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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 26

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


Moses and Eleazar are commanded to take the sum of the

Israelites, in the plains of Moab, 1-4.

Reuben and his posterity, 43,730, ver. 5-11.

Simeon and his posterity, 22,200, ver. 12-14.

Gad and his posterity, 40,500, ver. 15-18.

Judah and his posterity, 76,500, ver. 19-22.

Issachar and his posterity, 64,300, ver. 23-25.

Zebulun and his posterity, 60,500, ver. 26, 27.

Manasseh and his posterity, 52,700, ver. 28-34.

Ephraim and his posterity, 32,500, ver. 35-37.

Benjamin and his posterity, 45,600, ver. 38-41.

Dan and his posterity, 64,400, ver. 42, 43.

Asher and his posterity, 53,400, ver. 44-47.

Naphtali and his posterity, 45,400, ver. 48-50.

Total amount of the twelve tribes, 601,730, ver. 51.

The land is to be divided by lot, and how, 52-56.

The Levites and their families, 57, 58.

Their genealogy, 59-61.

Their number, 23,000, ver. 62.

In this census or enumeration not one man was found, save Joshua

and Caleb, of all who had been reckoned 38 years before, the

rest having died in the wilderness, 63-65.


Verse 2

Verse Numbers 26:2. Take the sum of all the congregation — After thirty-eight years God commands a second census of the Israelites to be made, to preserve the distinction in families, and to regulate the tribes previously to their entry into the promised land, and to ascertain the proportion of land which should be allowed to each tribe. For though the whole was divided by lot, yet the portions were so disposed that a numerous tribe did not draw where the lots assigned small inheritances. See Numbers 26:53-56, and also Numbers 1:1; Numbers 1:1.

Verse 10

Verse Numbers 26:10. Together with Korah — The Samaritan text does not intimate that Korah was swallowed up, but that he was burnt, as appears in fact to have been the case. And the earth swallowed them up, what time that company died; and the fire devoured Korah with the two hundred and fifty men, who became a sign.

Verse 11

Verse Numbers 26:11. The children of Korah died not. — It is difficult to reconcile this place with Numbers 16:27; Numbers 16:31-33, where it seems to be intimated that not only the men, but the wives, and the sons, and the little ones of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, were swallowed up by the earthquake; see especially Numbers 16:27, collated with Numbers 16:33. But the text here expressly says, The children of Korah died not; and on a close inspection of Numbers 16:27 of the above-mentioned chapter, we shall find that the sons and the little ones of Dathan and Abiram alone are mentioned. So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out - and their wives, and their sons, and their little ones. Here is no mention of the children of Korah, they therefore escaped, while it appears those of Dathan and Abiram perished with their fathers. Numbers 16:30; Numbers 16:30.

Verse 51

Verse Numbers 26:51. These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.] The following comparative statement will show how much some of the tribes had increased, and others had diminished, since the enumeration in Numbers 1:2, c.

Now Before

Reuben 43,730 46,500 2,770 decrease
Simeon 22,200 59,300 37,100 decrease
Gad 40,500 45,650 5,150 decrease
Judah 76,500 74,600 1,900 increase
Issachar 64,300 54,400 9,900 increase
Zebulun 60,500 57,400 3,100 increase
Manasseh 52,700 32,200 20,500 increase
Ephraim 32,500 40,500 8,000 decrease
Benjamin 45,600 35,400 10,200 increase
Dan 64,400 62,700 1,700 increase
Asher 53,400 41,500 11,900 increase
Naphtali 45,400 53,400 8,000 decrease
Total 601,730 603,550 1,820 decrease on the whole, in 38 years.
Decrease in all, 61,020. Increase in all, 59,200.

Let it be observed,

1. That among these there was not a man of the former census, save Joshua and Caleb, see Numbers 26:64-65.

2. That though there was an increase in seven tribes of not less than 74,800 men, yet so great was the decrease in the other five tribes, that the balance against the present censusIsaiah 1:0is 1,820, as appears above: thus we find that there was an in crease of 601,728 from 603,550 in the space of thirty-eight years.

Notwithstanding the amazing increase in some and decrease in other tribes, the same sort of proportion is preserved in the east, west, north, and south divisions, as before so as to keep the division of Judah, which was always in the front or van, the largest; and the division of Dan, which was always in the rear, the next in number. But it is worthy of remark that as they are now, properly speaking, to commence their grand military operations, so their front, or advanced division, is increased from 186,400 to 201,300; and their rear from 157,600 to 163,200. The first division is strengthened 14,900 men, and the last division 5,600 men. The reasons for this are sufficiently obvious.

Mr. Ainsworth has a curious remark on the number of families in the 12 tribes. "Here are families

1. Of Manasseh 8 7. Of Reuben 4
2. Of Benjamin 7 8. Of Issachar 4
3. Of Gad 7 9. Of Ephraim 4
4. Of Simeon 5 10. Of Naphtali 4
5. Of Judah 5 11. Of Zebulun 3
6. Of Asher 5 12. Of Dan 1

"In all 57; to whom if we add the 12 patriarchs, and Jacob their father, the whole number is 70, the exact number of the souls in Jacob's house that went down to Egypt, Genesis 46:27." In a variety of things in this ancient economy there is a most surprising proportion kept up, which never could have been a fortuitous effect of general causes. But proportion, harmony, and order distinguish all the works of God, both in the natural and moral world.

Verse 55

Verse Numbers 26:55. The land shall be divided by lot — The word גורל goral, translated lot, is supposed by some to signify the stone or pebble formerly used for the purpose of what we term casting lots. The word [Anglo-Saxon] hlot is Anglo-Saxon, from [Anglo-Saxon] to divide, or portion out, i. e., fortuitously: it answers to the Greek κληρος, which some think comes from κλαω to break; because the lot, being a sort of appeal to God, ("The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord," Proverbs 16:33,) broke off all contentions and litigations relative to the matter in dispute. From this original division of the promised land by lot to the children of Israel, all portions, appointments, offices, shares, or divisions in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters, were termed lots. So in the New Testament, the word κληρος, lot, is used to signify a portion of spiritual blessedness, and κληρονομια, a division by lot, an inheritance; and κληροι the lotted or appointed persons to different works, shares, c. hence our word clergy, κληροι, persons appointed by lot to a lot, portion, or inheritance; see the case of Matthias, Acts 1:26. Persons thus appointed were by accommodation termed inheritors, because originally, when there could be no claims of exclusive right, all lands where a wandering tribe chose to take up its residence were divided by lot, as the promised land in the case before us. So Judah says to Simeon his brother, Judges 1:3: "Come up with me into my lot." And as God was ever supposed to be the whole disposer in such matters, whatever fell out in the course of God's providence was called a lot. "This is the lot of them that rob us;" Isaiah 17:14. "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter;" Acts 8:21. A lot in the promised land was evidently typical of a place in eternal glory. "That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance (κληρον, a lot) among them that are sanctified;" Acts 26:18. "Who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance, κληρου, of the lot) of the saints in light;" Colossians 1:12. "Which is the earnest of our inheritance, (κληρονομιας, of our allotted portion;") Ephesians 1:4. "What is the riches of the glory of his inheritance," (κληρονομιας, allotted portion;) Ephesians 1:18. As therefore the promised land was divided by lot to the believing Israelites, God determining the lot as he saw good, none of the people having any claim on or right to it; so the kingdom of heaven is a lot given by the mere good will of God to them that believe and obey him; for as unbelief and disobedience threw 600,000 people out of the inheritance of the promised land; so none who disbelieve God's word, and rebel against his authority, shall ever enter into the kingdom of heaven. - See Ainsworth. These things happened unto them for examples: see then, reader, that thou fall not after the same example of unbelief.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/numbers-26.html. 1832.
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