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Numbers Twenty Seven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Numbers 27:1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.

the son of Gilead. Gilead was a great grandson of Joseph and the progenitor of the Gileadites (Numbers 26:29). These granddaughters were given by Moses the mountainous area known by his name (Numbers 32:39). However, this region was already known as Mount Gilead in the days of Jacob (Genesis 31:21). It is possible that Gilead's father gave him this name because he had heard of this desirable country while still in Egypt, encouraging young Gilead and his descendants to request it when they reached the promised land.

Numbers 27:2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

Numbers 27:3 Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons.

Numbers 27:4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.

Numbers 27:5 And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.

Numbers 27:6 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Numbers 27:7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.

daughters of Zelophehad. The names of these five daughters are given in Numbers 26:33. Their father was one of the many who had not been permitted to enter the promised land because of his unbelief but, unlike others in the same condemnation, had left no sons to carry on his name. It was probably Gilead's name these women wanted to be remembered by, however, rather than that of their disgraced father.

Numbers 27:8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

Numbers 27:9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.

Numbers 27:10 And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren.

Numbers 27:11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Numbers 27:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.

mount Abarim. Deuteronomy 34:1 says that Moses went up to Mount Nebo, to its topmost peak, to look over into the promised land. This is not a contradiction; Abarim was the mountainous region of which Nebo was a major mountain.

Numbers 27:13 And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.

Numbers 27:14 For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.

ye rebelled. See Numbers 20:7-13. God's judgment against Moses here, in spite of the almost incredible spiritual and military leadership for forty years, indicates the seriousness of rebelling against God's Word. In one sense, however, it was appropriate for Moses, now 120 years old, to turn the responsibilities of leadership over to a younger man who was well prepared for the rigors of the Canaanite conquest looming ahead of them.

Numbers 27:15 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,

Numbers 27:16 Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,

Numbers 27:17 Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.

no shepherd. This is the first use in Scripture of this symbolic representation of a flock with no leader. Moses knew that, without a strong, Spirit-led leader, the Israelite multitude would soon be like a flock of lost sheep. The Lord Jesus, of course, is the true Shepherd (see especially John 10:1-30), and it is significant that the leader God would provide in Moses' place would have the same name (Joshua) as that of Jesus.

Numbers 27:18 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

Numbers 27:19 And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.

Numbers 27:20 And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

Numbers 27:21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.

Numbers 27:22 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation:

Numbers 27:23 And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

laid his hands. Here is the first mention in the Bible of one man laying hands on another, symbolic of conveying his own spirit of leadership to him.