Numbers 26:51
These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.
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(51) Six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.—The sum total exhibits a decrease of 1,820, as compared with the census taken at Sinai thirty-eight years previously. On this decrease Bishop Wordsworth observes as follows:—“When the Israelites were suffering persecution in Egypt they ‘multiplied exceedingly’ (Exodus 1:7; Exodus 1:20); but after their deliverance from Egypt they rebelled against God, and ‘He consumed their days in vanity, and their years in trouble’ (Psalm 78:33). . . . Here there is comfort and warning to the Church and every soul in it—comfort in time of affliction, and warning in days of prosperity.”

Numbers 26:51. Six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred, &c. — Very nigh as many as they were before, Numbers 1:46. So wisely and marvellously did God at the same time manifest his justice in cutting off so vast a number, his mercy in giving such a speedy and numerous supply, and his truth in both.26:1-51 Moses did not number the people but when God commanded him. We have here the families registered, as well as the tribes. The total was nearly the same as when numbered at mount Sinai. Notice is here taken of the children of Korah; they died not, as the children of Dathan and Abiram; they seem not to have joined even their own father in rebellion. If we partake not of the sins of sinners, we shall not partake of their plagues.This shows a decrease of 1,820 from the number at Sinai; a decrease due to the recent plague. 12. The sons of Simeon—It is supposed that this tribe had been pre-eminent in the guilt of Baal-peor and had consequently been greatly reduced in numbers.

Thus God's justice and holiness, as well as His truth and faithfulness, were strikingly displayed: His justice and holiness in the sweeping judgments that reduced the ranks of some tribes; and His truth and faithfulness in the extraordinary increase of others so that the posterity of Israel continued a numerous people.

Very nigh as many as there were before, Numbers 1:46. So wisely and marvellously did God at the same time manifest his justice in cutting off so vast a number, and his mercy in giving such a speedy and numerous supply, and his truth in both. These were the numbered of the children of Israel,.... The twelve tribes, consisting of so many families, as above named; and the sum total of persons in them of twenty years old and upwards, and fit for war, was

six hundred and one thousand and seven hundred and thirty; so that though all those that were numbered thirty years ago were now dead, excepting Joshua and Caleb, yet there wanted but 1820 of that number; so mindful was the Lord of his promise, and so faithful to keep it, notwithstanding the provocations of these people, to increase and multiply them, that they had pretty near the number to go into the land of Canaan which they had when they came out of Egypt.

These were the {f} numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.

(f) This is the third time that they are numbered.

Verse 51. - These were the numbered of the children of Israel. The results of this census as compared with the former may be tabulated thus: -

Tribe. ? (No. of families.) ?[First Census.]

Reuben. ? (4) ? [46,500]

Simeon. ? (5) ? [59,300]

Gad. ? (7) ? [45,650]

Judah. ? (5) ? [74,600]

Issachar. ? (4) ? [54,400]

Zebulun. ? (3) ? [57,400]

Ephraim. ? (4) ? [40,500]

Manasseh. ? (8) ? [32,200]

Benjamin. ? (7) ? [35,400]

Dan. ? (1) ? [62,700]

Asher. ? (5) ? [41,500]

Naphtali. ? (4) ? [53,400]

Total ? ? [603,550]

Tribe. ? Second Census.
Reuben. ? 43,730 ? 6% Decrease
Simeon. ? 22,200 ? 63% Decrease
Gad. ? 40,500 ? 11% Decrease
Judah. ? 76,500 ? 2.5% Increase
Issachar. ? 64,300 ? 18% Increase
Zebulun. ? 60,500 ? 20 Decrease
Manasseh. ? 52,700 ? 63% Increase
Benjamin. ? 45,600 ? 29% Increase
Dan. ? 64,400 ? 2.5% Increase
Asher. ? 53,400 ? 28% Increase
Naphtali. ?45,400 ? 15% Decrease
Total ? 601,730 It is evident that the numbers were taken by centuries, as before, although an odd thirty appears now in the return for Reuben, as an odd fifty appeared then in the return for Gad. It has been proposed to explain this on the ground of their both being pastoral tribes; but if the members of these tribes were more scattered than the rest, it would be just in their case that we should expect to find round numbers. The one fact which these figures establish in a startling way is, that while the nation as a whole remained heady stationary in point of numbers, the various tribes show a most unexpected variation. Manasseh, e.g., has increased his population 63 per cent. in spite of the fact that there is not one man left of sixty years of age, while Simeon has decreased in the same proportion. There is indeed little difficulty in accounting for diminishing numbers amidst so many hardships, and after so many plagues. The fact that Zimri belonged to the tribe of Simeon, and that this tribe was omitted soon after from the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33), may easily lead to the conclusion that Simeon was more than any other tribe involved in the sin of Baal-Peor and the punishment which followed. But when we compare, e. g., the twin tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, concerning whom nothing distinctive is either stated or hinted, whether bad or good; and when we find that the one has decreased 20 percent and the other increased 63 percent during the same interval, and under the same general circumstances, we cannot even guess at the causes which must have been at work to produce so striking a difference. It is evident that each tribe had its own history apart from the general history of the nation - a history which had the most important results for its own members, but of which we know almost nothing. It is observable, however, that all the tribes under the leadership of Judah increased, whilst all those in the camp of Reuben decreased. The families of Asher agree with the sons of Asher mentioned in Genesis 46:17 and 1 Chronicles 7:30, except that Ishuah is omitted here, because he founded no family.
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