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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Numbers 27

Verses 1-23

Numbers 27:21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.

Numbers 27:21 Word Study on “the Urim and Thummim” The Hebrew word “urim” (H224) literally means “lights,” or “revelation.” The Hebrew word “thummim” (H8550) literally means “perfection,” or “truth.”

Numbers 27:21 Comments - The Urim and Thummim were stones kept in a pouch on the high-priest’s breastplate, used in determining God's decision in certain questions and issues. Adam Clarke cites the Latin poet Ovid, who writes of just such a casting of stones. In the ancient custom of casting lots, two stones of black and white were used in casting a vote. The white stone was a symbol of good fortune or of innocence while the black stone symbolized bad luck or guilt.

“It was the custom in ancient times to use white and black pebbles, the black for condemning prisoners and the white for freeing them from the charge. At this time also the fatal vote was taken in this way; and every pebble that was dropped into the pitiless urn was black! But when the urn was turned and the pebbles poured out for counting, the colour of them all was changed from black to white; and so, by the will of Hercules, the vote was made favourable, and Alemon's son was freed.” ( Metamorphoses 15.41) [35]

[35] Ovid, Metamorphoses, vol. 2, trans. Frank J. Miller, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1958), 367-368. See Adam Clarke, Revelation, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Revelation 2:17.

Listed are all uses of the Urim and Thummim in the Holy Bible:

Exodus 28:30, “And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim ; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.”

Leviticus 8:8, “And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the

breastplate the Urim and the Thummim .”

Numbers 27:21, “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.”

Deuteronomy 33:8, “And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;”

1 Samuel 28:6, “And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim , nor by prophets.”

Ezra 2:63, “And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim .”

Nehemiah 7:65, “And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim .”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Numbers 27". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/numbers-27.html. 2013.