Numbers gets its English name from a census of the people. Its Hebrew name means "in the wilderness". The little tribe of Jacob that went to Egypt became a nation in the order of a million people (see my calculations in Exodus.xlsx).21:9
The significance of the bronze serpent is explained under John 3:14.
The serpent was the downfall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1f); its poison was still a problem years later. Ritchie cites the Venerable Bede's comment that the Hebrews' grumbling was obstructing God's saving work, and Jerome's explanation that they were looking backward to Egypt rather than forward to the Promised Land. Ritchie goes on to say that we should not think of the serpents as a vindictive punishment but as a solution to a spiritual problem. The bronze serpent reminded them of their need and of God's mercy. "Not only had the Hebrews been enslaved in body in Egypt; the idolatry of Pharaoh's empire had gone deep into their souls. It took four decades of purgation in the desert for their hearts and minds to be renewed."
The bronze serpent was destroyed in 2 Kings 18:4 because people started worshipping it instead of letting it point one's thought's to God's power to save.20:12
It would be easy to read this verse as punishment, but did God show mercy when he told Moses that he would not lead the people into the promised land? It is unkind to press someone into a role for which they are not suited.21:20
Pisgah means summit.22
See Professor Walter Moberly's notes on this chapter.22:5
Balaam is described in contemporary writing on plaster found in the Jordan Valley near the confluence with the River Jabbock as a prophet for other gods. This writing has been dated archeologically to 750 BCE.[2 p.46]22:23
See comment on John 12:12–16.22:41
High Places: see comment on Numbers 33:52.23:9
Balaam's remark illustrates that God's people were seen as diferent from the other nations, which was a witness to God's presence with them. cf. 1 Samuel 8:5.23:23
"What hath God wrought" was the first message sent by Samuel Morse in his new telegraphic code on 28th May 1844.25:1
It is sad that after Balaam gave up trying to curse Israel for Balak, the Israelites brought a curse on themselves by sinning.31:52
Shekel: see Appendix 2 Money.33:52
Not only were the High Places associated with pagan cults, they also implied that God is more powerful on the hills, as shown by 1 Kings 20:28.34:13
Half-tribe: see Appendix 2 "half-tribe".
© David Billin 2002–2019