Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 26:55. By lot — The quantity of land, it seems, was to be assigned according to the number in each tribe, but the situation was to be determined by lot, both as to the tribes and as to individuals. For instance, it was determined by lot which of the tribes were to inherit in the south, which in the north, &c. But in that quarter where their lot fell a larger or smaller portion of land was appointed them, according to the goodness of the soil, and in proportion as they were more or less numerous. By these means all ground of quarrel among the several tribes was removed, and each acquiesced in his portion, as assigned by God himself, to whom the appeal was made by lot.By lot; which lots seem to have been cast only for the tribes, not, as some would have it, for the several families, for the distribution of it to them was left to the ruler’s wisdom, according to the rule now given, Numbers 26:54. Yet if any lot was too large for the tribe, they might give up part of their right to others, with the ruler’s consent, as Judah gave a share to Simeon and to Dan within his lot.
According to the names of the tribes, i.e. the lots shall go under the names of each tribe or each patriarch.
according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit; that is, according as to whatsoever name of a tribe such a part or portion of the land comes up by lot, that shall their inheritance be: Jarchi says, the names of the twelve tribes were written on twelve scrolls of parchment, and twelve borders or limits of land on twelve others, and they were mixed together in an urn, and the prince put his hand into it and took two scrolls; a scroll came up with the name of a tribe, and a scroll with a border or limit expressed on it; and the lot, he says, was by the Holy Ghost, for Eleazar, at the same time, was clothed with Urim and Thummim (s); so that the people were certain that the disposition and division of the land was of God; but there were but nine tribes and a half, among whom the land of Canaan was divided, two tribes and a half settled on the other side Jordan, namely, the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)55. the land shall be divided by lot] Since the distribution was to be proportionate the purpose of the lot must only have been to decide roughly in what part of the country each tribe was to settle.
according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit] The meaning is doubtful. ‘The names of the tribes of their fathers’ appears to be a periphrasis for ‘their tribes.’ If so, the meaning is either that individuals shall in every case possess land within the region assigned to their tribe, or (perhaps better) that no smaller division than a whole tribe is to be taken account of in the general distribution, and the property of clans and families must be settled privately within each tribe.Verse 55. - Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot. This can only be reconciled with the preceding order by assuming that the lot was to determine the situation of the territory, the actual boundaries being left to the discretion of the rulers. Recourse was had as far as possible to the lot in order to refer the matter directly to God, of whose will and gift they held the land (cf. Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:26). The lot would also remove any suspicion that the more numerous tribes, such as Judah or Dan, were unfairly favoured (verse 56). Genesis 46:24 and 1 Chronicles 7:30.
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