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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 36

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-13

Numbers 36:1-13

Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.

The law for the marriage of heiresses

The case stated (Numbers 36:1-4). These proceedings of the heads of this family were orderly, respectful, reasonable, and commendable.

The case adjudicated (Numbers 36:5-9).

1. The righteousness of the case was acknowledged.

2. The difficulty of the case was removed.

3. The decision in this case was made the law for all similar cases.

4. The decision of this case was of Divine authority.

The adjudication acted upon (Numbers 36:10-12). “They married their father’s brothers’ sons. By this it, appears,” says Matthew Henry--

1. That the marriage of cousin-germans is not in itself unlawful, nor within the degrees prohibited, for then God would not haw countenanced these marriages. But--

2. That ordinarily it is not advisable; for, if there had not been a particular reason for it (which cannot hold in any case now, inheritances being not disposed of as then by the special designation of Heaven), they would not have married such near relations. The world is wide, and he that walks uprightly will endeavour to walk surely.” (W. Jones.)


1. That marriage is a Divine institution.

2. That the obligations involved in marriage are binding and sacred.

That persons should not be coerced in marriage.

1. Personal choice as opposed to compulsion.

2. Personal affection as opposed to mere convenience.

That there are important considerations which should regulate the choice in respect to marriage.

1. As to property.

2. As to consanguinity.

3. As to health.

4. As to suitability.

5. As to character. (W. Jones.)

Sensible marriage

No laws, however excellent, express, or multiplied, can reach every particular case which may arise; and still room will be left for the exercise of sound judgment and common sense. But when these are regulated according to the true meaning of the Word of God, and in dependence on Divine teaching, they will guide us through all perplexities, as far as our immediate duty is concerned. Yet the Lord frequently leaves us to feel our difficulties, that we may be habituated to reflect to search the Scriptures, and to trust Him more simply. All our inclinations ought to be subjected to the will of God: and in contracting marriage, future consequences to posterity, as well as to ourselves and our connections, should be taken into consideration. The Scriptures indeed suppose that esteem, affection, and preference are requisite in this important relation: but they know nothing of that irrational, ungovernable, and idolatrous passion, which, regardless of all consequences, and in defiance all authority, rushes headlong upon gratification; which is neither moderated by discretion, nor subordinated to the will of God; which is not rational esteem, nor tender friendship, nor congenial affection, but something vastly more rapturous, unintelligible, and undefinable: and which, with all its refinements, is inconsistent with common sense, the interests of society, the happiness of domestic life, and the Christian religion. Finally, though it is prudent to foresee and prevent disputes about temporal property, it would be better if we were equally quicksighted and attentive in respect of our spiritual and eternal interests. But “the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” (Thomas Scott.)

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Numbers 36". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/numbers-36.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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