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Parshas Bamidbar begins with the apparent appointing of 12 nesiim (princes) who would help Moshe with the counting (and presumably have some other administrative or authoritative role). Parshas Naso discusses their contribution to the Mishkan.

However, there's a bit of an issue here: the events of Parshas Bamidbar occurred in the second month (Iyar) of the second year, and the setting up of the Mishkan and subsequent princely gifts began on the first month - before their appointment!

The pesukim at the beginning of Bamidbar seem to imply that Moshe was told to appoint them specifically for/at the time of the count, but Parshas Naso implies otherwise. Were they actually appointed (or otherwise known) before the Parshas Bamidbar counting? (I'm inclined to say yes, but I'd like to see the issue discussed somewhere)

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I don't see why you think they were appointed only at the time of the count. –  Double AA May 26 at 21:58
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@DoubleAA They are introduced as "וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים... אשר יעמדו אתכם", as if they were regular people who are presently being named to stand with them, as though Moshe would otherwise not know who they were. If they were already recognized as nesiim, they should have been introduced as such (Hashem would have said, take the nesiim, who are named etc.) But maybe you're right; no one discusses this because the obvious solution is that they were indeed known beforehand –  Matt May 26 at 22:06
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