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In the WildernessThe Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers$
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Mary Douglas

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245413.001.0001

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Twelve Tribes in Marching Order

Twelve Tribes in Marching Order

(p.172) Chapter 9 Twelve Tribes in Marching Order
In the Wilderness

Mary Douglas

Oxford University Press

The Book of Numbers gives several listings of the twelve tribes descended from the sons of Jacob. When the Lord tells Moses to make a census of the people of Israel, he uses the same list as that given in Genesis. After the census is carried out Moses receives instructions for how the tribes are to be disposed around the tabernacle, which is also to be their marching order. All the first three lists start with Reuben and Simeon, the two eldest sons. In the Genesis list, Levi is there, but in the first Numbers list he is gone and never appears again, because Moses has to number the Levites separately. The gap left by Levi would reduce the total to eleven tribes, but already in the second list for commanding the count Joseph has died and his family has two branches, Manasseh, the elder, and Ephraim.

Keywords:   Book of Numbers, twelve tribes, sons of Jacob, Moses, census, Israel, Genesis, marching order, Levi

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