Bible Commentary: Numbers 27

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Numbers 27

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Inheritance Law; Joshua to Succeed Moses 

Zelophehad died in the wilderness, not having disqualified himself in the great sins of Korah, or the Moabites, or any such thing, without any sons to receive an inheritance. So his daughters make the unusual appeal recorded in this chapter. And though it is contrary to the social mores of the day for women to inherit land, their case makes sense, prompting Moses to take the matter before God. God’s response is that Zelophehad’s daughters are right—and He gives Moses an additional judgment, adding to the previous law. Thus, the daughters are to receive an inheritance. We will see more on this matter in chapter 36.

God then reaffirms to Moses that he will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land because he rebelled at God’s command when he struck the rock to bring forth water (verse 14; compare Numbers 20:12 Numbers 20:12And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, Because you believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
American King James Version×
). Moses, as so often before, thinks only of the people rather than himself. He says, “They are going to need a leader” (compare verse 17). So God commands Moses to ordain Joshua, a man with God’s Spirit in him (verse 18). Though Joshua is to be “over the congregation” (verse 16) to lead them as a shepherd (verse 17), he is not to be a supreme one-man ruler with unlimited authority. He will not even have the degree of authority Moses has. Each time Joshua needs to know the will of God, he is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will seek God’s answer “by the judgment of the Urim” (verse 21). Indeed, it should be noted that no other human figure of the Old Testament will be given the degree of authority Moses is invested with. As God’s special prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15 Deuteronomy 18:15The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen;
American King James Version×
; Numbers 12:6-8 Numbers 12:6-8 [6] And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream. [7] My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house. [8] With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
American King James Version×
), Israel’s chief human “judge” (Acts 7:35 Acts 7:35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 18:13-26 Exodus 18:13-26 [13] And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning to the evening. [14] And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that you do to the people? why sit you yourself alone, and all the people stand by you from morning to even? [15] And Moses said to his father in law, Because the people come to me to inquire of God: [16] When they have a matter, they come to me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. [17] And Moses’ father in law said to him, The thing that you do is not good. [18] You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you: for this thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it yourself alone. [19] Listen now to my voice, I will give you counsel, and God shall be with you: Be you for the people to God-ward, that you may bring the causes to God: [20] And you shall teach them ordinances and laws, and shall show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. [21] Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: [22] And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for yourself, and they shall bear the burden with you. [23] If you shall do this thing, and God command you so, then you shall be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. [24] So Moses listened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. [25] And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. [26] And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
American King James Version×
), and the mediator of the Old Covenant (compare Galatians 3:19-20 Galatians 3:19-20 [19] Why then serves the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
American King James Version×
), no one would truly fill his shoes until Jesus Christ Himself arrived (compare Deuteronomy 34:10 Deuteronomy 34:10And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like to Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 18:15-19 Deuteronomy 18:15-19 [15] The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen; [16] According to all that you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. [17] And the LORD said to me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. [18] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, like to you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. [19] And it shall come to pass, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
American King James Version×

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