Numbers 26:54
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.
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26:52-56 In distributing these tribes, the general rule of equity is prescribed; that to many should be given more, and to fewer less. Though it seems left to the prudence of their prince, the matter at last must be settled by the providence of God, with which all must be satisfied.This shows a decrease of 1,820 from the number at Sinai; a decrease due to the recent plague. 54. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance—that is, to the more numerous tribes a larger allotment shall be granted.

according to those that were numbered—the number of persons twenty years old at the time of the census being made, without taking into account either the increase of those who might have attained that age, when the land should be actually distributed, or the diminution from that amount, occasioned during the war of invasion.

Thou shalt give; thou, Moses, partly by thyself, for he divided the land beyond Jordan to the two tribes and a half; and partly by thy successor Joshua, whom thou shalt empower and command to do it.

According to those that were numbered of him; according to the number of the families and persons now numbered, and being twenty years old, no regard being to be had either to any increase of the number by those who came up to that age between this time and the division of the land, or to the diminution of this number by the sword of Canaanites or otherwise.

To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance,.... To a tribe more numerous, and consisting of more and larger families, a greater part of the land was to be given to them to possess; and to a smaller tribe, and of the fewer families and persons in them, a lesser share of it: this direction is given to Moses, but is not designed for him personally, for he never entered the land, but died before Israel went into it; but for the chief ruler that would be then in being, namely, Joshua, his successor:

to everyone shall his inheritance be given, according to those that were numbered of him; that is, to every tribe, and so to every family in it, according to the number of men in it, that were of the above age when the sum of them was taken: because it is in the original text, "to a man according to those numbered of him", &c. (q); hence the Jewish writers (r) gather, that the land was distributed not to women, but to men only.

(q) "viro", Montanus. (r) Vid. T. Bab. Bava. Bathra, fol. 122. 1.

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.
54. thou shalt give the more inheritance] Moses was not allowed to enter Canaan; if, therefore, ‘thou shalt give’ is to be understood strictly, the allotment and distribution were to take place before his death, while the people were still in the land of Moab. This appears to be the view taken in the early passage Jdg 1:1-3. But according to P (Joshua 13:15-23; Joshua 14:1-5) the lots were not cast till the whole land was won. We must probably, therefore, understand ‘thou shalt give’ loosely—‘thou shalt command that it be given.’ This is more clearly expressed in Numbers 33:50-54.

according to those that were numbered of him] i.e. in proportion to his (the tribe’s) numbers.

Numbers 26:54Instructions 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.).
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