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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 26

 

 

Introduction

F. FUTURE PROSPECTS IN THE LAND (chapters 26-36).

We now come to the final main section of the book. It will commence with the numbering of Israel, a sign that they were making ready for the final push, and is divided up into rededication and preparations for entering the land (chapters 26-32), and warning and encouragement with respect to it (chapters 33-36). The first section concentrates on the mobilisation and dedication of the people of Yahweh, and the punishment of those who by their behaviour hinder that mobilisation and dedication.

In terms of the overall pattern of the book the first section covers the mobilisation of Israel, the appointment of Joshua on whom was the Spirit and the death of Moses For Sin (chapters 26-27), which compares with the earlier murmuring of Israel, the appointment of elders on whom came the Spirit, and the plague on Miriam because of sin (chapters 11-12). This then followed by the dedication of Israel through Feasts, Offerings and Vows and the purifying of Transjordan through vengeance on the Midianites and settlement of the two and a half Tribes (chapters 28-32) which compares with the purification and dedication of Israel in chapters 5-10.

Analysis of the section.

(I). Preparation for Entering the Land (chapters 26-32).

This can be divided up into:

a Numbering of the tribes for possessing the land (Numbers 26:1-51).

b Instructions concerning division of the land (Numbers 26:52-62).

c Vengeance had been brought on those who had refused to enter the land (Numbers 26:63-65).

d Regulation in respect of land to be inherited by women and others (Numbers 27:1-11).

e Provision of a dedicated shepherd for the people of Israel (Numbers 27:12-23).

e Provision of a dedicated people and future worship in the land (Numbers 28-29).

d Regulation in respect of dedicatory vows made by women and others (Numbers 30)

c Vengeance to be obtained on Midian (Numbers 31:1-24).

b Instructions concerning division of the spoils of Midian (Numbers 31:25-54).

a Settlement of the Transjordanian tribes in possessing land (Numbers 32).

(II) Warning and Encouragement of The Younger Generation (chapters 33-36).

a Review of the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab (Numbers 33:1-49).

b Instruction concerning the successful possession of and dividing up of the land in the future (Numbers 33:50 to Numbers 34:15).

c The Leaders who will divide the land for them are appointed (Numbers 34:16-29).

d Provision of cities for the Levites. (Numbers 35:1-5)

d Provision of cities of refuge and prevention of defilement of the land (Numbers 35:6-34).

c The Leaders of the tribe of Manasseh approach Moses about the possible loss of part of their division of the land as a result of the decision about the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 36:1-4).

b Instruction concerning women who inherit land so as to maintain the dividing up of the land which they successfully possess (Numbers 36:5-12)

a Final summary of the book and colophon. The journey is over. They are in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho (Numbers 36:13).

In this section stress is laid on preparation for entering the land.

(I). Overall Preparation for Entering the Land (chapters 26-32).

The preparations include the mobilisation of Israel, instructions as to what to do on entering the land, appointment of a new commander-in-chief in whom is the Spirit, instructions concerning the worship to be offered to Yahweh, a description of the ‘atonement’ for the sin of Baal-peor and purification of the land by the slaughter of the Midianites, and the settling in of the tribes in their land on the east of Jordan, preparatory to their soldiers joining the offensive on Canaan.

Chapters 26-27.

1). Initial Preparations for Entering the Promised Land From The Numbering of The Army To The Appointment of Joshua As Their New Commander-in-Chief (26-27:23).

Analysis.

a The second ‘numbering’ of the army in readiness for entry into the land (Numbers 26:1-51).

b Provision for the possession of the land (Numbers 26:52-62).

c The men of the previous generation not to enter the land (Numbers 26:63-65).

c Faithful men to be allowed to inherit in the land posthumously (Numbers 27:1-11).

b Moses ‘possesses’ the land by viewing it but is not to enter the land (Numbers 27:12-14)

a The solemn appointment of Joshua as commander-in-chief ready for entry into the land (Numbers 27:15-23).

The first step in all this would be the numbering of Israel.

Chapter 26 The Numbering of Israel.

This chapter contains the numbering of the new Israel who had replaced the previous generation, followed by provisions in respect of the allocation of the land, and the numbering of the Levites. Its lesson to us today is that God numbers us for service, some to fight in the world, and some to minister in His Dwellingplace, with the promise of the allocation of our reward in His heavenly kingdom. Let us therefore beware that we are not of those who die in the wilderness with their service unfulfilled.

This chapter does not easily lend itself to chiastic construction in view of the statistics involved, nevertheless we can analyse it as follows;

a After the plague Yahweh commands the numbering of Israel for service (Numbers 26:1-2).

b Moses and Eleazar command the numbering of the serving soldiers as Yahweh commanded Moses and the people who came forth from the land of Egypt ‘in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho’ (Numbers 26:3-4).

c The numbering of the fighting men of Israel for warfare (Numbers 26:5-51).

d The land to be divided up between them as an inheritance according to their number depending on whether more or fewer (Numbers 26:52-54).

d The land to be divided by lot as an inheritance between the more and the fewer (Numbers 26:55-56).

c The numbering of the Levites for their service (Numbers 26:57-62).

b These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar ‘in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho’ but among them was no one previously numbered at Sinai (i.e. of those who came forth from the land of Egypt) (Numbers 26:63-65 a).

a No one of the previous generation was left except Caleb and Joshua (the final ones dying in the plague?) (Numbers 26:65 b).


Verse 1-2

Yahweh Commands the Numbering of Israel for Service (Numbers 26:1-2).

With the land almost in sight the armies of Israel were to be ‘numbered’, that is, organised for warfare, while the Levites would be organised for service.

Numbers 26:1

‘And it came about after the plague, that Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying,’

The plague having ceased, and Yahweh having become reconciled to Israel through the action of Phinehas, Yahweh spoke to Moses and Eleazar the Priest. Eleazar has adequately stepped into his father’s shoes. With Joshua he will provide Israel with effective leadership throughout the conquest.

Numbers 26:2

Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers’ houses, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel.”

The command was to ‘number’ Israel, that is assess the forces available for warfare. These were to consist of all who were twenty years old and upwards.


Verse 3-4

Moses and Eleazar Pass On The Command (Numbers 26:3-4).

Numbers 26:3

‘And Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying,’

In strict obedience Moses and Eleazar passed on the command in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. The invasion would soon begin.

Numbers 26:4

Take the sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward, as Yahweh commanded Moses and the children of Israel, that came forth out of the land of Egypt.”

There is no opening verb. ‘Take the sum of’ is read in from the previous verses. So the command was given to current Israel to ‘number’ the army in the same way as Yahweh had commanded Moses and the children of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt. This last phrase was a reminder that the previous generation, having been numbered, failed.


Verses 5-14

The Numbering of the Army in Their Tribes and Clans (Numbers 26:5-51).

The numbering was far more than a head count. It was a listing of the contingents to which the men belonged.

Numbers 26:5-7

‘Reuben, the first-born of Israel; the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the family of the Palluites; of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the family of the Carmites. These are the families of the Reubenites; and they that were numbered of them were forty and three ’eleph and seven hundred and thirty.’

The tribe of Reuben was listed by its four sub-tribes, the Hanochites, the Palluites, the Hezronites, and the Carmites. As we have seen earlier this ‘numbering’ could signify forty three leaders/champions, seven ‘hundreds’ and a thirty. The number thirty signifies completeness. (Or forty three wider families).

Numbers 26:8-11

‘And the sons of Pallu: Eliab. And the sons of Eliab: Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. These are that Dathan and Abiram, who were called of the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against Yahweh, and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, together with Korah when that company died, at the time when the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, and they became a sign. Notwithstanding, the sons of Korah died not.’

This informative second section does not occur with all the tribes. It provides additional information looking back to earlier in the record. Here the reminder is given of the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram who had gained the support of many in Israel (or it could signify ‘who were described as members of the congregation’) who strove against Moses and Aaron as adherents of ‘the company of Korah’. But they also thereby strove against Yahweh and were swallowed up when the earth ‘opened its mouth’.

“Together with Korah” is ambiguous. It may refer to him as striving with them against Yahweh, or it may refer to him being swallowed up with them. Either he was swallowed up with them or he died with ‘the two hundred and fifty’. Thus it could rather be saying that they ‘strove against Yahweh --- together with Korah when ‘the company of Korah’ (which also included the two hundred and fifty - Numbers 16:6) died.’ We are never in fact specifically told how Korah died, only (here) that he did so.

“They became a sign.” They were ever a warning against rebellion, and against seeking to usurp the priesthood. Note that it is stressed that the actual sons of Korah were not included in the rebellion.

Numbers 26:12-14

‘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; of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites; of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites. These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.’

The tribe of Simeon was listed by its five sub-tribes, the Nemuelites, the Jaminites, the Jachinites, the Zerahites and the Shaulites. Again this ‘numbering’ could signify twenty two leaders/champions, and two ‘hundreds’. (Or twenty two wider families). The huge drop in numbers of the Simeonites partly reflects their part in the sin of Peor when seemingly a larger portion of their leaders were executed, and a large number died in the plague. This emphasises how much they were involved and confirms why Moses excluded their name from the list of tribes in his blessing.

Compare Genesis 46:10. It would seem that Ohad left no family. Nemuel is called Jemuel there, as yod and nun are often interchanged. Zerah is a name with the same meaning as Zohar (Zerah signifies the rising of the sun; Zohar signifies splendour, and the transposition of consonants is often deliberate).


Verses 15-25

Numbers 26:15-18

‘The sons 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; of Ozni, the family of the Oznites; of Eri, the family of the Erites; of Arod, the family of the Arodites; of Areli, the family of the Arelites. These are the families of the sons of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.’

The sons of Gad are the same as in Genesis 46:16, except that Ozni (’zn) is there called Ezbon (’zbn). Word play with names was common practise.

The tribe of Gad was listed by its seven sub-tribes, the Zephonites, the Haggites, the Shunites, the Oznites, the Erites, the Arodites and the Arelites. As we have seen earlier this ‘numbering’ could signify forty leaders/champions, and five ‘hundreds’. (Or forty wider families).

Numbers 26:19-22

‘The sons of Judah: Er and Onan; and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Judah after their families were; of Shelah, the family of the Shelanites; of Perez, the family of the Perezites; of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites. And the sons of Perez were: of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Hamul, the family of the Hamulites. These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and sixteen thousand and five hundred.’

The tribe of Judah was listed by its three sub-tribes, including two prominent clans; the Shelanites, the Perezites, split into the Hezronites and the Hamulites, and the Zerahites. As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify seventy six leaders/champions, and five ‘hundreds’. (Or seventy six wider families).

The mention of Er and Onan again calls to mind an incident which was to the detriment of Israel (as with the previous mention of Dathan and Abiram for Reuben).

Numbers 26:23-25

‘The sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites; of Puvah, the family of the Punites; of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites; of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites. These are the families of Issachar according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and four thousand and three hundred.’

The tribe of Issachar was listed by its four sub-tribes, the Tolaites, the Punites, the Jashubites, and the Shimronites. As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify sixty four leaders/champions, and three ‘hundreds’. (Or sixty four wider families).

The families of Issachar correspond in name with the sons mentioned in Genesis 46:13 with the exception that the name Job occurs there instead of Jashub. The two names have the same significance, as Job is derived from an Arabic word which signifies ‘to return’ while Jashub means ‘to return’.


Verses 26-41

Numbers 26:26-27

'The sons of Zebulun after their families: of Sered, the family of the Seredites; of Elon, the family of the Elonites; of Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites. These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them, threescore thousand and five hundred.’

The tribe of Zebulun was listed by its three sub-tribes, the Seredites, the Elonites, and the Jahleelites. As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify sixty leaders/champions, and five ‘hundreds’. (Or sixty wider families).

Numbers 26:28-34

‘The sons of Joseph after their families; Manasseh and Ephraim. The sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the family of the Machirites; and Machir begat Gilead; of Gilead, the family of the Gileadites. These are the sons of Gilead: of Iezer, the family of the Iezerites; of Helek, the family of the Helekites; and of Asriel, the family of the Asrielites; and of Shechem, the family of the Shechemites; and of Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites; and of Hepher, the family of the Hepherites. 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. These are the families of Manasseh; and they that were numbered of them were fifty and two thousand and seven hundred.’

The tribe of Joseph was split into two tribes, those of Manasseh and Ephraim. We are here given details of the tribe of Manasseh. They were listed by their sub-tribe, the Machirites who then seemingly subdivided into the sub-tribes of the Machirites and the Gileadites, the latter dividing into the clans of the Iezerites, the Helekites, the Asrielites, the Shechemites, the Shemidaites, and the Hepherites. As we know from what follows later the tribe of Manasseh was complicated and split into two sections, one in Transjordan inheriting Gilead and Bashan, and one in Canaan itself. Jair who is referred to later in connection with Gilead was the grandson of Machir’s daughter through her marriage to Hezron of Judah and is called a son of Machir (1 Chronicles 2:21-24).

So eight clans were descended from Manasseh; one from his son Machir, the second from Machir's son (Manasseh's grandson) Gilead, and the other six from six descendants of Gilead. The genealogical information in 27:1; 36:1 and Joshua 17:1 is in harmony with this, except that Iezer is called Ab-iezer (Iezer is father) in Joshua 17:2. Only a part of the names mentioned here occur in the genealogical fragments in 1 Chronicles 7:14-29, which also actually demonstrate how complicated these relationships were. In Numbers 26:33 a son of Hepher, named Zelophehad, is also mentioned. He had no sons, but only daughters, whose names are given here in order to prepare the way for the legal regulations mentioned in Numbers 27 and num 39, to which this fact gave rise.

Numbers 26:35-37

‘These are the sons of Ephraim after their families; of Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthelahites; of Becher, the family of the Becherites; of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites. And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites. 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.’

The tribe of Ephraim was listed by its three sub-tribes, the Shuthelahites, the Becherites, and the Tahanites, together with the clan of the Eranites, descended from Shuthelah. As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify thirty two leaders/champions, and five ‘hundreds’. (Or thirty two wider families).

Numbers 26:38-41

‘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; of Shephupham, the family of the Shuphamites; of Hupham, the family of the Huphamites. And the sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the family of the Ardites; of Naaman, the family of the Naamites. These are the sons of Benjamin after their families; and they that were numbered of them were forty and five thousand and six hundred.’

The tribe of Benjamin was listed by its five sub-tribes, the Belaites, the Ashbelites, the Ahiramites, the Shuphamites, and the Huphamites, together with its clans of the Ardites and the Naamites.. As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify forty five leaders/champions, and six ‘hundreds’. (Or forty five wider families).

In Genesis 46:21 we find mentioned Bela and Ashbel, Naaman and Ard (‘sons’ has a wide meaning and includes descendants). Ahiram (’hrm) is probably there as Ehi (’h -dropping the ‘ram’, the name of a god). Hupham is probably there as Huppim and Shephupham probably Muppim (Shuppim in 1 Chronicles 7:12). That Shephupham is minimised to Shuphamites demonstrates the fluidity of the name. Some of Benjamin’s offspring clearly died childless. In ancient times names were fluid and even pet names would be used.


Verses 42-51

Numbers 26:42-43

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

Dan was not split into sub-tribes, the only tribe being named from a son of Dan, who is called Shuham here, but Hushim in Genesis 46:23. This reversing of consonants in names occurs so often that it must be deliberate. There would, of course, be smaller sub-clans. In this tribe there were sixty four leaders/champions and four hundreds of men.

Numbers 26:44-47

‘The sons of Asher after their families: of Imnah, the family of the Imnites; of Ishvi, the family of the Ishvites; of Beriah, the family of the Berites. Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites; of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites. And the name of the daughter of Asher was Serah. These are the families of the sons of Asher according to those that were numbered of them, fifty and three thousand and four hundred.’

The tribe of Asher was listed by its five sub-tribes, the Imnites, the Ishvites, the Berites, the Heberites, and the Malchielites. Asher had a daughter named Serah who must have been of some importance to be mentioned. Possibly she was in line to inherit because she had no brothers (see Numbers 27:1-11). As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify fifty three leaders/champions, and four ‘hundreds’. (Or fifty three wider families).

Numbers 26:48-50

‘The sons of Naphtali after their families; of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites; of Guni, the family of the Gunites; of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites; of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites. 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.’

The tribe of Naphtali was listed by its four sub-tribes, the Jahzeelites, the Gunites, the Jezerites, and the Shillemites. As we have seen this ‘numbering’ could signify forty five leaders/champions, and four ‘hundreds’. (Or forty five wider families).

Numbers 26:51

‘These are they that were numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.’

So the total ‘numbered’ for war amounted to 596 leaders/champions and five large units, seven smaller units and a thirty, a reduction in leaders but a slight increase in total establishment. (See introduction).


Verses 52-54

The Land To Be Divided Up Between Them Tribes As An Inheritance According To Their Number Depending On Whether More or Fewer (Numbers 26:52-54).

Having numbered the men for war, the encouragement was now given by describing the future division of what they were fighting for, and in such a way as to establish it as a certainty.

Numbers 26:52

‘And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,’

Again we are reminded that what we read are the words of Yahweh as given to Moses. While Eleazar was involved in the preparing of men for war, the division of the land was in the hands of the supreme leader.

Numbers 26:53

‘To these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.’

To those tribes and clans now numbered the land was to be divided up for an inheritance in accordance with the number of names. This may signify the names of the clans as given above.

Numbers 26:54

‘To the more you shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer you shall give the less inheritance: to every one according to those that were numbered of him shall his inheritance be given.

The more numerous tribes would receive the larger inheritance, the less numerous the lesser inheritance. The inheritance would depend on the size of each tribe, sub-tribe and clan. Thus the numbering was not only so as to prepare the men for war, but also in order later to assist in the dividing of the land.


Verse 55-56

The Land Was To Be Divided By Lot As An Inheritance (Numbers 26:55-56).

Dividing land by lots was an ancient practise in use in many civilisations. It was especially important in this case so that the people might know that they were receiving the land allocated to them by Yahweh, and that there was no favouritism.

Numbers 26:55

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

So the land was to be divided by lot, which would be decided by Yahweh (Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 18:18), according to the number of their clans and their size. That is what the inheritance would be based on. The lot in mind was probably the Urim and Thummim.

Numbers 26:56

‘According to the lot shall their inheritance be divided between the more and the fewer.’

For during the use of the lot the number of families in each tribe and clan would be kept in mind. The larger clans would receive the more, the smaller clans the less. But the actual siting would be by lot.


Verses 57-62

The Numbering Of The Levites For Their Service (Numbers 26:57-62).

Once again it is significant that the Levites are numbered in ‘round thousands’. They operated through their three sub-tribes, and their clans, and were not split into ‘hundreds’ (smaller units). They would not be going into battle.

Numbers 26:57-59 a

‘And these are they that were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites; of Merari, the family of the Merarites. These are the families of Levi: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korahites.

The sub-tribes of Levi were the Gershonites, the Kohathites and the Merarites. Further clans split of comprising the Libnites, the Hebronites, the Mahlites, the Mushites and the Korahites. We can see now why it was emphasised that the sons of Korah still lived.

Numbers 26:59 b

‘And Kohath begat Amram. And the name of Amram’s wife was Yochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt: and she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.

The birth of Aaron and Moses, together with Miriam their sister, was now categorised. They were descended from Kohath, through Amram, whose wife was Yo-chebed (a rare use of Yah in an early name). If Yo-chebed was strictly the daughter of Levi then she and Amram were ancestors of Aaron and Moses. An ancestress could be spoken of as ‘bearing’ her descendants for many generations. However, the alternative is that ‘the daughter of’ simply means that she was descended from him, she was a Levite. That usage too was common practise. What mattered was the bloodline.

Numbers 26:60-61

‘And to Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before Yahweh.’

Again attention is drawn to those who failed in Israel. Nadab and Abihu rebelled against Yahweh’s will and died. But also included are those who succeeded, and lived. Their future would speak for itself.

It is interesting to note that in the listing of the tribes there have been two references to circumstances where people had died (Numbers 26:10; Numbers 26:19), compared with one here, making three such circumstances in all, a symbol of completeness. They summed up all who died in rebellion against Yahweh. And there have been two references to women in the listing of the tribes (Numbers 26:33; Numbers 26:46), and one in Num 20:59. Again the same symbolism applies. They represented all the women of the tribes.

Numbers 26:62

‘And they that were numbered of them were twenty and three thousand, every male 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.’

And the number of Levites was twenty three larger units. An additional family grouping had been added during the wilderness period.


Verses 62-65

These Are Those Who Were Numbered By Moses and Eleazar But Among Them Was No One Previously Numbered At Sinai (i.e. of those who came forth from the land of Egypt) (26:62-65a).

Numbers 26:63

‘These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho.’

In Numbers 26:3-4 Moses and Eleazar commanded the numbering of all who were twenty years old and upwards ‘in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho’ (Numbers 26:3). Now we learn that their task was completed ‘in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho’, ready for crossing the Jordan when the command came from Yahweh.

Numbers 26:64

‘But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.’

But while the original numbering had been commanded concerning ‘ the children of Israel who came forth from the land of Egypt’ (Numbers 26:4), among those who were numbered this time there was not a man present of those who had been previously numbered. Apart from Moses, Caleb and Joshua no one was left who had been in Egypt or who had been numbered at Sinai. Yahweh’s judgment had been complete.

Numbers 26:65 a

‘For Yahweh had said of them, “They shall surely die in the wilderness.’

For they had all died in the wilderness as Yahweh had threatened. Yahweh’s word of judgment had been fulfilled. For it is not only God’s promises which are fulfilled, but also His warnings.

No Male Of The Previous Generation Was Left Except Caleb and Joshua (26:65b).

Numbers 26:65 b

‘And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.”

The suggestion may well be that the plague mentioned in Numbers 26:1 had finally resulted in the death of all who had remained alive of those who had been previously numbered. Now none was left alive apart from Caleb and Joshua.

It is a sad thought that those who were at Sinai had been numbered with such hopes. But sin and unbelief had found them out, and they never attained the promised rest. That was not a question of their eternal destiny, but of what could have been theirs in this life. Instead of enjoying forty years in the land of milk and honey they had endured forty years in the barren wilderness. We too need to beware, lest having been numbered by the Lord, we fail to achieve what He desires for us or to enter His true rest (see Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:11) by being unresponsive to Him. What fools we are if we forfeit both our present and future rewards for the passing pleasures of this life.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Numbers 26:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/numbers-26.html. 2013.

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