TSC Home Tanach Study Center
About This Site
If you can read this, your browser needs to be upgraded.

Parshat Bamidbar - Questions for Self Study

Questions for the Shabbat Table
Questions for Shiur Preparation
Questions on Parshanut

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. Chazal refer to Sefer Bamdibar as Chumash ha'pkudim.
Based on Parshat Bamidbar, what is the meaning of this name?
Where else do we find "pkudim" of this nature in this Sefer?
[Be sure to note 26:51-52 in their context.]
Is this "shoresh" ["p.k.d"] used in any other context in Sefer Bamidbar?
[If (or when) you give up, note 27:16, in the context of 27:12-23!]
Attempt to relate you answer to the theme of Sefer Bamidbar.

2. Note the specific names of the leaders of each of the "shvatim" [tribes] in 1:4-15.
How many of them include Hashem's Name in one form or another?
Can you explain why?
[Are all the names Hebrew?]
[Note as well the names of the "meraglim" in 13:4-16.]
Which of Hashem's names do you find in these names?
Can you explain why?
Relate to Shmot 6:2-4 and to Bamidbar 13:16!
What change is made to Yehoshua's name, and why?!

3. To the best of your recollection, how were the "keilim" [vessels] of the Mishkan carried [i.e. what method was used to carry them]?
Did all of the "keilim" have "badim" [poles] for carrying?
How do you think that they carried the Menorah?
[Does the Menorah have 'poles' attached like the other vessels of the Mishkan?]
Now, see Bamidbar 4:9-10!
Does this answer the question?
[How come you never noticed this before?]

4. Note in 3:1-4 how the Torah goes out of its way to mention the death of Nadav and Avihu when counting the Kohanim.
How does the explanation of how and why they died (in 3:4) relate to primary responsibility of the Leviim, as explained in chapters 3 and 4. [Note 3:5-10.]
Relate as well to the special warning in 4:17-20!

5. Sefer Bamidbar opens on the first day of the second month with God's commandment to take a census.
What was the purpose of this census? [Support your answer.]
How does this relate to the date of the commandment?
[Relate to 10:11-28! See Rashbam and Seforno on 1:2]
How does this relate to whom is counted?
How does this relate to the theme of Sefer Bamidbar?

Towards the end of Sefer Bamidbar we find that another census is taken in the fortieth year (see 26:1-52).
In what manner are these two censuses similar?
In what manner are they different?
[Compare them carefully!]
What is the purpose of the second census?
[Relate to 26:52-56 (as well as 26:1)!]
Is it for the same reason as the first census?
Use your answer to explain the differences between them.

6. Finally, see Bamidbar 34:16-29.
How do these psukim help explain the need for the leaders mentioned in 1:5-19?
How do those psukim help you understand the mission of the "meraglim" as described in 13:1-17?

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. What is the first general topic of Sefer Bamidbar - or, in other words, what is the topic of Parshat Bamidbar?
How does this topic relate to theme of Sefer Bamidbar?

2. If the "shvatim" (tribes) are to be counted, in what order would you expect the Torah to list them?
[What was their order in Parshat Shmot (1:1-4)?]
How many times are the "shvatim" listed in Parshat Bamidbar?
In what order?
[Note 1:20-42 and 2:3-30.]
Can you explain why the order is different each time?
[Relate to their 'military formation' as they travel.]

3. Review chapter two once again, and note the four tribes who are chosen to lead each group of three.
What is special about the forefather of each of these four tribes?
How does this help you answer question #2 above?
Can you explain why specifically Gad 'jumps camp' from the his brother Asher to Reuven and Shimon?
[How are they related?]

4. In your opinion, is there any significance in the manner of how the "shvatim" travel through the desert with the Mishkan at the center of their camp?
Can you relate this to the purpose of this journey?

Now that you've prepared, go to the shiur.

Part III - Parshanut
1. In Bamidbar 9:1-8 we find an event that takes place on the 14th day of the first month, while the opening pasuk of Sefer Bamidbar (1:1) records an event that takes place two week later on the first day of the second month!
Hence, Sefer Bamidbar appears to be 'out of (chronological) order.'
See Rashi, Ramban, Ibn Ezra, and Sforno (on 9:1).
Note how each "parshan" offers a different explanation.
This seems to be a very strong proof of "ein mukdam u'muchar..."
How does Ramban (who holds "yeish mukdam u'muchar) deal with this problem?
How does Rashi's "shita" of "ein mukdam..." affect his interpretation?
Why do you think that Ibn Ezra considers this parsha as a continuation of the dedication ceremony (chapters 7-8)?
Note especially the final line in Seforno's pirush.
Based on this Seforno, how would you explain his approach to "ein mukdam u'muchar?"
Is his approach more similar to Ramban's or to Rashi's?
See also Rashbam on 1:1.

2. Note that the population of shevet Levi is (proportionally) much less than any of the other shvatim. Note also that they are counted from a much younger age!
With regard to why they are counted from age 30 days, see Chizkuni 3:15.
With regard to why their numbers are so small, see Ramban 3:15.

Note as well that the number of first born of Bnei Yisrael (approximately 22,000 from age 30 days and above) appears to be much less than would be expected from a population of 600,000 males (age 20 and above).
[If approximately half the male population would be under the age of 20, then the total male population would be 900,000; that would mean one firstborn male for every 40 men, and hence an average family size of 40!]
See Ramban on 3:45, noting how he relates to and solves this problem!
Note also how explains why this 'transfer' of kedusha to the Leviim takes place only at this time.