Numbers 35:1
And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
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35:1-8 The cities of the priests and Levites were not only to accommodate them, but to place them, as religious teachers, in several parts of the land. For though the typical service of the tabernacle or temple was only in one place, the preaching of the word of God, and prayer and praise, were not thus confined. These cities were to be given out of each tribe. Each thus made a grateful acknowledgement to God. Each tribe had the benefit of the Levites dwelling amongst them, to teach them the knowledge of the Lord; thus no parts of the country were left to sit in darkness. The gospel provides that he who is taught in the word, should communicate to him that teaches, in all good things, Ga 6:6. We are to free God's ministers from distracting cares, and to leave them at leisure for the duties of their station; so that they may be wholly employed therein, and avail themselves of every opportunity, by acts of kindness, to gain the good-will of the people, and to draw their attention.Of the representatives now selected through Moses beforehand, who were all princes, i. e. heads of chief families, in their respective tribes (see Numbers 13:2), Caleb alone, of the tribe of Judah, is otherwise known to us (see Numbers 13:4 ff). The order in which the tribes are named is peculiar to this passage. If they be taken in pairs, Judah and Simeon, Benjamin and Dan, Manasseh and Ephraim, Zebulun and Issachar, Asher and Naphtali, the order of the pairs agrees with the order in which the allotments in the Holy land, taken also in couples, followed each other in the map from south to north. CHAPTER 35

Nu 35:1-5. Eight and Forty Cities Given to the Levites.Eight and forty cities given to the Levites, together with their suburbs; among which six cities of refuge, for an Israelite or stranger who had killed another unawares, Numbers 35:1-15. Wilful murder decided, and the murderer to be put to death, Numbers 35:16-21. The man-slayer must abide in the city of refuge till the death of the high priest; and if caught out of it, might be killed, Numbers 35:25-29. Two witnesses required to condemn a man to die, Numbers 35:30. No satisfaction to be taken for the life of a murderer, Numbers 35:31, nor that any one might return from a city of refuge before the time, Numbers 35:32; that the land be not defiled and polluted, and not cleansed of the blood shed in it, Numbers 35:33,34.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the Lord spake to Moses,.... After he had described the borders of the land, and given instructions about the division of it among the several tribes, and named the persons that should be concerned in parting and putting it into the possession of the Israelites, he makes a provision for the Levites; for though they had no inheritance in the land as a tribe, yet it was proper they should have cities and houses to dwell in; for it would not be suitable that they should be always about the tabernacle, as they were in the wilderness; and it is concerning this the Lord is said to speak to Moses:

in the plains of Moab by Jordan, near Jericho: where the Israelites now were, and had been for some time:

saying; as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
1–8. The Levitical cities

The Levites are to receive 48 cities with their surrounding land (E.VV. ‘suburbs’), six of which are to be ‘cities of refuge.’ The cities are to be contributed by each tribe in numbers proportionate to its size. Each plot of land is to be a square of 2,000 cubits (c. 1,000 yards). The carrying out of this law is related in fuller detail in Joshua 21, where the allotment is as follows: the Kohathite Levites were given 10 towns in Ephraim, Dan and western Manasseh, the Gershonites 13 in Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and eastern Manasseh, the Merarites 12 in Reuben, Gad and Zebulun, while the priests had 10 in Judah, Simeon and Benjamin.

Two considerations, however, shew that this is a purely ideal arrangement, which could never have been actually brought about: 1st, In a hilly country like Palestine, cut with deep ravines, it would be impossible to find 48 square plots of land of such a size. 2nd, It is at variance with statements in earlier passages, (a) In Deuteronomy the Levites are classed with widows, orphans and strangers, as poor people who are commended to the charity of Israel; cf. Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18 f., Numbers 14:27; Numbers 14:29, Numbers 16:11; Numbers 16:14, Numbers 26:11 ff. In a few cases, indeed, priests settled in communities, and appear to have owned property, e.g. at Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26, Jeremiah 32:6 ff.), Nob (1 Samuel 21:1; 1 Samuel 22:19) and Bethel (Amos 7:10); but the two latter towns are not included in the list in Joshua 21. Deuteronomy 18:8 b may imply that some Levitical priests owned private property, but the passage is uncertain. (b) In Numbers 18, which must belong to an earlier stage of P than the present passage, the offerings to be made to the priests are expressly stated to be due to them because they have no landed property. Ezekiel (ch. 48) puts forward another ideal scheme for providing priests and Levites with land.Verse 1. - And the Lord spake. Cf. Numbers 33:50; Numbers 36:13. List of the Men Appointed to Distribute the Land. - In addition to Eleazar and Joshua, the former of whom was to stand at the head as high priest, in accordance with the divine appointment in Numbers 27:21, and the latter to occupy the second place as commander of the army, a prince was selected from each of the ten tribes who were interested in the distribution, as Reuben and Gad had nothing to do with it. Of these princes, namely heads of fathers' houses of the tribes (Joshua 14:1), not heads of tribes (see at Numbers 13:2), Caleb, who is well known from Numbers 13, is the only one whose name if known. The others are not mentioned anywhere else. The list of tribes, in the enumeration of their princes, corresponds, with some exceptions, to the situation of the territory which the tribes received in Canaan, reckoning from south to north, and deviates considerably from the order in which the lots came out for the different tribes, as described in Joshua 15-19. נחל in the Kal, in Numbers 34:17 and Numbers 34:18, signifies to give for an inheritance, just as in Exodus 34:8, to put into possession. There is not sufficient ground for altering the Kal into Piel, especially as the Piel in Numbers 34:29 is construed with the accusative of the person, and with the thing governed by ב; whereas in Numbers 34:17 the Kal is construed with the person governed by ל, and the accusative of the thing.
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