2. The argument.
The argument of the book is thus described by Jerome in his Epistola ad Paulinum in a few words: Are not the Book of Numbers’ very numbers, and the prophecy of Balaam, and the forty-two stations through the wilderness just so many mysteries? Therefore, the sum of the book is that God, with the Republic of the Israelites now constituted both in human affairs, and in divine and sacred, with a census made of all the people, ordained an order necessary for the departure of the people, and took the lead in their individual departures in a singular manner, and finally prescribed the order of all those affairs that it was necessary to determine in advance, before sending the children of Israel into possession of the promised land. Also, extraordinary examples of various commotions and tumults in the Republic are related, and what the lot is, what the outcome, both for the seditious, and for those that are in charge of the Republic. Things intolerable, most insolently brought on by his own people and by foreigners, the most patient and constant of men, Moses, patiently bears, although he himself is not free from all blemish. Many things pertaining to polity and religion, and especially this, that the High Priests ought not to shrink from the affairs of the Republic, and the Magistrates in charge of the Republic from the care of religion, are explained.