The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 27

Num 27:1

Num 27:1-11: // Num 36:1-12. The proposed division of the land -- suggested by the census in Num 26 -- brought up a special question of considerable importance to Israel. Zelophehad, of the tribe of Manasseh, and of the family of Gilead, had died -- not in any special judgment, but along with the whole generation that perished in the wilderness. He had left no sons, and his daughters were anxious to obtain a "possession," lest their father's name should be lost among his family. By Divine direction, which Moses had sought, their request was granted, and it became a judicial statute in Israel ever after: that daughters or -- in their absence -- the nearest kinsman should enter upon the inheritance of those who died without leaving sons, and should if possible raise up that would carry on the name of the one who had died.

In all such cases, of course, the children of those who obtained the possession would have to be incorporated, not with the tribe to which they originally belonged, but with that in which their "inheritance" lay. Thus the "name" of a man would not "be done away from among his family." Nor was this statute recorded merely on account of its national bearing, but for higher reasons. The desire to preserve the name of a family in Israel sprang not merely from feelings natural in such circumstances, but was connected with the hope of the coming Messiah. Until he appeared, each family would desire to preserve its identity, and its legitimate claim to its own special portion of the Land of Promise.

Num 27:12

Vv 12-23: God once more warned Moses of his impending death, before actual entrance into the Land of Promise (Num 27:12-14). In so doing, He made mention again of the sin which had caused this judgment, to show His holiness and justice, even in the case of His most approved servants.

But on the other hand, this second reminder also manifested the faithfulness of Yahweh, Who would allow his servant, as it were, to set his house in order, so that he might meet death with full consciousness of what was before him.

It is touching to see how meekly Moses received the sentence. Faithful to the end in his stewardship over God's house, his chief concern was, that God would appoint a suitable successor, so "that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd" (vv 15-17). For this position, God now set apart Joshua, by the laying on of Moses' hands, in the presence of Eleazar the priest and of the congregation.

Yet only part of Moses' "honor" -- only what was necessary to insure the obedience of Israel -- was conferred upon Joshua, while his public movements were to be directed by "the judgment of the Urim" and Thummim. Thus God not only vindicated the honor of His servant Moses, but also showed that the office which Moses had filled was in its nature unique, being typical of that committed in all its fullness to Jesus Christ, the Head of the Ecclesia.

Num 27:14

LXX is quoted in Act 7:51: resisting the Holy Spirit!

Num 27:17

GO OUT AND COME IN: Heb idiom for shepherd leader. Cp v 21: this authority passes to Joshua.

SHEPHERD: Christ the shepherd: Joh 10:11; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 5:4.

Num 27:21

Typ Christ, to whom all judgment has been committed: Joh 5:22.

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