I didn't post yesterday (I won't be able to post every day), but I do recommend everyone who is reading along to make a few notes each day about what you read. In yesterday's reading is the serpent of bronze, Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp (Would that all of God's people were prophets, Moses says), and Israel's first look at the land of Canaan. (almost everyone is sure that they could never defeat the inhabitants in battle; that's why God tells them that generation will continue to wander for 40 years).
There is more counting. After the new generation rises up, the tribes have to be counted again.
I loved the little vignette about the daughters of Zelophehad. Since there are no male heirs in their family, they demand a share of the land. What's the word? Assertive.
I also loved reading the extended story of Balaam, and the many attempts of Balak to get Balaam to curse the people of Israel. (Balaam kept telling them, "I can only say what God tells me to say. I can't curse people that God has blessed.") Balak keeps showing Balaam the Israelites from different vantage points, and the answer is always the same. Makes me muse about the nature of blessing and cursing, about prayer (I just prayed for healing for a woman after church today), about telling the truth. Do we measure our words, or just say what comes into our heads? Are we as concerned as Balaam about what is true?
So, it made me sad later on when the Israelites battle the Midianites and kill Balaam son of Beor.
The Midianites (and especially the women, it seems) were responsible for leading the Israelite men away from Yahweh and to worship of Baal. Baal is going to continue to make appearances throughout the Old Testament. If you're going to turn away from God, you have to have a few false gods lying around to turn toward.
Though I am in no way condoning the Midianite women, may I say this? No one can lead you astray without your permission.
When we get to Joshua and Judges, I'm afraid we are going to have a whole lot more bloodshed to deal with.
Tomorrow: Numbers 33 - Deuteronomy 7