Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Numbers 1

Numbers i.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. 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 indicates. (Calmet)

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)