I’m not a math guy. It could be because I get nervous when doing math and transpose numbers. Yet, many people find comfort in the logic of numbers. When two plus two always equals four, there’s comfort found in the order.

I’m currently reading the book of Numbers in the Bible, and considering my lack of love for math and statistics, it’s easy to read through all the numbers and miss something. For example, the Lord gave Moses this command.

“Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.”

Numbers 3:15 (NIV)

The reason behind this is revealed in these verses.

“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”

Numbers 3:12-13 (NIV)

In Numbers 3:22,28, and 34, we are given numbers for the different clans within the Levites one month or older: 7,500, 8,600, and 6,200. In Numbers 3:39, we are given the total number of Levites one month or older.

The total number of Levites counted at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.

Numbers 3:39 (NIV)

When adding up the totals mentioned in Numbers 3:22,28, and 34, we arrive at 22,300. Not 22,000, as verse 39 reports. You might wonder what happened to the 300 Levities and why there’s a difference between the totals found in Numbers 3:22,28 and 34 versus the total in verse 39.

Some say it’s a scribal error in verse 28. Instead of 8,600, it should read 8,300 due to how Hebrew numbers are written. Others point out that there had to have been firstborn among the Levites, too, and that’s why there’s a difference of 300. Those firstborns couldn’t be counted for someone else since they were already devoted to the Lord as firstborns.

Another curious issue in Numbers is the total of firstborns among the Israelites.

So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the Lord commanded him. The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273.

Numbers 3:42-43 (NIV)

Although I’m not a math guy, however, 22,273 firstborn males seem very low compared to the number of men in the census.

All the Israelites twenty years old or more who were able to serve in Israel’s army were counted according to their families. The total number was 603,550.

Numbers 1:45-46 (NIV)

Undoubtedly 603,550 men would have produced more than 22,273 male children! The reasoning behind the number of firstborns comes from when Israel became a nation.

“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.”

Exodus 12:2 (NIV)

At the first Passover, Israel became a nation out of bondage. Previously, they had been in bondage for hundreds of years. Therefore, the firstborns were counted from the time the Israelites left Egypt and not before. In this case, the 22,273 boys born is quite a lot considering it’s only been about 14 months since the Israelites left Egypt! Such a high birth rate fits with what we told in Exodus 1 about the spread of the Israelites in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Exodus 1:6-7 (NIV)

Even though I’m not a math guy, I’m thankful to have some answers as to why some numbers in Numbers didn’t add up.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.