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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 27

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-11

Another census (26:1-27:11)

About forty years previously Moses had taken a census of those available for military service (see 1:1-54). But all who at the time of that census were twenty years of age or older had since died (except Joshua and Caleb) and a new generation had grown up. A new census was now taken for the double purpose of determining the military strength for the attack on Canaan and making arrangements for the division of the land (26:1-51).
The area of land to be given to each tribe was to be in proportion to the population of the tribe, but the locality of each tribe within Canaan was to be decided by drawing lots (52-56). The Levites were numbered separately. Males were counted from one month old, not from twenty years old as in the case of the other tribes, because the Levites did not do military service and did not have a tribal area as the other tribes (57-62). The new census confirmed that all the adults whose names were listed in the first census were now dead (63-65).
Each tribal area was divided among the families of the tribe according to the male descendants. A case arose where five sisters were left with no family inheritance (i.e. portion of land), because their father had died and they had no brothers whose inheritance they could share (27:1-4). Moses brought the case to God and received the instruction that where a man had no son, his inheritance could pass to his daughters. If he had no children at all, it could pass to his nearest living relative (5-11).

Verses 12-23

Joshua chosen as Moses’ successor (27:12-23)

Although God would not allow Moses to enter the promised land, he would allow him to see it from a mountain on the other side of the river before he died (12-14). (The place of his death would be Mount Nebo in the Moabite hill country of Abarim; Deuteronomy 32:49-50.) Moses showed no bitterness when reminded of this divine judgment upon him; he was concerned only that Israel have the leader of God’s choice to replace him. God’s choice was Joshua, though Joshua would not have the absolute authority that Moses had. Moses spoke to God face to face, but from now on the civil leadership and the religious leadership would be separated. Joshua would receive God’s instructions through the high priest (15-23).

It was, in fact, some weeks before Moses died (see Deuteronomy 32:48-52; Deuteronomy 34:1-8), and in the meantime he had much instruction to pass on to Israel. This is recorded in the remaining chapters of Numbers and in Deuteronomy.

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Numbers 27". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/numbers-27.html. 2005.
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