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Nu 26:1-51. ISRAEL NUMBERED.
2. Take the sum of all the congregation--The design of this new census, after a lapse of thirty-eight years, was primarily to establish the vast multiplication of the posterity of Abraham in spite of the severe judgments inflicted upon them; secondarily, it was to preserve the distinction of families and to make arrangements, preparatory to an entrance into the promised land, for the distribution of the country according to the relative population of the tribes.
7. These are the families of the Reubenites--the principal households, which were subdivided into numerous smaller families. Reuben had suffered great diminution by Korah's conspiracy and other outbreaks [Nu 16:1].
11. Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not--Either they were not parties to their father's crime, or they withdrew from it by timely repentance. His descendants became famous in the time of David, and are often mentioned in the Psalms [Ps 42:1; 44:1; 45:1; 46:1; 47:1; 48:1; 49:1; 84:1; 85:1; 87:1; 88:1], also in 1Ch 6:22, 38.
12. The sons of Simeon--It is supposed that this tribe had been
pre-eminent in the guilt of Baal-peor and had consequently been greatly
reduced in numbers.
54. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance--that is, to the more
numerous tribes a larger allotment shall be granted.
55. the land shall be divided by lot--The appeal to the lot did not place the matter beyond the control of God; for it is at His disposal (Pr 16:33), and He has fixed to all the bounds of their habitation. The manner in which the lot was taken has not been recorded. But it is evident that the lot was cast for determining the section of the country in which each tribe should be located--not the quantity of their possessions. In other words, when the lot had decided that a particular tribe was to be settled in the north or the south, the east or the west, the extent of territory was allocated according to the rule (Nu 26:54).
58. families of the Levites--The census of this tribe was taken separately, and on a different principle from the rest. (See Ex 6:16-19).
64. among these there was not a man . . . numbered . . . in the wilderness of Sinai--The statement in this verse must not be considered absolute. For, besides Caleb and Joshua, there were alive at this time Eleazar and Ithamar, and in all probability a considerable number of Levites, who had no participation in the popular defections in the wilderness. The tribe of Levi, having neither sent a spy into Canaan, nor being included in the enumeration at Sinai, must be regarded as not coming within the range of the fatal sentence; and therefore it would exhibit a spectacle not to be witnessed in the other tribes of many in their ranks above sixty years of age.