Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Mustering of Israel in the Steppes of Moab - Numbers 26
Before taking vengeance upon the Midianites, as they had been commanded, the Israelites were to be mustered as the army of Jehovah, by means of a fresh numbering, since the generation that was mustered at Sinai (ch. 1-4) had died out in the wilderness, with the sole exception of Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 26:64, Numbers 26:65). On this ground the command of God was issued, "after the plague,"' for a fresh census and muster. For with the plague the last of those who came out of Egypt, and were not to enter Canaan, had been swept away, and thus the sentence had been completely executed. - The object of the fresh numbering, however, was not merely to muster Israel for the war with the Midianites, and in the approaching conquest of the promised land with the Canaanites also, but was intended to serve at the same time as a preparation for their settlement in Canaan, viz., for the division of the conquered land among the tribes and families of Israel. For this reason (Numbers 26) the families of the different tribes are enumerated here, which was not the case in ch. 1; and generally instructions are also given in Numbers 1:52 -56, with reference to the division of Canaan. - The numbering was simply extended, as before, to the male population of the age of 20 years and upwards, and was no doubt carried out, like the previous census at Sinai, by Moses and the high priest (Eleazar), with the assistance of the heads of the tribes, although the latter are not expressly mentioned here. - The names of the families correspond, - with very few exceptions, - to the grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob mentioned in Genesis 46. - With regard to the total number of the people, and the number of the different tribes.
And it came to pass after the plague, that the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying,Mustering of the Twelve Tribes. - Numbers 26:1-4. The command of God to Moses and Eleazar is the same as in Numbers 1, 2, and 3, except that it does not enter so much into details.
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,"And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them" (דּבּר with the accusative, as in Genesis 37:4). The pronoun refers to "the children of Israel," or more correctly, to the heads of the nation as the representatives of the congregation, who were to carry out the numbering. On the Arboth-Moab, see at Numbers 22:1. Only the leading point in their words is mentioned, viz., "from twenty years old and upwards" (sc., shall ye take the number of the children of Israel), since it was very simple to supply the words "take the sum" from Numbers 26:2.
(Note: This is, at all events, easier and simpler than the alterations of the text which have been suggested for the purpose of removing the difficulty. Knobel proposes to alter וידבּר into ויּדבּר, and לאמר into לפקד: "Moses and Eleazar arranged the children of Israel when they mustered them." But הדבּיר does not mean to arrange, but simply to drive in pairs, to subjugate (Psalm 18:48, and Psalm 47:4), - an expression which, as much be immediately apparent, is altogether inapplicable to the arrangement of the people in families for the purpose of taking a census.),
- The words from "the children of Israel" in Numbers 26:4 onwards form the introduction to the enumeration of the different tribes (Numbers 26:5.), and the verb יהיוּ (were) must be supplied. "And the children of Israel, who went forth out of Egypt, were Reuben," etc.
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.
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:The families of Reuben tally with Genesis 46:9; Exodus 6:14, and 1 Chronicles 5:3. The plural בּני (sons), in Numbers 26:8, where only one son is mentioned, is to be explained from the fact, that several sons of this particular son (i.e., grandsons) are mentioned afterwards. On Dathan and Abiram, see at Numbers 16:1 and Numbers 16:32. See also the remark made here in Numbers 26:10 and Numbers 26:11, viz., that those who were destroyed with the company of Korah were for a sign (נס, here a warning); but that the sons of Korah were not destroyed along with their father.
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.
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:The Simeonites counted only five families, as Ohad (Genesis 46:10) left no family. Nemuel is called Jemuel there, as yod and nun are often interchanged (cf. Ges. thes. pp. 833 and 557); and Zerach is another name of the same signification for Zohar (Zerach, the rising of the sun; Zohar, candor, splendour).
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.
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:The Gadites are the same as in Genesis 46:16, except that Ozni is called Ezbon there.
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.
The sons of Judah were Er and Onan: and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.The sons and families of Judah agree with Genesis 46:12 (cf. Genesis 38:6.); also with 1 Chronicles 2:3-5.
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 family of the Hamulites.
These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and sixteen thousand and five hundred.
Of the sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites: of Pua, the family of the Punites:The families of Issachar correspond to the sons mentioned in Genesis 46:13, except that the name Job occurs there instead of Jashub. The two names have the same signification, as Job is derived from an Arabic word which signifies to return.
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.
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.The families of Zebulun correspond to the sons named in Genesis 46:14.
These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them, threescore thousand and five hundred.
The sons of Joseph after their families were Manasseh and Ephraim.The descendants of Joseph were classified in two leading families, according to his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim, who were born before the removal of Israel to Egypt, and were raised into founders of tribes in consequence of the patriarch Israel having adopted them as his own sons (Genesis 48).
Of the sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the family of the Machirites: and Machir begat Gilead: of Gilead come the family of the Gileadites.Eight families descended from Manasseh: viz., one from his son Machir, the second from Machir's son or Manasseh's grandson Gilead, and the other six from the six sons of Gilead. The genealogical accounts in Numbers 27:1; Numbers 36:1, and Joshua 17:1., fully harmonize with this, except that Iezer (Numbers 26:30) is called Abiezer in Joshua 17:2; whereas only a part of the names mentioned here occur in the genealogical fragments in 1 Chronicles 2:21-24, and 7:14-29. In Numbers 26:33, a son of Hepher, named Zelophehad, is mentioned. He had no sons, but only daughters, whose names are given here to prepare the way for the legal regulations mentioned in Numbers 27 and 39, to which this fact gave rise.
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.
These are the sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthalhites: of Becher, the family of the Bachrites: of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites.There were four families descended from Ephraim; three from his sons, and one from his grandson. Of the descendants of Sutelah several links are given in 1 Chronicles 7:20.
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.
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:The children of Benjamin formed seven families, five of whom were founded by his sons, and two by grandsons. (On the differences which occur between the names given here and those in Genesis 46:21.) Some of the sons and grandsons of Benjamin mentioned here are also found in the genealogical fragments in 1 Chronicles 7:6-18, and 1 Chronicles 8:1.
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.
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.The descendants of Dan formed only one family, named from a son of Dan, who is called Shuham here, but Hushim in Genesis 46:23; though this family no doubt branched out into several smaller families, which are not named here, simply because this list contains only the leading families into which the tribes were divided.
All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them, were threescore and four thousand and four hundred.
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.The families of Asher agree with the sons of Asher mentioned in Genesis 46:17 and 1 Chronicles 7:30, except that Ishuah is omitted here, because he founded no family.
Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites: of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites.
And the name of 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.
Of the sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites: of Guni, the family of the Gunites:The families of Naphtali tally with the sons of Naphtali in Genesis 46:24 and 1 Chronicles 7:30.
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 the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.The total number of the persons mustered was 601,730.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,Instructions concerning the Distribution of the Land. - In Numbers 26:53, Numbers 26:54, the command is given to distribute the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes ("unto these"), according to the number of the names (Numbers 1:2-18), i.e., to the tribes and families that contained only a few persons, they were to make it small; to every one according to the measure of its mustered persons (ל must be repeated before אישׁ). In Numbers 26:55, Numbers 26:56, it is still further commanded that the distribution should take place by lot. "According to the names on their paternal tribes shall they (the children of Israel) receive it (the land) for an inheritance." The meaning of these words can only be, that every tribe was to receive a province of its own for an inheritance, which should be called by its name for ever. The other regulation in Numbers 26:56, "according to the measure of the lot shall its inheritance (the inheritance of every tribe) be divided between the numerous and the small (tribe)," is no doubt to be understood as signifying, that in the division of the tribe territories, according to the comparative sizes of the different tribes, they were to adhere to that portion of land which fell to every tribe in the casting of the lots. The magnitude and limits of the possessions of the different tribes could not be determined by the lot according to the magnitude of the tribes themselves: all that could possibly be determined was the situation to be occupied by the tribe; so that R. Bechai is quite correct in observing that "the casting of the lot took place for the more convenient distribution of the different portions, whether of better or inferior condition, that there might be no occasion for strife and covetousness," though the motive assigned is too partial in its character. The lot was to determine the portion of every tribe, not merely to prevent all occasion for dissatisfaction and complaining, but in order that every tribe might receive with gratitude the possession that fell to its lot as the inheritance assigned it by God, the result of the lot being regarded by almost all nations as determined by God Himself (cf. Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 18:18). On this ground not only was the lot resorted to by the Greeks and Romans in the distribution of conquered lands (see the proofs in Clericus, Rosenmller, and Knobel), but it is still employed in the division of lands. (For further remarks, see at Joshua 14:1.).
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.
And these are they that were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites: of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites: of Merari, the family of the Merarites.Mustering of the Levites. - The enumeration of the different Levitical families into which the three leading families of Levi, that were founded by his three sons Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, were divided, is not complete, but is broken off in Numbers 26:58 after the notice of five different families, for the purpose of tracing once more the descent of Moses and Aaron, the heads not of this tribe only, but of the whole nation, and also of giving the names of the sons of the latter (Numbers 26:59-61). And after this the whole is concluded with a notice of the total number of those who were mustered of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 26:62). - Of the different families mentioned, Libni belonged to Gershon (cf. Numbers 3:21), Hebroni to Kohath (Numbers 3:27), Machli and Mushi to Merari (Numbers 3:33), and Korchi, i.e., the family of Korah (according to ch. Numbers 16:1; cf. Exodus 6:21 and Exodus 6:24), to Kohath. Moses and Aaron were descendants of Kohath (see at Exodus 6:20 and Exodus 2:1). Some difficulty is caused by the relative clause, "whom (one) had born to Levi in Egypt" (Numbers 26:59), on account of the subject being left indefinite. It cannot be Levi's wife, as Jarchi, Abenezra, and others suppose; for Jochebed, the mother of Moses, was not a daughter of Levi in the strict sense of the word, but only a Levitess or descendant of Levi, who lived about 300 years after Levi; just as her husband Amram was not actually the son of Amram, who bore that name (Exodus 6:18), but a later descendant of this older Amram. The missing subject must be derived from the verb itself, viz., either היּלדת or אמּהּ (her mother), as in 1 Kings 1:6, another passage in which "his mother" is to be supplied (cf. Ewald, 294, b.).
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.Sons of Aaron: cf. Numbers 3:2 and Numbers 3:4; Exodus 6:23; Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:2.
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.The Levites were not mustered along with the rest of the tribes of Israel, because the mustering took place with especial reference to the conquest of Canaan, and the Levites were not to receive any territory as a tribe (see at Numbers 18:20).
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.Concluding formula with the remark in Numbers 26:65, that the penal sentence which God had pronounced in Numbers 14:29 and Numbers 14:38 upon the generation which came out of Egypt, had been completely carried out.
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.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.