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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Numbers 27

 

 

Verse 1

NUMBERS CHAPTER 27

The law of inheritance: for daughters on defect of sons; and on defect of them to the brother; and if there be none, to the next kinsman, Numbers 27:1-11. God commands Moses to go up into a mountain to view the land of Canaan, and die there: the reason, Numbers 27:12-14. Moses prays to the Lord to appoint an able successor, Numbers 27:15-17. Joshua chose, and confirmed in his office by imposition of hands before all the people, Numbers 27:18-23.

Perceiving that the males only were numbered, and that the land was to be divided to them only, they put in their claim for a share in their father’s inheritance.


Verse 2

Nigh unto

the door of the tabernacle of the congregation it seems was the place where Moses and the chief rulers assembled for the administration of public affairs, which also was very convenient, because they had frequent occasion of recourse to God for his assistance and direction therein.


Verse 3

He was not in the company of Korah, nor in any other rebellion of the people, which must be understood, because all of them are opposed to

his own sin, in which alone he is said to die. But they mention this only either,

1. Because he might possibly be accused to be guilty of this. Or,

2. Because he, being an eminent person, might be thought guilty of that rather than of any other, because the great and famous men were more concerned in that rebellion than others. Or,

3. To gain the favour of Moses, against whom that rebellion was more particularly directed, and more desperately prosecuted than any other. Or,

4. Because peradventure he died about that time, and therefore might be presumed guilty of that crime. Or rather,

5. Because that sin, and, as it may seem, that only of all the sins committed in the wilderness, was of such a flagitious nature, that God thought fit to extend the punishment not only to the persons of those rebels, but also to their children and families, Numbers 16:27,32, as was usual in like cases, as Deuteronomy 13:15 Joshua 7:24; whence it is noted as a singular privilege granted to the children of Korah, that they died not, Numbers 26:11, whereas the children of their confederates died with them. And this makes their argument here more proper and powerful, that he did not die in that sin for which his posterity were to be cut off, and to lose either their lives or their inheritances, and therefore their claim was more just.

In his own sin; either,

1. For that sin mentioned Num 14, which they call his own sin, in opposition not to the rest of the people, for it was a common sin, but to his children, i.e. the sin for which he alone was to suffer in his person and not in his posterity, as God had appointed, Numbers 14:33. Or rather,

2. For his own personal sins; for,

1. These were more properly his own sins.

2. It was a truth, and that believed by the Jews, that death was a punishment for men’s own sins.

3. The punishment of that common sin was not directly and properly death, but exclusion from the land of Canaan, and death only by way of consequence upon that.


Verse 4

Be done away; as it will be, if it be not preserved by an inheritance given to us in his name and for his sake. Hence some gather that the first son of each of these heiresses was called by their father’s name, by virtue of that law, Deuteronomy 25:6, whereby the brother’s first son was to bear the name of his elder brother, whose widow he married.

A possession in the land of Canaan upon the division of it, which, though not yet conquered, they concluded would certainly be so, and thereby gave glory to God by believing.


Verse 5

i.e. Into the tabernacle, where God was pleased to speak with Moses upon occasions, Exodus 25:22 Numbers 7:89. For it was a hard case; and though their plea seemed reasonable, yet Moses showed his humility and modesty, that he would not determine it himself without God’s particular direction.


Verse 7

Give them: in Hebrew it is of the masculine gender, to show that women in this case should enjoy the man’s privilege, and that the heavenly Canaan, whereof this was a type, did belong no less to women than to men, Galatians 3:28.

The inheritance of their fathers, i.e. which belonged to their fathers in case they had lived.


Verse 10

No brethren, nor sisters, as appears from Numbers 27:8.


Verse 11

A statute of judgment; a statute or rule by which the magistrate shall give judgment in such cases.


Verse 12

The whole tract of mountains was called

Abarim, Numbers 33:47, whereof one of the highest was called Nebo, Deuteronomy 32:49, and the top of that, Pisgah, Deuteronomy 34:1.


Verse 13

Gathered unto thy people; of which phrase see Genesis 15:15 25:8.


Verse 14

In Kadesh: this is added to distinguish this miscarriage of Moses from that of the people in Rephidim, Exodus 17:7.


Verse 16

All flesh, i.e. of all men; the Searcher of spirits, that knowest who is fit for this great employment; the Father, and Giver, and Governor of spirits, who canst raise and suit the spirits of men to the highest and hardest works, as thou didst those Numbers 11:16,17. See Numbers 16:22.


Verse 17

i.e. Which may wisely conduct them in all their affairs, both when they go forth to war, or upon other occasions, and when they return home and live in peace. A metaphor from shepherds, as it here follows, which in those places used not to go behind their sheep, as ours now do, but before them, and to lead them forth to their pasture, and in due time to lead them home again. Of this phrase see Deuteronomy 28:6 Acts 1:21.


Verse 18

The spirit; the spirit of government, of wisdom, and of the fear of the Lord, &c.

Lay thine hand upon him; by which ceremony Moses did both design the person and confer the power, and by his prayers, which accompanied that rite, obtain from God all the spiritual gifts and graces necessary for his future employment, as appears from Deuteronomy 34:9. See of this custom Genesis 48:14 Leviticus 1:4 Numbers 8:10 1 Timothy 4:14.


Verse 19

That they may be witnesses of the whole action, and may acknowledge him for their supreme ruler.

Give him a charge: thou shalt command him in my name to undertake the government of my people, which otherwise he will be afraid and unwilling to do, and thou shalt give him counsels and instructions for the right management of that great trust.


Verse 20

Thou shalt not now use him as a servant, as thou hast done, but as a brother and thy partner in the government, showing respect to him, and causing others to do so, and thou shalt impart to him the ensigns and evidences of thy own authority, whatsoever they be. Some understand this honour of those spiritual endowments which did adorn Moses, which Moses was now to confer upon him. But this Joshua had before, for in him was the spirit, Numbers 26:18; and he received a further measure of the spirit by Moses’s laying on of hands, from both which this honour is distinguished; and, had he meant this, he would not have expressed it in so dark and doubtful a phrase, but have called it a putting not of honour, but of the spirit, upon him, as it is called, Numbers 11:17. And seeing the word

honour here may very well be properly understood, why should we run to figurative significations?


Verse 21

Who shall ask counsel for him, when he requires him to do so, and in important and difficult matters. See Joshua 9:14 Jude 1:1 20:18 1 Samuel 23:9.

After the judgment, or, by or from the judgment, i.e. by seeking and receiving and communicating to him the judgment or sentence thereby given: or, by the judgment is here put defectively for by the breastplate of judgment, as it is called Exodus 28:30, as the testimony is oft put for the ark of the testimony. Or, concerning the judgment; or sentence, i.e. what the mind and will of God is in the matter. Or, after the manner or rite, for so the Hebrew word mishpat here used oft signifies.

Urim, understand, and of Thummim, for these two generally go together; only here, as also 1 Samuel 28:6, Urim is synecdochically, put for both Urim and Thummim. For the manner of this inquiry and answer, see on Exodus 28:30.

Before the Lord; ordinarily in the tabernacle near the second veil, setting his face to the ark, or otherwise presenting himself as in God’s presence, as Abiathar did by David’s direction, 1 Samuel 23:9, when they were both banished from the ark.

At his word, i.e. the word of the Lord, last mentioned, delivered to him by the high priest.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 27:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-27.html. 1685.

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