Numbers 7 is a whopping 89 verses long, and with all that room, you’d think that there would be some really important gems of wisdom. You know, some of that love that people say the bible is chocked full of? The reality is, 90% of the chapter is just a list of all the tribal leaders, and the list of riches that each tribe gave to the Levites as tribute.
Out of curiosity, where does all this treasure keep coming from? The Israelites gave up their treasure to make the golden calf. And while they could have melted that back down into money, Moses made everyone drink it the gold instead. Later, Moses needed more treasure to make the tabernacle, and the finery just kept on showing up. These people are wandering around a harsh desert, they’re barely getting enough food and water to survive, yet they still feel the need to carry around massive troves of treasure?
But I digress. Numbers 7:10-89 lists all of the riches given by the leader of each tribe to Moses. Each day, one tribal leader will show up at the tabernacle with their sacrifices. It begins on the first day with Nahshon, son of Amminadab, from the tribe of Judah. He gives a silver plate weighing 3.25 lbs and a silver bowl weighing 1.75 lbs, each is filled with high-quality wheat and oil, and a gold dish weighing 4 ounces and filled with incense. Next, he gives a young bull, a ram, and a lamb, to be burned, and two oxen, five rams, five goats, and five more lambs to be slaughtered.
As you continue reading you get to the second day with Nethanel, leader of the Issachar. You see a long paragraph and begin to read his sacrifices only to discover that they’re the exact same as Nahshons. In fact, all 12 of the tribal leaders give the exact same things, but for some reason, each one is written out in its entirety! This is why the chapter is so long.
This goes on for a couple pages, and when it finally ends, we’re given a sum of all the goods. In total, there are 60 pounds of silver dishes, not including all the high-quality grain and oil in them and three pounds of gold dishes, not including the expensive incense in them. Then, there are 12 young bulls, 24 oxen, 60 goats, 72 rams, and 72 lambs, all of which were horribly slaughtered. The entire sacrifice was made in order to dedicate the tabernacle to God, as it was only after all of the treasures were given up, and only after all the animals were killed, that God finally started speaking to Moses from the seat above Ark.
Sure, the tabernacle was finished and in operation way back in Exodus, and it was described as being used by God in Leviticus, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give a completely different account to its construction in Numbers. I’m actually kind of shocked at how similar the Torah is to the Gospels. They both have incomprehensible time lines that contradict their other books. I guess they do have a similar authors, although, the author isn’t a divine being, the author is centuries of manipulation and redaction.