Summary of the Book of Numbers
Numbers gets its name from the two censuses, or numberings, of the people of Israel. The first was done shortly after the exodus. The second took place at the end of the 40 years in the wilderness as the nation was preparing to finally enter the Promised Land.
The majority of the book talks about the wilderness experience of the people of Israel. For this reason, the Hebrew title of the book is “In the Wilderness.” The Septuagint (Greek) translation of the book also calls it “Numbers” and is probably why it is called “Numbers” today.
Like Leviticus, the book starts with God speaking to Moses. The book opens with: “And the Lord spake unto Moses.” This phrase (or variations) appear more than 80 times in the book. The authorship is most commonly attributed to be Moses (Numbers 33:1, 2). However, there are liberal scholars who believe the book was written by various priests during the post-Babylonian captivity. There is no hard evidence to suggest such a late writing for the book.