The Book of Census

Presented here is a brief history of census taking, down through the ages, as scripted in the pages of the Bible.


Pre-Census: Genesis

1:1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

1:2: And the earth was without form, and void...


The First Census

The very first census was taken by the Lord God on or about Day Seven as illustrated by the following Scripture, from the Book of Genesis, Chapters 2 and 4:


2:7: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (1 male adult)

2:22: And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (1 female adult)

4:1: And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain. (1 male child)

4:2: And she again bare his brother Abel. (1 male child)


So, God chiseled  the number "4" upon His census tablet and then looked up the road and down the road, and seeing no other houses, He said unto Himself, "Hey, that was easy."


The Second Census

After that first census, the next census was taken by Moses, just after the flight from Egypt, as documented in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 1, Verses 1-3:


1:1: And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,

1:2. Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls.

1:3. To which Moses replied, "You've got to be kidding me, right?! Hell, I don't even have a pencil on me!"


The Third Census

Perhaps the most popular census story in the Bible comes from the New Testament, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, in which Joseph and Mary, "being great with child," journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted, because Joseph "was of the house and lineage of David," and males "all went to be taxed, every one into his own city."

Unfortunately, the census taker arrived at the manger just as the Three Wise Men were visiting, which caused quite a bit of confusion as he assumed the three men were living there as well. The Wise Men chuckled at the idea of them living in a manger, and then assured him that they were not residents of Bethlehem and were actually from a distant land.

Soon enough, everything was sorted out between the Wise Men and the census taker ... sorted out, that is, until immigration officials arrived on the scene demanding to see their visas, which the Three Wise Men could not produce, and thus they were taken into custody.

And the gold, frankincense, and myrrh were confiscated as contraband.


The Fourth Census

This fourth and final census was recently discovered by Vatican scholars researching the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1. In that chapter, Verses 40-45 concern the miracle of Jesus cleansing a leper. But it seems there is more to the story of Jesus and the lepers of Galilee as depicted in the following lost Gospel of Mark 1:46-61...


1:46: And so, Jesus came to the house of the lepers, and knocked upon the door.

1:47: "Hello," came the answer from within.

1:48: "Hello, my name is Jesus of Nazareth," said our Lord.

1:49: "If you're a census taker, we've already been counted," came the reply.

1:50: "No, I am not a census taker. I have been traveling and was wondering if you have some food you might share."

1:51: "You're sure you're not a census taker?"

1:52: "I am sure," replied the Lord.

1:53: Silence from the other side of the door, and then, "Okay, you may share our food...but you realize we're lepers?"

1:54: "Yes, I am aware."

1:55: "Okay then, come on in," said the leper, opening the door.

1:56: "Thank you," said the Lord as he entered, and sat down upon the floor where a leper family was dining on Chinese take out.

1:57: "Are you not afraid to eat with us?" asked the leper. "We are all afflicted with the pestilence."

1:58: "I am not afraid," replied the Lord, as he took an eggroll and poured some tea.

1:59: When dinner was concluded, the Lord thanked his hosts, and then removed a papyrus scroll and a pen from his robe.

1:60: "So how many people live here?"

1:61: "Aha! You are a census taker!"


Jack Sheedy welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on