Numbers 1–10

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 94–95


In addition to a “numbering” or census of the children of Israel, Numbers 1–10 contains additional instructions that were to be a part of the law of Moses and the order in which the Israelites were to camp and march. These chapters also tell of the tribe of Levi being chosen to serve in the tabernacle and how the camp of Israel began its march from Sinai toward the promised land.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  1. The Lord, His work, and His kingdom should be the center of our lives (see Numbers 2).

  2. Only those called and ordained by God through His representatives can perform acceptable ordinances (see Numbers 3:5–13).

  3. True repentance requires confession, restitution, and forsaking the sin (see Numbers 5:5–7; see also D&C 58:43).

  4. We may consecrate ourselves to the Lord through covenants (see Numbers 6).

  5. The Lord guides and blesses His obedient children (see Numbers 9:15–23).

Suggestions for Teaching

Numbers 1–4. The arrangement of the camp of Israel reminded them that the Lord, His work, and His kingdom should be the center of our lives. (30–40 minutes)

Set up your classroom like the following “Order of Encampment” diagram of the camp of Israel. Lay a blanket in the middle of the room to represent the tabernacle, or draw the diagram on the board. Classes with less than twelve students can have one student represent more than one tribe. Attach signs to appropriate walls indicating north, south, east, and west.

As students enter the room, welcome them to the “camp of Israel” and give each of them a card with the name of a tribe of Israel on it. Instruct them to gather with other students assigned to the same tribe and read Numbers 2 together. Have them find where their tribe’s location was in the camp and sit in the corresponding place in the classroom. When all of the students are in place, explain that the Israelites traveled through the barren Sinai desert. Have them search Numbers 1 to find out how many people were in the tribe they represent. Ask several students:

  1. How might you feel if you were responsible for the welfare of that many people in the middle of a desert?

  2. How would such a responsibility change the way you pray and seek the Lord’s help?

Ask the following questions to help you discuss the arrangement of the camp:

  • What was at the center of the camp? (see Numbers 2:2).

  • Why do you think the Lord arranged the children of Israel around the tabernacle in that manner? (see the commentary for Numbers 2 and Numbers 3 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 197–98).

  • How does what we place at the center of our lives affect our relationship with our Father in Heaven?

  • How can each of us tell what is really at the center of our life?

On an overhead projector, a poster, or the board, show the following chart of the order of march.

Ask students:

  • What significance might the order of march have had for the children of Israel?

  • What significance can it have for us?

Encourage students to allow the Lord to be part of their everyday lives.

Numbers 1–4. Only those called and ordained by God through His representatives can perform acceptable ordinances. (10–15 minutes)

Have students read Numbers 1:47–53 and find out which tribe was not counted in the census and why. Read Numbers 3:5–12, 25–26, 30–31, 36–38; 4:5–16 with your students and discuss what the Lord commanded the priests and Levites to do. Compare their duties with the duties of deacons, teachers, and priests today (see D&C 20:46–60; 107:8–20, 85–88). Ask: How is serving in the Aaronic Priesthood today like being a Levite anciently? You could invite an Aaronic Priesthood holder to share how he feels about serving in the priesthood.

Read Numbers 3:38 and ask:

  • Where were Moses and Aaron instructed to pitch their tents? Why?

  • Who, like Moses was anciently, is responsible today for the building of temples and authorizing officiators to work in them? (The prophet.)

  • Who, like the priests and Levites anciently, have the responsibility today to see that no “stranger,” or unauthorized person, goes to the temple? (Bishops, branch presidents, stake presidents, and mission presidents.)

Consider inviting a priesthood leader to discuss with students the importance of honoring the Aaronic Priesthood in preparation for the Melchizedek Priesthood and the importance of the priesthood in preparing all members of the Church to be worthy to receive the blessings of temple covenants.

Numbers 6. We may consecrate ourselves to the Lord through covenants. (10–15 minutes)

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Dean L. Larsen, who was then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy:

“We see some evidences today of an inclination among our young people to follow the trends of the world. We do not always keep up with the pacesetters, but in some ways we follow not too far behind them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 48; or Ensign, May 1983, 34).

Ask students in what ways Elder Larsen’s statement is true. Have another student read the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“We are different. We are a peculiar people. We hope we shall always be unusual and peculiar” (In the World but Not of It, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [14 May 1968], 10).

Ask and discuss the following questions:

  • What does that statement mean to you?

  • What is difficult about being different?

  • What blessings can come to those who have made the commitment to be different in the Lord’s way?

Have students read Numbers 6:2 and look for the title that was given to those who made a special covenant with the Lord. Ask: How is being “separate” similar to being “different”? Explain that a “Nazarene” (a person from the town of Nazareth) is not the same as a “Nazarite” (see the commentary for Numbers 6:1–21 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 199; see also Bible Dictionary, “Nazarite,” p. 737). You may also want to have students look up the word peculiar in the Bible Dictionary.

Read the following references with students and identify others who were Nazarites:

Have students read Numbers 6:3–8 and identify the three specific vows Nazarites made. Have them count the number of times the words separation, separate, and separateth are used in Numbers 6. (Sixteen times.) Ask:

  1. What does being separate mean to you?

  2. What do members of the Church agree to do that separates or distinguishes them from the rest of the world?

Discuss ways in which members of the Church are often different from others. Read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).