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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Numbers 26

 

 

Verse 1

And it came to pass after the plague, that the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying,

After the plague. That terrible visitation had swept away the remnant of the old generation, to whom God sware in His wrath that they should not enter Canaan (Psalms 95:11).


Verse 2

Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers' house, all that are able to go to war in Israel.

Take the sum of all the congregation. The design of this new census, after a lapse of 38 years, was primarily to establish the fact of the vast multiplication of the posterity of Abraham, in spite of the severe judgments inflicted upon them, and the woeful diminution of several of the tribes. Secondarily, it was to preserve the distinction of families, and to make arrangements, preparatory to an entrance into the promised land, for the distribution of the country according to the relative population of the tribes.


Verse 3

And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 4

Take the sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward; as the LORD commanded Moses and the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt.

From twenty years old and upward; as the Lord commanded Moses - (see the note at Numbers 1:1-54.) Considering the time and circumstances in which this census was taken, a high interest and importance attached to it; because, as it was conducted under the direct superintendence of the legislator, the contemporary chronicler of the transaction, his narrative of it must be regarded as a reliable record of the names of those whom, at the commencement of their national existence, the Israelites acknowledged as their ancestors.

The enumeration of names is, with a few exceptions, and relating chiefly to orthography, the same as that of the list contained in Genesis 46:8-27; and, what is remarkable, no additional grandsons are mentioned, although the sons of Jacob, being at the immigration into Egypt men in the early prime and vigour of life, might naturally be supposed to have had other children born to them after their settlement in Goshen. But no statement to this effect is made, except in a solitary instance (Numbers 26:59); and the conclusion to be drawn from the silence is, either that all those grandchildren had no descendants, or else that they were incorporated with one or another of the existing families. Some who are mentioned as grandsons in Genesis 46:1-34, appear in this register as heads of families (Numbers 26:41; Numbers 26:45); and this circumstance corroborates the view formerly given, that the early record contained a catalogue, not of those descendants of Jacob only who were born in Canaan, but of such as, at the period of the removal to Egypt, or while the patriarchs lived, were acknowledged as heads of families in Israel (see the notes at Genesis 46:8; Genesis 46:12; and at 1 Chronicles 23:3-24).

'Not every one of the grandsons of Jacob was privileged to found a new family. This privilege, for reasons unknown to us, seems to have been reserved for those of his progeny born in Canaan, or, more likely, within the lifetime of himself and his sons. The children of those not so privileged had to join one of the established families, in accordance with some regulation not recorded, and therefore only a matter of conjecture; and these children, having been merged in the families which they had to join, the record of their names would have served no purpose, while yet their number contributed to swell the sum total of the parent family, and consequently of the tribe which those families composed' (Benisch). It appears from this catalogue that the heads of the established families in Israel amounted to 59; which, added to the twelve princes of the tribes, formed the great council of seventy-one (see Jahn, 'Archaeology,' 2: 1, p. 59).


Verse 5

Reuben, the eldest son of Israel: the children of Reuben; Hanoch, of whom cometh the family of the Hanochites: of Pallu, the family of the Palluites:

Hanoch , [ Ch


Verse 6

Of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Carmi, the family of the Carmites.

Hezron , [ l


Verse 7

These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty.

These are the families - the principal households, which were subdivided into numerous smaller families. Reuben had suffered great diminution by Korah's confederacy and other outbreaks.


Verse 8

And the sons of Pallu; Eliab.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 9

And the sons of Eliab; Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. This is that Dathan and Abiram, which were famous in the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD:

Dathan and Abiram - (see Numbers 16:1-50.)

In the company of Korah , [ ba`


Verse 10

And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign.

The earth opened her mouth (Numbers 16:32-35; Psalms 106:17):


Verse 11

Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.

Notwithstanding the children of Korah dies not. Either they were not parties to their father's crime, or they withdrew from it by timely repentance. His descendants became famous in the time of David. They are often mentioned in the Psalms; and, indeed, have their names prefixed, as Hengstenberg computes, to 14 psalms (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:22; 1 Chronicles 6:38; 1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 12:6).


Verse 12

The sons of Simeon after their families: of Nemuel, the family of the Nemuelites: of Jamin, the family of the Jaminites: of Jachin, the family of the Jachinites:

The sons of Simeon after their families. It is supposed that this tribe had been preeminent in the guilt of Baal-peor, and had consequently been greatly reduced in numbers.

Nemuel (cf. 1 Chronicles 4:24) - or Jemuel (Genesis 46:10) [Septuagint, Namoueel]. Gesenius pronounces the form of this word adopted in Genesis to be the correct one, while that in this passage and in Chronicles he declares to have arisen from an error in transcription. The third son of Simeon mentioned, apparently as the head of an Israelite family, in Genesis 46:10; Exodus 6:15, was Ohad [ 'Ohad (Hebrew #161); Septuagint, Aood]; but the name is omitted from the list in this passage, as also in 1 Chronicles 4:24, having become extinct through failure of progeny, or it may be by the ravages of the fatal plague that carried off the transgressors at Baal-peor.

Jachin - or Jarib (1 Chronicles 4:24).


Verse 13

Of Zerah, the family of the Zarhites: of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites.

Zerah - or Zohar (Genesis 46:10; Exodus 6:15; 1 Chronicles 4:26) [Septuagint, Zara].

Shaul - another name, according to Jewish writers, for Zimri [Septuagint, Saoul (Greek #4549)].


Verse 14

These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 15

The children of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites: of Haggi, the family of the Haggites: of Shuni, the family of the Shunites:

The children of Gad after their families. Gad is mentioned next in this list, from being associated in the same quarter of the camp with Reuben and Simeon (Numbers 2:10; Numbers 2:14).

Zephon - or Ziphion (Genesis 46:16) [Septuagint, Safoon].

Haggi - [Septuagint, Angi.]

Shuni - [Septuagint, Souni.]


Verse 16

Of Ozni, the family of the Oznites: of Eri, the family of the Erites:

Ozni - or Ezdon (Genesis 46:16) [Septuagint, Azeni].

Eri - [Septuagint, Addi.]


Verse 17

Of Arod, the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites.

Arod - or Arodi (Genesis 46:16) [Septuagint, Aroadi].

Areli - [Septuagint, Arieel.]


Verse 18

These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 19-20

The sons of Judah were Er and Onan: and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.

Er and Onan - (see the notes at Genesis 38:3-4.) Died in the land of Canaan (Genesis 38:7; Genesis 38:10; Genesis 46:12.)

The sons of Judah after their families ... Shelah [Septuagint, Seeloom] - (see the notes at 1 Chronicles 4:21-23).

Pharez - [Septuagint, Fares.]

Zerah , [Septuagint, Zara] - twin brothers of the former.


Verse 21

And the sons of Pharez were; of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Hamul, the family of the Hamulites.

Hezron and Hamul. These, though the grandchildren of Judah, are in this list ranked with his sons; because they were constituted heads of houses in room of Er and Onan, deceased (see the note at (Genesis 46:12).


Verse 22

These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and sixteen thousand and five hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 23

Of the sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites: of Pua, the family of the Punites:

The sons of Issachar, after their families ... Tola - [Septuagint; Thoola.]

Pua - or Phuvah (Genesis 46:13) [Septuagint, Foua].


Verse 24

Of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites: of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites.

Jashub - or Job (Genesis 46:13) [Septuagint, Iasoub].

Shimron - or Shimrom (1 Chronicles 7:1) [Septuagint, Samram].


Verse 25

These are the families of Issachar according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and four thousand and three hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 26

Of the sons of Zebulun after their families: of Sered, the family of the Sardites: of Elon, the family of the Elonites: of Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites.

The sons of Zebulun after their families: of Sered - [Septuagint, Sared and Sered] (Genesis 46:14).

Elon - [Septuagint, Alloon.]

Jahleel - [Septuagint, Alleel.]


Verse 27

These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them, threescore thousand and five hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 28-30

The sons of Joseph after their families were Manasseh and Ephraim.

The sons of Joseph ... Machir - son of Manasseh by a Syrian concubine (Genesis 46:20; Septuagint; also 1 Chronicles 7:14).

Gilead - [Septuagint, Galaad.]

Jeezer - or Abiezer (1 Chronicles 7:18 : cf. Judges 6:34; Judges 8:2). The Jeezerites seem at one time to have been the principal family of the tribe (Joshua 17:2) [Septuagint, Achiezer].

Helek - [Septuagint, Cheleg.] The Helekites also appear to have been a family of influence (Joshua 17:2).


Verse 31

And of Asriel, the family of the Asrielites: and of Shechem, the family of the Shechemites:

Asriel - [Septuagint, Esraeel.]

Shechem - [Septuagint, Suchem] (cf. Joshua 17:2).


Verse 32

And of Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites: and of Hepher, the family of the Hepherites.

Shemida - [Septuagint, Sumaer] (Joshua 17:2). Hepher - [Septuagint, Ofer.]


Verse 33

And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

Zelophehad , [Septuagint, Salpaad] - apparently the second son of Hepher (1 Chronicles 7:15).


Verse 34

These are the families of Manasseh, and those that were numbered of them, fifty and two thousand and seven hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 35

These are the sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthalhites: of Becher, the family of the Bachrites: of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites.

The sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah , [Septuagint, Southala] - ancestor of Joshua (1 Chronicles 7:20-27).

Becher - or Bered (1 Chronicles 7:20).

Tahan - [Septuagint, Tanach.] He appears to have been not the son of Ephraim, but the fifth in lineal descent from that patriarch (1 Chronicles 7:25).


Verse 36

And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites.

Eran , [Septuagint, Eden] - probably Ezer (1 Chronicles 7:21). The descendants of Joseph are brought down to a lower generation in this list than in that of Genesis 46:1-34 - a specialty arising from the distinguished position of Ephraim and Manasseh.


Verse 37

These are the families of the sons of Ephraim according to those that were numbered of them, thirty and two thousand and five hundred. These are the sons of Joseph after their families.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 38-41

The sons of Benjamin after their families: of Bela, the family of the Belaites: of Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites: of Ahiram, the family of the Ahiramites:

The sons of Benjamin after their families - (see the note at Genesis 46:21).

Of Bela - or Belah (Genesis 46:21 : cf. 1 Chronicles 7:6; 1 Chronicles 8:1) [Septuagint, Bale]. The Belaites comprised a list of several influential houses. The most distinguished person connected with them was Ehud. Becher, though not mentioned in this passage, stands in the other lists (Genesis 46:21; 1 Chronicles 7:6) as the second son of Benjamin; and so also in 1 Chronicles 8:1, by a slight, and it is thought proper, alteration of the present Hebrew text, extending no further than the shifting of a single letter from the end of one word to form the commencement of the following [thus-instead of uw-Binyaamin (Hebrew #1144) howliyd (Hebrew #3205) 'et (Hebrew #854) Bela` (Hebrew #1106) b


Verse 42

These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham, the family of the Shuhamites. These are the families of Dan after their families.

These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham - or Hushim (Genesis 46:23). Dr. Colenso seizes upon the details of these two verses to show that, on comparing the increase of the Danites with the fact of Dan having only one son, the account is incredible-that, in fact, the numbers of this tribe, springing from so small a source, are larger than those of Benjamin, who had numerous sons. But there is really nothing beyond the bounds of credibility-nothing at all marvelous-in the rapid growth and numerical amount of the Danite tribe. Hushim is particularly mentioned, because he was one of those who, yet in his youth or infancy, removed with Jacob to sojourn in Egypt; and hence, though Dan might have had other sons born to him in Egypt, they would be all reckoned in the family of Hushim. But granting that Dan had no more than one son, Hushim might have had many sons, and these again might have multiplied still more in the next generation; because we must remember that, by a special blessing which was promised, Israel had prospered abundantly (Exodus 1:7).

Dr. Colenso, who disregards the promised blessing, dwells on the circumstance of Hushim being the only offspring of Dan; and allowing him and his sons to have had families of three members each, the whole amount of the Danite warriors would be 27 in the fourth generation, instead of the large number mentioned in this passage and in Numbers 2:26. But this is an unwarranted assumption; and we have formerly shown (see the note at Exodus 12:41) that in one recorded instance, between the migration to Egypt and the exodus, there were 10 full generations of thirty or forty years. Let us take the mean standard of seven generations; and supposing each family in succession to have had seven sons-then 1 x 7 = 7 x 7 = 49 x 7 = 343 x 7 = 2,401 x 7 = 16,807 x 7 = 117,649-64,400, leaving an excess of 53,249 above the number stated in the record. He says that Hushim must have had 40 sons, which he pronounces incredible. But in polygamous families an equal, and even larger number was often found (cf. Judges 10:4; Judges 12:9-14; 2 Kings 10:1-14).

Colenso further expresses himself incredulous as to the statement that Dan, with one son, would become a more populous tribe than that of Benjamin, who had three sons. But there is no marvel here either; for we have only to suppose that the blessing operated fully upon the tribe of Dan, so that his sons had larger families in Egypt than the Benjamites, many of whom died chidless-in fact, only five of his sons are mentioned in this census (Numbers 26:38-39) - or that among the descendants of Dan there was a preponderance of males, while the Benjamites may to a large extent have had families of daughters, and that the tribe of Dan was reinforced by the incorporation of servants and strangers, while that of Benjamin received no accessions of that kind, in order to obtain an easy and a natural solution of the difficulties which Colenso has raised on this subject.


Verse 43

All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them, were threescore and four thousand and four hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 44

Of the children of Asher after their families: of Jimna, the family of the Jimnites: of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites: of Beriah, the family of the Beriites.

Of the children of Asher after their families: of Jimna - [Septuagint, Iamin.]

Jesui - or Isui (Genesis 46:17), and Ishuai (1 Chronicles 7:30) [Septuagint, Iesou] (see the note at Genesis 46:17).

Beriah - [Septuagint, Baria.]


Verse 45

Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites: of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites.

Heber - [Septuagint, Chober.] Malchiel - [Septuagint, Melchieel.] Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 2:, ch. 7:, sec. 4) classes Heber and Malchiel among the sons of Asher, and thus makes up the number of 70, without including great-grandchildren.


Verse 46-47

And the name of the daughter of Asher was Sarah.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 48

Of the sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites: of Guni, the family of the Gunites:

Of the sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel - or Jahziel (1 Chronicles 7:13) [Septuagint, Asieel].

Guni - [Septuagint, Gauni.]


Verse 49

Of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites: of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites.

Jezer - [Septuagint, Ieser, and Iassar (Genesis 46:24).]

Shillem - or Shallum (see the note at 1 Chronicles 7:13).


Verse 50

These are the families of Naphtali according to their families: and they that were numbered of them were forty and five thousand and four hundred.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 51

These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.

These were the numbered of the children of Israel. The persons named were heads of families in every tribe, and those families were called after the name of their founders. The census which was taken on the plains of Moab comprehended only the males of 20 years old and upward.

Six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty. Assuming that there was an equal number of females, the total amount above 20 years of age would be 1,203,460.


Verse 52

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 53

Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.

The land shall be divided ... according to the number of names. The portion of each tribe was to be greater or less according to its populousness.


Verse 54

To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.

To many thou shalt give the more - i:e., to the more numerous tribes a larger allotment shall be granted.

According to those that were numbered - i:e., the number of persons 20 years old at the time of the census being made, without taking into account either the increase of those who might have attained that age when the land should be actually distributed, or the diminution from that amount occasioned during the war of invasion.


Verse 55

Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.

The land shall be divided by lot. The appeal to the lot did not place the matter beyond the control of God; because it is at His disposal (Proverbs 16:33), and he has fixed to all the bounds of their habitation. The manner in which the lot was taken has not been recorded. But it is evident that the lot was cast for determining the quarter of the country on which each tribe should be located, not the quantity of their possessions. In other words, when the lot had decided that a particular tribe was to be settled in the north or the south, the east or the west, the extent of territory was allocated according to the rule (Numbers 26:54). 'By this regulation provision was made for the support of upwards of 600,000 yeomanry, with from six to twenty acres of land each,' (Graves 'On the Pentateuch,' 2:, p. 8, who refers to Lowman 'On the Hebrew Government,' ch. 4:; Cunoeus' 'De Republica Hebraeorum,' cap. 2:)


Verse 56-57

According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 58

These are the families of the Levites: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korathites. And Kohath begat Amram.

Families of the Levites. The census of this tribe was taken separately, and on a different principle from the rest (see Exodus 6:16-19).


Verses 59-61

And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 62

And those that were numbered of them were twenty and three thousand, all males from a month old and upward: for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel.

Twenty and three thousand - so that there was an increase of a thousand (Numbers 3:39). Dr. Colenso alleges a gross inconsistency in this statement, which represents the tribe of Levi as having an increase of only 1,000 within a period of 38 years, while that of Manasseh during the same interval was augmented by 20,500 persons.

In refutation of this charge it might be sufficient to answer, that the tribe of Levi was less prolific than the other tribes; but there were two other probable causes which may account for the comparatively small increase in this tribe during the protracted wanderings in the wilderness-namely, first, that while in the other tribes the children of servants, strangers, and of mixed marriage were all included, greater strictness was observed in the numbering of the sacred tribe, none but the pure stock of Levi being admitted (see the note at Numbers 3:45); and secondly, that this tribe experienced a great calamity, which must have sadly reduced its numbers-the mortality occasioned by the conspiracy of Korah, (see the notes at Numbers 16:1-50.)

Males from a month old and upward - (see the note at Numbers 3:15).

The following Table exhibits a comparative view of the numbers of each tribe at the first and second census: [image]

It appears from these statistics-the diversified character of which clearly demonstrates that they were not concocted on any artificial plan, nor drawn up by the hand of an impostor, but rested upon a basis of facts-that Levi was not the only tribe which showed a small increase. Reuben Judah, Zebulun, and Dan had but trifling additions to their numbers, while Simeon and Ephraim suffered great diminution. Thus the justice and holiness, as well as truth and faithfulness, of God were strikingly displayed: His justice and holiness in the sweeping judgments that reduced the ranks of some tribes; while His truth and faithfullness were manifested in the extraordinary increase of others, so that the posterity of Israel continued a numerous people.


Verse 63

These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 64

But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.

Among these there was not a man ... numbered ... in the wilderness of Sinai. The statement in this verse must not be considered absolute. For, besides Caleb and Joshua, there were alive at this time Eleazar and Ithamar, and in all probability a considerable number of Levites, who had no participation in the popular defections in the wilderness. The tribe of Levi, having neither sent a spy into Canaan nor being included in the enumeration at Sinai, must be regarded as not coming within the range of the fatal sentence, and therefore would exhibit a spectacle not to be witnessed in the other tribes, of many in their ranks above 60 years of age.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 26:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/numbers-26.html. 1871-8.

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