Why does the census of Bamidbar 1.20-43 come to a sum of 603,550 when the total tribal count is 637,800?

There is a difference between the total tribal count (637,800) and the pasuk (verse) in 1:46 wherein it states the sum total of every tribal member is 603,550!

Why is there a difference?

Perhaps the answer rests with the pasuk Ezra 2:59 or Vayiqrah (Leviticus) 24.10 in the fact that 34250 Jews could not establish their tribal lineage through their fathers' houses.

  • Where does 637,800 come from?
    – Joel K
    Jun 5 '19 at 3:50
  • from adding up the tally of each tribe Jun 5 '19 at 5:08
  • 2
    When I add them up (excluding Levi) I get 603,550...
    – Joel K
    Jun 5 '19 at 5:35

603,550 excludes the Levites:

Reuven: 46,500.
Shim’on: 59,300.
Gad: 45,650.
Yehuda: 74,600.
Yissachar: 54,400.
Zevulun: 57,400.
Efra’im: 40,500.
Menashe: 32,200.
Binyamin: 35,400.
Dan: 62,700.
Asher: 41,500.
Naftali: 53,400.

Altogether this equals 603,550, as it says in Bamidbar (1:46). And as the very next passuk (1:47) says:

וְהַלְוִיִּ֖ם לְמַטֵּ֣ה אֲבֹתָ֑ם לֹ֥א הָתְפָּקְד֖וּ בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

And the Levites weren’t counted among the Jews according to their families.

The Levi’im were counted much later (Bamidbar 3:15-39), and added up to 22,300, (although the Torah round down to 22,000).
This brings the grand total to 625,850, split into Yisra’el and Levi’im, which leads to the different counts.

  • do the math and you will see that the tribal count does not add up to 603,550, but comes to 637,800. 637800-603550=34250 - the Leviim were counted from a month old and upward in Bmidbar 3 but not in the military census of 1.20-43. Jun 5 '19 at 5:45
  • 2
    @Yochanan Mauritz Hummasati I did do the math, as you can see above, and it only added up to 625,850 including the Levi’im from Bamidbar 3.
    – Lo ani
    Jun 5 '19 at 10:04

The easy answer is provided by Bamidbar 1:47-9, the Levites were excluded from the Tribal Count.

וְהַלְוִיִּ֖ם לְמַטֵּ֣ה אֲבֹתָ֑ם לֹ֥א הָתְפָּקְד֖וּ בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

The Levites, however, were not recorded among them by their ancestral tribe.

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃

For the LORD had spoken to Moses, saying:

אַ֣ךְ אֶת־מַטֵּ֤ה לֵוִי֙ לֹ֣א תִפְקֹ֔ד וְאֶת־רֹאשָׁ֖ם לֹ֣א תִשָּׂ֑א בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

Do not on any account enroll the tribe of Levi or take a census of them with the Israelites.

  • it is obvious from the Torah that the Leviim were excluded from the "military census" but this still does not explain why there is a difference between the total tribal count and the passuk 1.46. Don't assume that 1.46 adds the sum of the tribes correctly.... Jun 5 '19 at 5:19
  • @Yochanan are you implying that Ribbono Shel Olam can create a universe out of nothing but is so-so at 3rd grade math? Not accusing you of heresy, just trying to see where you're going with this
    – Josh K
    Jun 5 '19 at 12:47
  • 3
    Sorry for the confusion. I entered a wrong digit when doing the math by computer. I should have done the math "long-hand" and double checked before making this post! Jun 6 '19 at 11:55

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