The Book of Numbers Overview
English Bibles, following earlier Latin and Greek versions, call this book Numbers. This title was known from the second century ad and perhaps earlier. It indicates that the book begins and ends with a census of Israel and its priests (chs. 1–4, 26). Jewish tradition used other titles, taken from the opening words of the Hebrew text. These were, ‘In the desert’ (referring to the fact that the forty years of this history were spent in the desert); ‘And he spoke’ (some early Christian Fathers favoured this title as it emphasized that the whole book is about the word of God, Israel’s refusal to believe that word and God’s faithfulness to it); and ‘The fourth book of Moses’ (part of the Pentateuch, from Genesis to Deuteronomy).
Carson, D. A.: New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA : Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, S. Le 27:1