June 8, 2019, All Day
The Hebrew name of the fourth book of the Torah (also the name of the first reading) is Bamidbar (במדבר), which means “In the wilderness.” It comes from the first words of the first verse, which say, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai” (Numbers 1:1). The English title of the book is “Numbers,” which is derived from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Torah. The book of Numbers tells the story of Israel’s trek through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, their failure at the edge of the land and the subsequent forty years of wandering. It concludes with the story of the second generation’s triumphs over the first Canaanite resistance. The book ends with the Israelites poised on the edge of Canaan, ready to take their inheritance. Woven in the midst of these narratives is a significant amount of legal material.
The first reading from Bamidbar and the thirty-fourth reading from the Torah begin with a census of the tribes of Israel and the Levitical families just prior to the departure from Sinai.