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Nahshon, by Michelangelo

Nahshon (Hebrew: נחשון, Nakhshōn; Greek: Ναασσών, Naassōn; "Name means::enchanter") (ca. Born::2453 AM–fl. Flourit::1 Zif 2514 AMDied::2553 AM), Nachshon, or Naasson, was the tribal chief and military commander of the tribe of Judah during the Exodus of Israel and the subsequent forty-year wilderness journey. He did not survive the journey, and his service was probably unremarkable. Nevertheless he was part of a distinguished line of descent that included David, all of the kings of the Kingdom of Judah, and ancestor of::Jesus Christ.[1]


son of::Amminadab
brother of::Elisheba
grandfather of::Boaz
ancestor of::Obed
ancestor of::Jesse

Date of birth

Nahshon had a sister, Elisheba, who married Aaron and bore his four sons. (Exodus 6:23 ) All of those sons were adults and of the minimum age for Levitical service. Therefore Elisheba was probably born in 2454 AM, and Nahshon was born a year earlier.


Nahshon received his appointment as chief of the tribe of Judah from God.[2] (Numbers 1:7 , Numbers 10:14 , 1_Chronicles 2:10 ) He was first to present his tribal offering in the year of the Exodus of Israel and at the dedication of the Tabernacle. The appointment probably coincided with the First Census of Israel, held on 1 Zif 2514 AM, or

"in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt." - Numbers 1:1

His command was the largest single command among the twelve tribes of Israel, with 74,600 men of military age (twenty years old or older). (Numbers 1:27 ) The tribe of Judah camped to the east of the Tabernacle, and Nahshon, in addition to commanding his tribe, also commanded the "camp of Judah" which included the tribe of Issachar and the tribe of Zebulun that camped next to his tribe. In all, he commanded an army of 186,400 soldiers, or as many soldiers as would serve in about thirty Roman legions or fifteen modern infantry divisions, plus or minus one. (Numbers 2:9 )

In the second general census, his tribe had 76,500 men and was still the largest. (Numbers 26:22 ) By then Nahshon was dead, and the Bible does not name his specific successor.

In rabbinical literature

The rabbinical literature states that Nahshon was first to leap into the Red Sea during the Exodus of Israel, and that his tribe was first to bring the dedicatory offering because the people of Israel specifically acclaimed him for this act.[2] This literature also states that the words used to describe Nahshon's offering use the letter ו (vav), having a numerical value of six, which the accounts of other chief's offerings lack. This letter supposedly points to six distinguished ancestors of Nahshon, that include David and the Messiah (that is, Jesus Christ) and also include Daniel and his three friends who survived in a brick kiln. (Daniel 3 )

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  1. Blank W, "Nahshon," Daily Bible Study, April 23, 2006. Accessed January 17, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hirsch EG, Seligsohn M, and Bacher W, "Nahshon," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Accessed January 17, 2009.