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Numbers study guide

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Preparation Participants should read the following portions prior to the study session.
Numbers 10: 11-36: The Israelites break camp and set out for the promised land
Numbers 11: God provides manna and quail
Numbers 22: 21-35: Balaam's donkey speaks
Numbers 34: 1-15: God defines the boundaries of the promised land
Orientation Numbers is book #4 of 39 in the Old Testament. It is considered a book of Law. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Ostensibly a census of the Israelite tribes (thus the name 'Numbers'), this book picks up with the Israelites setting out for the promised land. They face many hardships on the journey, are quick to complain, but slow to ask for God's help. They do not seem to trust God. The situation reaches a climax when they reach the border of Canaan (now Israel), and refuse to cross over (14:5). God thus condemns this 'old generation' to wander in the desert for 40 years - until that generation has passed away (14:33). They will not enter the promised land until the 'new generation' has come (14:31).
Major Characters Moses, leader of the Israelites during their 40-year wandering
Aaron, high priest and brother of Moses
Eleazar, son of Aaron, and his successor as high priest
Miriam, sister of Moses
Balaam, a sorcerer hired to put a hex on Israel
Joshua, the scout who explores the promised land.
Major Events The trek through the desert is led by the Ark of the Covenant (10: 11-36)
God provides manna and quail (11: 4-32)
Water springs from the rock (20: 1-13)
Balaam's donkey talks (22:1 - 24:25)
Moses death is predicted (27: 12-23)
Activities 1. Review the census in Numbers 2 and discuss the organization required to get them underway to the promised land.
2. Review the cloud which appears in Numbers 9: 15-23. How did this work?
3. How does the account of manna and quail (Numbers 11) encourage us to not worry about the future and simply be faithful on God? What happenings with Jesus in the New Testament does this remind you of?
Connections The account of what happens when the Israelites finally enter Canaan is recorded in Joshua. Moses also wrote Psalm 90.

For source citations see the home page. Revised Mar 12 2013

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