Numbers 27


The daughters of Zelophehad claim their inheritance, 1-4.

Moses brings their case before the Lord, 5.

He allows their claim, 6, 7;

and a law is made to regulate the inheritance of daughters,


Moses is commanded to go up to Mount Abarim, and view the

promised land, 12;

is apprised of his death, 13;

and because he did not sanctify God at the waters of Meribah, he

shall not enter into it, 14.

Moses requests the Lord to appoint a person to supply his place

as leader of th Israelites, 15-17.

God appoints a Joshua, commands Moses to lay his hands upon him,

to set him before Eleazar the priest, and give him a charge in

the sight of the people, 18-20.

Eleazar shall ask counsel for him by Urim, and at his command

shall the Israelites go out and come in, 21.

Moses does as the Lord commanded him, and consecrates Joshua,

22, 23.


Verse 1. The daughters of Zelophehad] The singular case of

these women caused an additional law to be made to the civil code

of Israel, which satisfactorily ascertained and amply secured the

right of succession in cases of inheritance. The law, which is as

reasonable as it is just, stands thus: 1. On the demise of the

father the estate goes to the sons; 2. If there be no son, the

daughters succeed; 3. If there be no daughter, the brothers of

the deceased inherit; 4. If there be no brethren or paternal

uncles, the estate goes to the brothers of his father; 5. If

there be no grand uncles or brothers of the father of the

deceased, then the nearest akin succeeds to the inheritance.

Beyond the fifth degree the law does not proceed, because as the

families of the Israelites were kept distinct in their respective

tribes, there must always be some who could be called kinsmen, and

were really such, having descended without interruption from the

patriarch of the tribe.

Verse 7. Thou shalt surely give them-an inheritance among their

father's brethren] There is a curious anomaly here in the Hebrew

text which cannot be seen in our translation. In Hebrew they,

them, and their, you, ye, and your, are both of the masculine and

feminine genders, according as the nouns are to which they are

affixed; but these words are of no gender in English. In this

verse, speaking of the brethren of the father of those women, the

masculine termination hem, THEIR, is used instead of the

feminine, hen, governed by benoth, daughters. So

lahem, to THEM, and abihem, THEIR fathers,

masculine, are found in the present text, instead of lahen and

abihen, feminine. Interpreters have sought for a hidden

meaning here, and they have found several, whether hidden here or

not. One says, "the masculine gender is used because these

daughters are treated as if they were heirs male." Another,

"that it is because of their faith and conscientious regard to the

ancient customs, and to keep the memory of their father in being,

which might well benefit men." Another, "that it signifies the

free gift of God in Christ, where there is neither male nor

female, bond or free, for all are one in Christ;" and so on, for

where there is no rule there is no end to conjecture. Now the

plain truth is, that the masculine is in the present printed text

a mistake for the feminine. The Samaritan, which many think by

far the most authentic copy of the Pentateuch, has the feminine

gender in both places; so also have upwards of fourscore of the

MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi. Therefore all the curious

reasons for this anomaly offered by interpreters are only serious

trifling on the blunder of some heedless copyists.

While on the subject of mysterious reasons and meanings, some

might think it unpardonable if I passed by the mystery of the

fall, recovery, and full salvation of man, signified, as some will

have it, by the names of Zelophehad and his daughters. "1.

Zelophehad's daughters, claiming a portion in the promised land,

may represent believers in Christ claiming an inheritance among

the saints in light. 2. These five virgins may be considered as

the five wise virgins, (Mt 25:1-10,) who took oil in their vessels

with their lamps, and consequently are types of those who make a

wise provision for their eternal state. 3. They are examples of

encouragement to weak and destitute believers, who, though they are

orphans in this world, shall not be deprived of their heavenly

inheritance. 4. Their names are mysterious; for Zelophehad,

TSELOPHCHAD, signifies the shadow of fear or dread. His first

daughter, MACHLAH, infirmity; the second, NOAH,

wandering; the third, CHOGLAH, turning about or dancing

for joy: the fourth, MILCAH, a queen; the fifth,

TIRTSAH, well-pleasing or acceptable. By these names we may

observe our reviving by grace in Christ; for we are all born of the

shadow of fear, (Tselophchad,) being brought forth in sin, and

through fear of death being all our life time subject to bondage,

Heb 2:15.

This begets (Machlah) infirmity or sickness-grief of heart for

our estate. After which (Noah) wandering about for help and

comfort we find it in Christ, by whom our sorrow is turned into joy

(Choglah.) He communicates of his royalty (Milcah) to us, making

us kings and priests unto God and his Father, Re 1:6. So we

shall at last be presented unto him glorious and without blemish,

being (Tirtsah) well-pleasing and acceptable in his sight." This

is a specimen of pious INGENUITY, which has been endeavouring to

do the work of an EVANGELIST in the Church of God from the time of

Origen to the present day.

Verse 12. Get thee up into this Mount Abarim] The mountain

which Moses was commanded to ascend was certainly Mount Nebo, see

De 32:49, &c.,

which was the same as Pisgah, see De 34:1. The mountains of

Abarim, according to Dr. Shaw, are a long ridge of frightful,

rocky, precipitous hills, which are continued all along the eastern

coast of the Dead Sea, as far as the eye can reach. As in Hebrew

abar signifies to pass over, Abarim here probably signifies

passages; and the ridge in this place had its name in all

likelihood from the passage of the Israelites, as it was opposite

to these that they passed the Jordan into the promised land.

Verse 14. Ye rebelled against my commandment]

See Clarke on Nu 20:12.

Verse 16. The Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh]

See Clarke on Nu 16:22.

Verse 17. That the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep

which have no shepherd.] This is a beautiful expression, and

shows us in what light Moses viewed himself among his people. He

was their shepherd; he sought no higher place; he fed and guided

the flock of God under the direction of the Divine Spirit, and was

faithful in all his Master's house. To this saying of Moses our

Lord alludes, Mt 9:36.

Verse 18. In whom is the spirit] This must certainly mean the

Spirit of God; and because he was endued with this Spirit,

therefore he was capable of leading the people. How miserably

qualified is that man for the work of God who is not guided and

influenced by the Holy Ghost! God never chooses a man to

accomplish his designs but that one whom he himself has qualified

for the work.

Verse 20. And thou shalt put, &c.] mechodecha, of

thine honour or authority upon him. Thou shalt show to the whole

congregation that thou hast associated him with thyself in the

government of the people.

Verse 21. Eleazar the priest-shall ask counsel for him] Here

was a remarkable difference between him and Moses. God talked

with Moses face to face; but to Joshua only through the medium of

the high priest.

Verse 23. He laid his hands upon him] As a proof of his being

appointed to and qualified for the work. So at the word of Joshua

they were to go out, and at his word to come in, Nu 27:21.

And thus he was a type of our blessed Lord as to his mediatorial

office, and Divine appointment as man to the work of our

salvation; and to this circumstance of the appointment of Joshua

to this work, and his receiving of Moses's honour and glory, St.

Peter seems to refer in these words, 2Pe 1:16, 17: "We were

eye-witnesses of his majesty; for he received from God the Father

honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the

excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well

pleased; HEAR HIM." See Mt 17:5. But one infinitely greater

than either Moses or Joshua is here.

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