Numbers 26 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Numbers 26)

Verse 2

[2] 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.

Take the sum — They were numbered twice before, Exodus 30:11,12 Numbers 1:1,2. Now they are numbered a third time, 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 of the people according to his promise, notwithstanding all their sins, and the sweeping judgments inflicted upon them; and to prepare the way for the equal division of the land, which they were now going to possess.

Verse 7

[7] These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty.

Families — The chief houses, which were subdivided into divers lesser families.

Forty three thousand seven hundred and thirty — Whereas in their last numbering they were forty six thousand five hundred; for Korah's conspiracy, as well as other provocations of theirs, had cut off many of them.

Verse 10

[10] 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.

With Korah — According to this translation Korah was not consumed by fire with his two hundred and fifty men, but swallowed up by the earth. But others rather think he was devoured by the fire, and render these words, and the things of Korah, or belonging to Korah, namely, his tent and goods, and family, children excepted, as here follows.

A sign — God made them a monument or example, to warn others not to rebel against God, or magistracy, nor to usurp the priestly office.

Verse 11

[11] Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.

Died not — God being pleased to spare them, because they disowned their father's fact, and separated themselves both from his tent and company. Hence the sons of Korah are mentioned, 1 Chronicles 6:22,38, and often in the book of Psalms.

Verse 12

[12] 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:

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.

Verse 14

[14] These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.

Twenty two thousand and two hundred — No tribe decreased so much as Simeon's. From fifty nine thousand and three hundred it sunk to twenty two thousand and two hundred, little more than a third part of what it was. One whole family of that tribe, (Ohad mentioned Exodus 6:15) was extinct in the wilderness. Some think most of the twenty four thousand, cut off by the plague for the iniquity of Peor, were of that tribe. For Zimri, a ring-leader in that iniquity, was a prince of that tribe. Simeon is not mentioned in Moses's blessing, Deuteronomy 33:1-29. And the lot of that tribe in Canaan was inconsiderable, only a canton out of Judah's lot, Joshua 19:9.

Verse 18

[18] These are the families of the children of Gad according to those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.

Children of Gad — Fewer by above five thousand than there were in their last numbering.

Verse 22

[22] These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them, threescore and sixteen thousand and five hundred.

The families of Judah — About two thousand more than they were, Numbers 1:27, whereas the foregoing tribes were all diminished.

Verse 34

[34] These are the families of Manasseh, and those that were numbered of them, fifty and two thousand and seven hundred.

Fifty two thousand and seven hundred — Whereas they were but thirty two thousand and two hundred, in Numbers 1:35. So they are now increased above twenty thousand, according to that prophecy, Genesis 49:22.

Verse 38

[38] 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 — Who were ten, Genesis 46:21, whereof only five are here mentioned, the rest probably, together with their families, being extinct.

Verse 43

[43] All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them, were threescore and four thousand and four hundred.

Threescore and four thousand and four hundred — All from one son and family, whereas of Benjamin who had ten sons, and five families, there were only forty five thousand and six hundred, to shew that the increase of families depends singly upon God's blessing and good pleasure.

Verse 51

[51] These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.

These were the numbered — 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; his mercy in giving such a speedy and numerous supply; and his truth in both.

Verse 53

[53] Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.

The land shall be divided — The land was divided into nine parts and an 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 — Of persons, 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. And withal, if one of the portions proved too large or too little for the families and persons of that tribe, they might give part of their portion to another tribe, (as Simeon and Dan had part of Judah's share) or take away a part from the portion belonging to another tribe.

Verse 55

[55] Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.

By lot — For the tribes, not for the several families; for the distribution of it to them was left to the rulers wisdom according to the rule now given.

Verse 56

[56] According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.

Many and few — 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.

Verse 65

[65] 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.

Not left a man — Only of the Levites, who being not guilty of that sin did not partake of their judgment.