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the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 27

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5


Verses 1-5:

This text agrees with Nu 26:29-33 and Jos 17:3, regarding the offspring of Zelophehad. He died leaving no sons to carry on his family lineage. His five daughters came before Moses and Eleazar and the magistrates of Israel, with a petition that they be granted their father’s territorial rights among his brethren, when the Land was apportioned to the tribes.

Zelophehad apparently died from natural causes in the wilderness. His daughters affirmed his innocence of complicity in the rebellion of Korah, to allay any suspicion that his death without leaving a male heir was the result of this sin. Their concern was that their father’s name not be lost from Israel’s history.

This was the first such incident to be brought before Israel’s governing body. No precedent was extant to govern its settlement. Moses postponed action on the request, to consult the Lord for disposition.

This illustrates a need for today: when a problem has no known precedent, one should wait upon the Lord for clear direction.

Verses 6-11

Verses 6-11:

This text establishes the Mosaic law of succession. The land was to remain in the possession of the family to which it was allocated in the original land grant. If a man died without leaving a male heir, his daughter(s) would inherit his estate. If the daughter married, her husband would represent the father, and in some cases take her name and be counted as one of the father’s family.

If one died childless, the title passed to his next of kin.

This became a statute which determined the legal right of succession in Israel.

Verses 12-14

Verses 12-14:

It is not possible to determine the exact chronology of the events in the closing chapters of this book. This summons was prior to Moses’ final charge to Joshua, and his last address to Israel, De 31:1-8. There appears to have been a brief interval between this summons to die and the actual event itself.

"Mount Abarim," apparently refers to the mountain range behind Arboth Moab. Its northern portion was opposite to Jericho, and was called Mount Pisgah, Nu 21:20; De 3:27.

The highest peak of the range was called Mount Nebo, De 32:39; 34:1, deriving its name from a nearby city, Nu 33:47.

God had earlier informed Moses that he would not be allowed to lead Israel into the Land, Nu 20:12. The reason: Moses’ disobedience in striking the rock at Meribah. But God allowed him to look over Jordan into the Land, and see its beauty, possibly in answer to prayer, De 3:25-27.

Verses 15-17

Verses 15-17:

Moses offered no complaint at God’s judgment of the consequences of his sin. His concern was not for himself, but for the welfare of Israel. He asked that God provide a faithful man who would take his place as Israel’s leader.

"Go in and out" refers to the daily duties of leadership, see De 31:2; Jos 14:11. the imagery is that of a shepherd, who tends and directs and protects his flock. This is the manner of governmental and spiritual leadership.

Sheep without a shepherd are bewildered and helpless. This is a fitting symbol of the condition of people without spiritual leadership. It is a familiar figure in Scripture, 1 Kings 22:17; Eze 34:5; Zec 10:2; Mt 9:36.

Verses 18-23

Verses 18-23:

Joshua was one of the two faithful spies who urged Israel to move into the Land when Israel first came to Kadesh-Barnea, Nu 13, and 14. He and Caleb were the only two of the men of Israel twenty years old and upward at that time who were allowed to enter Canaan.

Also, Joshua had been Moses’ personal assistant, since the time Israel left Egypt, see Ex 17:13, 14; 24:13; 32:17; 33:11; Nu 13:8, 16; 14:30, 38; 32:12. These references show that he was also a capable and proven warrior. His experience in battle and his close association with Moses made him uniquely qualified to succeed Moses as Israel’s leader.

Another important factor in Joshua’s appointment: his spiritual qualifications. He was filled with and directed by the Holy Spirit, verse 18.

God instructed Moses to present Joshua before Eleazar the high priest, then before "all the congregation" and announce that he was the Divine choice to succeed Moses as Israel’s leader.

The laying on of hands was that Joshua might receive the gift of wisdom, to enable him to fulfill his office, see De 34:9. It also served as a public notice of the transfer of authority from Moses to Joshua.

Eleazar was to seek counsel of the Lord "after the judgment of Urim," on behalf of Joshua, see Ex 28:30; Le 8:8. Scripture gives no details of how this was to be done, nor of its results.

"Charge," tsavah, "command," also translated "give a commandment." The text does not give the content of this charge.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 27". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/numbers-27.html. 1985.
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