Today, I am reading and commenting on Numbers 1-2.
One year after leaving Egypt, Moses conducted a census of those considered able to go to war. I have read this passage many times, but have never thought about the fact that the age when someone was considered ready to go to war. They only counted men who were twenty years or older. Which basically tells us that they considered 20 years old to be the onset of adulthood. In order to conduct this census, Moses received the assistance of the leader of each of the tribes. The passage seems to imply that this census was conducted in a single day, although I am not sure if that is intentional. As a result of this census we learn that, one year after leaving Egypt, the fighting force of the Children of Israel was over 600,000 men. This count did not include the descendants of Levi. There are two possible readings of why the Levites were left out of the census. The first is that they were not part of the army of the Children of Israel because it was their duty to care for the Tabernacle and taking part in war would make them ritually unclean. The second is that they were not part of the army of the Children of Israel because their duty during battle was to defend the Tabernacle and its furnishings. I suspect that it was the former, but reading this today makes me wonder.