Notes & Commentary:
First day of the second month, called after the captivity, Jiar, which partly corresponds with our April. These injunctions
were given from the tabernacle, (Calmet) in the desert, the 12th station, (Haydock) at the foot of Mount Sinai.
Ver. 2. Houses.
The families consisted of the immediate descendants of the 12 patriarchs; the houses were the subdivisions of
these. The same plan of numbering the people was adopted on other occasions, Josue viii. 16 and 1 Kings x. 20. --- Sex,
between 20 and 60 years of age. All the subjects of the Eastern kings may be called upon, if they be able to bear arms; and
hence we find such immense armies in the Scripture, and in profane history. Moses numbered the people once before,
(Exodus xxx. 2,) and found exactly the same number of warriors, the dead being replaced by others, during the space of seven
months. Perhaps the odd numbers might not be specified, as all the totals consist of so many exact hundreds, except that of
the tribe of Gad, ver. 25. On the former occasion, the people were not perhaps ranged according to their tribes, which was
now deemed necessary, as the army was going to begin its march under its respective leaders. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Arms,
(fortium). "Strong or brave." The psalmist (civ. 37,) says, there was not one feeble. (Menochius) --- Troops.
Hebrew, "army." Septuagint, "force." Their officers shall be at their head, and shall assist you in the work. Some might command
1000, others 100, and some only 50. See Exodus xiii. 18 and xviii. 21. --- [Ver. 4.] Princes; the first-born,
or most ancient, (Lyranus,) the lineal descendants of the patriarchs; (Jansen) or, in fine, such as were chosen for their
merit, as all were equally noble; and hence Nahasson, prince of Juda, is mentioned, though he was not a descendant of the
eldest son of Juda, but of Phares; and those who were at the head of those who were numbered a little before the death of
Moses, were not the descendants of these, chap. xxvi. 64. In effect, we find that Moses chose for his council, able men
out of all Israel, Exodus xviii. 25. (Bonfrere) (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Duel.
Hebrew Dehuel. But (chap. ii. 14,) we find the word begins R, as the Septuagint have read, Ragouel. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Army.
Hebrew, "of a thousand." The Vulgate commonly styles them tribunes. They were "people of name in the assembly," as the Hebrew
Ver. 26. Juda.
This tribe was the most numerous. But it is not here placed first, because the order of birth in Lia's children is observed.
Then come those of Rachel; and last of all, the children of the two handmaids, Bala and Zelpha. (Haydock)
Ver. 47. Levites.
As they attended the tabernacle, like God's peculiar servants, and were not obliged to go forth to battle, it was not necessary
to number them with the rest. (Calmet) --- They might, however, fight if they thought proper, as the Machabees did. See Josephus,
Antiquities iii. 11 and iv. 4. (Tirinus)
Ver. 51. Stranger,
even of any other tribe. (St. Augustine, q. 3.) (Worthington)
Ver. 52. Army.
Hebrew, "they shall have their respective camp, and follow their own standard, with their army." They were drawn up in four
large bodies, chap. ii. 2, &c. (Calmet) --- The first contained 151,450, the second 186,400, the third 108,100, and the
fourth 157,600, under Reuben, Juda, Ephraim, and Dan.
Ver. 53. Watch.
Lest any thing should offer any indecency to the tabernacle, and thus provoke God's indignation. (Haydock)