1st census

Tribe of Simeon

(KJV)Numbers 1:23

Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Simeon, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.

Korah's rebellion

(KJV)Numbers 16:49

Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.

Baal of peor incident

(KJV)Numbers 25:9

And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

2nd census

Tribe of Simeon

(KJV)Numbers 26:14

These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.

Could it be that the most people who died in the plague & rebellion belonged to the tribe of Simeon for when they left Egypt they were 59 300 & after the 2nd census they were only 22 200,a difference of 37 100 which almost matches the total that died in the rebellion & plague which is 38 700?

2 Answers 2


Q: Could it be that the most people who died in the plague & rebellion belonged to the tribe of Simeon?

A: While mathematically possible, it is unlikely.

Here is a table of the two census taken: enter image description here

The tribe of Simeon experienced the greatest loss, but there were 4 other tribes which also decreased. For that reason alone there does not appear to be any basis for associating the losses from the plague and Ba'al Peor strictly or even predominately to the tribe of Simeon.

Moreover, the decline in size for any tribe had nothing to do with the cause of death. The consequence for rebelling was that all who were counted in the first census would die:

28 Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, 30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. (Numbers 14:28-32 ESV)

This means that 100% (except for Joshua and Caleb) of those in the first census would die. Since 100% die, reduced tribal population at the second census was a result of having fewer "replacements" during the 38 years (technically the first 18), not a function of dying (regardless of reason).

There were 2 ways of being counted in the second census:

  1. Under 20 and not included in the first census
  2. Born during the first 18 years of wandering

Since we are not told the number of under 20's there is no way of knowing the exact impact of these factors on an individual tribe. Simeon's loss could be explained by fewer under 20's at the first census or more under 20's at the second or simply by having fewer children during the first 18 years.

Nevertheless, it is mathematically possible that the 2 numbers cited reflect that the plague and Ba'al Peor had a disproportionate effect on the tribe of Simeon. Beside the law of averages, there are reasonable factors against making that assumption. At Ba'al Peor it appears that every tribe participated (although Zimri from the tribe of Simeon is specifically mentioned).

The plague of Numbers 16 was halted when Aaron ran through the camp with his censer. Depending on which direction he ran, either the tribes to the South or the North would be the place he ended, and presumably those tribes would be impacted more than those in the direction he started. It is interesting that all three tribes to the South (Reuben, Simeon, Gad) did have a lower count at the second census, suggesting Aaron ran counter-clock wise from East to South, but even if the plague had a disproportionate effect on those tribes the total was only 14,700 some of which had to come from the other tribes. Even if Aaron arrived in the South last, those that died would be from all 3 tribes and it is hard to see how Simeon could be effected by more than another tribe by more than 1-2,000.

While there are other factors, the most reasonable assumption for the change in the tribe of Simeon is fewer children during the first 18 years of wandering.

  • ,according to your table the total loss of the four combined tribes is 23 920 excluding the tribe of Simeon & the loss during the incident of baal of peor/korah incident was 38 700 which still points to the tribe of Simeon as having suffered the greatest loss of 14 780 Feb 16, 2017 at 5:22
  • You are looking at the difference between first and second census. The point is that all 603,550 of the first census including the entire 59,300 from Simeon had to die in the wilderness. Even if the total losses came from Simeon you are still short 20,600 Simeonites (59,300-38,700) from the first census that needed to die. (Not to mention 564,850 from the other tribes.) Remember due to their rebellion at the report of the spies 603,548 had to die before Joshua and Caleb plus those who were not part of the first census or were born later could enter. Feb 16, 2017 at 6:20
  • I was angling at the losses during the korah/baal of peor incident which points to the tribe of simeon as having suffered the greatest loss, not necessarily at their rebellion at the report of the spies Feb 16, 2017 at 6:40
  • Well the earlier event established the number that were to die before going into the promised land. So all 603550 (less 2) had to die before the second census. Not one of the 59,300 Simeonites were counted in the second census. Feb 16, 2017 at 6:55
  • ,been going through your answer once more,wonderful explanation Nov 27, 2019 at 5:24

Simeonites! What lesson can learn from this. When Jacob byeing his sons told levi and dimeon that theybwould be counted among their brothers.

  • Greetings, James, from another new user. I don't understand what you wrote. Do you think you could edit it, remove typos, and clarify your question/point?
    – Papa Pat
    Dec 7, 2019 at 20:47

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