20. Numbers 26 – 36 (Tribes, Offerings, and Feasts)
A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application
Sunday (Numbers 26 – 27:11)
A Second Census Required
26:1 After the plague the Lord said to Moses and to Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, 26:2 “Take a census of the whole community of Israelites, from twenty years old and upward, by their clans, everyone who can serve in the army of Israel.”
26:3 So Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan River across from Jericho. They said, 26:4 “Number the people from twenty years old and upward, just as the Lord commanded Moses and the Israelites who went out from the land of Egypt.”
26:5 Reuben was the firstborn of Israel. The Reubenites: from Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; from Pallu, the family of the Palluites; 26:6 from Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; from Carmi, the family of the Carmites. 26:7 These were the families of the Reubenites; and those numbered of them were 43,730. 26:8 Pallu’s descendant was Eliab. 26:9 Eliab’s descendants were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. It was Dathan and Abiram who as leaders of the community rebelled against Moses and Aaron with the followers of Korah when they rebelled against the Lord. 26:10 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and Korah at the time that company died, when the fire consumed 250 men. So they became a warning. 26:11 But the descendants of Korah did not die.
26:12 The Simeonites by their families: from Nemuel, the family of the Nemuelites; from Jamin, the family of the Jaminites; from Jakin, the family of the Jakinites; 26:13 from Zerah, the family of the Zerahites; and from Shaul, the family of the Shaulites. 26:14 These were the families of the Simeonites, 22,200.
26:15 The Gadites by their families: from Zephon, the family of the Zephonites; from Haggi, the family of the Haggites; from Shuni, the family of the Shunites; 26:16 from Ozni, the family of the Oznites; from Eri, the family of the Erites; 26:17 from Arod, the family of the Arodites, and from Areli, the family of the Arelites. 26:18 These were the families of the Gadites according to those numbered of them, 40,500.
26:19 The descendants of Judah were Er and Onan, but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. 26:20 And the Judahites by their families were: from Shelah, the family of the Shelahites; from Perez, the family of the Perezites; and from Zerah, the family of the Zerahites. 26:21 And the Perezites were: from Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; from Hamul, the family of the Hamulites. 26:22 These were the families of Judah according to those numbered of them, 76,500.
26:23 The Issacharites by their families: from Tola, the family of the Tolaites; from Puah, the family of the Puites; 26:24 from Jashub, the family of the Jashubites; and from Shimron, the family of the Shimronites. 26:25 These were the families of Issachar, according to those numbered of them, 64,300.
26:26 The Zebulunites by their families: from Sered, the family of the Sardites; from Elon, the family of the Elonites; from Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites. 26:27 These were the families of the Zebulunites, according to those numbered of them, 60,500.
26:28 The descendants of Joseph by their families: Manasseh and Ephraim. 26:29 The Manassehites: from Machir, the family of the Machirites (now Machir became the father of Gilead); from Gilead, the family of the Gileadites. 26:30 These were the Gileadites: from Iezer, the family of the Iezerites; from Helek, the family of the Helekites; 26:31 from Asriel, the family of the Asrielites; from Shechem, the family of the Shechemites; 26:32 from Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites; from Hepher, the family of the Hepherites. 26:33 Now Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, but only daughters; and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 26:34 These were the families of Manasseh; those numbered of them were 52,700.
26:35 These are the Ephraimites by their families: from Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthelahites; from Beker, the family of the Bekerites; from Tahan, the family of the Tahanites. 26:36 Now these were the Shuthelahites: from Eran, the family of the Eranites. 26:37 These were the families of the Ephraimites, according to those numbered of them, 32,500. These were the descendants of Joseph by their families.
26:38 The Benjaminites by their families: from Bela, the family of the Belaites; from Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites; from Ahiram, the family of the Ahiramites; 26:39 from Shupham, the family of the Shuphamites; from Hupham, the family of the Huphamites. 26:40 The descendants of Bela were Ard and Naaman. From Ard, the family of the Ardites; from Naaman, the family of the Naamanites. 26:41 These are the Benjaminites, according to their families, and according to those numbered of them, 45,600.
26:42 These are the Danites by their families: from Shuham, the family of the Shuhamites. These were the families of Dan, according to their families. 26:43 All the families of the Shuhahites according to those numbered of them were 64,400.
26:44 The Asherites by their families: from Imnah, the family of the Imnahites; from Ishvi, the family of the Ishvites; from Beriah, the family of the Beriahites. 26:45 From the Beriahites: from Heber, the family of the Heberites; from Malkiel, the family of the Malkielites. 26:46 Now the name of the daughter of Asher was Serah. 26:47 These are the families of the Asherites, according to those numbered of them, 53,400.
26:48 The Naphtalites by their families: from Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites; from Guni, the family of the Gunites; 26:49 from Jezer, the family of the Jezerites; from Shillem, the family of the Shillemites. 26:50 These were the families of Naphtali according to their families; and those numbered of them were 45,400.
Total Number and Division of the Land
26:51 These were those numbered of the Israelites, 601,730.
26:52 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 26:53 “To these the land must be divided as an inheritance according to the number of the names. 26:54 To a larger group you will give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group you will give a smaller inheritance. To each one its inheritance must be given according to the number of people in it.
26:55 The land must be divided by lot; and they will inherit in accordance with the names of their ancestral tribes.
26:56 Their inheritance must be apportioned by lot among the larger and smaller groups.
26:57 And these are the Levites who were numbered according to their families: from Gershon, the family of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites; from Merari, the family of the Merarites. 26:58 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 Korahites. Kohath became the father of Amram. 26:59 Now the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And to Amram she bore Aaron, Moses, and Miriam their sister. 26:60 And to Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
26:61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the Lord. 26:62 Those of them who were numbered were 23,000, all males from a month old and upward, for they were not numbered among the Israelites; no inheritance was given to them among the Israelites.
26:63 These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the Israelites in the plains of Moab along the Jordan River opposite Jericho. 26:64 But there was not a man among these who had been among those numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. 26:65 For the Lord had said of them, “They will surely die in the wilderness.” And there was not left a single man of them, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
Special Inheritance Laws
27:1 Then the daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh of the families of Manasseh, the son Joseph came forward. Now these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
27:2 And they stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, 27:3 “Our father died in the wilderness, although he was not part of the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.
27:4 Why should the name of our father be lost from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among the relatives of our father.”
27:5 So Moses brought their case before the Lord.
27:6 The Lord said to Moses: 27:7 “The daughters of Zelophehad have a valid claim. You must indeed give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s relatives, and you must transfer the inheritance of their father to them. 27:8 And you must tell the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you must transfer his inheritance to his daughter; 27:9 and if he has no daughter, then you are to give his inheritance to his brothers; 27:10 and if he has no brothers, then you are to give his inheritance to his father’s brothers; 27:11 and if his father has no brothers, then you are to give his inheritance to his relative nearest to him from his family, and he will possess it. This will be for the Israelites a legal requirement, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”
Lord, when rebellion occurred You destroyed whom You would destroy and preserved who You would preserve. When the inheritance of a family was in jeopardy You provided a method to preserve it. May I trust that within Your perfect plan You preserve what is of value.
Scripture In Perspective
After the plagues the Lord God required Moses to conduct a census of those males at the age or conscription (20) or older.
As the Tribes were processed Moses recorded their history before the Lord in order to explain unusual deficits in their number, e.g. a Tribe involved in rebellion may have lost 10’s of thousands to the Lord God’s punishment.
The daughters of Zelophehad asked Moses for the preservation of their family line through them for lack of a son, so he consulted the Lord, and His reply was that the inheritance should pass to them – then He expanded His regulation to provide for other circumstances.
Interact With The Text
The consequences of the rebellion of certain tribal leaders and their followers was devastating and continued to have repercussions.
Why would the preservation of their family line have been so important to The daughters of Zelophehad?
The preservation of tribal and family identification was one way the Lord God build history and a systemic identity into the Israeli community.
When have you been confronted with a custom or practice or regulation which threatened to unfairly exclude or mistreat you? Were you successful in an appeal to a person in authority for justice?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something from a prior generation, biological and/or legal, which has impacted your life.
I will assess the negative and/or positive impact of generational choices and prayerfully acknowledge the Lord's desire to make something good from the bad and to leverage the good in His perfect plan.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Monday (Numbers 27:12 - 29)
27:12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain of the Abarim range, and see the land I have given to the Israelites. 27:13 When you have seen it, you will be gathered to your ancestors, as Aaron your brother was gathered to his ancestors. 27:14 For in the wilderness of Zin when the community rebelled against me, you rebelled against my command to show me as holy before their eyes over the water – the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.”
27:15 Then Moses spoke to the Lord: 27:16 “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all humankind, appoint a man over the community, 27:17 who will go out before them, and who will come in before them, and who will lead them out, and who will bring them in, so that the community of the Lord may not be like sheep that have no shepherd.”
27:18 The Lord replied to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is such a spirit, and lay your hand on him; 27:19 set him before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community, and commission him publicly. 27:20 Then you must delegate some of your authority to him, so that the whole community of the Israelites will be obedient. 27:21 And he will stand before Eleazar the priest, who will seek counsel for him before the Lord by the decision of the Urim. At his command they will go out, and at his command they will come in, he and all the Israelites with him, the whole community.”
27:22 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him; he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community. 27:23 He laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the Lord commanded, by the authority of Moses.
Daily, Weekly, Monthly Offerings, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Blowing Trumpets, Day of Atonement, The Feast of Temporary Shelters
Lord, Your heart is one of perfect grace and justice and You see beyond gender and race to the heart of the matter. May I follow Your perfect model, may I apply Your standard of justice to everyone, without regard to the imperfect preferences and traditions of man.
The Lord God instructed Moses to view the promised land and reminded him that he would not be allowed to enter it due to his rebellion at the second miracle of water from the stone.
Moses asked God to appoint a successor so that the people would have a shepherd and God instructed Moses and Eleazar to anoint Joshua before the people as evidence that God had called him.
The women brought a new question about the disposition of their inheritance were they to marry someone outside of their tribe. Moses consulted with God and His priority was that that an inheritance remain with a tribe, therefore women were required to marry within their tribe so that their inheritance would not be displaced.
Lord, You required of the Israelites a daily offering, may my life also be a daily offering to You.
The Lord God refined His prior instructions for the offerings required of the people. He increased the offering to daily.
He reminded them of the importance of the Passover, of refraining from “ordinary work” on the seventh day, and that the offering must be “unblemished”.
Notable is the summary of 29:39 “‘These things you must present to the Lord at your appointed times, in addition to your vows and your freewill offerings, as your burnt offerings, your grain offerings, your drink offerings, and your peace offerings.’”
Interact With The Text
In matters of justice God does not discriminate against people based on their gender. The Lord appears to have increased the level of offerings, perhaps to keep the Israelites more constantly focused on Him, and less likely to rebel and to wander.
What had the people had observed about the Lord God, from His direct actions and through Moses, that caused these women to believe that their appeal for a change to the traditions would be heard? What must have been the impact of increased offerings as they meant more investment in the raising of “unblemished” sacrificial animals and of the best quality grains, all to be given without financial compensation for the sacrifice?
Moses was the single most-important human spokesman for God, when he rebelled at the stone of water (Meriba) it was a huge matter, as he placed himself between God and man and took upon himself credibility and expressed less-than-righteous anger. A lot had happened since their exodus from Egypt but as they are about to enter the promised land the Lord reminded them of the Passover so that they would not forget Who made it all possible.
When have you acted and/or spoken impulsively in a way that would have appeared to an observer to displace God in both authority and temperament? When have you assessed your giving to the Lord? Did you discover multiple ways that you do so from the resources He has given to you?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be acting independent of God and to show you where you may need to build a little structure (not rigid legalism or soul-numbing ritual) into your life - to keep Him constantly before you.
Today I will receive the chastising of the Holy Spirit. I will confess and repent of those times and places where I contemplate, and even act-out, revenge (great or small) – knowing that God has said that “... revenge belongs to the Lord”, or sin in my anger by allowing myself to be a tool of the enemy as I act and/or speak in a fit of rage, uncontrolled by the Holy Spirit; or perhaps I am cruel, disrespectful, spiteful, unjust, or in some other way I allow my flesh to control me when I am known as a child of God who should be a conduit of His love and to be under control. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement for my healing from this/these sin(s). As necessary I will ask one who is Biblically qualified as an elder to counsel and mentor me and to hold me accountable. I will agree with the Holy Spirit and add the necessary daily activities, dedicated to the praise and worship of God, to help me to keep my eyes on Him so that I am less likely to drift into the world. If I am reminded that I am already doing this well then I will pause to praise Him for that work in my life and I will look carefully to assure that these activities have not become powerless rituals or heart-dulling legalisms.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Tuesday (Numbers 30)
Vows Made by Men
30:1 Moses told the leaders of the tribes concerning the Israelites, “This is what the Lord has commanded: 30:2 If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath of binding obligation on himself, he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised.
Vows Made by Single Women
30:3 “If a young woman who is still living in her father’s house makes a vow to the Lord or places herself under an obligation, 30:4 and her father hears of her vow or the obligation to which she has pledged herself, and her father remains silent about her, then all her vows will stand, and every obligation to which she has pledged herself will stand. 30:5 But if her father overrules her when he hears about it, then none of her vows or her obligations which she has pledged for herself will stand. And the Lord will release her from it, because her father overruled her.
Vows Made by Married Women
30:6 “And if she marries a husband while under a vow, or she uttered anything impulsively by which she has pledged herself, 30:7 and her husband hears about it, but remains silent about her when he hears about it, then her vows will stand and her obligations which she has pledged for herself will stand. 30:8 But if when her husband hears it he overrules her, then he will nullify the vow she has taken, and whatever she uttered impulsively which she has pledged for herself. And the Lord will release her from it.
Vows Made by Widows
30:9 “But every vow of a widow or of a divorced woman which she has pledged for herself will remain intact. 30:10 If she made the vow in her husband’s house or put herself under obligation with an oath, 30:11 and her husband heard about it, but remained silent about her, and did not overrule her, then all her vows will stand, and every obligation which she pledged for herself will stand. 30:12 But if her husband clearly nullifies them when he hears them, then whatever she says by way of vows or obligations will not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the Lord will release her from them.
30:13 “Any vow or sworn obligation that would bring affliction to her, her husband can confirm or nullify. 30:14 But if her husband remains completely silent about her from day to day, he thus confirms all her vows or all her obligations which she is under; he confirms them because he remained silent about when he heard them. 30:15 But if he should nullify them after he has heard them, then he will bear her iniquity.”
30:16 These are the statutes that the Lord commanded Moses, relating to a man and his wife, and a father and his young daughter who is still living in her father’s house.
Lord, You have told us that our yes must be our yes and our no our no, that we must honor our word, and that we live under various sorts of authority. May I be found faithful to keep my word.
Scripture In Perspective
The Lord, through Moses, communicated to the elders of the tribes of Israel His instructions as to the integrity of a person’s word.
The adult male who gave his word was completely bound by it once given.
In matters where a vow or sworn obligation of an unmarried woman, still in her father’s household, could be over-ruled by her father – the father remained the final authority.
Under the same circumstances and for the same reason a married woman could be over-ruled by her husband as he was the final authority.
A widow was like an adult male, fully responsible to fulfill her vows and oaths, regardless of the consequences; however, if her vows and oaths were made while her husband still lived and he had over-ruled her then she did not suddenly become responsible for them merely because she had become a widow.
The same is true for the divorced woman with the qualifier that if her vow or oath was made while still married (perhaps also and/or still living in his house) and he over-ruled her it was null, if not then it was valid. A legally-divorced person no longer has a spouse so the former husband would have no authority post-divorce. The text reinforces this as it uses the past-tense “heard” to refer to pre-divorce.
Interact With The Text
The Lord God made provision for single women and wives (who often married very young and were not allowed access to education and significant decision-making roles where they would learn to be more cautious) to be protected from careless vows and oaths they might make that could cause them affliction (while they were under the protection of their father or husband).
In modern cultures the ability of a father or husband to over-rule an adult daughter or wife initially sounds troublesome. When one considers the common practice of girls in their early to mid teens marrying, and the obligation of the father or husband to protect his daughter or wife, doesn't God's caring-protective context of “... would bring affliction to her” appear to be a gift not a burden?
Once a woman had been married and then widowed the Lord appears to anticipate that she was mature enough to make decisions and to be held fully accountable for them.
When have you made an oath or a vow, one with the potential to bring you affliction, and which you later hoped and prayed someone might over-rule on your behalf? (e.g. challenging someone to a fight, or making a bet, and an adult was able to unilaterally nullify it as “not permitted”.)
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be failing to keep your word, and where you are doing so responsibly.
Today I will celebrate those areas of my life where I have been matured by the Holy Spirit so that I am a partner with Him in faithfulness to my word, no matter what. I will also confess those areas where I still struggle with that and will ask a fellow believer to be my accountability and prayer partner as I move closer to the Holy Spirit in integrity and obedience.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
Wednesday (Numbers 31 - 32)
The Midianite War
31:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 31:2 “Exact vengeance for the Israelites on the Midianites – after that you will be gathered to your people.”
31:3 So Moses spoke to the people: “Arm men from among you for the war, to attack the Midianites and to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. 31:4 You must send to the battle a thousand men from every tribe throughout all the tribes of Israel.” 31:5 So a thousand from every tribe, twelve thousand armed for battle in all, were provided out of the thousands of Israel.
Campaign Against the Midianites
31:6 So Moses sent them to the war, one thousand from every tribe, with Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest, who was in charge of the holy articles and the signal trumpets. 31:7 They fought against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses, and they killed every male. 31:8 They killed the kings of Midian in addition to those slain – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – five Midianite kings. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.
31:9 The Israelites took the women of Midian captives along with their little ones, and took all their herds, all their flocks, and all their goods as plunder. 31:10 They burned all their towns where they lived and all their encampments. 31:11 They took all the plunder and all the spoils, both people and animals. 31:12 They brought the captives and the spoils and the plunder to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the Israelite community, to the camp on the plains of Moab, along the Jordan River across from Jericho. 31:13 Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the community went out to meet them outside the camp.
The Death of the Midianite Women
31:14 But Moses was furious with the officers of the army, the commanders over thousands and commanders over hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 31:15 Moses said to them, “Have you allowed all the women to live? 31:16 Look, these people through the counsel of Balaam caused the Israelites to act treacherously against the Lord in the matter of Peor – which resulted in the plague among the community of the Lord! 31:17 Now therefore kill every boy, and kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse with a man. 31:18 But all the young women who have not had sexual intercourse with a man will be yours.
Purification After Battle
31:19 “Any of you who has killed anyone or touched any of the dead, remain outside the camp for seven days; purify yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day. 31:20 You must purify each garment and everything that is made of skin, everything made of goat’s hair, and everything made of wood.”
31:21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who had gone into the battle, “This is the ordinance of the law that the Lord commanded Moses: 31:22 ‘Only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, 31:23 everything that may stand the fire, you are to pass through the fire, and it will be ceremonially clean, but it must still be purified with the water of purification. Anything that cannot withstand the fire you must pass through the water. 31:24 You must wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you will be ceremonially clean, and afterward you may enter the camp.’”
The Distribution of Spoils
31:25 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 31:26 “You and Eleazar the priest, and all the family leaders of the community, take the sum of the plunder that was captured, both people and animals. 31:27 Divide the plunder into two parts, one for those who took part in the war – who went out to battle – and the other for all the community.
31:28 “You must exact a tribute for the Lord from the fighting men who went out to battle: one life out of five hundred, from the people, the cattle, and from the donkeys and the sheep. 31:29 You are to take it from their half-share and give it to Eleazar the priest for a raised offering to the Lord. 31:30 From the Israelites’ half-share you are to take one portion out of fifty of the people, the cattle, the donkeys, and the sheep – from every kind of animal – and you are to give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.”
31:31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses. 31:32 The spoil that remained of the plunder which the fighting men had gathered was 675,000 sheep, 31:33 72,000 cattle, 31:34 61,000 donkeys, 31:35 and 32,000 young women who had never had sexual intercourse with a man.
31:36 The half-portion of those who went to war numbered 337,500 sheep; 31:37 the Lord’s tribute from the sheep was 675. 31:38 The cattle numbered 36,000; the Lord’s tribute was 72. 31:39 The donkeys were 30,500, of which the Lord’s tribute was 61. 31:40 The people were 16,000, of which the Lord’s tribute was 32 people.
31:41 So Moses gave the tribute, which was the Lord’s raised offering, to Eleazar the priest, as the Lord commanded Moses.
31:42 From the Israelites’ half-share that Moses had separated from the fighting men, 31:43 there were 337,500 sheep from the portion belonging to the community, 31:44 36,000 cattle, 31:45 30,500 donkeys, 31:46 and 16,000 people.
31:47 From the Israelites’ share Moses took one of every fifty people and animals and gave them to the Levites who were responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle, just as the Lord commanded Moses.
31:48 Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army, the commanders over thousands and the commanders over hundreds, approached Moses 31:49 and said to him, “Your servants have taken a count of the men who were in the battle, who were under our authority, and not one is missing. 31:50 So we have brought as an offering for the Lord what each man found: gold ornaments, armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.” 31:51 Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from them, all of it in the form of ornaments. 31:52 All the gold of the offering they offered up to the Lord from the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds weighed 16,750 shekels. 31:53 Each soldier had taken plunder for himself. 31:54 So Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds and brought it into the tent of meeting as a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord.
The Petition of the Reubenites and Gadites
32:1 Now the Reubenites and the Gadites possessed a very large number of cattle. When they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were ideal for cattle, 32:2 the Gadites and the Reubenites came and addressed Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the community. They said, 32:3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, 32:4 the land that the Lord subdued before the community of Israel, is ideal for cattle, and your servants have cattle.” 32:5 So they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for our inheritance. Do not have us cross the Jordan River.”
32:6 Moses said to the Gadites and the Reubenites, “Must your brothers go to war while you remain here? 32:7 Why do you frustrate the intent of the Israelites to cross over into the land which the Lord has given them? 32:8 Your fathers did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. 32:9 When they went up to the Eshcol Valley and saw the land, they frustrated the intent of the Israelites so that they did not enter the land that the Lord had given them. 32:10 So the anger of the Lord was kindled that day, and he swore, 32:11 ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old and upward who came from Egypt will see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 32:12 except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ 32:13 So the Lord’s anger was kindled against the Israelites, and he made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all that generation that had done wickedly before the Lord was finished. 32:14 Now look, you are standing in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinners, to increase still further the fierce wrath of the Lord against the Israelites. 32:15 For if you turn away from following him, he will once again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will be the reason for their destruction.”
The Offer of the Reubenites and Gadites
32:16 Then they came very close to him and said, “We will build sheep folds here for our flocks and cities for our families, 32:17 but we will maintain ourselves in armed readiness and go before the Israelites until whenever we have brought them to their place. Our descendants will be living in fortified towns as a protection against the inhabitants of the land. 32:18 We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has his inheritance. 32:19 For we will not accept any inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this eastern side of the Jordan.”
32:20 Then Moses replied, “If you will do this thing, and if you will arm yourselves for battle before the Lord, 32:21 and if all your armed men cross the Jordan before the Lord until he drives out his enemies from his presence 32:22 and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may return and be free of your obligation to the Lord and to Israel. This land will then be your possession in the Lord’s sight.
32:23 “But if you do not do this, then look, you will have sinned against the Lord. And know that your sin will find you out. 32:24 So build cities for your descendants and pens for your sheep, but do what you have said you would do.”
32:25 So the Gadites and the Reubenites replied to Moses, “Your servants will do as my lord commands. 32:26 Our children, our wives, our flocks, and all our livestock will be there in the cities of Gilead, 32:27 but your servants will cross over, every man armed for war, to do battle in the Lord’s presence, just as my lord says.”
32:28 So Moses gave orders about them to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua son of Nun, and to the heads of the families of the Israelite tribes. 32:29 Moses said to them: “If the Gadites and the Reubenites cross the Jordan with you, each one equipped for battle in the Lord’s presence, and you conquer the land, then you must allot them the territory of Gilead as their possession. 32:30 But if they do not cross over with you armed, they must receive possessions among you in Canaan.” 32:31 Then the Gadites and the Reubenites answered, “Your servants will do what the Lord has spoken. 32:32 We will cross armed in the Lord’s presence into the land of Canaan, and then the possession of our inheritance that we inherit will be ours on this side of the Jordan River.”
32:33 So Moses gave to the Gadites, the Reubenites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the realm of King Sihon of the Amorites, and the realm of King Og of Bashan, the entire land with its cities and the territory surrounding them. 32:34 The Gadites rebuilt Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 32:35 Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 32:36 Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran as fortified cities, and constructed pens for their flocks. 32:37 The Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 32:38 Nebo, Baal Meon (with a change of name), and Sibmah. They renamed the cities they built.
32:39 The descendants of Machir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. 32:40 So Moses gave Gilead to Machir, son of Manasseh, and he lived there. 32:41 Now Jair son of Manasseh went and captured their small towns and named them Havvoth Jair. 32:42 Then Nobah went and captured Kenath and its villages and called it Nobah after his own name.
Lord, Your vengeance for the deliberate corruption of Your people is perfectly holy and just. May recognize my duty to defend my holiness before you with the same zealotry. You allow Your people to make choices, and ask only that they keep their commitments to You, and to others. May I never forget my obligations to You and to my fellow believers.
Scripture In Perspective
The Lord God instructed Moses that his last act would be to direct the Israelites to assemble a military force so that they might serve as His avenging punishment of the Midianites for their deliberate efforts to curse, and then to seduce, Israel on behalf of their false pagan god.
Moses required each of the twelve tribes to send 1,000 men, together with a priest, into battle. God gave them the complete victory and they killed every man (soldier) on the field, including the five tribal Midianite kings, and destroyed their cities.
Balaam, the mercenary sorcerer/priest, had apparently returned to the service of the Midianites to advise and assist them in their efforts to seduce the Israelites and he also paid with his life for his treachery.
Without permission, as this was a “holy war” of obliteration of evil, the tribal leaders took as plunder the women and children, livestock, crops, and precious metals. Moses was righteously angry as they had brought the evil back with them.
In God’s will Moses instructed that every adult woman who was no longer a virgin be killed as well as all of the male children. He allowed them to keep the female children and virgin women. The goal was to eliminate sources of spiritual seduction.
[The NET translators observe that this was a horrible thing, though less horrible than the complete destruction of every Midianite.]
All of the soldiers and their clothing and weapons and spoils had to go through the purification rite as the taking of human life made one ritually unclean. [Later on King David was denied the privilege of building the permanent temple because he had been a man of war.]
The spoils were divided with a portion to the priests, a portion to the Israelites who did not fight, and a portion to the soldiers.
Because God had preserved the lives of every one of the 12,000 Israelite soldiers their commanders brought a special thanks offering, from the precious metals they had captured, as a memorial.
The Reubenites and Gadites had a plan – they liked the grazing lands in Gilead on the opposite side of the Jordan River from the promised land.
When they asked Moses if they could have that land instead of what was on the other side he angrily challenged them as repeating the rebellion of their fathers for refusing to cross the Jordan and to do battle.
The offered to build fortified cities for their women and children and livestock then to go with the rest of Israel to conquer the promised lands – and only once everyone else was settled would they return to Gilead.
Moses agreed and so instructed the priests, who would oversee the division of lands.
Interact With The Text
The Lord God had little mercy for those who would cooperate with the enemy to seduce His people – they were a troublesome enough lot without any outside distractions. Moses was very sensitive to any sign of tribal fragmentation or rebellion.
Can you see how God viewed the adult men, and the women who had crossed the physical, emotional, and spiritual line of intercourse, of being guilty of assisting in the attempted seduction of the Israelites on behalf of the enemy – because they were mature enough to make choices? In the case of the boys, that they brought the sins of their fathers along with them and would become a problem to Israel when they grew older? (His instruction was that all of the Midianites be destroyed, but once the soldiers had brought many back with them He chose mercy because, for cultural reasons, the female children and virgin-women could be safely integrated into the Israelite culture.) How convinced must have been the Reubenites and Gadites that the land in Gilead was excellent for their cattle that they’d make the deal they did with Moses and the rest of the tribes?
Balaam only refused to curse Israel because God did not allow him to do so – he clearly had no love for Israel and little regard for God. Having the Reubenites and Gadites on the opposite side of the Jordan would have served as a buffer and early-warning of attack from that side.
When have you set out on a task and decided to do things differently than instructed? What was the result? When have you identified a somewhat different way to go than the ‘crowd’ and faced some early resistance?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are compromising with worldly influences in your life, and to reveal to you any place where you may be choosing a path that causes you to fail to keep your obligations to other believers.
Today I will agree with the Holy Spirit and I will mount my own ‘holy war’ against one or more things in my life which draw me away from the Lord. I will ask a fellow believer to be my accountability partner and my prayer partner as well. I will accept the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit and negotiate a way that I may follow the path that I believe represents the best stewardship of the resources and responsibilities given to me by the Lord while balancing that with my obligations to the fellowship of believers.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Thursday (Numbers 33 - 34)
Wanderings from Egypt to Sinai
33:1 These are the journeys of the Israelites, who went out of the land of Egypt by their divisions under the authority of Moses and Aaron. 33:2 Moses recorded their departures according to their journeys, by the commandment of the Lord; now these are their journeys according to their departures. 33:3 They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the Israelites went out defiantly in plain sight of all the Egyptians. 33:4 Now the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had killed among them; the Lord also executed judgments on their gods.
33:5 The Israelites traveled from Rameses and camped in Succoth.
33:6 They traveled from Succoth, and camped in Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. 33:7 They traveled from Etham, and turned again to Pi-hahiroth, which is before Baal-Zephon; and they camped before Migdal. 33:8 They traveled from Pi-hahiroth, and passed through the middle of the sea into the wilderness, and went three days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham, and camped in Marah. 33:9 They traveled from Marah and came to Elim; in Elim there are twelve fountains of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there.
33:10 They traveled from Elim, and camped by the Red Sea. 33:11 They traveled from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Zin. 33:12 They traveled from the wilderness of Zin and camped in Dophkah. 33:13 And they traveled from Dophkah, and camped in Alush.
33:14 They traveled from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. 33:15 They traveled from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai.
Wanderings in the Wilderness
33:16 They traveled from the desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah. 33:17 They traveled from Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth. 33:18 They traveled from Hazeroth and camped in Rithmah. 33:19 They traveled from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon-perez. 33:20 They traveled from Rimmon-perez and camped in Libnah. 33:21 They traveled from Libnah and camped at Rissah. 33:22 They traveled from Rissah and camped in Kehelathah. 33:23 They traveled from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher. 33:24 They traveled from Mount Shepher and camped in Haradah. 33:25 They traveled from Haradah and camped in Makheloth. 33:26 They traveled from Makheloth and camped at Tahath. 33:27 They traveled from Tahath and camped at Terah. 33:28 They traveled from Terah and camped in Mithcah. 33:29 They traveled from Mithcah and camped in Hashmonah. 33:30 They traveled from Hashmonah and camped in Moseroth. 33:31 They traveled from Moseroth and camped in Bene-jaakan. 33:32 They traveled from Bene-jaakan and camped at Hor-haggidgad. 33:33 They traveled from Hor-haggidgad and camped in Jotbathah. 33:34 They traveled from Jotbathah and camped in Abronah. 33:35 They traveled from Abronah and camped at Ezion-geber. 33:36 They traveled from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.
Wanderings from Kadesh to Moab
33:37 They traveled from Kadesh and camped in Mount Hor at the edge of the land of Edom. 33:38 Aaron the priest ascended Mount Hor at the command of the Lord, and he died there in the fortieth year after the Israelites had come out of the land of Egypt on the first day of the fifth month. 33:39 Now Aaron was 123 years old when he died in Mount Hor. 33:40 The king of Arad, the Canaanite king who lived in the south of the land of Canaan, heard about the approach of the Israelites.
33:41 They traveled from Mount Hor and camped in Zalmonah. 33:42 They traveled from Zalmonah and camped in Punon. 33:43 They traveled from Punon and camped in Oboth. 33:44 They traveled from Oboth and camped in Iye-abarim, on the border of Moab. 33:45 They traveled from Iim and camped in Dibon-gad. 33:46 They traveled from Dibon-gad and camped in Almon-diblathaim. 33:47 They traveled from Almon-diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim before Nebo. 33:48 They traveled from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan River across from Jericho. 33:49 They camped by the Jordan, from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.
At the Border of Canaan
33:50 The Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho. He said: 33:51 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 33:52 you must drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images, all their molten images, and demolish their high places. 33:53 You must dispossess the inhabitants of the land and live in it, for I have given you the land to possess it. 33:54 You must divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families. To a larger group you must give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group you must give a smaller inheritance. Everyone’s inheritance must be in the place where his lot falls. You must inherit according to your ancestral tribes. 33:55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, then those whom you allow to remain will be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your side, and will cause you trouble in the land where you will be living. 33:56 And what I intended to do to them I will do to you.”
The Southern Border of the Land
34:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 34:2 “Give these instructions to the Israelites, and tell them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that has been assigned to you as an inheritance, the land of Canaan with its borders, 34:3 your southern border will extend from the wilderness of Zin along the Edomite border, and your southern border will run eastward to the extremity of the Salt Sea, 34:4 and then the border will turn from the south to the Scorpion Ascent, continue to Zin, and then its direction will be from the south to Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and pass over to Azmon. 34:5 There the border will turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and then its direction is to the sea.
The Western Border of the Land
34:6 “‘And for a western border you will have the Great Sea. This will be your western border.
The Northern Border of the Land
34:7 “‘And this will be your northern border: From the Great Sea you will draw a line to Mount Hor; 34:8 from Mount Hor you will draw a line to Lebo Hamath, and the direction of the border will be to Zedad. 34:9 The border will continue to Ziphron, and its direction will be to Hazar Enan. This will be your northern border.
The Eastern Border of the Land
34:10 “‘For your eastern border you will draw a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. 34:11 The border will run down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain, and the border will descend and reach the eastern side of the Sea of Chinnereth. 34:12 Then the border will continue down the Jordan River and its direction will be to the Salt Sea. This will be your land by its borders that surround it.’”
34:13 Then Moses commanded the Israelites: “This is the land which you will inherit by lot, which the Lord has commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes, 34:14 because the tribe of the Reubenites by their families, the tribe of the Gadites by their families, and half of the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance. 34:15 The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance on this side of the Jordan, east of Jericho, toward the sunrise.”
34:16 The Lord said to Moses: 34:17 “These are the names of the men who are to allocate the land to you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. 34:18 You must take one leader from every tribe to assist in allocating the land as an inheritance. 34:19 These are the names of the men: from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh; 34:20 from the tribe of the Simeonites, Shemuel son of Ammihud; 34:21 from the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad son of Kislon; 34:22 and from the tribe of the Danites, a leader, Bukki son of Jogli. 34:23 From the Josephites, Hanniel son of Ephod, a leader from the tribe of Manasseh; 34:24 from the tribe of the Ephraimites, a leader, Kemuel son of Shiphtan; 34:25 from the tribe of the Zebulunites, a leader, Elizaphan son of Parnach; 34:26 from the tribe of the Issacharites, a leader, Paltiel son of Azzan; 34:27 from the tribe of the Asherites, a leader, Ahihud son of Shelomi; 34:28 and from the tribe of the Naphtalites, a leader, Pedahel son of Ammihud.” 34:29 These are the ones whom the Lord commanded to divide up the inheritance among the Israelites in the land of Canaan.
Lord, Your power is beyond any other, Your judgments and plans beyond challenge, and Your love for those who obey You is expressed in ways beyond human expectation. May I trust and obey You more each day.
Scripture In Perspective
Moses reviewed the history of the travels of the Israelites since the Exodus. He noted that God not only brought mortal-judgment upon the Egyptians, by taking their first born sons, He also “executed judgments” upon those agents of the enemy who served as their false gods.
The Lord God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to drive out all the inhabitants of the land, destroy all their idols and temples. To divide the land by lots. To inherit according to ancestral tribe.
The Lord God warned that if they fail to do as instructed those whom they allow to remain would “... be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your side, and will cause you trouble in the land where you will be living. And what I intended to do to them I will do to you.”
Interact With The Text
The Lord God has always been very clear as to His expectations, it is man and not God who has complicated the simple.
Given the very simple and direct instructions of God, His promise of blessing for obedience, and His warning of negative consequences for disobedience, why would the Israelites choose to be disobedient?
Even though it is the Lord’s desire to bless humankind, in order to have a relationship that is genuine, He repeatedly offers choices; knowing that humankind will often choose unwisely. He holds to His plan to gather, to Himself (for eternity), only those who freely choose relationship with Him.
When have you been confronted with different paths, and although you knew knowing the positive benefits of one path you recklessly chose, another and suffered the ill-consequences?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the place in your life from which He most wants you to choose to turn-away and rather choose to turn toward Him.
Today I will obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I will repent of my wrong choices and will follow the path He directs, no matter the cost. I will share my decision, seemingly great or small in the eyes of the world, with a fellow believer and ask them to pray in-agreement for my Holy Spirit-empowered perseverance.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Friday (Numbers 35)
The Levitical Cities
35:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the Moabite plains by the Jordan near Jericho. He said: 35:2 “Instruct the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. You must also give the Levites grazing land around the towns. 35:3 Thus they will have towns in which to live, and their grazing lands will be for their cattle, for their possessions, and for all their animals. 35:4 The grazing lands around the towns that you will give to the Levites must extend to a distance of 500 yards from the town wall.
35:5 “You must measure from outside the wall of the town on the east 1,000 yards, and on the south side 1,000 yards, and on the west side 1,000 yards, and on the north side 1,000 yards, with the town in the middle. This territory must belong to them as grazing land for the towns. 35:6 Now from these towns that you will give to the Levites you must select six towns of refuge to which a person who has killed someone may flee. And you must give them forty-two other towns.
35:7 “So the total of the towns you will give the Levites is forty-eight. You must give these together with their grazing lands. 35:8 The towns you will give must be from the possession of the Israelites. From the larger tribes you must give more; and from the smaller tribes fewer. Each must contribute some of its own towns to the Levites in proportion to the inheritance allocated to each.
The Cities of Refuge
35:9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 35:10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, 35:11 you must then designate some towns as towns of refuge for you, to which a person who has killed someone unintentionally may flee. 35:12 And they must stand as your towns of refuge from the avenger in order that the killer may not die until he has stood trial before the community. 35:13 These towns that you must give shall be your six towns for refuge.
35:14 “You must give three towns on this side of the Jordan, and you must give three towns in the land of Canaan; they must be towns of refuge. 35:15 These six towns will be places of refuge for the Israelites, and for the foreigner, and for the settler among them, so that anyone who kills any person accidentally may flee there.
35:16 “But if he hits someone with an iron tool so that he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must surely be put to death. 35:17 If he strikes him by throwing a stone large enough that he could die, and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must surely be put to death. 35:18 Or if he strikes him with a wooden hand weapon so that he could die, and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must surely be put to death. 35:19 The avenger of blood himself must kill the murderer; when he meets him, he must kill him.
35:20 “But if he strikes him out of hatred or throws something at him intentionally so that he dies, 35:21 or with enmity he strikes him with his hand and he dies, the one who struck him must surely be put to death, for he is a murderer. The avenger of blood must kill the murderer when he meets him.
35:22 “But if he strikes him suddenly, without enmity, or throws anything at him unintentionally, 35:23 or with any stone large enough that a man could die, without seeing him, and throws it at him, and he dies, even though he was not his enemy nor sought his harm, 35:24 then the community must judge between the slayer and the avenger of blood according to these decisions. 35:25 The community must deliver the slayer out of the hand of the avenger of blood, and the community must restore him to the town of refuge to which he fled, and he must live there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the consecrated oil. 35:26 But if the slayer at any time goes outside the boundary of the town to which he had fled, 35:27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the borders of the town of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the slayer, he will not be guilty of blood, 35:28 because the slayer should have stayed in his town of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to the land of his possessions. 35:29 So these things must be a statutory ordinance for you throughout your generations, in all the places where you live.
35:30 “Whoever kills any person, the murderer must be put to death by the testimony of witnesses; but one witness cannot testify against any person to cause him to be put to death. 35:31 Moreover, you must not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death; he must surely be put to death. 35:32 And you must not accept a ransom for anyone who has fled to a town of refuge, to allow him to return home and live on his own land before the death of the high priest.
35:33 “You must not pollute the land where you live, for blood defiles the land, and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed there, except by the blood of the person who shed it. 35:34 Therefore do not defile the land that you will inhabit, in which I live, for I the Lord live among the Israelites.”
Lord, You define true justice and You provide a way for man’s rage to be diverted long enough for justice to prevail. May I always remember to consult You first before acting from emotion.
Scripture In Perspective
The Lord God instructed the Israelites, through Moses, to provide land for the Levites in which to live and to keep their animals.
He also provided for six cities of refuge so that those who claimed innocence in the death of another might have a safe place to await evaluation, or to wait-out the death of the current high priest (a curious ‘loophole’).
Three of the cities of refuge would be located on one side of the Jordan and three in the land of Canaan.
In an obvious case of intentional-murder a relative was free to kill the murderer, but in an accidental death the accused was to go to a city of refuge and could not be harmed unless they left that city before the current high priest died – at which time they were not to be harmed anywhere.
God’s stated goal was to keep murder in the promised land from making it unclean, especially since He (rhetorically) dwelt among His people in the land - in the tabernacle.
Interact With The Text
The Lord God drew a careful distinction in the death of a person between intent and accident, so that the punishment suited the crime, and that the bereaved did not themselves commit murder in their grief-driven-rage.
While the cities of refuge were distributed so that people had quick access to them, it must have sometimes been a footrace to see if the accused could make it there before a family member killed him. What might have been the environment in the cities of refuge as the numbers of accused murderers multiplied?
God made the bereaved His tools of justice when someone was deliberately murdered while protecting them from sinning in their anger.
When have you been so angry that you sinned in that anger?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you tend to sin in your anger.
Today I will confess and repent of sinning in my anger. I will request and accept the forgiveness of God, and also of the one(s) against whom I have sinned (am sinning). I will pray in the morning every day for the Holy Spirit to warn me each time my anger begins to rise so that I may stop and pray and regain control before I sin again.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Saturday (Numbers 36)
Women and Land Inheritance
36:1 Then the heads of the family groups of the Gileadites, the descendant of Machir, the descendant of Manasseh, who were from the Josephite families, approached and spoke before Moses and the leaders who were the heads of the Israelite families. 36:2 They said, “The Lord commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance by lot to the Israelites; and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. 36:3 Now if they should be married to one of the men from another Israelite tribe, their inheritance would be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. As a result, it will be taken from the lot of our inheritance. 36:4 And when the Jubilee of the Israelites is to take place, their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our ancestral tribe.”
36:5 Then Moses gave a ruling to the Israelites by the word of the Lord: “What the tribe of the Josephites is saying is right. 36:6 This is what the Lord has commanded for Zelophehad’s daughters: ‘Let them marry whomever they think best, only they must marry within the family of their father’s tribe. 36:7 In this way the inheritance of the Israelites will not be transferred from tribe to tribe. But every one of the Israelites must retain the ancestral heritage. 36:8 And every daughter who possesses an inheritance from any of the tribes of the Israelites must become the wife of a man from any family in her father’s tribe, so that every Israelite may retain the inheritance of his fathers. 36:9 No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe. But every one of the tribes of the Israelites must retain its inheritance.”
36:10 As the Lord had commanded Moses, so the daughters of Zelophehad did. 36:11 For the daughters of Zelophehad – Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah – were married to the sons of their uncles. 36:12 They were married into the families of the Manassehites, the descendants of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s family.
36:13 These are the commandments and the decisions that the Lord commanded the Israelites through the authority of Moses, on the plains of Moab by the Jordan River opposite Jericho.
Lord, You protect our inheritance from Jesus, once truly granted it cannot ever be transferred or lost. May I always be grateful that by Your grace my inheritance is in Jesus the Christ.
Scripture In Perspective
Women, whose ancestry traced back to Joseph, had previously been promised that because no male was born to their father - his inheritance would pass to them and not a non-family member. Moses had consulted with God and affirmed that they should receive the inheritance.
Their new question addressed the disposition of their inheritance if they were to marry someone outside of their tribe. Again, Moses consulted with God and His priority was that that an inheritance remain with a tribe; therefore, women were required to marry within their tribe so that their inheritance would not be displaced.
Interact With The Text
When they were very young these same women were concerned about the challenge of the moment; their father had died without a son and tradition did not provide for a daughter to inherit, now they as they contemplated marriage their new concern was about the impact of marriage on the family inheritance.
While these women were concerned about maintaining the line of family inheritance, how might they deal with a choice between their love for a potential husband from another tribe and protecting the inheritance?
These women were required to make a sacrifice, they were limited – for husbands - to only the men within their tribe. If they married outside of their tribe their inheritance could not follow them.
When have you discovered that the answer to a problem in the past may have created a created a new challenge in the future?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may need to sacrifice an option or an opportunity in one area of your life in order to meet your responsibilities in another area.
Today I will give thanks that the Lord entrusts me with the freedom to make choices and I will pray for wisdom. Where I must make a decision that requires sacrifice I will do so in consultation with the Word, in prayer, and in consultation with those whom the Bible acknowledges as “elders”. I will share my decision making process with a fellow believer as a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and empower those who are His.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.