November 2, 2015.
Daily Reading: Numbers 33-36.
Back ground: Numbers 29-32.
Concepts and Connections.
The path of the exodus and the warning from God: This chapter records the path of the journey of the children of Israel took from their exodus of Egypt all the way to their encampment by the Jordan just before they went into the promised land. It is interesting that such a detailed report is given here, and it gives us insight to the movement of the people as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years due to their lack of faith in the Lord (see Numbers 13-14). There have been many maps made of the exodus from this and other details found in scripture. As they approached the end of their wandering and the second call to go into the land that was promised, the Lord gives them a command and a warning. He first tells them how to allot the inheritances to the tribes of Israel. He then tells them to be sure that when they do pass over the Jordan to drive out all the inhabitants of the land that the Lord was giving them. This was for their own religious purity, as if they left the people in the land, they would become thorns in their sides, causing them to forsake the Lord and turn away to other gods. This would indeed be the case on different occasions in Israel’s history, as they would not heed the warning of God here (see Joshua 13:13, 16:10, 17:13, Judges 1:21-33).
Boundaries and tribal chiefs: Preparations for entering the promised land were well underway as the Lord gives Moses the boundaries that the land of promise had for them and also the chiefs of each tribe to whom they were to divide the land. It is interesting that the land that the Lord was giving them was given boundaries like this. The Lord also emphasizes that the land was to be distributed by lot, which was a form of discerning the will of God through the use of chance experiments. Note here that the scaffold of organization of the promised land was set up before they went into the land, showing planning and preparedness.
Cities for Levites and cites of refuge: After given the borders of the land and preparing to distribute the land by lot to each of the tribes, the Lord reminds the people that the Levites were to be given cities in each of the tribes (48 cities in all), as they were not to receive a land inheritance by tribe. This chapter makes sure that adequate provisions are made for the Levites, that they might have somewhere to live and have sufficient pasturelands for their livestock, 2,000 cubits on each side of the city that they were given. Then instructions about the cites of refuge are given. There were to be six cities of refuge, three on one side of the Jordan and three on the other, to which anyone who killed someone without the intention to do so could flee to and be protected from the avenger of blood. This provision was set up to protect accidental killers and given them a chance to trail and peace. The difference between accidental killing and murder is given here, with murder being killing with the intent to kill, or motive to kill, of which was punishable by death. The accidental manslayer on the other hand would be put before the congregation to pass judgment, and if indeed it was an accident, the person was to remain in the city of refuge until the death of the current high priest. If they did not remain in the city and the avenger of blood found them outside the gates, blood would not be on their head if they killed the manslayer. A murderer was only to be convicted on the bases of more than one witness. For more information about the cites of refuge, see Joshua 20.
Keeping inheritances within the tribes: In this chapter, the people of Gilead come to Moses with a practical problem concerning a precedent that was set in an earlier chapter (see Numbers 27). Since inheritance was given to the daughters of Zelophehad because he had no sons, the people of Gilead knew that if these daughters married men from other tribes, the inheritance they were given would go to the other tribes and they would have no way of receiving it back. Moses notes their problem here, as it was important that each tribe kept the land that was given to them as an inheritance, the Lord ruled that the people of Gilead were right. Thus, to remedy the problem, the daughters of Zelophehad were told to marry who they wanted to, so long as it was within their father’s tribe. This was the precedent that was set for any daughter who received her father’s inheritance if he had no sons. They were restricted to marriage within their own tribe, that the tribe might not loose the land they were given as an inheritance. Thus the daughters of Zelophehad did according to the word of the Lord.
Tomorrow’s Reading: II Chronicles 16-20.
The Lord be your strength.