The Wilderness Journey*

Numbers 10:11-20:20 (adapted from David A Dorsey)

A. 10:11-36 Departure from Sinai -“And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai”(10:12).

B. 11:1-35 Complaints about Hardship, Manna, no Food

C. 12:1-16 Miriam punished for speaking against Moses

D. 13:1-14:45 Rebellion at Kadesh

E. 15:1-36 Regulations about procedures for offerings and purifications when they enter the Land.

F. 15:37-16:50 Rebellion against the Aaronic Priesthood.

G. 17:1-13 Aaron’s Rod comes to life.

F’. 18:1-32 Aaronic Priesthood Reconfirmed.

E’. 19:1-22 Regulations about purification from death – the ashes of the red heifer which would be efficacious indefinitely.

D’. 20:1-21 Rebellion at Kadesh

C’. 20:22-29 Aaron punished – “because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah” (20:24).

B’. 21:4-9 Complaints about Hardship, Manna, no Food

A’. 21:10-20 Arrival at the edge of the Promised Land- “And from the wilderness they went to … the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon” (21:18-20).

Note: regular Bible readers will have noticed the repetitions – that the mistakes of the parents generation are repeated to a large extent by their children. The broad picture shows an introverted parallelism with Aaron’s rod budding as the centrepiece. The budding and flowering and fruiting rod speaks of resurrection and contrasts with the death of the men who feared to go into the land. Chapters 15-19 occupy the 38 extra years in which that generation would be wasted in the wilderness. The only incident identified in that period is the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the answer of the budding rod. This is a spiritual parable of the journey of discipleship. Rebellion against God’s appoint way is death, acceptance is eternal life.

One thought on “The Wilderness Journey*”

  1. The crazy thing is… Your central verses (Num ~17) form another chiasm with at least A-B-C-D-E-X-E’-D’-C’-B’-A’ with Num 17:8 at the center!

    A & A’ (16:49 & 17:13): Perishing
    B & B’ (17:1 & 17:12): L-rd/Israelite speak to Moshe
    C & C’ (17:5 & 17:10): Grumbling
    D & D’ (17:6 & 17:10): Staff of Aaron
    E & E’ (17:7 & 17:9): Staffs before the L-rd
    X (17:8): Aaron’s staff buds and bears ripe almonds

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