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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 27

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2552. B.C. 1452.

The case of Zelophehad’s daughters determined, Numbers 27:1-11 . Notice given to Moses of his death, Numbers 27:12-14 . His successor provided, Numbers 27:15-23 .

Verse 2

Numbers 27:2. Before the princes By princes, it seems, are meant the heads of the tribes, or the highest of the judges appointed Exodus 18:25, called there the heads of the people; and by all the congregation is intended the seventy elders or representatives of the people, Numbers 11:24. At the head of all these sat Moses, and next to him the high-priest. By the door of the tabernacle Nigh unto which, it appears, was the place where Moses and the chief rulers assembled for the administration of public affairs. This was very convenient, because they had frequent occasion of having recourse to God for his direction.

Verse 3

Numbers 27:3. But died in his own sin The sin for which he alone was to suffer in his person, and not in his posterity, meaning, as some think, that incredulity for which all that generation was sentenced to die in the wilderness; and which, though, with respect to the rest of the people, it was not merely his own sin, since they were generally alike guilty; yet with respect to his children it was his own sin, a personal guilt, which God himself had declared should not affect his children, Numbers 14:31.

But, perhaps, by his dying in his own sin, we are only to understand that he died by a common ordinary death, not such a one as they shared who were partakers of the guilt of Korah and his companions.

Verse 4

Numbers 27:4. Be done away As it will be, if it be not preserved by an inheritance given to us in his name and for his sake. Hence some gather, that the first son of each of these heiresses was called by their father’s name, by virtue of that law, (Deuteronomy 25:6,) by which the brother’s first son was to bear the name of his elder brother, whose widow he married. Give us a possession In the land of Canaan, upon the division of it, which, though not yet conquered, they concluded would certainly be so, and thereby they gave glory to God.

Verse 7

Numbers 27:7. Cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them They were to enjoy what would have fallen to their father’s share, had he been alive; because they stood in his place, and represented his person. Accordingly they had their portion in the land, Joshua 17:1-3, &c.

Verses 10-11

Numbers 27:10-11. No brethren Nor sisters, as appears from Numbers 27:8. A statute of judgment A standing law or rule, whereby to judge of succession to inheritances in all future times, and whereby the magistrates should give judgment in such cases.

Verse 12

Numbers 27:12. Abarim The whole tract of mountains was called Abarim, whereof one of the highest was called Nebo, and the top of that Pisgah.

Verse 13

Numbers 27:13. Thou shalt be gathered unto thy people Moses must die; but death does not cut him off; it only gathers him to his people, brings him to rest with the holy patriarchs that were gone before him. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were his people, the people of his choice, and to them death gathered him.

Verse 15

Numbers 27:15. And Moses spake unto the Lord Concerning his successor.

We should concern ourselves both in our prayers and in our endeavours for the rising generation, that God’s kingdom may be advanced among men, when we are in our graves.

Verse 16

Numbers 27:16. The God of the spirits of all flesh God of all men; the Searcher of spirits, that knowest who is fit for this great employment; the Father, and Giver, and Governor of spirits, who canst raise and suit the spirits of men to the highest and hardest works.

Verse 17

Numbers 27:17. Go out before them That is, who may wisely conduct them in all their affairs, both when they go forth to war, or upon other occasions, and when they return home and live in peace. A metaphor from shepherds, who in those places used not to go behind their sheep, as ours now do, but before them, and to lead them forth to their pasture, and, in due time, to lead them home again.

Verse 18

Numbers 27:18. In whom is the spirit Or spiritual endowments from the Holy Ghost; for it is by the influence of the Spirit of God that all good gifts are communicated to the sons of men. It particularly means here, the spirit of wisdom, courage, and the fear of God, with other gifts necessary for a well-qualified governor. Hence Joshua is said to have been full of the spirit of wisdom, Deuteronomy 34:9. Lay thy hand upon him By which ceremony Moses did both design the person and confer the power, and by his prayers, which accompanied that rite, obtain from God all the spiritual gifts and graces necessary for his future employment.

Verse 19

Numbers 27:19. Before all the congregation That they may be witnesses of the whole action, and may acknowledge him for their supreme ruler. Give him charge Thou shalt give him counsels and instructions for the right management of that great trust.

Verse 20

Numbers 27:20. Put some of thine honour upon him That is, communicate some of thy authority to him at present; no longer use him as a servant, but as a brother, and as thy associate in the government. This was enjoined in order that the people, being used to obey him while Moses lived, might do it afterward the more cheerfully.

Verse 21

Numbers 27:21. Who shall ask counsel for him When he requires him so to do, and in important and difficult matters. From this and similar passages, it appears that the authority of the judge, or chief magistrate in Israel, however great, was not arbitrary, since in great emergencies he was obliged to have recourse to the high-priest, who was to ask counsel for him at the oracle. And some weighty matters were proposed to the congregation and princes, or senate of Israel, for their consent or decision. After the judgment of Urim It appears from several passages, particularly 1 Samuel 14:18; 1Sa 23:2 ; 1 Samuel 28:6; 1 Samuel 30:7; 2 Samuel 5:19, that the high-priest, in consulting the oracle, was clothed with the ephod, or the sacerdotal vestment, to which belonged the breast- plate, and the Urim and Thummim. Thus, when David wanted to consult the oracle, he said to the priest, Bring hither the ephod: see 1 Samuel 30:7. In this and other places God is said to have answered him, but in what manner we are not told, only it appears to have been by a voice, 1 Samuel 30:3. But who uttered that voice, is a question. Spencer is of opinion that it was God himself, or an angel acting by commission from God. Le Clerc again contends that it was the high-priest himself that pronounced the words, but that he spake by divine inspiration: see on Exodus 28:30. At his word shall they go out, &c. That is, at the word of the Lord, delivered by the mouth of the priest. This shows the nature of the Jewish government, and that it is not without reason called a theocracy, or divine government; since no enterprise of moment was to be undertaken without first consulting the oracle of God by the priest. However, this is to be understood principally of their going out, or not going out, to war; upon which occasion chiefly the oracle was consulted, especially to know the event of it: see Judges 1:1; Judges 20:18; 1 Samuel 14:18; 1 Samuel 28:6. We may observe, that though Joshua was greatly inferior to Moses in this respect, he generally consulted God by the high- priest; whereas Moses had immediate access to God himself, and spake with him face to face; (Deuteronomy 34:10;) yet God sometimes vouchsafed the same honour to Joshua, and spake to him without the mediation of the priest: see Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:1; Joshua 4:15; Joshua 5:13.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 27". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/numbers-27.html. 1857.
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