted many of the tribe to which they belonged in their rebellion against Moses and Aaron. (See Numbers 26:9-10 of this chapter, and Numbers 16:1, and Note.)Numbers 26:7. Families — The chief houses, which were subdivided into divers lesser families. Forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty — Whereas, in their last numbering they were forty-six thousand five hundred; for Korah’s conspiracy, as well as other provocations of theirs, had cut off many of them.Numbers 1, except that Manasseh here precedes Ephraim; probably as being now the larger tribe.
The following table shows the numbers of the tribes at each census; at Sinai, and in the Plains of Moab:
At Sinai Plains of Moab Reuben 46,500 43,730 Simeon 9,300 22,200 Gad 45,650 40,500 Judah 74,600 76,500 Issachar 54,400 64,300 Zebulun 57,400 60,500 Ephraim 40,500 32,500 Manasseh 32,200 52,700 Benjamin 35,400 45,600 Daniel 62,700 64,400 Asher 41,500 53,400 Naphtali 53,400 45,400 Totals 603, 550 601, 730
Seven of the tribes, of which three are tribes belonging to the camp of Judah, show an increase of numbers; and five, among whom are the three belonging to the camp of Reuben, show a decrease. The greatest increase of any one tribe is in Manasseh. The most remarkable decrease is in Simeon, which now shows less than half its former strength. To this tribe Zimri, the chief offender in the recent transgression, belonged Numbers 25:14. Probably his tribesmen generally had followed his example, and had accordingly suffered most severely in the plague. In the parting blessing of Moses, uttered at no great interval from this date, the tribe of Simeon alone is omitted.
The families of all the tribes, excluding the Levites, number 57. The ancestral heads after whom these families are named correspond nearly with the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jacob, enumerated in Genesis 46:8 ff. Both lists consist mainly of grandchildren of Jacob, both contain also the same two grandchildren of Judah, and the same two grandchildren of Asher. The document in Genesis should be regarded as a list, not of those who went down in their own persons with Jacob into Egypt, but of those whose names were transmitted to their posterity at the date of the Exodus as the heads of Israelite houses, and wire may thus be reckoned the early ancestors of the people.The families, i.e. the chief houses, which were subdivided into divers lesser families.
Forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty; whereas in their last numbering they were 46,500, Numbers 1:21; for Korah’s conspiracy, as well as other provocations of theirs, had cut off many of them. These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 7. - These... the families of the Reubenites. The mustering according to families (מִשְׁפְחֹת - Septuagint, δῆμοι) was the distinguishing feature of this census, because it was preparatory to a territorial settlement in Canaan, in which the unity of the family should be preserved as well as the unity of the tribe. Numbers 26:1-4. The command of God to Moses and Eleazar is the same as in Numbers 1, 2, and 3, except that it does not enter so much into details.
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