October 19, 2015.
Daily Reading: Numbers 25-28.
Background: Numbers 21-24.
Concepts and Connections.
Baal worship at Peor: After Balaam blesses Israel in the previous chapters, here we see that they once again have taken a turn for the worse as they lived in the land of Shiitic, where the Moabites were. It seems a good portion of the Israelites were lead away to sacrifice to and worship the gods of the Midianites, kindling the anger of the Lord so that He sent a plague on the people. An order was sent out among the people to kill all those who had yoked themselves to Baal of Peor. As this was taking place and the children of Israel were mourning in the tent of meeting, it seems almost in pure defiance (or oblivion), Zimri the son of Salu brings a Midianite woman into his family (probably in reference to having sexual relations with the woman, perhaps as a sign of Baal worship) in the sight of Moses and all Israel. Phinehas, in religious zeal, took a spear and struck the Israelite and the Midianite that he had brought unto him and killed them, turning back the anger of the Lord. Nevertheless, the plague that the Lord had sent on them had killed 24,000 people. Because of his jealousy for the Lord, God gave Phinehas and his linage a covenant of peace and perpetual priesthood. Then the Lord tells the Israelites to strike the Midianites, for they had turned them away. Paul references this story in I Corinthians 10:1-22, warning us not to fall into the example set by the Israelites here as they fell away to serve other gods.
Census of the new generation: After the plague, the Lord tells Moses and Eleazar to take a census of the people of Israel, numbering every man who was 20 years old and up, able to go to war. It should be noted that no one, save for Joshua and Caleb, who were numbered in the previous census (see Numbers 1) were numbered in this census, for they Lord had said that they were not to enter into the land of promise because of their distrust and disobedience in the Lord (see Numbers 13-14). At the time of this census, not one of them was left (v. 65). The census was taken by tribe and clan, and the results by tribe were as follows: Reuben, 43,730; Simeon, 22,200; Gad, 40,500; Judah, 76,500; Issachar, 64,300; Zebulun, 60, 500; Manasseh, 52,700; Ephraim, 32,500; Benjamin, 64,400; Asher, 53,400; Naphtali, 45,400. The total came to be 601,730, excluding the Levites. The Lord told Moses to apportion inheritance according to the size of each tribe, giving more to larger tribes and less to smaller tribes. The Levites were listed separately, for they were given no land inheritance, but rather were chosen to be priests before God. They were numbered, every male a month old and upward, 23,000.
1. Precedent of transferring inheritances: After the people were numbered according to their clans, it became evident to one family of the Israelites that their father would have no inheritance because he did not have sons, only five daughters, before he died. These daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses and asked him to give them the inheritance of their father so the father’s inheritance wouldn’t be lost. Moses brings this case before the Lord, and a precedent is set as the Lord says that the daughters of Zelophehad are right, and then lays out the guidelines of transferring the inheritance of a man who dies without sons. It should be noted that the daughters of Zelophehad made it clear that their father had not died in Korah’s rebellion (see Numbers 16), indicating that those who died in the rebellion likely would not have had their inheritance passed on.
2. Moses’ successor chosen: As Moses was nearing the end of his life, the Lord tells him to go up on the mountain and see the promised land before he dies. He would not be allowed to enter in to it because of his rebellion at the waters of Meribah (see Numbers 20:2-9), but he would see it. Then the Lord asked for Him to appoint a successor to lead the children of Israel after he was gone. Note here that even at the point of his death, Moses is still focused on the children of Israel above himself. Joshua the son of Nun, one of the two spies that trusted in the Lord when they came back from spying out the promised land (see Numbers 13-14) is chosen to stand in Moses’ place when he is gone. Moses is told to make it clear before the congregation that Joshua is to lead them. Moses commissions Joshua before Eleazar and the whole congregation.
Regulations for offerings: In this chapter are a compilation of different regulations for the different offings that the people of Israel were to make before the Lord at the specified times. First, the Lord tells Moses the regulations for the daily food offerings that were to be offered day by day, two male lambs without blemish, one in the morning and one at twilight. With them a grain offing and drink offering were to be made as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Then regulations for the Sabbath day offings are given, which are quite similar to the daily food offerings, but in addition to them. At the beginning of each month, they were to offer two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish, a male goat, and a grain and drink offering as well. Finally, regulations for the offerings to be made during the passover (see Exodus 12), and during the feast of weeks (see Exodus 23) are given, along with some reminders of specific regulations about each of these special occasions.
Tomorrow’s Reading: II Chronicles 6-10.