Parshat Bemidbar

Words in bold represent changes to the traditional translation based on the Aramaic translation/commentary attributed to Onkelos the Ger.

Parshas Bamidbar

Chapter 1

Rishon

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe in the Sinai wilderness, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first (day) of the second month in the second year following their exodus from the land of Egypt, saying:

2. Acquire the accounting[1] of the entire congregation of the children of Israel according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names of every male by their polls.

3. From the age of 20 years and up, all who (are able to) go out in the army in Israel, you and Aharon shall count them by their hosts.

4. With you shall be a man[2] from each tribe, a man who is head of his fathers’ house.

5. And these are the names of the men who will stand with you: from Reuven, Elitzur son of Sh’deiur.

6. From Shimon, Sh’lumiel son of Tzurishadai.

7. From Yehuda, Nachshon son of Aminadav.

8. From Yisachar, N’saneil son of Tzuar.

9. From Zevulun, Eliav son of Cheilon.

10. From the sons of Yoseif: from Efraim, Elishama son of Amihud; from Menashe, Gamliel son of P’dahtzur.

11. From Binyamin, Avidan son of Gidoni.

12. From Dan, Achiezer son of Amishadai.

13. From Asher, Pagiel son of Achran.

14. From Gad, Elyasaf son of D’ueil.

15. From Naftali, Achira son of Einan.

16. These are those summoned of the assembly, the leaders[3] of the tribes of their fathers; they are the heads of the thousands of Israel.

17. Moshe and Aharon took these men, who were designated by their names,

18. and they gathered the entire congregation on the first (day) of the second month, and they demonstrated their genealogies[4] according to their families by their fathers' houses in the number of names, from the age of 20 years and up, according to their heads.

19. As Hashem commanded Moshe, he counted them in the Sinai wilderness.

Sheini

20. They were, the children of Reuven, Israel’s first-born, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, by their polls, every male from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

21. Their counted for the tribe of Reuven: 46,500.

22. For the children of Shimon, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), their counted in the number of names, by their polls, every male from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

23. Their counted for the tribe of Shimon: 59,300.

24. For the children of Gad, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

25. Their counted for the tribe of Gad: 45,650.

26. For the children of Yehuda, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

27. Their counted for the tribe of Yehuda: 74,600.

28. For the children of Yisachar, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

29. Their counted for the tribe of Yisachar: 54,400.

30. For the children of Zevulun, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

31. Their counted for the tribe of Zevulun: 57,400.

32. For the children of Yoseif: for the children of Efraim, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

33. Their counted for the tribe of Efraim: 40,500.

34. For the children of Menashe, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

35. Their counted for the tribe of Menashe: 32,200.

36. For the children of Binyamin, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

37. Their counted for the tribe of Binyamin: 35,400.

38. For the children of Dan, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

39. Their counted for the tribe of Dan: 62,700.

40. For the children of Asher, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

41. Their counted for the tribe of Asher: 41,500.

42. The children of Naftali, their generations according to their families by their fathers’ house(s), in the number of names, from age 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

43. Their counted for the tribe of Naftali: 53,400.

44. These are those counted, whom Moshe and Aharon and the leaders of Israel counted – they were 12 men, one each their fathers’ house(s).

45. All those counted of the children of Israel according to their fathers’ house(s), from the age of 20 years and up, all who (were able to) go out in the army,

46. all those counted were 603,550.

47. And the Levites according to their fathers’ tribe were not counted among them.

48. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

49. But the tribe of Levi do not count, and their accounting do not acquire among the children of Israel.

50. And you, appoint[5] the Levites over the Tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its utensils, and over everything that is its. They shall carry the Tabernacle and all its utensils, and they shall minister to it, and around the Tabernacle they shall camp.

51. When the Tabernacle travels, the Levites shall disassemble[6] it, and when the Tabernacle rests, the Levites shall erect it, and a secular person[7] who draws near will be executed.[8]

52. The children of Israel shall camp (each) person with his encampment[9] and (each) person in[10] his arrangement[11] by their hosts.

53. And the Levites shall camp around the Tabernacle of the testimony and there will not be wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel. The Levites shall keep the watch of the Tabernacle of the testimony.

54. The children of Israel according to all that Hashem commanded Moshe; so they did.

Chapter 2

Shlishi

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe and to Aharon, saying:

2. (Each) person in his arrangement, by their banners of their fathers’ house(s), the children of Israel shall camp; opposite all around[12] the Tent of Meeting they shall camp.

3. The ones camping in front, to the east: the arrangement of the camp of Yehuda, by their troops. And the leader of the children of Yehuda: Nachshon son of Aminadav.

4. And his troop and their counted: 74,600.

5. And those camping next to[13] it: The tribe of Yisachar. And the leader of the children of Yisachar: N’sanel son of Tzuar.

6. And his troop and its counted: 54,400.

7. The tribe of Zevulun. And the leader of the children of Zevulun: Eliav son of Cheilon.

8. And his troop and its counted: 57,400.

9. All those counted in the camp of Yehuda: 186,400 by their troops. They shall travel first.

10. The arrangement of the camp of Reuven, to the south, by their troops. And the leader of the children of Reuven: Elitzur son of Sh’deiur.

11. And his troop and its counted: 46,500.

12. And those camping next to it: the tribe of Shimon. And the leader of the children of Shimon: Sh’lumiel son of Tzurishadai.

13. And his troop and its counted: 59,300.

14. And the tribe of Gad. And the leader of the children of Gad: Elyasaf son of R’uel.

15. And his troop and its counted: 45,650.

16. All those counted for the camp of Reuven: 151,450 by their troops. They shall march second.

17. The Tent of Meeting, the camp of the Levites, among the camps shall move. As they camp, so shall they travel, (each) person in his place,[14] according to their flags.

18. The arrangement of the camp of Efraim, by their troops on the west. And the leader of the children of Efraim: Elishama son of Amihud.

19. And his troop and its counted: 40,500.

20. Those next to it, the tribe of Menashe. And the leader of the children of Menashe: Gamliel son of P’dahtzur.

21. And his troop and their counted: 32,200.

22. And the tribe of Binyamin. And the leader of the children of Binyamin: Avidan son of Gidoni.

23. And his troop and their counted: 35,400.

24. All those counted for the camp of Efraim: 108,100 by their troops. They shall travel third.

25. The arrangement of the camp of Dan to the north by their troops. And the leader of the children of Dan: Achiezer son of Amishadai.

26. And his troop and their counted: 62,700.

27. And those camping next to it, the tribe of Asher. And the leader of the children of Asher: Pagiel son of Achran.

28. And his troop and their counted: 41,500.

29. And the tribe of Naftali. And the leader of the children of Naftali: Achira son of Einan.

30. And his troop and their counted: 53,400.

31. All those total counted in the camp of Dan: 157,600. They shall travel last, according to their arrangements.

32. These are the counted of the children of Israel by their fathers’ house(s). All those counted in the camps by their troops: 603,550.

33. And the Levites were not counted among the children of Israel, as Hashem commanded Moshe.

34 The children of Israel did according to all that Hashem commanded Moshe; so they camped by their arrangement and so they traveled, (each) person by his families according to his fathers’ house.

Chapter 3

Revii

1. These are the generations of Aharon and Moshe on the day that Hashem spoke with Moshe on Mount Sinai.

2. And these are the names of Aharon’s sons: the first-born– Nadav – and Avihu, Elazar and Isamar.

3. These are the names of Aharon’s sons, the priests who were elevated[15] whose offering was brought[16] to officiate.

4. And Nadav and Avihu died before Hashem in their bringing strange fire before Hashem in the Sinai wilderness, and they didn’t have (any) sons. And Elazar and Isamar officiated in front of Aharon, their father.

5. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

6. Bring near the tribe of Levi and stand it before Aharon the priest and they will serve him.

7. They shall keep his charge and the charge of the entire congregation before the Tent of Meeting, to perform the work of the Tabernacle.

8. They shall watch all the utensils of the Tent of Meeting and the charge of the children of Israel, to perform the work of the Tabernacle.

9. You shall give the Levites to Aharon and to his sons; they are handed over, given[17] to him from the children of Israel.

10. And Aharon and his sons you shall appoint and they shall guard their priesthood, and a secular person who draws near will be executed.

11. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

12. And I, behold, I brought the Levites close[18] from among the children of Israel in lieu of every first-born that opens the womb from the children of Israel; the Levites will serve before Me.[19]

13. Because every first-born is Mine. On the day I killed[20] every first-born in the land of Egypt, I consecrated to Myself every first-born in Israel from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am Hashem.

Chamishi

14. Hashem spoke with Moshe in the Sinai wilderness, saying:

15. Count the children of Levi by their fathers’ house according to their families – every male from the age of one month and up, count them.

16. Moshe counted them by Hashem’s word,[21] as he was commanded.

17. These were the sons of Levi by their name: Gershon, and Kehas and Merari.

18. These are the names of the sons of Gershon according to their families: Livni and Shimi.

19. And the sons of Kehas according to their families: Amram and Yitzhar, Chevron and Uziel.

20. And the sons of Merari according to their families: Machli and Mushi. These are they, the Levite families by their fathers’ house(s):

21. To Gershon: the family of Livni and the family of Shimi; these are they, the families of Gershon.[22]

22. Their counted in the number of all males from age one month and up, their counted: 7,500.

23. The families of Gershon camped behind the Tabernacle, to the west.

24. The leader of the father’s house for the house of Gershon was Elyasaf son of La’el.

25 The charge of the sons of Gershon in the Tent of Meeting: the Tabernacle, and the tent, its covering, and the screen for the entrance of the Tent of Meeting;

26. the hangings of the courtyard, the screen for the entrance of the courtyard that is on the Tabernacle and on the altar all around, and the cords, for all its service.

27. And to Kehas: the family of Amram, the family of Yitzhar, the family of Chevron and the family of Uziel; these are they, the families of Kehas.[23]

28. In the number of every male from age one month and up: 8,600, keeping the charge of the sanctuary.

29. The families of the sons of Kehas camped on the side of the Tabernacle to the south.

30. And the leader of the father’s house to the families of Kehas was Elitzafan son of Uziel.

31. Their charge: the ark, the table, the Menorah, the altars, and the holy utensils with which they would minister, and the screen, and all their[24] service.

32. The superintendent[25] who was appointed over the chiefs of the Levites was Elazar son of Aharon the priest, under whose hand those who keep the charge of the sanctuary were appointed.

33. To Merari: the family of Machli and the family of Mushi.[26] These are they, the families of Merari

34. And their counted in the number of all males from age one month and up: 6,200.

35. And the leader of the father’s house to the families of Merari was Tzuriel son of Avichayil. They camped on the side of the Tabernacle, to the north.

36. The assigned charge of the sons of Merari: the boards of the Tabernacle, and its bars, and its pillars, and its sockets, and all its utensils, and all its service,

37. and the pillars of the courtyard, and their sockets, and their pegs and their cords.

38. And the ones who camp before the Tabernacle, in front, before the Tent of Meeting, to the east: Moshe, and Aharon and his sons, the ones who keep the charge of the sanctuary, as a charge of the children of Israel; and a secular person who draws near will be executed.

39. All the counted of the Levites that Moshe and Aharon counted at God’s word by their families, all males from age one month and up: 22,000.

Shishi

40. Hashem said to Moshe: Count all the first-born males[27] of the children of Israel from age one month and up, and take the number of their names.

41. Bring the Levites near before Me – I am Hashem – in place of every first-born in the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites in place of every first-born in the cattle of the children of Israel.

42. Moshe counted, as Hashem commanded him, all the first-born in the children of Israel.

43. All the first-born males in the number of their names, from age one month and up according to their numbers: 22,273.

44. Hashem with to Moshe, saying:

45. Bring the Levites near in place of all the male first-born in the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites in place of their cattle, and the Levites will serve before Me; I am Hashem.

46. And as the redemption for the extra 273 over the Levites from the first-born of the children of Israel,

47. take five sela each[28] by the head, take in the holy sela – 20 maah[29] is the sela

48. and give the money to Aharon and to his sons as redemption for the extra of them.

49. Moshe took their redemption money from the extra over[30] those redeemed by the Levites;

50. from the first-born of the children of Israel he took the money – 1,365 sela in the holy sela.

51. Moshe gave the redemption money to Aharon and to his sons at Hashem’s word, as Hashem commanded Moshe.

Chapter 4

Shevii

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe and to Aharon, saying:

2. Acquire the accounting of the sons of Kehas from among the Levites, according to their families by their fathers’ house(s),

3. from age 30 years and up to age 50, all who enter the service to perform labor in the Tent of Meeting.

4. This is the service of the sons of Kehas in the Tent of Meeting: the most holy (items).

5. Aharon and his sons shall come when the camp travels and disassemble the drape that screens and cover the ark of the testimony with it.

6. They shall place on it a covering of multicolored[31] skin and spread a cloth of pure blue on top; and they shall place its poles.

7. Over the table of the showbread[32] they shall spread a blue cloth and place on it the dishes, the ladles, the bowls, and the libation jugs, and the bread (that is offered) continual(ly) will be on it.

8. They shall spread over them a crimson-dyed cloth and cover it with a covering of multicolored skin; and they shall place its poles.

9. They shall take a blue cloth and cover the Menorah for lighting, and its lamps, and its tongs, and its pans, and all the oil vessels that they service it with them.

10. They shall put it and all its utensils in a covering of multicolored skin, and place it on a pole.

11. And on the golden altar they shall spread a blue cloth and cover it with a covering of multicolored skin, and they shall place its poles.

12. They shall take all the service utensils with which they serve in the sanctuary and put them in a blue cloth and cover them with a covering of multicolored skin, and place them on a pole.

13. They shall remove the ashes from the (copper) altar and spread on it a purple cloth.

14. They shall place on it all the utensils with which they service it: the pans, the forks, the shovels and the basins – all the vessels of the altar – and they shall spread on it a covering of multicolored skin, and they shall place its poles.

15. Aharon and his sons shall finish covering the holy (items) and all the utensils of the holy (items) when the camp travels, and after that the sons of Kehas shall come and to carry (them). And they shall not touch the holy (items) and they won’t die. These are the load of the sons of Kehas in the Tent of Meeting.

16. And the charge of Elazar son of Aharon the priest: the lighting oil, the spice incense, the continual flour offering and the elevation oil[33] – the charge of all the Tabernacle and all that is in it of the holy and of its utensils.

17. Hashem spoke with Moshe and to Aharon, saying:

18. Do not expel[34] the tribe of the families of Kehas[35] from among the Levites.

19. This shall you do for them, and they will live and not die when they draw near to the most host (items): Aharon and his sons shall come and assign them each[36] to his work and to his load.

20. And they (i.e., the Kehasites) shall not come inside to see when they (i.e., the kohanim) cover the holy things,[37] and they won’t die.

[1] Hebrew: “raise the head.”

[2] Literally, “a man, a man.”

[3] The Hebrew nasi is typically translated as “prince.”

[4] See Rashi.

[5] In both Hebrew and Aramaic, the word for “appoint” is the same as the word for “count.” They are distinguished based on context.

[6] A clarification of “take it down.”

[7] Hebrew: zar. Literally an outsider, it usually refers to a non-kohein. In this instance, a non-Levi.

[8] Rather than “die.”

[9] As opposed to “camp.”

[10] Literally, “on.”

[11] Rather than “(under his) flag.”

[12] Literally, “around, around.”

[13] Chumash: “on.”

[14] Rather than “on his hand.”

[15] As opposed to “the anointed priests.”

[16] Chumash: “whose hands were filled.”

[17] Chumash: “given, given” (i.e., completely given).

[18] Rather than “take.”

[19] As opposed to “be Mine.”

[20] Rather than “struck.”

[21] Literally, “according to the mouth of Hashem.”

[22] Chumash: “Livnite family,” “Shimite family” and “Gershonite families,” respectively.

[23] Chumash: “Amramite family,” “Yitzharite family,” “Chevronite family” “Uzielite family” and “Kehasite families,” respectively.

[24] Literally, “its.”

[25] Chumash: “the prince of the princes.”

[26] Chumash: “Machlite family” and “Mushite family,” respectively.

[27] Onkelos changes this phrase from singular to plural.

[28] Rather than “shekel.” Literally, “five, five sela.”

[29] Rather than “geirah.”

[30] Literally, “on.”

[31] The Hebrew “tachash” has been variously identified as a seal, a narwhal, a giraffe, et al. Onkelos renders it “sasgona,” meaning “it delights in its colors.” (See Rashi on Exodus 25:5.)

[32] Rather than “of the faces.” (In Hebrew, the showbread is called “lechem hapanim” – “the bread of faces.”)

[33] Rather than “anointing oil.”

[34] Rather than “cut off.”

[35] Chumash: “Kehasite families.”

[36] Literally, “a man, a man.”

[37] Onkelos changes this phrase from passive to active.

© Copyright 2021 Rabbi Jack Abramowitz