Numbers 1:1 And יהוה spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 Take you אֶת־ the sum of all the congregation of the Children of Israel, after their families, by the house אֲבֹתָם of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls. C-MATS
Question: What does “את־ the sum” mean? The Hebrew word is pakod, which also means to “remember” and “be concerned with.” Because יהוה greatly loves His people, He counts them all the time. There are different levels of observance among believers, with some keeping יהוה’s commandments more strictly and some less. A person may belittle the worth of a less observant believer saying: “He is a nothing!” When יהוה commanded Moses to count the Israelite people, He instructed him to count each Israelite as “one,” no more and no less. יהוה’s message was that the Israelite people are His children; each one is equally beloved and has equal value. Chumash
Question: Why were the Israelites counted by families? יהוה instructed the Israelites to group themselves according to families and maintain strong family identities. Our family is not just a group of people we happen to have been born into and live with, rather they are connected to us in a deep spiritual way. We gain so much when we value our families, and make them an important part of our lives. We have so many different people in our lives that sometimes we may forget to value and appreciate the people who really care the most about us – our families.
Question: Why were the Israelites counted? A census expresses two contradictory truths. On the one hand, it implies that each individual is significant. On the other hand, a head-count is the ultimate equalizer: each member of the community, from the greatest to the lowliest, counts for no less and no more than “one.” יהוה repeatedly commands Moses to count the Israelite people to emphasize both their individual worth–the fact that no single person’s contribution is dispensable–as well as their inherent equality. Chumash
Question: How were the tribes counted if the husband and wife were from different tribes? A person’s tribal affiliation is patrilineal. Thus, for example, an Israelite with a father from Judah and a mother from Asher belonged to the tribe of Judah. Chumash