Matthew Poole's Commentary
And it came to pass after the plague, that the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying,Israel numbered, such as were fit for war, of every tribe; Levi excepted: their number, Numbers 26:1-51. The land to be distributed according to their number, Numbers 26:52-56. The Levites numbered by themselves, because they had no inheritance, Numbers 26:57-62. All that were numbered by Moses and Aaron at Sinai, save only Caleb and Joshua, died in the wilderness, Numbers 26:63-65.
After the plague, last mentioned, Numbers 25:8,9.
Eleazar, his father being dead, was high priest.
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.They were numbered twice before, Exodus 30:11,12, and Numbers 1:1,2. Now they are numbered a third time, partly to demonstrate the faithfulness of God, both in cutting all those off whom he had threatened to cut off, Numbers 14:29, and in a stupendous increase and multiplication of the people according to his promise, notwithstanding all their sins, and the sweeping judgments inflicted upon them; and partly to prepare the way for the equal division of the land which they were now going to possess.
And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,In the plains of Moab; see Numbers 22:1 33:48
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.Take the sum of the people: these words are easily supplied and necessarily to be understood from Numbers 26:2.
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:No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Carmi, the family of the Carmites.No text from Poole on this verse.
These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty.The families, i.e. the chief houses, which were subdivided into divers lesser families.
Forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty; whereas in their last numbering they were 46,500, Numbers 1:21; for Korah’s conspiracy, as well as other provocations of theirs, had cut off many of them.
And the sons of Pallu; Eliab.Sons for son, of which change of the number see Genesis 12:7 Genesis 46:7
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:No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Swallowed them up together with Korah: according to this translation Korah was not consumed by fire with his two hundred and fifty men, Num 16, but swallowed up by the earth. But others rather think he was devoured by the fire, of which see on Numbers 16:32,35, and render these words, and the things of Korah, or belonging to Korah, to wit, his tent, and goods, and family, children excepted, as here follows; which interpretation receives strength by comparing this place with Numbers 16:32,
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them (to wit, Dathan and Abiram, as is manifest from Numbers 26:24,25,27) up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah; which variation of the phrase plainly shows that Korah himself was not swallowed up with them, but only his men and his tabernacle, which is mentioned there together with the tabernacles of Dathan and Abiram, Numbers 26:24,27, but his person is not there mentioned with their persons. Nor is it unusual both in sacred and profane authors, by the name of a man who is the head and master, to understand only his house and family, though himself be not included. But this difficulty may be cleared another way. The Hebrew particle eth may? be here the note of a nominative case, as it is 2 Kings 6:5 Nehemiah 9:19 Jeremiah 38:16 Ezekiel 39:14 43:7, and there may be a defect of a verb, which is most frequent; and so the place may be rendered thus,
and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, to wit, Dathan and Abiram, Numbers 26:9, and Korah, or, and as for Korah, he died (which verb is easily understood out of the following noun, of which ellipsis there are many instances in Scripture, some whereof have been given before, and more will follow in their places) in the death of that company, or when that company died, what time the fire devoured the two hundred and fifty men. And so this place, and Numbers 16:35, explain one another; and whereas there. is mention only of two hundred and fifty men consumed by that fire, Korah is here added to the number.
They became a sign, i.e. God made them a monument or example, to warn others not to rebel against God nor against magistracy, nor to usurp the priestly office.
Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.God being pleased to spare them, either because they disowned their father’s act, and thereupon separated themselves both from his tent and company, or because Moses interceded for them, or because God would glorify his own free mercy in sparing some, while he punished others, according to his declaration in a like case, Exodus 33:19. Hence the sons of Korah are mentioned 1 Chronicles 6:22,37, and oft in the book of Psalms.
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:Nemuel, called Jemuel, Genesis 46:10 Exodus 6:15.
Jachin, called also Jarib, 1 Chronicles 4:24. And such names might be either added or changed upon some special occasion not recorded in Scripture.
Of Zerah, the family of the Zarhites: of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites.Zerah, called also Zohar, Genesis 46:10 Exodus 6:15. There is another of his sons, Ohad, mentioned Genesis 46:10, not here, possibly because his family was extinct before this time.
These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.Whereas there were 35,400 in Numbers 1:23. It is thought the example of Zimri, one of their princes, Num 25, and some others among them, did infect the generality of the tribe, and so caused this great diminution in their numbers.
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:Gad is placed next, because he was joined with Reuben and Simeon in the same camp and quarters, Numbers 2:10,14.
Zephon, called Ziphion, Genesis 46:16.
Of Ozni, the family of the Oznites: of Eri, the family of the Erites:Ozni, called Ezbon, Genesis 46:16.
Of Arod, the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites.Arod, called Arodi, Genesis 46:16
These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.Fewer by above five thousand than there were in their last numbering, Numbers 2:15.
The sons of Judah were Er and Onan: and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Pharez were; of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Hamul, the family of the Hamulites.The sons of Pharez, though Judah’s grandchildren, are here mentioned among his sons, because they are put in the stead of Er and Onan, which died before.
These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and sixteen thousand and five hundred.About two thousand more than they were Numbers 1:27; whereas the foregoing tribes were all diminished, this tribe was now increased, and the blessing promised to that tribe above the rest, Genesis 49:8, doth herein begin to show itself.
Of the sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites: of Pua, the family of the Punites:Pua, called also Phuvah, Genesis 46:13; as his brother Jashub, Numbers 26:24, is called Job, Genesis 46:13.
Of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites: of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites.No text from Poole on this verse.
These are the families of Issachar according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and four thousand and three hundred.A great increase. Compare Numbers 2:6.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them, threescore thousand and five hundred.Whereas before they were but 57,400 in Numbers 1:31 2:8. So that Judah’s camp was much increased, as Reuben’s was much diminished.
The sons of Joseph after their families were Manasseh and Ephraim.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the family of the Machirites: and Machir begat Gilead: of Gilead come the family of the Gileadites.Gilead is here mentioned as Machir’s only son, and therefore some conceive that the family of the Machirites, and of the Gileadites, are one and the same family, only called by two names; first Machirites, but afterwards Gileadites. Others make them distinct families, because Machir had other children, Genesis 1:23 1 Chronicles 7:14-16, which are called by their father’s name, Machirites, whereas the children of his eldest son Gilead are called by his name, Gileadites. But though Machir had other children, it seems they and their posterity were extinct at this time, and that Machir alone was left and his posterity, as may be gathered by comparing this and the following verses with Joshua 17:1-3 1 Chronicles 7:14-19.
These are the sons of Gilead: of Jeezer, the family of the Jeezerites: of Helek, the family of the Helekites:Jeezer, called also Abiezer, Joshua 17:2 Judges 6:11,34 1 Chronicles 7:18.
And of Asriel, the family of the Asrielites: and of Shechem, the family of the Shechemites:No text from Poole on this verse.
And of Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites: and of Hepher, the family of the Hepherites.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
These are the families of Manasseh, and those that were numbered of them, fifty and two thousand and seven hundred.Whereas they were but 32,200 in Numbers 1:35. So they are now increased above 50,000, according to that prophecy, Genesis 49:22.
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.Becher, called also Bered, 1 Chronicles 7:20.
And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites.Eran, called Edan or Laadan, 1 Chronicles 7:26; the letters daleth and resh being alike in the Hebrew tongue, and therefore oft changed, as is evident from Scripture instances.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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 sons of Benjamin were ten, Genesis 46:21, whereof only five are here mentioned, the rest probably, together with their families, being extinct ere this time.
Ashbel, called also Jediael, 1 Chronicles 7:6. Ahiram, called also Aharah, 1 Chronicles 8:1 and Ehi, Genesis 46:21.
Of Shupham, the family of the Shuphamites: of Hupham, the family of the Huphamites.Shupham, called also Shuppim, 1 Chronicles 7:12, and Muppim, Genesis 46:21.
Hupham, called Huppim, Genesis 46:21 1 Chronicles 7:12.
And the sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the family of the Ardites: and of Naaman, the family of the Naamites.Ard, or Arde, and by transposition, Addar, 1 Chronicles 8:3.
These are the sons of Benjamin after their families: and they that were numbered of them were forty and five thousand and six hundred.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Shuham, called, by transposition, Hushim, Genesis 46:23.
After their families; the greater families subdivided into lesser families.
All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them, were threescore and four thousand and four hundred.All from one son and family; whereas of Benjamin, who had ten sons, and here five families, there were only 45,600, to show that the increase of families depends singly upon God’s blessing and good pleasure.
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.Of Jesui, called Isui, Genesis 46:17, where also there is another son of Asher named, to wit, Ishuah, whose family seems now to be lost.
Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites: of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the name of the daughter of Asher was Sarah.Who seems to be here mentioned because she was a woman of masculine wisdom, or courage, or other virtue.
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.Whereas they were only 41,500 in Numbers 1:41.
Of the sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites: of Guni, the family of the Gunites:No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites: of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.Very nigh as many as there were before, Numbers 1:46. So wisely and marvellously did God at the same time manifest his justice in cutting off so vast a number, and his mercy in giving such a speedy and numerous supply, and his truth in both.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.Unto these; to these families now mentioned.
The land shall be divided, by lot, Numbers 26:55. The land was divided into nine parts and a half, respect being had in such division to the goodness as well as to the largeness of the several portions, and the lot gave each tribe their part.
Of names, i.e. of the persons, names being oft put for persons, as Acts 1:15 Philippians 2:9 Revelation 3:4 11:13. The meaning is, that the share of each tribe was divided amongst the several families, to some more, to some less, according to the number of the persons of each family, Numbers 33:54. And withal, if one of the lots or portions proved too large or too little for all the families and persons of that tribe, in this case they might either give part of their portion to another tribe, as Simeon and Dan had parts of Judah’s share, Joshua 19:1,40, or take away a part from the portion belonging to another tribe.
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.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.
Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.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 lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.i.e. That share which shall by lot fall to each tribe, shall be distributed to the several families and persons in such proportions as their numbers shall require.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The families of the Levites are here numbered by themselves, because they were not to have a distinct share of the land, whence it is that they are not so distinctly and exactly mentioned as the other tribes, but confusedly and imperfectly, some of them being wholly omitted here. See Exodus 6:17-19.
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.Her mother, to wit, Levi’s wife, which must necessarily be understood.
And unto Aaron was born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Twenty and three thousand; one thousand more than they were Numbers 3:39. The reason of which different way of numbering, see on Numbers 3:15.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.There was not left a man of them, to wit, of those who then murmured and rebelled against God, as plainly appears, both because this threatening and punishment is confined to those transgressors, and because otherwise this had not been true; for of those that were then numbered there were now left Eleazar and Ithamar, and possibly many of the Levites, and some others, who being not guilty of that sin, did not partake of their judgment. Caleb and Joshua are mentioned here, as also Num 14, not by way of exception, as if these were murmurers, which is utterly denied, Numbers 14:24, but by way of opposition, to signify that they, though they were two of the spies, and companions of them who were the chief authors and ringleaders of that mutiny, yet they kept themselves from their sin, and therefore God kept them from their plague and destruction, as also he did some others for the same reason.