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Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 26

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Israel numbered, such as were fit for war, of every tribe; Levi excepted: their number, Numbers 26:1-51.

The land to be distributed according to their number, Numbers 26:52-56.

The Levites numbered by themselves, because they had no inheritance, Numbers 26:57-62.

All that were numbered by Moses and Aaron at Sinai, save only Caleb and Joshua, died in the wilderness, Numbers 26:63-65.

Verse 1

After the plague, last mentioned, Numbers 25:8,Numbers 25:9.

Eleazar, his father being dead, was high priest.

Verse 2

They were numbered twice before, Exodus 30:11,Exodus 30:12, and Numbers 1:1,Numbers 1:2. Now they are numbered a third time, partly to demonstrate the faithfulness of God, both in cutting all those off whom he had threatened to cut off, Numbers 14:29, and in a stupendous increase and multiplication of the people according to his promise, notwithstanding all their sins, and the sweeping judgments inflicted upon them; and partly to prepare the way for the equal division of the land which they were now going to possess.

Verse 3

In the plains of Moab; see Numbers 22:1; Numbers 33:48

Verse 4

Take the sum of the people: these words are easily supplied and necessarily to be understood from Numbers 26:2.

Verse 7

The families, i.e. the chief houses, which were subdivided into divers lesser families.

Forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty; whereas in their last numbering they were 46,500, Numbers 1:21; for Korah’s conspiracy, as well as other provocations of theirs, had cut off many of them.

Verse 8

Sons for son, of which change of the number see Genesis 12:7; Genesis 46:7

Verse 10

Swallowed them up together with Korah: according to this translation Korah was not consumed by fire with his two hundred and fifty men, Numbers 16:0, but swallowed up by the earth. But others rather think he was devoured by the fire, of which see on Numbers 16:32,Numbers 16:35, and render these words, and the things of Korah, or belonging to Korah, to wit, his tent, and goods, and family, children excepted, as here follows; which interpretation receives strength by comparing this place with Numbers 16:32,

And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them (to wit, Dathan and Abiram, as is manifest from Numbers 26:24,Numbers 26:25,Numbers 26:27) up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah; which variation of the phrase plainly shows that Korah himself was not swallowed up with them, but only his men and his tabernacle, which is mentioned there together with the tabernacles of Dathan and Abiram, Numbers 26:24,Numbers 26:27, but his person is not there mentioned with their persons. Nor is it unusual both in sacred and profane authors, by the name of a man who is the head and master, to understand only his house and family, though himself be not included. But this difficulty may be cleared another way. The Hebrew particle eth may? be here the note of a nominative case, as it is 2 Kings 6:5; Nehemiah 9:19; Jeremiah 38:16; Ezekiel 39:14; Ezekiel 43:7, and there may be a defect of a verb, which is most frequent; and so the place may be rendered thus,

and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, to wit, Dathan and Abiram, Numbers 26:9, and Korah, or, and as for Korah, he died (which verb is easily understood out of the following noun, of which ellipsis there are many instances in Scripture, some whereof have been given before, and more will follow in their places) in the death of that company, or when that company died, what time the fire devoured the two hundred and fifty men. And so this place, and Numbers 16:35, explain one another; and whereas there. is mention only of two hundred and fifty men consumed by that fire, Korah is here added to the number.

They became a sign, i.e. God made them a monument or example, to warn others not to rebel against God nor against magistracy, nor to usurp the priestly office.

Verse 11

God being pleased to spare them, either because they disowned their father’s act, and thereupon separated themselves both from his tent and company, or because Moses interceded for them, or because God would glorify his own free mercy in sparing some, while he punished others, according to his declaration in a like case, Exodus 33:19. Hence the sons of Korah are mentioned 1 Chronicles 6:22,1 Chronicles 6:37, and oft in the book of Psalms.

Verse 12

Nemuel, called Jemuel, Genesis 46:10; Exodus 6:15.

Jachin, called also Jarib, 1 Chronicles 4:24. And such names might be either added or changed upon some special occasion not recorded in Scripture.

Verse 13

Zerah, called also Zohar, Genesis 46:10; Exodus 6:15. There is another of his sons, Ohad, mentioned Genesis 46:10, not here, possibly because his family was extinct before this time.

Verse 14

Whereas there were 35,400 in Numbers 1:23. It is thought the example of Zimri, one of their princes, Numbers 25:0, and some others among them, did infect the generality of the tribe, and so caused this great diminution in their numbers.

Verse 15

Gad is placed next, because he was joined with Reuben and Simeon in the same camp and quarters, Numbers 2:10,Numbers 2:14.

Zephon, called Ziphion, Genesis 46:16.

Verse 16

Ozni, called Ezbon, Genesis 46:16.

Verse 17

Arod, called Arodi, Genesis 46:16

Verse 18

Fewer by above five thousand than there were in their last numbering, Numbers 2:15.

Verse 21

The sons of Pharez, though Judah’s grandchildren, are here mentioned among his sons, because they are put in the stead of Er and Onan, which died before.

Verse 22

About two thousand more than they were Numbers 1:27; whereas the foregoing tribes were all diminished, this tribe was now increased, and the blessing promised to that tribe above the rest, Genesis 49:8, doth herein begin to show itself.

Verse 23

Pua, called also Phuvah, Genesis 46:13; as his brother Jashub, Numbers 26:24, is called Job, Genesis 46:13.

Verse 25

A great increase. Compare Numbers 2:6.

Verse 27

Whereas before they were but 57,400 in Numbers 1:31; Numbers 2:8. So that Judah’s camp was much increased, as Reuben’s was much diminished.

Verse 29

Gilead is here mentioned as Machir’s only son, and therefore some conceive that the family of the Machirites, and of the Gileadites, are one and the same family, only called by two names; first Machirites, but afterwards Gileadites. Others make them distinct families, because Machir had other children, Genesis 1:23; 1 Chronicles 7:14-16, which are called by their father’s name, Machirites, whereas the children of his eldest son Gilead are called by his name, Gileadites. But though Machir had other children, it seems they and their posterity were extinct at this time, and that Machir alone was left and his posterity, as may be gathered by comparing this and the following verses with Joshua 17:1-3; 1 Chronicles 7:14-19.

Verse 30

Jeezer, called also Abiezer, Joshua 17:2; Judges 6:11,Judges 6:34; 1 Chronicles 7:18.

Verse 34

Whereas they were but 32,200 in Numbers 1:35. So they are now increased above 50,000, according to that prophecy, Genesis 49:22.

Verse 35

Becher, called also Bered, 1 Chronicles 7:20.

Verse 36

Eran, called Edan or Laadan, 1 Chronicles 7:26; the letters daleth and resh being alike in the Hebrew tongue, and therefore oft changed, as is evident from Scripture instances.

Verse 38

The sons of Benjamin were ten, Genesis 46:21, whereof only five are here mentioned, the rest probably, together with their families, being extinct ere this time.

Ashbel, called also Jediael, 1 Chronicles 7:6. Ahiram, called also Aharah, 1 Chronicles 8:1 and Ehi, Genesis 46:21.

Verse 39

Shupham, called also Shuppim, 1 Chronicles 7:12, and Muppim, Genesis 46:21.

Hupham, called Huppim, Genesis 46:21; 1 Chronicles 7:12.

Verse 40

Ard, or Arde, and by transposition, Addar, 1 Chronicles 8:3.

Verse 42

Shuham, called, by transposition, Hushim, Genesis 46:23.

After their families; the greater families subdivided into lesser families.

Verse 43

All from one son and family; whereas of Benjamin, who had ten sons, and here five families, there were only 45,600, to show that the increase of families depends singly upon God’s blessing and good pleasure.

Verse 44

Of Jesui, called Isui, Genesis 46:17, where also there is another son of Asher named, to wit, Ishuah, whose family seems now to be lost.

Verse 46

Who seems to be here mentioned because she was a woman of masculine wisdom, or courage, or other virtue.

Verse 47

Whereas they were only 41,500 in Numbers 1:41.

Verse 51

Very nigh as many as there were before, Numbers 1:46. So wisely and marvellously did God at the same time manifest his justice in cutting off so vast a number, and his mercy in giving such a speedy and numerous supply, and his truth in both.

Verse 53

Unto these; to these families now mentioned.

The land shall be divided, by lot, Numbers 26:55. The land was divided into nine parts and a half, respect being had in such division to the goodness as well as to the largeness of the several portions, and the lot gave each tribe their part.

Of names, i.e. of the persons, names being oft put for persons, as Acts 1:15; Philippians 2:9; Revelation 3:4; Revelation 11:13. The meaning is, that the share of each tribe was divided amongst the several families, to some more, to some less, according to the number of the persons of each family, Numbers 33:54. And withal, if one of the lots or portions proved too large or too little for all the families and persons of that tribe, in this case they might either give part of their portion to another tribe, as Simeon and Dan had parts of Judah’s share, Joshua 19:1,Joshua 19:40, or take away a part from the portion belonging to another tribe.

Verse 54

Thou shalt give; thou, Moses, partly by thyself, for he divided the land beyond Jordan to the two tribes and a half; and partly by thy successor Joshua, whom thou shalt empower and command to do it.

According to those that were numbered of him; according to the number of the families and persons now numbered, and being twenty years old, no regard being to be had either to any increase of the number by those who came up to that age between this time and the division of the land, or to the diminution of this number by the sword of Canaanites or otherwise.

Verse 55

By lot; which lots seem to have been cast only for the tribes, not, as some would have it, for the several families, for the distribution of it to them was left to the ruler’s wisdom, according to the rule now given, Numbers 26:54. Yet if any lot was too large for the tribe, they might give up part of their right to others, with the ruler’s consent, as Judah gave a share to Simeon and to Dan within his lot.

According to the names of the tribes, i.e. the lots shall go under the names of each tribe or each patriarch.

Verse 56

i.e. That share which shall by lot fall to each tribe, shall be distributed to the several families and persons in such proportions as their numbers shall require.

Verse 58

The families of the Levites are here numbered by themselves, because they were not to have a distinct share of the land, whence it is that they are not so distinctly and exactly mentioned as the other tribes, but confusedly and imperfectly, some of them being wholly omitted here. See Exodus 6:17-19.

Verse 59

Her mother, to wit, Levi’s wife, which must necessarily be understood.

Verse 62

Twenty and three thousand; one thousand more than they were Numbers 3:39. The reason of which different way of numbering, see on Numbers 3:15.

Verse 65

There was not left a man of them, to wit, of those who then murmured and rebelled against God, as plainly appears, both because this threatening and punishment is confined to those transgressors, and because otherwise this had not been true; for of those that were then numbered there were now left Eleazar and Ithamar, and possibly many of the Levites, and some others, who being not guilty of that sin, did not partake of their judgment. Caleb and Joshua are mentioned here, as also Numbers 14:0, not by way of exception, as if these were murmurers, which is utterly denied, Numbers 14:24, but by way of opposition, to signify that they, though they were two of the spies, and companions of them who were the chief authors and ringleaders of that mutiny, yet they kept themselves from their sin, and therefore God kept them from their plague and destruction, as also he did some others for the same reason.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 26". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/numbers-26.html. 1685.
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