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Bamidbar, Bemidbar, BeMidbar, or B'midbar (במדבר — Hebrew for "in the desert,” the fifth word, and the first distinctive word, in the parshah) is the 34th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the first in the book of Numbers. It constitutes Jews in the Diaspora generally read it in May or early June.
|Rank by Population||Tribe||Population||Percentage|
In the wilderness, in the second month of in the second year following the Exodus from Egypt, God directed Moses to take a census of the Israelite men age 20 years and up, “all those in Israel who are able to bear arms.” ( ) The census showed the following populations by tribe ( ):
- Reuben: 46,500
- Simeon: 59,300
- Gad: 45,650
- Judah: 74,600
- Issachar: 54,400
- Zebulun: 57,400
- Ephraim: 40,500
- Manasseh: 32,200
- Benjamin: 35,400
- Dan: 62,700
- Asher: 41,500
- Naphtali: 53,400
totaling 603,550 in all. God told Moses not to enroll the Levites, but to put them in charge of carrying, assembling, tending to, and guarding the Tabernacle and its furnishings. ( ) Any outsider who encroached on the Tabernacle was to be put to death. ( )
God told Moses that the Israelites were to encamp by tribe as follows ():
- around the Tabernacle: Levi
- on the front, or east side: Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun
- on the south: Reuben, Simeon, and Gad
- on the west: Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin
- on the north: Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.
God instructed Moses to place the Levites in attendance upon Aaron to serve him and the priests. ( ) God took the Levites in place of all the firstborn among the Israelites, whom God consecrated when God smote the firstborn in Egypt. ( ) God then told Moses to record by ancestral house and by clan the Levite men from the age of one month up, and he did so. ( ) The Levites divided by their ancestral houses, based on the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. ( )
- The Gershonites, numbered 7,500, camped behind the Tabernacle, to the west, and had charge of the Tabernacle, the tent, its covering, the screen for the entrance of the tent, the hangings of the enclosure, the screen for the entrance of the enclosure that surrounded the Tabernacle, and the altar. ( )
- The Kohathites, numbered 8,600, camped along the south side of the Tabernacle, and had charge of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the sacred utensils, and the screen. ( )
- The Merarites, numbered 6,200, camped along the north side of the Tabernacle, and had charge of the planks of the Tabernacle, its bars, posts, sockets, and furnishings, and the posts around the enclosure and their sockets, pegs, and cords. ( )
- Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons camped in front of the Tabernacle, on the east. ( )
The total number of the Levites came to 22,000. () God instructed Moses to record every firstborn male of the Israelites one month old and up, and they came to 22,273. ( ) God told Moses to take the Levites for God in place of all the firstborn among the Israelites, and the Levites’ cattle in place of the Israelites’ cattle. ( ) And to redeem the 273 Israelite firstborn over and above the number of the Levites, God instructed Moses to take five shekels a head and give the money to the priests. ( )
God then directed Moses and Aaron to take a separate census of the Kohathites between the ages of 30 and 50, who were to perform tasks for the Tent of Meeting. (Eleazar had responsibility for the lighting oil, the aromatic incense, the regular meal offering, the anointing oil, and all the consecrated things in the Tabernacle. ( ) God charged Moses and Aaron to take care not to let the Kohathites die because they went inside and witnessed the dismantling of the sanctuary. ( )) The Kohathites had responsibility for the most sacred objects. ( ) At the breaking of camp, Aaron and his sons were to take down the Ark, the table of display, the lampstand, and the service vessels, and cover them all with cloths and skins. ( ) Only when Aaron and his sons had finished covering the sacred objects would the Kohathites come and lift them. ( ) Aaron’s son
In inner-biblical interpretation
Three times in this parshah the Torah lists the tribes, and each time the Torah lists the tribes in a different order:
In classical rabbinic interpretation
Numbers chapter 1
The Rabbis discussed why God spoke to Moses “in wilderness.” (Raba taught that when people open themselves to everyone like a wilderness, God gives them the Torah. (Babylonian Talmud Nedarim 55a.) Similarly, a midrash taught that those who do not throw themselves open to all like a wilderness cannot acquire wisdom and Torah. The Sages inferred from that the Torah was given to the accompaniment of fire, water, and wilderness. And the giving of the Torah was marked by these three features to show that as these are free to all people, so are the words of the Torah; as states, “everyone who thirsts, come for water.” (Numbers Rabbah 1:7.) Another midrash taught that if the Torah had been given to the Israelites in the land of Israel, the tribe in whose territory it was given would have said that it had a prior claim to the Torah, so God gave it in the wilderness, so that all should have an equal claim to it. Another midrash taught that as people neither sow nor till the wilderness, so those who accept the yoke of the Torah are relieved of the yoke of earning a living; and as the wilderness does not yield any taxes from crops, so scholars are free in this world. And another midrash taught that the Torah was given in the wilderness because they preserve the Torah who keep themselves separate like a wilderness. (Numbers Rabbah 19:26.))
The Gemara noted that happened in “the second month, in the second year,” while happened “in the first month of the second year,” and asked why the Torah presented the chapters beginning at before out of chronological order. Rav Menasia bar Tahlifa said in Rab’s name that this proved that there is no chronological order in the Torah. (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 6b.)
Rav Nahman bar Isaac noted that both and begin, “And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai,” and deduced that just as happened (in the words of that verse) “on the first day of the second month,” so too happened at the beginning of the month. And as addressed the Passover offering, which the Israelites were to bring on the 14th of the month, the Gemara concluded that one should expound the laws of a holiday two weeks before the holiday. (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 6b.)
A midrash taught that the Israelites were counted on ten occasions: (1) when they went down to Egypt (Joshua for the division of the land of Israel; (7) once by Saul ( ); (8) a second time by Saul ( ); (9) once by David ( ); and once in the time of Ezra ( ). (Midrash Tanhuma, Ki Sisa 9.)); (2) when they went up out of Egypt ( ); (3) at the first census in Numbers ( ); (4) at the second census in Numbers ( ); (5) once for the banners; (6) once in the time of
Rav Aha bar Jacob taught that for the purposes of numbering fighting men (as in), a man over 60 years of age was excluded just as was one under 20 years of age. (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 121b.)
The Gemara deduced from the words “by their families, by their fathers’ houses” inthat the Torah identifies families by the father’s line. (Babylonian Talmud Nazir 49a, Bekhorot 47a.)
The Mekhilta found support in the words “they declared their pedigrees after their families, by their fathers' houses” in for Rabbi Eliezer ha-Kappar’s proposition that the Israelites displayed virtue by not changing their names. (Mekhilta Pisha 5.)
Rabbi Judah ben Shalom taught thatexcluded the Levites from being numbered with the rest of the Israelites for their own benefit, for as reports, “all that were numbered” died in the wilderness, but because the Levites were numbered separately, they entered the land of Israel. (Numbers Rabbah 3:7.) A midrash offered another explanation for why the Levites were not numbered with the Israelites: The Levites were the palace-guard and it would not have been consonant with the dignity of a king that his own legion should be numbered with the other legions. (Numbers Rabbah 1:12.)
The Rabbis taught in a Baraita that when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the Levitical camp established in served as the place of refuge to which manslayers could flee. (Babylonian Talmud Makkot 12b.)
Building upon the prohibition of approaching the holy place in Temple court without atonement was liable to bring a sin-offering, but a person who entered deliberately incurred the penalty of being cut off from the Jewish people, or karet. (Babylonian Talmud Menachot 28b.)the Gemara taught that a person who unwittingly entered the
A non-Jew asked Shammai to convert him to Judaism on condition that Shammai appoint him High Priest. Shammai pushed him away with a builder’s ruler. The non-Jew then went to Hillel, who converted him. The convert then read Torah, and when he came to the injunction of 3:10, and 18:7 that “the common man who draws near shall be put to death,” he asked Hillel to whom the injunction applied. Hillel answered that it applied even to David, King of Israel, who had not been a priest. Thereupon the convert reasoned a fortiori that if the injunction applied to all (non-priestly) Israelites, whom in God had called “my firstborn,” how much more so would the injunction apply to a mere convert, who came among the Israelites with just his staff and bag. Then the convert returned to Shammai, quoted the injunction, and remarked on how absurd it had been for him to ask Shammai to appoint him High Priest. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 31a.)
The Gemara relates that once Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Joshua, and Rabbi Akiba went to Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple, and just as they came to Mount Scopus, they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. The first three Rabbis began to cry, but Akiba smiled. The three asked him why he smiled, but Akiba asked them why they wept. Quoting they told him that they wept because a place of which it was once said, “And the common man that draws near shall be put to death,” had become the haunt of foxes. Akiba replied that he smiled because this fulfilled the prophecy of Uriah the priest, who prophesied (along with Micah, as reported in ) that “Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the House as the high places of a forest.” And linked Uriah’s prophecy with Zechariah’s. And prophesied that “[t]here shall yet old men and old women sit in the broad places of Jerusalem.” So the fulfillment of Uriah’s prophecy gave Akiba certainty that Zechariah’s hopeful prophecy would also find fulfillment. The others then told Akiba that he had comforted them. (Babylonian Talmud Makkot 24b.)
Numbers chapter 2
Rabbi Eliezer in the name of Rabbi Jose ben Zimra taught that whenever the Israelites were numbered for a proper purpose, they lost no numbers; but whenever they were numbered without a proper purpose, they suffered a diminution. Rabbi Eliezer taught that they were numbered for a proper purpose in connection with the standards (as reported in) and the division of the land, but were numbered without a proper purpose (as reported in ) in the days of David. (Numbers Rabbah 2:17.)
Of the banners (degel) in, a midrash taught that each tribe had a distinctive flag and a different color corresponding to the precious stones on Aaron’s breastplate, and that it was from these banners that governments learned to provide themselves with flags of various colors. (Numbers Rabbah 2:7.) And another midrash cited the words “his standard over me is love” in to teach that it was with a sign of great love that God organized the Israelites under standards like the ministering angels. (Numbers Rabbah 2:3.)
A midrash used the words “at a distance” into help define the distance that one may travel on the Sabbath, for the Israelites would need to be close enough to approach the ark on the Sabbath. (Numbers Rabbah 2:9.)
Numbers chapter 3
Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani taught in Rabbi Jonathan's name that referred to Aaron’s sons as descendants of Aaron and Moses because Moses taught them, showing that Scripture ascribes merit to one who teaches Torah to a neighbor’s child as if the teacher had begotten the child. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 19b.)
The Mishnah taught that as the Levites exempted the Israelites’ firstborn in the wilderness, it followed a fortiori that they should exempt their own animals from the requirement to offer the firstborn. (Mishnah Bekhorot 1:1; Babylonian Talmud Bekhorot 3b.) The Gemara questioned whether taught that the Levites’ animals exempted the Israelites’ animals. Abaye read the Mishnah to mean that if the Levites’ animals released the Israelites’ animals, it followed a fortiori that the Levites’ animals should release their own firstborn. But Raba countered that the Mishnah meant that the Levites themselves exempted the Israelites’ firstborn. (Babylonian Talmud Bekhorot 4a.)
A midrash taught that the Levites camped on the four sides of the Tabernacle in accordance with their duties. The midrash explained that from the west came snow, hail, cold, and heat, and thus God placed the Gershonites on the west, as 15–19 teach, the rains depend on the observance of the Torah. The midrash explained that from the north came darkness, and thus the Merarites camped there, as indicates that their service was the carrying of wood (“the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof”) which teaches counteract idolatrous influences when it says, “The chastisement of vanities is wood.” And the midrash explained that from the east comes light, and thus Moses, Aaron, and his sons camped there, because they were scholars and men of pious deeds, bringing atonement by their prayer and sacrifices. (Numbers Rabbah 3:12.)indicates that their service was “the tent, the covering thereof, and the screen for the door of the tent of meeting,” which could shield against snow, hail, cold, and heat. The midrash explained that from the south came the dew and rain that bring blessing to the world, and there God placed the Kohathites, who bore the ark that carried the Torah, for as and
Numbers chapter 4
A midrash noted that in“the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron” to direct them to count the Kohathites and in “the Lord spoke to Moses” to direct him to count the Gershonites, but does not report that “the Lord spoke” to direct them to count the Merarites. The midrash deduced that employed the words “the Lord spoke” so as to give honor to Gershon as the firstborn, and to give him the same status as Kohath. The midrash then noted that reported that God spoke “to Aaron” with regard to the Kohathites but did not report communication to Aaron with regard to the Gershonites. The midrash taught that God excluded Aaron from all Divine communications to Moses and that passages that mention Aaron do not report that God spoke to Aaron, but include Aaron’s name in sections that concern Aaron to indicate that God spoke to Moses so that he might repeat what he heard to Aaron. Thus mentions Aaron regarding the Kohathites because Aaron and his sons assigned the Kohathites their duties, since (as relates) the Kohathites were not permitted to touch the ark or any of the vessels until Aaron and his sons had covered them. In the case of the Gershonites, however, the midrash finds no evidence that Aaron personally interfered with them, as Ithamar supervised their tasks, and thus does not mention Aaron in connection with the Gershonites. (Numbers Rabbah 6:5.)
A midrash noted that inand God used the expression “lift up the head” to direct counting the Kohathites and Gershonites, but in God does not use that expression to direct counting the Merarites. The midrash deduced that God honored the Kohathites on account of the honor of the ark and the Gershonites because Gershon was a firstborn. But since the Merarites neither cared for the ark nor descended from a firstborn, God did not use the expression “lift up the head.” (Numbers Rabbah 6:4.)
A midrash noted that 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, and 47 say that Levites “30 years old and upward” did service in the tent of meeting, while says, “from 25 years old and upward they shall go in to perform the service in the work of the tent of meeting.” The midrash deduced that the difference teaches that all those five years, from the age of 25 to the age of 30, Levites served apprenticeships, and from that time onward they were allowed to draw near to do service. The midrash concluded that a Levite could not enter the Temple courtyard to do service unless he had served an apprenticeship of five years. And the midrash inferred from this that students who see no sign of success in their studies within a period of five years will never see any. Rabbi Jose said that students had to see success within three years, basing his position on the words “that they should be nourished three years” in (Numbers Rabbah 6:3.)
Rav Hamnuna taught that God’s decree that the generation of the spies would die in the wilderness did not apply to the Levites, for says, “your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from 20 years old and upward,” and this implies that those who were numbered from 20 years old and upward came under the decree, while the tribe of Levi — which 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, and 47 say was numbered from 30 years old and upward — was excluded from the decree. (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 121b.)
The Mishnah taught that one who stole one of the sacred vessels (kisvot) described inand was struck down by zealots on the spot. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 9:6; Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 81b.)
The Jerusalem Talmud found support in for the proposition in a Baraita that one who dies before age 50 has died a death of karet, of being cut off from the Jewish people. The Gemara there noted that spoke of what the Kohathites should avoid doing so “that they may live, and not die.” And enjoined that “they shall not go in to see the holy things as they are being covered, lest they die.” And since indicates that the Kohathites ceased working near the holy things at age 50, these deaths of karet would have to have occurred before the age of 50. (Jerusalem Talmud Bikkurim 11b.) The Babylonian Talmud reports that Rabbah said that deaths between the ages of 50 and 60 are also deaths by karet. (Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan 28a.)
According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are no commandments in the parshah. (Maimonides. Mishneh Torah. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 2 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 4:3. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1988. ISBN 0-87306-457-7.)
The haftarah for the parshah is Hosea 2:1–22. Both the parshah and the haftarah recount Israel’s numbers, the parshah in the census (in ), and the haftarah in reference to numbers “like that of the sands of the sea.” ( ). Both the parshah and the haftarah place Israel in the wilderness (midbar). ( 16.)
On Shabbat Machar Chodesh
The Weekly Maqam
In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parshah. For parshah Bamidbar, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Rast, the maqam that shows a beginning or an initiation of something. This is appropriate because the parshah initiates the Book of Numbers. In the very common case where this parshah precedes the holiday of Shavuot, then the maqam that is applied is Hoseni, the maqam that symbolizes the beauty of receiving the Torah.
The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:
- Shu-ilishu. Ur, 20th Century B.C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Douglas Frayne. “Shu-ilishu.” In The Context of Scripture, Volume II: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World. Edited by William W. Hallo. New York: Brill, 2000. ISBN 9004106189. (standards).
- Exodus 6:23 (Nahshon son of Amminadab); 13:1–2 (firstborn); 13:12–13 (firstborn); 22:28–29 (firstborn); 30:11–16 (shekel of atonement).
- 26:1–65 (census). (firstborn);
- Deuteronomy 15:19–23 (firstborn); 33:6 (Reuben’s numbers).
- 2 Samuel 24:1–25.
- Jeremiah 2:2 (in the wilderness); 31:8 (firstborn).
- Ezekiel 1:10 (on four sides).
- Hosea 2:16 (wilderness).
- Psalms 60:9 (Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah); 78:67–68 (Ephriam, Judah); 68:28 (Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun, Naphtali); 80:3 (Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh); 119:6 (obeying commandments); 141:2 (incense); 144:1 (able to go to war).
- Ruth 4:18–21. (Nahshon son of Amminadab).
- 1 Chronicles 27:1–24.
- Philo. Who Is the Heir of Divine Things? 24:124. Alexandria, Egypt, early 1st Century C.E.. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge, 286. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1993. ISBN 0-943575-93-1.
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 3:12:4. Circa 93–94. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by William Whiston, 98. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1987. ISBN 0-913573-86-8.
- Mishnah: Sanhedrin 9:6; Zevachim 14:4; Menachot 11:5; Bekhorot 1:1, 2:1. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 604, 731, 757, 788, 790. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
- Tosefta: Megillah 3:22; Sotah 7:17, 11:20; Bekhorot 1:1. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:538, 650, 864, 882; 2:1469. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
- Jerusalem Talmud: Bikkurim 11b. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vol. 12. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2007.
- Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael Pisha 3, 5; Amalek 4; Bahodesh 1. Land of Israel, late 4th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:22, 30; 2:36, 41. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-237-2. And Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Z. Lauterbach, 1:18, 25; 2:289–90. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1933, reissued 2004. ISBN 0-8276-0678-8.
- Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon 16:1; 19:2; 47:2; 48:1; 57:1, 3; 76:4; 83:1. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. Translated by W. David Nelson, 54, 75, 211–12, 255, 258, 355, 375. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. ISBN 0-8276-0799-7.
- Genesis Rabbah 7:2; 53:13; 55:6; 64:8; 94:9; 97 (NV); 97 (MSV); 97:5. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 1:50, 472, 486; 2:578, 876, 898, 934, 942. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 31a, 92a, 116a; Pesachim 6b; Yoma 54a, 58a; Chagigah 25a; Yevamot 64a; Nedarim 55a; Nazir 45a, 49a; Kiddushin 69a; Bava Batra 121b; Sanhedrin 16b–17a, 19b, 36b, 81b, 82b; Makkot 12b, 15a, 24b; Shevuot 15a; Horayot 6b; Zevachim 55a, 61b, 116b, 119b; Menachot 28b, 37b, 95a, 96a; Chullin 69b; Bekhorot 2a, 3b–5a, 13a, 47a, 49a, 51a; Arakhin 11b, 18b; Tamid 26a. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
- Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 2:8, 4:3, 7:5, 26:9–10. 6th–7th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Pesikta de-Rab Kahana: R. Kahana’s Compilation of Discourses for Sabbaths and Festal Days. Translated by William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein, 33, 70, 144, 404–06. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1975. ISBN 0-8276-0051-8. And Pesiqta deRab Kahana: An Analytical Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:27, 56, 116; 2:136–37. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987. ISBN 1-55540-072-8 & ISBN 1-55540-073-6.
- Saadia Gaon. The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, 2:10, 12. Baghdad, Babylonia, 933. Translated by Samuel Rosenblatt, 118, 128. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1948. ISBN 0-300-04490-9.
- Rashi. Commentary. Numbers 1–4. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, vol. 4, 1–33. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-029-3.
- Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 2:26. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Intro. by Henry Slonimsky, 105. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
- Numbers Rabbah 1:1–5:9; 6:2–3, 5–7, 11; 7:2–3; 9:14; 10:1; 12:15–16; 13:5; 14:3–4, 14, 19; 15:17; 18:2–3, 5; 19:3; 21:7. 12th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, 5:1–156, 160, 162, 166, 168–71, 177, 180–82, 268–69, 335; 6:486, 489, 515, 573, 584, 627, 633, 662, 708, 710–11, 714, 753, 834. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed, 3:24. Cairo, Egypt, 1190. Reprinted in, e.g., Moses Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer, 305. New York: Dover Publications, 1956. ISBN 0-486-20351-4. (wilderness).
- Zohar 1:130a, 200a; 2:85a; 3:57a, 117a–121a, 177b. Spain, late 13th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
- Robert F. Kennedy. Remarks at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968. Reprinted in Maxwell Taylor Kennedy. Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy, 21. Broadway, 1998. ISBN 0767903714. (“Our Gross National Product . . . if we judge the United States of America by that . . . .”)
- Jacob Milgrom. The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation, 3–29, 335–44. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990. ISBN 0-8276-0329-0.
- Baruch Levine. Numbers 1–20, 4:125–78. New York: Anchor Bible, 1993. ISBN 0-385-15651-0.
- Mary Douglas. In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers, xviii, 97, 99–100, 103, 109–10, 120, 123, 127–31, 133, 137–38, 174, 179–80, 207, 246. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-19-924541-X.
- Gerald Skolnik. “Should There Be a Special Ceremony in Recognition of a First-Born Female Child?” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1993. YD 305:1.1993. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 163–65 New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4.
- Elliot N. Dorff. “Artificial Insemination, Egg Donation and Adoption.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1994. EH 1:3.1994. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 461, 497. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4. (implications of the definition of a firstborn child for who is the mother of a child born by artificial insemination).
- Mayer Rabinowitz. “Women Raise Your Hands.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1994. OH 128:2.1994a. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 9–12. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4. (implications of redemption of the firstborn for women’s participation in the priestly blessing).