NUMBERS

Chapter 26 Chapter 31 Chapter 36    
Chapter 27 Chapter 32 Chapter 37    
Chapter 28 Chapter 33      
Chapter 29 Chapter 34      
Chapter 30 Chapter 35      

Chapter 26


(Verses 1 through 4) And it came to pass after the plague, that the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Eleazer the son of Aaron the priest, saying, Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers’ house, all that are able to go to war in Israel. And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Take the sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward; as the LORD commanded Moses and the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt.

 

When things were settled down after the plague, the LORD commanded Moses and Eleazar to take a census of the people, similar to that taken of those that came forth out of the land of Egypt. This census only covered those who were twenty years old and upward, those who were of the age to go to war.

 

(Verses 5 through 11) Reuben, the eldest son of Israel: the children of Reuben; Hanoch, of whom cometh the family of the Hanochites: of Pallu, the family of the Palluites: of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Carmi, the family of the Carmites. These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty. And the sons of Pallu; Eliab. And the sons of Eliab; Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram . This is that Dathan and Abiram, which were famous in the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron, in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign. Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.

 

Since the oldest son of Israel was Reuben, we start with his descendants. He had four sons, Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. So there were four families of the Reubenites. And those that were numbered of the tribe of Reuben were forty three thousand, seven hundred and thirty. Here we are reminded that Dathan and Abiram, who were destroyed in a miraculous manner when they rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and of course against the LORD also, since it was He Who appointed Moses and Aaron to the position of leaders of the congregation of the children of Israel, were the descendants of Pallu. Here we are also given a slight clarification concerning that incident. Although Korah, who led that rebellion was destroyed, his children were spared.

 

(Verses 12 through 14) The sons of Simeon after their families: of Nemuel, the family of the Nemuelites: of Jamin, the family of the Jaminites: of Jachin, the family of the Jachinites: of Zerah, the family of the Zarhites: of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites. These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.

 

Nothing special is given concerning the descendants of Simeon. The names of his four sons are given, and the names of the families descended from him. Of his descendants twenty two thousand and two hundred were numbered.

 

(Verses 15 through 19) The children of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites: of Haggi, the family of the Haggites: of Shuni, the family of the Shunites: of Ozni, the family of the Oznites: of Eri, the family of the Erites: of Arod, the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites. These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.

 

Gad had seven sons, and the names of the families descended from them are given, with no special information concerning them. And of Gad’s descendants forty thousand and five hundred were numbered.

 

The sons of Judah were Er and Onan: and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Judah after their families were; of Shelah, the family of the Shelanites: of Pharez, the family of the Pharzites: of Zerah, the family of the Zarhites. And the sons of Pharez were; of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Hamul, the Hamulites. These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and sixteen thousand and five hundred.

 

We are here reminded that the first two sons of Judah died without any descendants. However he had three more sons, from whom families were descended. And the number of those of these families that were counted is sixty thousand and five hundred. Nothing special is here listed concerning any of them.

 

(Verses 23 through 25) Of the sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites: of Pua, the family of the Puanites: of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites: of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites. These are the families of Issachar according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and four thousand and three hundred.

 

Issachar’s descendants are divided into four families according to the number of his sons. And the number of those who were counted is sixty four thousand and three hundred.

 

(Verses 26 and 27) Of the sons of Zebulun after their families: of Sered, the family of the Sardites: of Elon, the family of the Elonites: of Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites. These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them, threescore thousand and five hundred.

 

Zebulun had only three sons, and from them sprang the three families of the Zebulunites, of whom the census showed sixty thousand and five hundred at this time.

 

(Verses 28 through 34) The sons of Joseph after their families were Manasseh and Ephraim. Of the sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the family of the Machirites: and Machir begat Gilead: of Gilead come the Gileadites. These are the sons of Gilead: of Jeezer, the family of the Jeezerites: of Helek, the family of the Helekites: and of Asriel, the family of the Asrielites: and of Shechem, the family of the Shechemites: and of Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites: and of Hepher, the family of the Hepherites. And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. These are the families of Manasseh, and those that were numbered of them, fifty and two thousand and seven hundred.

 

The only thing out of the ordinary concerning this is that one of Manasseh’s sons had no sons, but did have five daughters. Later we shall see how the inheritance of the daughters of this son was handled. Of all the families descended from Manasseh, fifty-two thousand and seven hundred were counted in this census.

 

(Verses 35 through 37) These are the sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthalhites: of Becher, the Bachrites: of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites. And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites. These are the families of the sons of Ephraim according to those that were numbered of them, thirty and two thousand and five hundred. These are the sons of Joseph after their families.

 

One will notice that not only are the sons of Ephraim listed, along with the family names of their descendants, but one of his grandsons is also mentioned again, and only one son of him, and from that son only is given a family name that was to continue. Of all the families here listed, thirty-two thousand and five hundred were counted in this census as being the descendants of  Ephraim. These, together with those listed as the descendants of Manasseh, are all the descendants of Joseph.

 

(Verses 38 through 41) The sons of Benjamin after their families: of Bela, the family of the Belaites: of Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites: of Ahiram, the family of the Ahiramites: of Shupham, the family of the Shuphamites: of Hupham, the family of the Huphamites. And the sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the family of the Ardites: and of Naaman, the family of the Naamites. These are the sons of Benjamin after their families: and they that were numbered of them were forty and five thousand and six hundred.

 

Benjamin had five sons, and, evidently one of them had only one son: so the names of his two are also listed, and family names are given for their descendants. Of all these there were numbered in the census forty-five thousand and six hundred.

 

(Verses 42 and 43) These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham, the family of the Shuhamites. These are the families of Dan after their families. All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them, were threescore and four thousand and four hundred.

 

Since Dan had only one son, there was only one family of his descendants, the Shuhamites. But of them were numbered in the census sixty-four thousand and four hundred.

 

(Verses 44 through 47) Of the children of Asher after their families: of Jimna, the family of the Jimnites: of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites: of Beriah, the family of the Beriites. Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites: of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites. And the daughter of Asher was Sarah. These are the families of the sons of Asher according to those that were numbered of them; who were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.

 

Asher had three sons, Jimna, Jesui, and Beriah. All are listed as heads of families named for them. Then, for some reason, Beriah’s family is split into two families, each named after one of his sons. Also we are told that  Asher had a daughter whose name was Sarah, Since no reason is given for listing this daughter, it makes one wonder why she was listed, since women were not usually counted in such a census. Of those descended from Asher fifty-three thousand and four hundred were counted in this census.

 

(Verses 48 through 51) Of the sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites: of Guni, the family of the Gunites: of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites: of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites. These are the families of Naphtali according to their families: and they that were numbered of them were forty and five thousand and four hundred. These were numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.

 

Naphtali had four sons, from whom the four families of the children of Naphtali were named. Of them were numbered in this census forty-five thousand and four hundred. The entire number of the children of Israel that were counted in this census was six hundred and one thousand, seven hundred and thirty. At this point, the entire population of Israel, according to the census had decreased by two thousand, two hundred, and twenty. Some tribes had had some increase, while others had decreased.

 

(Verses 52 through 56) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.

 

By this we understand that the reason for the census that had just been made was to have a basis upon which to make an equitable division of the land of Canaan among the children of Israel. Also, as we shall soon see, this was to prove that the LORD had kept His word when He said that none of the men of Israel old enough to go forth to war at the time of the first census would be alive to go into the land of Canaan with their brethren. There were two who were excepted from this declaration, as we shall soon see.

 

(Verses 57 through 62) And these are they that were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershom, the family of the Gershomites: of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites: of Merari, the family of the Merarites. These are the families of the Levites: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korathites. And Kohath begat Amram. And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister. And unto Aaron was born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD. And those that were numbered of them were twenty and three thousand, all males from a month old and upward: for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel.

 

This gives the family line-ups of the Levites, and the genealogy of Moses and Aaron. The Levites were not numbered with the remainder of the children of Israel, because they were to receive no inheritance among them. But the number of them is given separately, which is twenty-three thousand.

 

(Verses 63 through 65) These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho. But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

 

It seems that this is clear enough without comment. But it shows that what the LORD says, that He will do. He had told those who rebelled against His commandment to go in and possess the land of Canaan that they would get exactly what they had wished for. They had complained against Him, saying, “Would to God we had died in the wilderness.” And that is what they got.

 

Chapter 27

 

(Verses 1 through5) Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes of all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, 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. Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father. And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.

 

These women were mentioned in the preceding chapter, and it was said that they were the only offspring of their father. Now the time was approaching for the children of Israel to go into the land of Canaan and possess it. So these daughters of Zelophehad came, and presented their case before Moses. He then called upon the LORD to direct him as to how he should deal with this case.

 

(Verses 6 through 11) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 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. 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. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren. 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.

 

By the bringing of this matter before Moses, and his bringing it before the LORD, there is established a statute of judgment for the children of Israel that will serve them throughout their generations. It seems to be clearly enough written that none should misunderstand it.

 

(Verses 12 through 14) 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. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. 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.

 

Thus the LORD told Moses that He was about to execute upon him the sentence He had declared when Moses did not fully obey Him at the incident at Meribah. It will be remembered that the LORD had told him to speak to the rock, and it would send forth its water. But, instead of speaking to it, he struck it twice with his rod. The LORD caused the water to come forth in abundance. But Moses’ failure to follow His command to the letter brought upon him the anger of the LORD so that he must now die without entering into the Promised Land. We might think that Moses’ act wasn’t bad enough to merit such a great sentence. But we must remember that when the LORD gives an order, it is to be followed to the letter.

 

(Verses 15 through 17) And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 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.

 

Although Moses had disobeyed God in the matter mentioned above, he was still a faithful servant of the LORD. So when the LORD told him that the time for him to die was approaching, his first thoughts were for the children of Israel whom the LORD had called him to lead out of Egypt. So he prayed that the LORD would set a man over them that would be as a shepherd unto them, that they be not scattered and destroyed.

 

(Verses 18 through 23) 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: and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before the all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 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. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: and he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded Moses.

 

So far as explanation is concerned, this needs none, But it is a clear description of the transfer of authority of leadership from Moses to Joshua, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

 

Chapter 28


(Verses 1 through 10) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and My bread for My sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savour unto Me, shall ye observe to offer unto Me in their due season. And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even; and a tenth part of an ephah of flour for a meat offering, mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil. It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering. And the other lamb shalt thou offer at even: as the meat offering of the morning, and as the drink offering thereof, thou shalt offer it, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: : this is the burnt offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his meat offering.

 

Here the LORD commands Moses to command the children of Israel that they offer each day, continually, a morning and an evening offering. These offerings He describes very clearly. And in addition to these, they are to offer, on each sabbath day, an additional morning offering, and an additional evening offering, both of which are to be exactly the same as the continual offerings already described.

 

(Verses 11 through 15) And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot; and three tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, for one bullock; and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, for one ram; and a several tenth deal of flour mingled with oil for a meat offering unto one lamb; for a burnt offering of a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. And their drink offerings shall be half an hin of wine unto a bullock, and the third part of an hin unto a ram, and a fourth part of an hin unto a lamb: this is the burnt offering of every month throughout the months of the year. And one kid of the goats for a sin offering unto the LORD shall be offered, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.

 

Just as the former text covered the continual daily offerings that were required, this covers those that are required on the first day of each month throughout the year, which are in addition to those that are daily continual.

 

(Verses 16 through 25) And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the LORD. And in the fifteenth day of the month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. In the first day shall be an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work therein: But ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year: they shall be unto you without blemish: and their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil: three tenth deals shall ye offer for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram; a several tenth deal shalt thou offer for every lamb, throughout the seven lambs: and one goat for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you. Ye shall offer these beside the burnt offering in the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering. After this manner ye shall offer daily throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering. And on the seventh day ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work.

 

This gives us the order of the sacrifices of the Passover and its attendant feast, all of which are to be in addition to the continual daily offerings. It also again tells us when this Passover and its feast are to be celebrated.

 

(Verses 26 through 31) Also in the day of the firstfruits, when ye bring a new meat offering unto the LORD, after your weeks be out, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: but ye shall offer the burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; two young bullocks, one ram, seven lambs of the first year; and their neat offering of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals unto one bullock, two tenth deals unto one ram, a several tenth deal unto one lamb, throughout the seven lambs; and one kid of the goats, to make an atonement for you. Ye shall offer them beside the continual burnt offering, and his meat offering, ( they shall be unto you without blemish) and their drink offerings.

 

This is the order of the celebration of the firstfruits. As for all the other offerings and sacrifices that have been herein described, they are to be in addition to the continual daily offerings.

 

Chapter 29

 

(Verses 1 through 6) And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation, ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: and their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, and one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: and one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according into the manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.

 

This is a special offering for the first day of the seventh month, and it is to be in addition to the other offerings already specified. And on this day the children of Israel shall do no “servile work.” The work of preparing and offering the sacrifices were exempt from this commandment. But that work was in the service of the LORD, and all else was for the benefit of man. So they were to leave off all their work, and do only what was required in His service. On this day, they were to have a holy convocation, and blow their trumpets in celebration thereof.

 

(Verses 7 through 11) And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein: but ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: and their meat offering shall be flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram, a several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: one kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and the drink offerings.

 

There seems to be only one important difference between this celebration and that previously described. The former was to be a day of great rejoicing, and blowing of the trumpet, whereas on this day the children of Israel were to afflict their souls, that is it was to be a very solemn day, and they were to seriously think of, and repent of, their sins.

 

(Verses 12 through 16) And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work, and ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: and ye shall offer a burnt offering, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD; thirteen young bullocks, two rams, and fourteen lambs of the first year; they shall be without blemish: and their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to every bullock of the thirteen bullocks, two tenth deals to each ram of the two rams, and a several tenth deal to each lamb of the fourteen lambs: and one kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the continual burnt offering, his meat offering, and his drink offering.

 

Although this celebration was to last for seven days, this is only the offering for the first day thereof. And all is to be in addition to the continual daily offerings.

 

(Verses 17 through 19) And on the second day ye shall offer twelve young bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs of the first year without spot: and their meat offering and their drink offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be according to their number, after the manner: and one kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering thereof, and their drink offerings.

 

When He says, “on the second day,: it is to be understood that this is the second day of the feast, not the second day of the month. The only difference between the offerings of this day and those of the first day of the feast is that one bullock less is to be offered on this day. Otherwise they are the same.

 

Throughout the seven days, as shown in verses 20 through 32, this progression is the same, one bullock less is to be offered on each day than on the day preceding it. Otherwise all the offerings are the same, and they are all in addition to the continual offerings that have previously been commanded.

 

(Verses 35 through 40) On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein: But ye shall offer a burnt offering, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: one bullock, one ram, seven lambs of the first year without blemish: their meat offering and their drink offerings for the bullock, for the ram, and for the lambs, shall be according to their number after the manner: and one goat for a sin offering; beside the continual burnt offering, and his meat offering, and his drink offering. These things shall ye do unto the LORD in your set feasts, beside your vows, and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your meat offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings. And Moses told the children of Israel according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.

 

On the eighth day of this feast the children of Israel shall have a solemn assembly, and shall also offer the offerings herein described. All the offerings mentioned in this chapter were to be in addition to the continual burnt sacrifices, the meat offerings, and the drink offerings associated with them, and all the vows, freewill offerings, and peace offerings offered by the children of Israel. And Moses told the Israelites all these things, just as the LORD had commanded him.

 

Chapter 30

 

(Verses 1 and 2) And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded. If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

 

This is the first commandment concerning a vow. It is concerning any vow that a man may take, or oath that he may make, unto the LORD. It shall be binding upon him, and there is no way provided for him to get out from under the bondage of it. Whatever he has said, even that he must do.

 

(Verses 3 through 8) If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; and her father hear her vow and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her. And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered aught out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; and her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the LORD shall forgive her.

 

This is the first law of the vows of a woman. If she is unmarried, and lives in her father’s house, she is under his authority. So if he hears her when she makes any vow, and thus binds her soul, and does not deny it, it shall stand. But if He denies it, it shall be of no effect upon her. And the LORD shall forgive her. If she is married, Her husband has this authority. So, if he hears her vow, and does not deny it, it shall stand. But if he does deny it, it is null and void; and the LORD shall forgive her. Nothing is said concerning the matter, if her father, or her husband, does not know about her vow at the time she made it. But it would seem that he would have the same option when he did hear of it

 

(Verses 9 through 15) But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her. And if she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath; and her husband heard it, and disallowed her not: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the LORD shall forgive her. Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void. But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he stablisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them. But if he shall any ways make them void after he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.

 

Not only does the husband have the authority to confirm, or void his wife’s vows or bonds, but having done that while he and his wife are living together, his action concerning the matter continues to be binding even after his death, or after he has divorced his wife. Whatever vow or bond she may make after his death, or after he has divorced her, shall be binding upon her, just as whatever oath or vow a man may make is binding upon him. And if a husband is made aware of any vow or oath of his wife, he may void it immediately, or he may confirm it by simply saying nothing about it. But he can not later void it. To do so causes him to bear his wife’s iniquity for the breaking of a vow or oath.

 

(Verse 16) These are the statutes, which the LORD commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father’s house.

 

Chapter 31

 

(Verses 1 through 6) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian. Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.

 

The LORD had already told Moses that he must soon die. But He gave him one more battle to fight before his death. The LORD told Moses just how many soldiers to send forth to the war: and they were picked in equal numbers from each tribe. So he sent forth twelve thousand to the battle, led by Phinehas the son of Eleazar the high priest. And he took with him, not the type of weapons that are usually carried by the one who is in command of the army. But since he was a priest of the LORD, he carried the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow.

 

(Verses 7 through 12) And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts. And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.

 

In this battle the children of Israel were victorious, and completely destroyed the cities of the Midianites, and killed five of their kings. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor, who had been called by Balak to curse Israel. But the LORD would not suffer him to do so. They also took many captives, and much spoil from the Midianites, and brought everything back to Moses and the congregation of the children of Israel.

 

(Verses 13 through 20) And Moses , and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp. And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among their little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep for yourselves. And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day. And purify all your raiment, and all that is made of skins, and all work of goats’ hair, and all things made of wool.

 

When the army returned from the battle, they brought with them all the captives, and the prey, they had taken. And Moses was very angry with all the officers of the army, because they had allowed the people to keep alive all the women of the Midianites. We might think Moses to be too bloodthirsty in this matter; but it was these very women who had enticed the Israelites to commit adultery, and to worship the idols, of the Midianites, thus causing a great plague to be sent upon Israel. So he commanded the Israelites to kill all the male children they had captured of the Midianites, and all the Midianitish women that had had intercourse with any man. They were allowed to spare all the girls who were virgins, and to keep them for themselves. Then he commanded all who had killed anyone, and all who had touched any dead body, to remain outside the camp for seven days, and observe the ritual already given them for the purification of one who had become defiled by touching a dead body. They were to purify themselves, their captives, and all their raiment that was made from skins, goat’s hair, or wool. After this they would be cleansed, and could come into the camp.

 

(Verses 21 through 24) And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went forth to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses; Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water. And ye shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and ye shall be clean, and afterward ye shall come into the camp.

 

These are further instructions for the cleansing of all things, whether it be something that will stand to be put through the fire, or something that will not, but must be put through the water. And all must be purified with the water of separation, formerly mentioned. After all this has been done they must wash their clothes on the seventh day, and then they can come into the camp.

 

(Verses 23 through 31) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation: and divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation: and levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of persons, and of beeves, and of asses, and of the sheep: take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD. And of the children of Israel’s half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD. And Moses and Eleazar did as the LORD commanded Moses.

 

This text gives instructions for the distribution of the prey of war among the children of Israel. And it seems to be clearly set forth. Therefore no explanation or comment should be necessary.

 

(Verses 32 through 41) And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep, and threescore and twelve thousand beeves, and threescore and one thousand asses, and thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him. And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep: and the LORD’S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen. And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD’S tribute was threescore and twelve. And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD’S tribute was threescore and one. And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD’S tribute was thirty and two persons. And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD’S heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.

 

Since this is only the account of the dividing up of the spoils of war, and is only a matter of recording that division to be as already specified, there seems to be little space for comment concerning it.

 

(Verses 42 through 47) And of the children of Israel’s half, which Moses divided from the men that warred, (Now the half that pertained unto the congregation was three hundred thousand and thirty thousand and seven thousand and five hundred sheep, and thirty and six thousand beeves, and thirty thousand asses and five hundred, and sixteen thousand persons:)  even of the children of Israel’s half, Moses took one portion out of fifty, both of man and beast, and gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.

 

Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, he took one portion out of five hundred of that which belonged to those who had been in the battle, and one portion out of fifty from that which belonged to the remainder of the congregation of Israel, for the LORD’S portion. And that was counted as the LORD’S portion. That from the men of war was given to Eleazar the priest, and that from the congregation was given to the Levites.

 

(Verses 48 through 54) And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, came near unto Moses: and they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us. We therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD. And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels. And all the gold of this offering that they offered up to the LORD, of the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels. (For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.) And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.

 

Because the LORD had so blessed the children of Israel who were in the battle that not a one of them was slain, they brought all the gold that they had taken for themselves as spoils of war, and gave it for a freewill offering to the LORD. Moses and Eleazar received the offering from them, “and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial of the children of Israel before the LORD.”

 

Chapter 32

 

(Verses 1 through 5) Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying, Aaroth, and Dibon, and Jazar, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon, even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle: Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.

 

The people of the tribes of Reuben and Gad had many cattle. So when they saw that the land where they were after the battle was a place well suited to raising cattle, they made request to Moses and the princes of Israel that they be given this land, and not have their inheritance on the other side of Jordan.

 

(Verses 6 through 15) And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going into the land which the LORD hath given them? Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them. And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and He sware, saying, Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed Me: save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD. And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers’ stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel. For if ye turn away from after Him, He will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people.

 

Moses, no doubt, feared that if the tribes of Reuben and Gad were permitted to settle in the land where they were at the time, they would be of no more help in getting the remainder of the people through the battles they would have to fight to obtain the Promised Land. So he recounted the rebellion of the children of Israel at Kadesh-barnea, and the punishment the LORD sent upon them. Then he said unto them, “Ye are risen up in your fathers’ stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.” He further told them that if they turned away from following the LORD, He would again leave them in the wilderness, and these who were turning away from Him would thereby be guilty of destroying this entire people.

 

(Verses 16 through 19) And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones: but we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on yonder side of Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.

 

This is the answer that the tribes of Reuben and Gad gave to Moses. They proposed to establish protection for their wives and children, and their cattle. Then they, that is, the men old enough to go to war, would go with the congregation of the children of Israel, and help them until they were all settled in the land of Canaan. Then they would return to their own possessions, if they could only be permitted to have the land where they were as their inheritance.

 

(Verses 20 through 27) And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, and will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until He hath driven out His enemies from before Him, and the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. Build you cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth. And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth. Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead: but thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord saith.

 

Thus Moses charged the people of the tribes of Reuben and Gad. If they would be faithful to the proposal they had made, they could have the land of Gilead for their possession, and not be chargeable with any blame in the matter. But He warned them that if they failed to keep their promise, their sin in so doing would be against the LORD, and it would certainly be recompensed unto them. So they declared their intention to keep their promise.

 

(Verses 28 through 33) So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel: and Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession: but if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan. And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do. We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side of Jordan may be ours. And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities round about.

 

That there should be no misunderstanding concerning the matter, Moses declared to Eleazar, Joshua, and all the princes of the tribes of Israel, exactly what the children of Gad and Reuben were to do to earn the inheritance they had requested, as well as what that inheritance was to be. Also included therein, though not previously mentioned, was half the tribe of Manasseh. Those involved repeated their promise to do exactly what had been required of them. So the matter was established before the whole congregation of the children of Israel. And title was given to the children of Gad and the children of Reuben, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og.

 

(Verses 34 through 42) And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer, and Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbeha, and Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran, fenced cities: and folds for sheep. And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim, and Nebo, and Baal-meon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names to cities which they builded. And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it. And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein. And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havoth-jair. And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name.

 

Thus we are told how the children of Gad, the children of Reuben, and the half tribe of the children of Manasseh, “mopped up” the land that was assigned to them, and built places for the protection of their families and their cattle during the time they would be away from home, helping the remainder of the children of Israel in their conquest of the land of Canaan.

 

Chapter 33


(Verses 1 through 4) These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron. And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out. And they departed from Rameses in the first month; on the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.

Here we return to the beginning of the going out of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on their journey to the Promised Land. Much more detail is given concerning events at this time in the early part of the book of Exodus. And we shall not repeat them at this point.

 

Verses 5 through 37 give only the itinerary of the children of Israel from the time they left Rameses until they reached mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom, with not only no details of their journeys, but with no mention of any event that took place during that time. For information concerning such see Exodus and the earlier part of this book.

 

(Verses 38 through 40) And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month. And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor. And king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.

 

This was indeed an event of great moment to the children of Israel. Aaron, together with Moses, had been their leader from the time of their first petitioning Pharaoh to let them go out of the land into the desert that they might have a sacrifice unto their God. But because of Moses’ failure to follow the exact commandment given him concerning the water at Meribah, both Moses and Aaron were denied entrance into the land of Canaan. And since the Israelites were soon to enter the land, it was time for Aaron to be called away. See Chapter 20 for details of this event.

 

Verses 41 through 49 tell us of the journeying of the children of Israel from mount Hor to the plains of Moab, with no details of any events during that time.

 

(Verses 50 through 54) And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan, then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: and ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.

 

These are instructions as to how the children of Israel were to treat the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. We might judge this to be too harsh a manner to deal with anyone; but this is what the LORD commanded Moses to tell the Israelites. It actually amounts to what we today call “genocide,” or “ethnic cleansing.” The LORD also gives instructions for dividing the land.

 

(Verses 55 and 56) But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.

 

I suppose that most of our present day “do gooders” would declare that the LORD could not possibly be harsh enough toward anyone to give such a commandment as this. But I leave it, just as written, with no attempt to explain it away, or give it any more gentle meaning. I believe it is clear enough as written.

 

Chapter 34


(Verses 1 through 12) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:) then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward: and your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south of Kadesh[barnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon: and the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea. As for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border. And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor: from mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad: and the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border. And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham: and the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinereth eastward: and the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.

 

Here the LORD tells Moses what will be the boundaries of the land which the children of Israel would inherit in the land of Canaan. It is clearly described, point by point through which the boundaries shall pass.. So there should be no difficulty for them in laying it out. We, probably could not very easily lay it out on a modern map, because many of the names of the cities mentioned are now non existent, and some that remain have had their names changed.

 

(Verses 13 through 15) And Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying, This is the land which ye shall inherit by lot, which the LORD commanded to give unto the nine tribes, and to the half tribe: for the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance: the two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising.

 

After describing the boundaries of the possession of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, Moses told the children of Israel that this is the land that would be divided among the nine and one half tribes that would receive inheritance in the land of Canaan. He reminded them that the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh had already received their inheritance on the east side of Jordan.

 

In verses 16 through 29, the LORD told Moses whom he and Eleazar should appoint to oversee the division of the land of Canaan among the children of Israel. Each man was to be a prince of his tribe, and each was called by name, so that there would be no argument as to whose office it was to oversee this matter. After completing this list of assignments, Moses told the children of Israel, “These are they whom the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.”

 

Chapter 35

 

(Verses 1 through 8) And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for their cities round about them. And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for their beasts. And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about. And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them suburbs of the cities. And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.

 

All this seems to be clear enough, except verses 4 and 5. In verse 4 we are told that “the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.” While verse 5 indicates that a measurement of two thousand cubits is to be the measurement of the suburbs on all four sides. Everything else seems clear enough.

 

(Verses 9 through 14) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; then ye shall appoint you cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither that killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities of refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side of Jordan, and three cities shall ye give of the land of Canaan, which shall be the cities of refuge.

 

Notice is to be taken that these cities of refuge are not given for the protection of known murderers. They are for the refuge of the man that shall, without malicious intent, kill someone. And it can be used for his protection in any event until he is brought before the congregation in judgment. There shall be three of these cities on each side of Jordan.

 

(Verses 15 through 21) These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither. And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. Or if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.

 

This very clearly sets forth descriptions of events in which, if one person slay another, the slayer shall indeed be judged a murderer. And in such cases the murderer is to be put to death. He is not declared “open game” for everyone, but “the revenger of blood” shall slay him when he meets him. It is not made clear whether this “revenger of blood” is to be an officer of the people whose duty it is to take care of such matters, or is a member of the family of the slain person, who is appointed to this one execution. But the murderer is not to be permitted to live.

 

(Verses 22 through 29) But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments: and the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil. But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; and the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood. Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession. So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

 

Herein are described some conditions under which one might kill another and not be judged a murderer. Nevertheless he must appear in court before the congregation, and be judged of the matter. And, even then, he is not to be set free, but must be returned to the city of his refuge, where he must remain until the death of the high priest, at which time he will be free to return to his home. If he, before the death of the high priest, is found by the revenger of blood outside the borders of his city of refuge, the revenger may kill him without being considered guilty of blood himself.

 

(Verses 30 through 33) Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that was shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

 

Thus the law of the LORD is declared to rule without exception. If one is judged to be a murderer, he is to be put to death. Neither fine nor bribe can be accepted for him. Also he that has been judged, and returned to his city of refuge, must serve his full sentence (until the death of the high priest) before he can return to his own possession; and no other satisfaction can be made instead of his serving his full sentence. The last statement in verse 33 is one that should be well considered, “The land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”

 

(Verse 34) Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

Although the children of Israel have been many times disobedient, and the LORD has many times chastened them for their disobedience, He still dwells among them. That is the reason they have never been, and shall never be, completely destroyed.

 

Chapter 36


(Verses 1 through 4) And the chief fathers of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel: and they said, The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters. And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance. And when the Jubilee of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.

 

After the matter of describing the boundaries of the inheritance of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, and that of who would be in charge of the distribution of the lots in the matter were settled, another question was brought before Moses to be settled, so that there would be no misunderstanding concerning it. Remember that, in Chapter 27, it was found that one of the descendants of Manasseh had no son to whom his inheritance could go at his death. Then it was commanded that his inheritance should pass to his daughters. Now the chief fathers of that family want a further ruling on this matter. So they bring before Moses and the chief fathers of the children of Israel this question. In the event that these daughters might marry into one of the other tribes, what is to become of their inheritance, since whatever a woman has when she marries becomes the property of her husband? Thus if one, or all, of these women married into another tribe, how could their inheritance remain part of the inheritance of the tribe of the father of these women? If it passed to the tribe into which they married, that would diminish the inheritance of their native tribe.

 

(Verses 5 through 9) And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well. This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry. So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers. Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.

 

This is the LORD’S answer to the problem that has been presented. It was to be an ordinance throughout the history of Israel, and it would prevent any part of the inheritance of one tribe from ever passing to another tribe.

 

(Verses 10 through 12) Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad: for Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father’s brother’s sons: and they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father.

 

Thus this matter was settled just as the LORD commanded Moses.

 

(Verse 13) These are the commandments and the judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.

 

This concludes the book of Numbers.


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