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Overview of Numbers - Outline

Author: The author of the book of Numbers is Moses. This is the fourth book of the Pentateuch.

Date: Numbers summarizes Israel’s journey from Mount Sinai to the borders of the Promised Land. This summary is around 40 years of the nation of Israel’s history, which likely falls around the years of 1440 t0 1406 B.C.

The Purpose: The book of numbers shows us the gradual fulfillment to Abraham that his children would be the people of God that would eventually occupy the land of Canaan. We see God’s presence is within the book as the pillar of the cloud and the fire over the tabernacle, while also showing that Israel’s unbelief delays the entry into the Promised land which costs many lives. Through it all, God has prepared his people to enter the land by the end of the book.


The book of Numbers can be broken down into three times in the wilderness and two travel passages in between.

The Wilderness of Sinai (ch.1-10) —> Traveling (ch. 10-12) —>The Wilderness of Paran (ch.13-19)—> Traveling (ch.20-21)—>The wilderness of Moab (ch.22-36)

  1. Israel prepares to enter the Land (ch.1-10)

A. The first Census

B. Responsibilities of the Levites

C. Two Census of the Levites

D. Census of the mature Levites and multiple tasks of different priests

E. Cleansing of the camp. (Excluding the unclean, perjury, adultery, summary of the law)

F. Offerings for the tabernacle (ch.7 shows how other tribes helped support Levites and priests)

G. The Placing of the Seven Lampstands (Designed to show God’s ongoing favor to bless the people of Israel)

H. Dedication of the Levites

I. Retirement of the Levites (served from 25 years of age to 50)

J. The Inaugural celebration of the passover

K. Following God’s presence through the visible evidence of the cloud

L. The Silver Trumpets (gave order to which tribe should set out for the promise land)