Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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NUMBERS - Introduction

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This fourth Book of Moses is called Numbers, because it begins with the numbering of the people. The Hebrews, from its first words, call it Vaydedabber. It contains the transactions of the Israelites, from the second month of the second year after their going out of Egypt, until the beginning of the eleventh month of the 40th year; that is, a history of almost thirty-nine years. (Challoner) --- In the nine first chapters various orders of people are described, and several laws are given or repeated. From the 10th to the 33d, the marches and history of God's people are related; (Haydock) from the 20th of the second month, in the second year after their departure out of Egypt, till the eleventh month of the 40th year, and the last of Moses: so that this Book contains the transactions of almost thirty-nine years; (Tirinus) whereas, the Book of Leviticus specified only some of the laws and occurrences of one month. Here we behold what opposition Moses experienced from Aaron and his sister, from Core, and from all the people; and yet God protected him, in the midst of all dangers, and confounded, not only their attempts, but those also of Balaam, and of all his external foes. (Haydock) --- Moses conquers the Madianites, and divides the conquered country between the tribes of Ruben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasses. In the three last chapters, he describes the land of Chanaan, orders all the inhabitants to be exterminated, assigns cities to the Levites, and for refuge; and forbids such marriages, as might cause any confusion in the distribution of the lands belonging to each tribe. Moses composed this part of the Pentateuch, as well as that of Deuteronomy, a little while before his death, out of the memoirs which he had carefully preserved. (Calmet) --- According to Usher, the people were numbered this second time, in the year of the world 2514, chap. i.; after which, they leave the desert of Sinai, (chap. x. 11.) go to Cades-barne, and return thither again [in] 2552. Soon after this, Mary[Miriam] and Aaron die; Moses lifts up the brazen serpent; and the Hebrews take possession of part of the promised land ([in] 2553) on the eastern banks of the Jordan. That on the western side, flowing with milk and honey, was conquered by Josue in the following years. (Haydock)