"In the ordinary course of events," the commentators say, "when a mortal king goes forth into the wilderness":
- Does he provide the same comfort to his courtiers that they would enjoy back in the palace? No. But God gave the Jews comfortable resting places even in the desert!
- Does he provide tutors to their children? No. But God gave the Jews three teachers, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (Yes the text mentions all three!)
- Does he pay the salaries of these officials? No: usually the people have to provide, through taxes. But in this case, it was the other way around. Moses provided manna for the people; Aaron brought the pillars of cloud that shielded them from the desert sun; and Miriam brought a well of water that traveled with the Jews wherever they went!
So, just the fact that the census took place in the wilderness becomes the occasion for this romantic nostalgia. Boring parts of Torah? Hardly!