Three times God calls the Israelites to count their people. In Exodus 30, they count the population to develop an orderly funding program for the construction of the congregation tent. Here God tells them to count the men eligible for fighting in their militia; and in chapter 26, after a plague has ravaged the people, they will once again determine the size and makeup of their fighting force. It is interesting to note the change in the number of warriors within each of the extended families. Some tribes experience a tremendous loss in the number of fighters, and other tribes have a considerable increase:
47-49 The Levites were not included in this registration and organizing of the extended families’ tribe members because the Eternal One had expressly told Moses not to count them.
Eternal One (to Moses): 50 You will make the Levites responsible for the congregation tent that houses the terms of the covenant, its furnishings, and accoutrements. They will be the ones who carry all of it, maintain it, and camp around it. 51 When it’s time to move, it will be the Levites who pack up that tent; they are the ones who shall set it back up. If any outsider tries to get involved, he will be killed.