The fourth Book of the Bible.
The name is not so felicitous as that of the preceding books, since it illustrates the contents of the opening chapters only, dealing with the numbering or census of the people.
The best division is as follows.
- The Hebrews prepare to depart from Mount Sinai (1-10):
- the census (1-4)
- some supplementary laws
- last events before the departure (7-10)
- From Mount Sinai to Cades (10,11-12)
- Cades (13-20):
- the spying of the Promised Land, revolt, and chastisement (13- 14)
- revolt of Core, Dathan, and Abiron (15-17)
- the waters of contradiction (20)
- From Cades to the Plains of Moab (22-34):
- Balaam's oracles (22-24)
- idolatry and impurity (25)
- new census and new laws concerning the sacrifices (26-30)
- punishment of the Madianites and first division of the conquered territory (31-35)
- The last chapter deals with the Levitical cities and the cities of refuge.
New Catholic Dictionary