Who Wrote the Book of Numbers and When Was It Written?

James Coakley
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In and outside of Christian circles, some wonder about the authorship of the first five books of the Bible. What about the book of Numbers, specifically?

Who Wrote the Book of Numbers?

Numbers is traditionally held to be authored by Moses. There is strong association of this book with the fivefold “book of the law/ book of Moses,” attributed to Moses in both the OT and the NT (Jos 23:6; Neh 8:1; Mk 12:26). Numbers 33:2 states that Moses recorded events in Israel’s wilderness journey, so he had the skills to keep and write records.

Some scholars doubt Mosaic authorship and view this book as coming from various sources that editors later compiled into the present book. According to the “documentary hypothesis,” the book is comprised mainly from P (Priestly) sources (1:1–10:28 and chaps. 15, 17–19, 26–31, 33–36), while the other chapters are a mixture of J and E sources.

When Was the Book of Numbers Written?

This book, as part of the singular book of the law, was probably penned in the final year of Moses’ life. It ends with the Israelites camped on the east side of the Jordan River opposite Jericho. Deuteronomy was written in the 11th month of the 40th year after the exodus (Dt 1:3). Therefore the book of Numbers would have been written just prior to Deuteronomy, in the year 1405 BC.

For Further Reading:

The Moody Bible Commentary

by Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham

Imagine having a team of 30 Moody Bible Institute professors helping you study the Bible. Now you can with this in-depth, user-friendly,...

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