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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 27

The Expositor's Bible CommentaryThe Expositor's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-23


Numbers 26:1-65; Numbers 27:1-23

THE numbering at Sinai before the sojourn in the Desert of Paran has its counterpart in the numbering now recorded. In either case those reckoned are the men able to go forth to war, from twenty years old and upward. Once, an easy entrance into the land of promise may have been expected; but that dream has long passed away. Now the Israelites are made clearly to understand that the last effort will require the whole warlike energy they can summon, the best courage of every one who can handle sword or spear. There has been hitherto comparatively little fighting. The Amalekites at an early stage, afterwards the Amorites and the Bashanites, have had to be attacked. Now, however, the serious strife is to begin. Peoples long established in Canaan have to be assailed and dispossessed. Let the number of capable men be reckoned that there may be confidence for the advance.

Nothing is to be won without energy, courage, unity, wise preparation and adjustment of means to ends. True, the battle is the Lord’s and He can give victory to the few over the many, to the feeble over the strong. But not even in the case of Israel are the ordinary laws suspended. This people has an advantage in its faith. That is enough to support the army in the coming struggle; and the Israelites must make Canaan theirs by force of arms. For, surely, in a sense, there is right on the other side, the right of prior possession at least. The Canaanites, Hittites, Jebusites, Hivites have tilled the land, planted vineyards, built cities, and fulfilled, so far, their mission in the world. They, indeed, never feel themselves secure. Often one tribe falls on the territory of another, and takes possession. The right to the soil has to be continually guarded by military power and courage. It is not wonderful to Amorites that another race should attempt the conquest of their land. But it would be strange, humanly speaking impossible, that a weaker, less capable people should master those who are presently in occupation.

By the great laws that govern human development, the dominant laws of God we may call them, this could not be. Israel must show itself powerful, must prove the right of might, otherwise it shall not even yet obtain the inheritance it has long been desiring. The might of some nations is purely that of animal physique and dogged determination. Others rise higher in virtue of their intellectual vigour, splendid discipline, and ingenious appliances. Man for man, Israelites should be a match for any people, bet cause there is trust in Jehovah, and hope in His promise. Now the trial of battle is to be made; the Hebrews are to realise that they will need all their strength.

Do we ever imagine that the law of endeavour shall be relaxed for us, either in the physical or in the spiritual region? Is it supposed that at some point, when after struggling through the wilderness we have but a narrow stream between us and the coveted inheritance, the object of our desire shall be bestowed in harmony with some other law, having been procured by other efforts than our own? Thinking so, we only dream. What we gain by our endeavour-physical, intellectual, spiritual-can alone become a real possession. The future discipline of humanity is misunderstood, the forecast is altogether wrong, when this is not comprehended. In this world we have that for which we labour; nothing more. So-called properties and domains do not belong to their nominal owners, who have merely "inherited." The literature of a country does not belong to those who possess books in which it is contained; it is the domain of men and women who have toiled for every ell and inch of ground. And spiritually, while all is the gift of God, all has to be won by efforts of the soul. Before humanity lies a Canaan, a Paradise. But no easy way of acquisition shall ever be found, no other way indeed than has all along been followed. The men of God able to go forth to war need to be numbered and brought under discipline for the conquests that remain. And what is yet to be won by moral courage and devotion to the highest shall have to be kept in like manner.

The second numbering of the people showed that a new generation filled the ranks. Plagues that swept away thousands, or the slow, sure election of death, had taken all who left Egypt excepting a few. It was the same Israel, yet another. Is, then, the nation of account, and not the individuals who compose it? Perhaps the two numberings may be intended to guard us against this error; at all events, we may take them so. Man by man, the host was reckoned at Sinai; man by man it is reckoned again in the plains of Moab. There were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty: there are six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty. The numberings by the command of Jehovah could not but mean that His eye was upon each. And when the new race looked back along the wilderness way, each group remembering its own graves over which the sand of the desert was blown, there might at least be the thought that God also remembered, and that the mouldering dust of those who, despite their transgression, had been brave and loving and honest, was in His keeping. Israel was experiencing a singular break in its history. It would begin its new career in Canaan without memorials, except that cave at Machpelah where, centuries before, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, had been buried, and the field at Shechem where the body of Joseph was laid. No graves but these would be the monuments of Israel. In Jehovah, the Ancient of Days, lay the history, with Him the career of the tribes.

The past receding, the future advancing, and God the sole abiding link between them. For us, as for Israel, notwithstanding all our care of the monuments and gains of the past, that is the one sustaining faith; and it is adequate, inspiring. The swift decay of life, the constant flux of humanity, would be our despair if we had not God.

"Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as asleep: In the morning they are like grass which groweth up, In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; In the evening it is cut down and withereth."

So the "Prayer of Moses the man of God," under the saddening thought of mortality. But God is "from everlasting to everlasting," "the dwelling place of His people in all generations." The life that begins in the Divine will, and enjoys its day under the Divine care, blends with the current, yet is not absorbed. A generation or a people lives only as the men and women that compose it live. Such is the final judgment, Christ’s judgment, by which all providence is to be interpreted. An Israelite might enter much into the national hope, and to some extent forget himself for the sake of it. But his proper life was never in that forgetfulness: it was always in personal energy of will and soul that contributed to the nation’s strength and progress. The tribes, Reuben, Simeon, Judah, and the rest, are mustered. But the men make the tribes, give them quality, value; or rather, of the men, those who are brave, faithful, and true.

That each life is a fact in the Eternal overflowing Life, conscious of all-in this there is comfort for us who are numbered among the millions, with no particular claim to reminiscence, and aware, at any rate, that when a few years pass the world will forget us. In vain the most of us seek a niche in the Valhalla of the race, or the record of a single line in the history of our time. Whatever our suffering or achieving, are we not doomed to oblivion? The grave-yard will keep our dust, the memorial stone will preserve our names-but for how long? Until in the evolutions that are to come the ploughshare of a covetous age tears up the soil we imagine to be consecrated for ever. But there is a memory that does not grow old, in which for good or evil we are enshrined. "We all live unto God." The Divine consciousness of us is our strength and hope. It alone keeps the soul from despair-or, if the life has not been in faith, stings with a desperate reassurance. Does God remember us with the love He beareth to His own? In any case each human life is held in an abiding consciousness, a purpose which is eternal.

The page of Israel’s history, we are reading preserves many names. It is in outline a genealogy of the tribes. Reuben’s sons are Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, Carmi. The son of Pallu is Eliab. The sons of Eliab are Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. And of Dathan and Abiram we are reminded that they strove against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah; and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up. The judgment of evildoers is commemorated. The rest have their praise in this alone, that they held aloof from the sin. Turn to other tribes, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, for instance, and in the case of each the names of those who were heads of families are given. In the First Book of Chronicles the genealogy is extended, with various details of settlement and history. In what are we to find the explanation of this attempt to preserve the lineage of families, and the ancestral names? If the progenitors were great men distinguished by heroism, or by faith, the pride of the descendants might have a show of reason. Or again, if the families had kept the pure Hebrew descent we should be able to understand. But no greatness is assigned to the heads of families, not a single mark of achievement or distinction. And the Israelites did not preserve their purity of race. In Canaan, as we learn from the Book of Judges, they "dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods". {Judges 3:5-6}

The sole reason we can find for these records is the consciousness of a duty which the Israelites felt; but did not always perform-to keep themselves separate as Jehovah’s people. In the more energetic minds, through all national defection and error, that consciousness survived. And it served its end. The Bene-Israel, tracing their descent through the heads of families and tribes to Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, realised their distinctness from other races and entered upon a unique destiny which is not yet fulfilled. It is a singular testimony to what on the human side appears as an idea, a sentiment; to what on the Divine side is a purpose running through the ages. Because of this human sentiment and this Divine purpose, the former maintained apparently by the pride of race, by genealogies, by traditions often singularly unspiritual, but really by the over-ruling providence of God, Israel became unique, and filled an extraordinary place among the nations. Many things co-operated to make her a people regarding whom it could be said: "Israel never stood quietly by to see the world badly governed, under the authority of a God reputed to be just. Her sages burned with anger over the abuses of the world. A bad man, dying old, rich, and at ease, kindled their fury; and the prophets in the ninth century B.C. elevated this idea to the height of a dogma. The childhood of the elect is full of signs and prognostics, which are only recognised afterwards." A race may treasure its ancient records and venerated names to little purpose, may preserve them with no other result than to mark its own degeneracy and failure. Israel did not. The Unseen King of this people so ordered their history that greater and still greater names were added to the rolls of their leaders, heroes, and prophets, until the Shiloh came.

By the computations that survive, a diminished yet not greatly diminished number of fighting men was reckoned in the plains of Moab. Some tribes had fallen away considerably, others had increased; Simeon notably among the former, Judah and Manasseh among the latter. The causes of diminution and increase alike are purely conjectural. Simeon may have beer involved in the sin of Baal-peor more than the others and suffered proportionately. Yet we cannot suppose that, on the whole, character had much to do with numerical strength. Assuming the transgressions of which the history informs us and the punishments that followed them, we must believe that the tribes were on much the same moral plane. In the natural course of things there would have been a considerable increase in the numbers of men. The hardships and judgments of the desert and the defection of some by the way are general causes of diminution. We have also seen reason to believe that a proportion, not perhaps very great, remained at Kadesh, and did not take the journey round Edom. It is certainly worthy of notice with regard to Simeon that the final allocation of territory gave to this tribe the district in which Kadesh was situated. The small increase of the tribe of Levi is another fact shown by the second census; and we remember that Simeon and Levi were brethren (Genesis 49:5).

The numbering in the plains of Moab is connected in Numbers 26:54 with the division of the land among the tribes. "To the more thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to the fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one according to those that were numbered of him shall his inheritance be given." The principle of allocation is obvious and just. No doubt the comparative value of different parts of Canaan was to be taken into account. There were fertile plains on the one hand, barren highlands on the other. These reckoned for, the greater the tribe the larger was to be the district assigned to it. An elementary rule; but how has it been set aside! Vast districts of Great Britain are almost without inhabitants; others are overcrowded. An even distribution of people over the land capable of tillage is necessary to the national health. In no sense can it be maintained that good comes of concentrating population in immense cities. But the policy of proprietors is not more at fault than the ignorant rush of those who desire the comforts and opportunities of town life.

The twenty-seventh chapter is partly occupied with the details of a case which raised a question of inheritance. Five daughters of one Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh appealed to Moses on the ground that they were the representatives of the household, having no brother. Were they to have no possession because they were women? Was the name of their father to be taken away because he had no son? It was not to be supposed that the want of male descendants had been a judgment on their father. He had died in the wilderness, but not as a rebel against Jehovah, like those who were in the company of Korah. He had "died in his own sins." They petitioned for an inheritance among the brethren of their father.

The claim of these women appears natural if the right of heirship is acknowledged in any sense, with this reservation, however, that women might not be able properly to cultivate the land, and could not do much in the way of defending it. And these, for the time, were considerations of no small account. The five sisters may of course have been ready to undertake all that was necessary as occupiers of a farm, and no doubt they reckoned on marriage. But the original qualification that justified heirship of land was ability to use the resources of the inheritance and take part in all national duties. The decision in this case marks the beginning of another conception - that of the personal development of women. The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad was allowed, with the result that they found themselves called to the cultivation of mind and life in a manner which would not otherwise have been open to them. They received by the judgment here recorded a new position of responsibility as well as privilege. The law founded on their case must have helped to make the women of Israel intellectually and morally vigorous.

The rules of inheritance among an agricultural people, exposed to hostile incursions, must, like that of Numbers 27:8, assume the right of sons in preference to daughters; but under modern social conditions there are no reasons for any such preference, except indeed the sentiment of family, and the maintenance of titles of rank. But the truth is that inheritance, so-called, is every year becoming of less moral account as compared with the acquisitions that are made by personal industry and endeavour. Property is only of value as it is a means to the enlargement and fortifying of the individual life. The decision on behalf of the daughters of Zelophehad was of importance for what it implied rather than for what it actually gave. It made possible that dignity and power which we see illustrated in the career of Deborah, whose position as a "mother in Israel" does not seem to have depended much, if at all, on any accident of inheritance; it was reached by the strength of her character and the ardour of her faith.

The generation that came from Egypt has passed away, and now {Numbers 27:12} Moses himself receives his call. He is to ascend the mountain of Abarim and look forth over the land Israel is to inhabit; then he is to be gathered to his people. He is reminded of the sin by which Aaron and he dishonoured God when they failed to sanctify Him at the waters of Meribah. The burden of the Book of Numbers is revealed. The brooding sadness which lies on the whole narrative is not cast by human mortality but by moral transgression and defect. There is judgment for revolt, as of those who followed Korah. There are men who like Zelophehad die "in their own sins," filling up the time allowed to imperfect obedience and faith, the limit of existence that fails short of the glory of God. And Moses, whose life is lengthened that his honourable task may be fully done, must all the more conspicuously pay the penalty of his high misdemeanour. With the goal of Israel’s great destiny in view the narrative moves from shadow to shadow. Here and throughout, this is a characteristic of Old Testament history. And the shadows deepen as they rest on lives more capable of noble service, more guilty in their disbelief and defiance of Jehovah.

The rebuke which darkens over Moses at the close and lies on his grave does not obscure the greatness of the man; nor have all the criticisms of the history in which he plays so great a part overclouded his personality. The opening of Israel’s career may not now seem so marvellous in a sense as once it seemed, nor so remote from the ordinary course of Providence. Development is found where previously the complete law, institution, or system appeared to burst at once into maturity. But the features of a man look clearly forth on us from the Pentateuehal narrative; and the story of the life is so coherent as to compel a belief in its veracity, which at the same time is demanded by the circumstances of Israel. A beginning there must have been, in the line which the earliest prophets continued, and that beginning in a single mind, a single will. The Moses of these books of the exodus is one who could have unfolded the ideas from which the nationality of Israel sprang: a man of smaller mind would have made a people of more ordinary frame. Institutions that grow in the course of centuries may reflect their perfected form on the story of their origin; it is, however, certain this cannot be true of a faith. That does not develop. What it is at its birth it continues to be; or, if a change takes place, it will be to the loss of definiteness and power. Kuenen himself makes the three universal religions to be Judaism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity. The analogy of the two latter is conclusive with regard to the first-that Moses was the author of Israel’s faith in Jehovah.

And this involves much, both with regard to the human characteristics and the Divine inspiration of the founder, much that an after-age would have been utterly incapable of imagining. When we find a life depicted in these Penta-teuchal narratives, corresponding in all its features with the place that has to be filled, revealing one who, under the conditions of Israel’s nativity, might have made a way for it into sustaining faith, it is not difficult to accept the details in their substance. The records are certainly not Moses’ own. They are exoteric, now from the people’s point of view, now from that of the priests. But they present with wonderful fidelity and power what in the life of the founder went to stamp his faith on the national mind. And the marvellous thing is that the shadows as well as the lights in the biography serve this great end. The gloom that falls at Meribah and rests on Nebo tells of the character of Jehovah, bears witness to the Supreme Royalty which Moses lived and laboured to exalt. A living God, righteous and faithful, gracious to them that trusted and served Him, who also visited iniquity-such was the Jehovah between whom and Israel Moses stood as mediator, such the Jehovah by whose command he was to ascend the height of Abarim to die.

To die, to be gathered to his people-and what then? It is at death we reckon up the account and estimate the value and power of faith. Has it made a man ready for his change, ripened his character, established his work on a foundation as of rock? The command which at Horeb Moses received long ago, and the revelation of God he there enjoyed, have had their opportunity; to what have they come?

The supreme human desire is to know the nature, to understand the distinctive glory of the Most High. At the bush Moses had been made aware of the presence with him of the God of his fathers, the Fear of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His duty also had been made clear. But the mystery of being was still unsolved. With sublime daring, therefore, he pursued the inquiry: "Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them? "The answer came in apocalypse, in a form of simple words:-"I AM THAT I AM." The solemn Name expressed an intensity of life, a depth and power of personal being, far transcending that of which man is conscious. It belongs to One who has no beginning, whose life is apart from time, above the forces of nature, independent of them. Jehovah says, "I am not what you see, not what nature is, standing forth into the range of your sight; I Am in eternal separation, self-existent, with underived fulness of power and life." The remoteness and incomprehensibility of God remain, although much is revealed. Whatever experience of life each man sums up for himself in saying "I am," aids him in realising the life of God. Have we aspired? have we loved? have we undertaken and accomplished? have we thought deeply? Does any one in saying "I am" include the consciousness of long and varied life?-the "I Am" Of God comprehends all that. And yet He changes not. Beneath our experience of life which changes there is this great Living Essence. "I AM THAT I AM," profoundly, eternally true, self-consistent, with whom is no beginning of experience or purpose, yet controlling, harmonising, yea, originating all in the unfathomable depths of an eternal Will.

Ideas like these, we must believe, shaped themselves, if not clearly, at least in dim outline before the mind of Moses, and made the faith by which he lived. And how had it proved itself as the stay of endeavour, the support of a soul under heavy burdens of duty, trial, and sorrowful consciousness? The reliance it gave had never failed. In Egypt, before Pharaoh, Moses had been sustained by it as one who had a sanction for his demands and actions which no king or priest could claim. At Sinai it had given spiritual strength and definite authority to the law. It was the spirit of every oracle, the underlying force in every judgment. Faith in Jehovah, more than natural endowments, made Moses great. His moral vision was wide and clear because of it, his power among the people as a prophet and leader rested upon it. And the fruit of it, which began to be seen when Israel learned to trust Jehovah as the one living God and girt itself for His service, has not even yet been all gathered in. We pass by the theories of philosophy regarding the unseen to rest in the revelation of God which embodies Moses’ faith. His inspiration, once for all, carried the world beyond polytheism to monotheism, unchallengeably true, inspiring, sublime.

There can be no doubt that death tested the faith of Moses as a personal reliance on the Almighty. How he found sufficient help in the thought of Jehovah when Aaron died, and when his own call came, we can only surmise. For him it was a familiar certainty that the Judge of all the earth did right. His own decision went with that of Jehovah in every great moral question; and even when death was involved, however great a punishment it appeared, however sad a necessity, he must have said, Good is the will of the Lord. But there was more than acquiescence. One who had lived so long with God, finding all the springs and aims of life in Him, must have known that irresistible power would carry on what had been begun, would complete to its highest tower that building of which the foundation had been laid. Moses had wrought not for self but for God; he could leave his work in the Divine hand with absolute assurance that it would be perfected. And as for his own destiny, his personal life, what shall we say? Moses had been what he was through the grace of Him whose name is "I AM THAT I Am" He could at least look into the dim region beyond and say, "It is God’s will that I pass through the gate. I am spiritually His, and am strong in mind for His service. I have been what He has willed, excepting in my transgression. I shall be what He wills; and that cannot be ill for me; that will be best for me." God was gracious and forgave sin, though He could not suffer it to pass unjudged. Even in appointing death the Merciful One could not fail to be merciful to His servant. The thought of Moses might not carry him into the future of his own existence, into what should be after he had breathed his last. But God was His; and he was God’s.

So the personal drama of many acts and scenes draws to a close with forebodings of the end, and yet a little respite ere the curtain falls. The music is solemn as befits the night-fall, yet has a ring of strong purpose and inexhaustible sufficiency. It is not the "still sad music of humanity" we hear with the words, "Get thee up into this mountain of Abarim, and behold the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered." It is the music of the Voice that awakens life, commands and inspires it, cheers the strong in endeavour and soothes the tired to rest. He who speaks is not weary of Moses, nor does He mean Moses to be weary of his task. But this change lies in the way of God’s strong purpose, and it is assumed that Moses will neither rebel nor repine. Far away, in an evolution unforeseen by man, will come the glorification of One who is the Life indeed; and in His revelation as the Son of the Eternal Father Moses will share. With Christ he will speak of the change of death and that faith which overcomes all change.

The designation of Joshua, who had long been the minister of Moses, and perhaps for some time administrator of affairs, is recorded in the close of the chapter. The prayer of Moses assumes that by direct commission the fitness of Joshua must be signified to the people. It might be Jehovah’s will that, even yet, another should take the headship of the tribes. Moses spake unto the Lord, saying, "Let Jehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation which may go out before them, and which may come in before them, and which may lead them out and which may bring them in: that the congregation of Jehovah be not as Sheep which have no shepherd." One who has so long endeavoured to lead, and found it so difficult, whose heart and soul and strength have been devoted to make Israel Jehovah’s people, can relax his hold of things without dismay only if he is sure that God will Himself choose and endow the successor. What aimless wandering there would be if the new leader proved incompetent, wanting wisdom or grace! How far about might Israel’s way yet be, in another sense than the compassing of Edom! Before the Friend of Israel Moses pours out his prayer for a shepherd fit to lead the flock.

And the oracle confirms the choice to which Providence has already pointed. Joshua the son of Nun, "a man in whom is the spirit," is to have the call and receive the charge. His investiture with official right and dignity is to be in the sight of Eleazar the priest and all the congregation. Moses shall put of his own honour upon Joshua and declare his commission. Joshua shall not have the whole burden of decision resting upon him, for Jehovah will guide him. Yet he shall not have direct access to God in the tent of meeting as Moses had. In the time of special need Eleazar "shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before Jehovah." Thus instructed, he shall exercise high authority.

"A man in whom is the spirit"-such is the one outstanding personal qualification. "The God of the spirits of all flesh" finds in Joshua the sincere will, the faithful heart. The work that is to be done is not of a spiritual kind, but grim fighting, control of an army and of a people not yet amenable to law, under circumstances that will try a leader’s firmness, sagacity, and courage. Yet, even for such a task, allegiance to Jehovah and His purpose regarding Israel, the enthusiasm of faith, high spirit, not experience-these are the commendations of the chief. Qualified thus, Joshua may occasionally make mistakes. His calculations may not always be perfect, nor the means he employs exactly fitted to the end. But his faith will enable him to recover what is momentarily lost; his courage will not fail. Above all, he will be no opportunist guided by the turn of events, yielding to pressure or what may appear necessity. The one principle of faithfulness to Jehovah will keep him and Israel in a path which must be followed, even if success in a worldly sense be not immediately found. The priest who inquires of the Lord by Urim has a higher place under Joshua’s administration than under that of Moses. The theocracy will henceforth have a twofold manifestation, less of unity than before. And here the change is of a kind which may involve the gravest consequences. The simple statement of Numbers 27:21 denotes a very great limitation of Joshua’s authority as leader. It means that though on many occasions he can both originate and execute, all matters of moment shall have to be referred to the oracle. There will be a possibility of conflict between him and the priest with regard to the occasions that require such a reference to Jehovah. In addition there may be the uncertainty of responses through the Urim, as interpreted by the priest. It is easy also to see that by this method of appealing to Jehovah the door was opened to abuses which, if not in Joshua’s time, certainly in the time of the judges, began to arise.

It may appear to some absolutely necessary to refer the Urim to a far later date. The explanation given by Ewald, that the inquiry was always by some definite question, and that the answer was found by means of the lot, obviates this difficulty. The Urim and Thummim, which mean "clearness and correctness," or as in our passage the Urim alone, may have been pebbles of different colours, the one representing an affirmative, the other a negative reply. But inquiry appears to have been made by these means after certain rites, and with forms which the priest alone could use. It is evident that absolute sincerity on his part, and unswerving loyalty to Jehovah, were an important element in the whole administration of affairs. A priest who became dissatisfied with the leader might easily frustrate his plans. On the other hand, a leader dissatisfied with the responses would be tempted to suspect and perhaps set aside the priest. There can be no doubt that here a serious possibility of divided counsels entered into the history of Israel, and we are reminded of many after events. Yet the circumstances were such that the whole power could not be committed to one man. With whatever element of danger, the new order had to begin.

Moses laid his hands on Joshua and gave him his charge. As one who knew his own infirmities, he could warn the new chief of the temptations he would have to resist, the patience he would have to exercise. It was not necessary to inform Joshua of the duties of his office. With these he had become familiar. But the need for calm and sober judgment required to be impressed upon him. It was here he was defective, and here that his "honour" and the maintenance of his authority would have to be secured. Deuteronomy mentions only the exhortation Moses gave to be strong and of a good courage, and the assurance that Jehovah would go before Joshua, would neither fail him nor forsake him. But though much is recorded, much also remains untold. An education of forty years had prepared Joshua for the hour of his investiture. Yet the words of the chief he was so soon to lose must have had no small part in preparing him for the burden and duty which he was now called by Jehovah to sustain as leader of Israel.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Numbers 27". "The Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/teb/numbers-27.html.
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