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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 26



Verses 1-65

The Second Numbering of the People

The first took place thirty-eight years before (see Numbers 1) at Mt. Sinai. The people are shortly to enter Canaan, and this second enumeration is made in view of the prospective division of the land among the twelve tribes: see Numbers 26:52-56. The total result shows a decrease of 1,820. While Manasseh has increased by no less than 20,500, Simeon has decreased by the extraordinary amount of 37,100. The latter tribe may have suffered most severely in the recent plague, seeing that Zimri was a Simeonite (Numbers 25:14).

55. The casting of lots is of the nature of an appeal to God, and was resorted to in order to detect a culprit (Joshua 7:14; 1 Samuel 14:42; Jonah 1:7), to select an office-bearer (1 Samuel 10:20; 1 Chronicles 24:4-5; Acts 1:26), or to make a division of property as here (cp. Matthew 27:35). See also Leviticus 16:8 and the note on Urim and Thummim, Exodus 28:30. In the case before us, lots were cast to determine the locality of each tribe's inheritance, but its size was regulated by the number of the names, the relative fertility of each locality being also no doubt taken into consideration. The twelve lots, which would be tablets of wood or stone, each inscribed with the name of a tribe, were probably put in an urn; and, as the name of each portion of land was called out, the high priest or representative of a tribe (see Numbers 34:16-29) drew a lot, and the tribe whose name was drawn inherited that territory. The precise boundaries would be adjusted afterwards, according to the population shown by the census.

64, 65. See Numbers 14:22-28.


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Numbers 26:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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