Wandering in the Wilderness: COVID-19 and the Book of Numbers (Dave Beldman)

Professors and pastors alike often hear groans when they begin to teach the book of Numbers—and who can blame them? The title makes it sound like the records of the Ancient Israelite Census Bureau. Even biblical scholars often refer to it as the “the junk room of the Pentateuch.” However, upon closer study, this book reveals itself to be profound and relevant for our modern world—including our current wandering in the wilderness during the COVID-19 pandemic and a time of political frustration.

In this episode, Dr. David Beldman, Associate Professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer University, talks with Dr. Dru Johnson about the book of Numbers and its motif of wandering in the wilderness. They discuss the book’s original Hebrew name, literary elements, and tripartite structure. From there, they identify how wilderness-wandering applies to the stories and teachings of the New Testament. As we examine the ancient people of God in the wilderness, perhaps we can find guidance for navigating the challenges and tests for the world in 2020.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 Exodus, Numbers, trauma, and distorted views of the past
  • 3:42 COVID-19 and the book of Numbers
  • 8:24 “Wandering in the wilderness”
  • 11:12 The literary structure of the book of Numbers
  • 17:33 The wilderness motif in the New Testament
  • 22:36 Balak, Balaam, and Revelation
  • 27:04 The people of God in the Bible and now

Learn more about Dr. Beldman and his work.

His most recent book: Deserting the King: The Book of Judges

An article he wrote for The Biblical Mind: “Biblical Culture-Making: How Sacred Order Shapes Social Order

Show notes by Micah Long.

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Credits for the music used on TBM podcast can be found at: hebraicthought.org/credits.