Numbers 27:3
Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons.
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Numbers 27:3. But died in his own sin — The sin for which he alone was to suffer in his person, and not in his posterity, meaning, as some think, that incredulity for which all that generation was sentenced to die in the wilderness; and which, though, with respect to the rest of the people, it was not merely his own sin, since they were generally alike guilty; yet with respect to his children it was his own sin, a personal guilt, which God himself had declared should not affect his children, Numbers 14:31.

But, perhaps, by his dying in his own sin, we are only to understand that he died by a common ordinary death, not such a one as they shared who were partakers of the guilt of Korah and his companions.

27:1-11 The five daughters of Zelophehad considered themselves as left destitute, having neither father nor brother to inherit any land. Their believing expectation that the word of the Lord would be performed in due season, and their desire of an interest in the promised inheritance; and the modest, candid manner in which they asked, without secret murmurs or discontents, are a good example. They ask for a possession in the land of Canaan. Herein they discovered, 1. Strong faith in the power and promise of God, concerning the giving of the land of Canaan to Israel. 2. And earnest desire of a place and name in the land of promise, which was a type of heaven. 3. Respect and honour for their father, whose name was dear to them now he was gone. He never had done any thing that might bar his children's claim. It is a comfort to parents when they come to die, if though they have smarted for their own sin, yet they are not conscious of any of those iniquities which God will visit on their children. God himself gives judgment. He takes notice of the affairs, not only of nations, but of private families, and orders them according to his will. The petition is granted. Those who seek an inheritance in the land of promise, shall have what they seek for, and other things shall be added to them.But died in his own sin - i. e., perished under the general sentence of exclusion from the land of promise passed on all the older generation, but limited to that generation alone. By virtue of the declaration in Numbers 14:31 the daughters of Zelophehad claim that their father's sin should not be visited upon them. 3. Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not … in the company of … Korah—This declaration might be necessary because his death might have occurred about the time of that rebellion; and especially because, as the children of these conspirators were involved along with their fathers in the awful punishment, their plea appeared the more proper and forcible that their father did not die for any cause that doomed his family to lose their lives or their inheritance.

died in his own sin—that is, by the common law of mortality to which men, through sin, are subject.

He was not in the company of Korah, nor in any other rebellion of the people, which must be understood, because all of them are opposed to

his own sin, in which alone he is said to die. But they mention this only either,

1. Because he might possibly be accused to be guilty of this. Or,

2. Because he, being an eminent person, might be thought guilty of that rather than of any other, because the great and famous men were more concerned in that rebellion than others. Or,

3. To gain the favour of Moses, against whom that rebellion was more particularly directed, and more desperately prosecuted than any other. Or,

4. Because peradventure he died about that time, and therefore might be presumed guilty of that crime. Or rather,

5. Because that sin, and, as it may seem, that only of all the sins committed in the wilderness, was of such a flagitious nature, that God thought fit to extend the punishment not only to the persons of those rebels, but also to their children and families, Numbers 16:27,32, as was usual in like cases, as Deu 13:15 Joshua 7:24; whence it is noted as a singular privilege granted to the children of Korah, that they died not, Numbers 26:11, whereas the children of their confederates died with them. And this makes their argument here more proper and powerful, that he did not die in that sin for which his posterity were to be cut off, and to lose either their lives or their inheritances, and therefore their claim was more just.

In his own sin; either,

1. For that sin mentioned Num 14, which they call his own sin, in opposition not to the rest of the people, for it was a common sin, but to his children, i.e. the sin for which he alone was to suffer in his person and not in his posterity, as God had appointed, Numbers 14:33. Or rather,

2. For his own personal sins; for,

1. These were more properly his own sins.

2. It was a truth, and that believed by the Jews, that death was a punishment for men’s own sins.

3. The punishment of that common sin was not directly and properly death, but exclusion from the land of Canaan, and death only by way of consequence upon that.

Our father died in the wilderness,.... As all the generation of the children of Israel did, that came out of Egypt, who were twenty years old and upwards, excepting Joshua and Caleb:

and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; which is observed, not so much to obtain the favour and good will of Moses as to clear the memory of their father from any reproach upon it, he dying in the wilderness; and chiefly to show that the claim of his posterity to a share in the land was not forfeited, he not being in that rebellion, nor in any other; so that he and his were never under any attainder:

but died in his own sin; which though common to all men, every man has his own peculiar way of sinning, and is himself only answerable for it, Isaiah 53:6 he sinned alone, had no partner or confederate, whom he had drawn into any notorious and public sin, as mutiny, &c. to the prejudice of the state, and the rulers in it; so the Targum of Jonathan adds,"and he did not cause others to sin,''so Jarchi; some take him to be the sabbath breaker, Numbers 15:32, others that he was one of those that went up the hill, Numbers 14:44, most likely his sin was that of unbelief, disbelieving the spies that brought the good report of the land, and giving credit to those that brought an ill report of it; and so with the rest of the people murmured, for which his carcass, with others, fell in the wilderness, and entered not into the good land, through unbelief: a sin not punished in their children:

and had no sons. which was the reason of this application.

Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own {a} sin, and had no sons.

(a) According as all men die, for as much as they are sinners.

3. he died in his own sin] in the ordinary sinfulness of a man, like the rest of his generation who died during the forty years in the wilderness. They point out that their father had not taken part in the sin of Korah’s company, that is, he had not committed any crime great enough to deserve the alienation of the property from his family after his death.

Notice that the reference to Korah’s company is in agreement with the main part of the P story in ch. 16, in which Korah’s company were laymen and not Levites; for it is implied that Zelophehad, who was a Manassite, might have been one of them.

Verse 3. - He was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord. He had not been amongst the two hundred and fifty who gathered themselves together in support of Korah s pretensions. It does not appear why they should have thought it necessary to make this statement, unless they felt that the fact of his having died without sons might raise suspicion against him as one who had greatly provoked the wrath of God. But died in his own sin. This cannot mean that Zelophehad was one of those who died in the wilderness in consequence of the rebellion at Kadesh (see the next note). Apparently his daughters meant to acknowledge that they had no complaint against the Divine justice because of their father's death, but only against the law because of the unnecessary hardship which it inflicted upon them. Numbers 27:3Claims of Zelophehad's Daughters to an Inheritance in the Promised Land. - Numbers 27:1-4. The divine instructions which were given at the mustering of the tribes, to the effect that the land was to be divided among the tribes in proportion to the larger or smaller number of their families (Numbers 26:52-56), induced the daughters of Zelophehad the Manassite of the family of Gilead, the son of Machir, to appear before the princes of the congregation, who were assembled with Moses and Eleazar at the tabernacle, with a request that they would assign them an inheritance in the family of the father, as he had died in the desert without leaving any sons, and had not taken part in the rebellion of the company of Korah, which might have occasioned his exclusion from any participation in the promised land, but had simply died "through his (own) sin," i.e., on account of such a sin as every one commits, and such as all who died in the wilderness had committed as well as he. "Why should the name of our father be cut off (cease) from the midst of his family?" This would have been the case, for example, if no inheritance had been assigned him in the land because he left no son. In that case his family would have become extinct, if his daughters had married into other families or tribes. On the other hand, if his daughters received a possession of their own among the brethren of their father, the name of their father would be preserved by it, since they could then marry husbands who would enter upon their landed property, and their father's name and possession would be perpetuated through their children. This wish on the part of the daughters was founded upon an assumption which rested no doubt upon an ancient custom, namely, that in the case of marriages where the wives had brought landed property as their dowry, the sons who inherited the maternal property were received through this inheritance into the family of their mother, i.e., of their grandfather on the mother's side. We have an example of this in the case of Jarha, who belonged to the pre-Mosaic times (1 Chronicles 2:34-35). In all probability this took place in every instance in which daughters received a portion of the paternal possessions as their dowry, even though there might be sons alive. This would explain the introduction of Jair among the Manassites in Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14. His father Segub was the son of Hezron of the tribe of Judah, but his mother was the daughter of Machir the Manassite (1 Chronicles 2:21-22). We find another similar instance in Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63, where the sons of a priest who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the rich Gileadite, are called sons of Barzillai.
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