King James Bible
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Numbers 27

The daughters of Zelophehad apply for an inheritance, The law of inheritances. (1-11) Moses warned of his death. (12-14) Joshua appointed to succeed Moses. (15-23)

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The daughters of Zelophehad apply for an inheritance, The law of inheritances

1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.

2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

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.

4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.

5 And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.

6 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.

8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.

10 And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren.

11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Moses warned of his death

12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.

13 And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.

14 For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.

Joshua appointed to succeed Moses

15 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,

16 Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,

17 Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.

18 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

19 And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.

20 And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.

22 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation:

23 And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Salphaad, a descendant of Joseph, had departed this life in the desert, being one of those who sinned, by murmuring, at Cades-barne. See C. xiv. and xv. 32. C. — He only left these five daughters behind him; and, as many others might be under the same predicament, their case deserved the attention of the legislator, who referred it to God. H.

Ver. 3. Father, the portion which would have been assigned him; that so those whom we may marry, may take the inheritance, under the name of Salphaad, which some of the children may also bear. M.

Ver. 4-6. Their. The first of these pronouns is written larger than usual, the second is improperly masculine in Heb.; both, it is pretended, to honour the young women. Kennicott.

Ver. 9. Him. The Jews observe, that if the father of the deceased were still alive, he would take the inheritance. Seld. Success. xii. and xiii. But if his wife were inclined to marry again, she might insist on his next relation taking her, before she could be required to give up his goods. Deut. xxv. 5. Hence the Gemarra of Babylon says, “If we are the daughters of Salphaad, let them give us his estate; but if we are not his daughters, let them make the brother of Salphaad marry our mother.”

Ver. 11. Uncles. His nephews are at a greater distance from the original stock. The Phœnicians carried the same regulations into Africa. Grot. Jur. ii. 7. The relations by the mother’s side, could claim no part. The husband was heir to all his wife’s goods, except her dowry, which went to her children. People born of a slave, or of a harlot or strange woman, were not lawful heirs. “These regulations have been adopted by all civilized nations.” Orig. hom. 22. C.

Ver. 13. People, in limbo. M. — He was not buried in the grave of his ancestors, but on some part of Mount Abarim, called Nebo. Deut. xxxiv. 1. 6. H. — Moses, hoping that this sentence of exclusion from the promised land might be only a threat, had earnestly besought God to let him enter. But being forbidden to speak of the matter any more, he understood that it was as irrevocable as an oath. Deut. iii. 26. iv. 21. He turned, therefore, his whole solicitude to obtain of God some one, who might enjoy the honour and happiness of conducting the people, and putting them in possession of God’s promises. He regards not flesh and blood on this occasion, (Philo, de caritate. Salien,) but sets a noble pattern for all ecclesiastical superiors to imitate. D.

Ver. 16. Flesh, who gives life, and penetrates the secrets of hearts. C. xvi. 22.

Ver. 17. Shepherd. Christ makes use of the same comparison. Jo. x. 1. Kings are often styled shepherds in Homer. Moses begs that his successor may be enabled to conduct the multitude in both peace and war. — To go in and out, means to govern, (3 K. iii. 7,) and includes all the occurrences of life. Act. i. 21. Ps. cxx. 8. C. — Thus, temporal princes are the shepherds of the people. But they are not, on that account, supreme in spiritual causes. For here Josue only receives part of the glory of Moses, while Eleazar is appointed to consult the Lord for him, and to direct him in all matters of importance, v. 20. 21. W.

Ver. 18. Spirit of God, which was given to him, when he was appointed a judge; (C. xi. 17,) the spirit of prophesy, (Onkelos,) and of wisdom, (Deut. xxxiv. 9,) of which he received a fresh increase, by the imposition of the hands of Moses. By the like ceremony people are confirmed, and ministers of religion are still ordained. Act. vi. 6. 1 Tim. iv. 14. C. — God endues Josue with all the necessary qualifications for his high office. He makes choice of him, and not of any of the relations of Moses, that the people might not be offended at the supreme power being in a manner engrossed by one family; and he appoints one 93 year old, that the success of war might not be attributed to Josue, though he had been long at the head of the armies, and a man of greatest authority, even the vice-gerent of Moses. He declares his election before all the multitude, with the high priest at their head, that there might be no dispute about the matter; and, on this account, he requires various external ceremonies to be observed. Salien.

Ver. 20. Precepts, to accept of this office, (C.) and to discharge it with integrity. H. — Glory, not that which shone on the face of Moses, as Onkelos would have it, but all the marks of distinction due to a chief magistrate, (C.) the insignia of his office. See Ex. xviii. 21. Salien. — Treat him with respect, as your successor. M. — Let him henceforward commence to exercise his authority before you, that all the people may hear and obey him. Sararius. T.

Ver. 21. For him. Hebrew adds, “according to the judgment of Urim.” See Ex. xxviii. 30. Nothing better shews the theocracy of the Hebrews, as Josephus styles it, (c. Apion. ii.) than this order for the chief magistrate in civil affairs, to consult and be guided by God’s minister, and by the sentence which he should pronounce in his name. Till the reign of David, at least, we find few wars undertaken, without consulting God: (C.) and the Rabbins assert, that the kings could not declare any war of their own accord, without the consent of the high priest and Sanhedrim. Seld. Syned. iii. 12. Saul lost his crown and life for not complying with the injunctions of God, which were communicated to him by the prophet Samuel. H.

Ver. 23. Commanded. This Moses executed on his birth-day, when he was 120 years old, (Deut. xxxi. 2. 7,) having frequently before given proper instructions to Josue. Deut. i. 38. and xxxii. 44. H.