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Num 26:1 It happened after the plague, that Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying-
Atonement money had to be paid whenever a census was taken (Ex. 30:12). Perhaps God wanted the people to appreciate more how they had been saved by His grace after the awful apostacy of Num. 25. He wanted them to reflect upon the atonement they had received, and that was one function of ordering a census.

Num 26:2 Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers’ families, all who are able to go forth to war in Israel-
This numbering of the people just before they entered the promised land perhaps looks forward to the way that God will be aware of the exact number of those who will enter His Kingdom at the day of judgment when Christ returns. Ps. 87:6 appears to speak of a ‘writing up of the people’ in the last day. Perhaps too there is the idea that Moses as a shepherd had been given the sheep of God's flock when they left Egypt, and now He is handing them back at the end of his life, and counting them.


Num 26:3 Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho saying-
The purpose of the census may have been not so much to know numbers, but to define the Israelites into clear family units; for it was God's intention that each unit should have a specific inheritance in the land they were now going to enter. We likewise will each have a specific, unique nature of inheritance in the future Kingdom of God.


Num 26:4 Take a census, from twenty years old and upward; as Yahweh commanded Moses and the children of Israel. These are those that came out of the land of Egypt-
"Came out" is s.w. "brought forth". Israel were "brought forth" from Egypt by God; they had been unwilling to leave Egypt, preferring to serve the Egyptians rather than Yahweh (Ex. 14:12). God had as it were forced through His project of saving Israel by bringing them out of Egypt. And He had done so largely for the sake of Moses, by whose faith the Red Sea parted and they were delivered (Heb. 11:28,29). Therefore Yahweh's bringing Israel out of Egypt was what He did for Moses, and only thereby for His people. We too are brought out of this world towards God's Kingdom by His grace alone, with His consistently taking the initiative in our hearts and life circumstances, in accord with the loving intercession of the Lord Jesus [represented by Moses]. Thus Yahweh brought Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 18:1; 19:1; Lev. 23:43; 25:55; Num. 26:4; 33:1,3,38; Dt. 4:45,46), but Moses did (Ex. 3:10,11).


Num 26:5 Reuben, the firstborn of Israel; the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the family of the Palluites-
Hanoch [s.w. Enoch] was named after the son of Cain (Gen. 4:17) and means "initiated", rather hinting at unspirituality and paganism.


Num 26:6 of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the family of the Carmites-
"Carmi" means "vinedresser", but there had been no viticulture possible during the wilderness wanderings. He may have been named in faith that this is what he would do once in the promised land. Or perhaps this is an example of where names are given to people in later life, in accordance with their secular work experience- and these stick with their descendants. Names like Smith, Tanner etc. would be examples in English. Hence people in the Bible often have various names.

Num 26:7 These are the families of the Reubenites; and those who were numbered of them were forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty-
Here is a comparison of the numbers given in the first census of Num. 1, and those given at the end of the wilderness journeys in Num. 26:
1. Judah 74,600 rose to 76,500
2. Dan 62,700 rose to 64,400
3. Simeon 59,300 fell to 22,200
4. Zebulun 57,400 rose to 60,500
5. Issachar 54,400 rose to 64,300
6. Naphtali 53,400 fell to 45,400
7. Reuben 46,500 fell to 43,730
8. Gad 45,650 fell to 40,500
9. Asher 41,500 rose to 53,400
10. Ephraim 40,500 fell to 32,500
11. Benjamin 35,400 rose to 45,600
12. Manasseh 32,200 rose to 52,700
Total 603,550 in the first census, but 601,730 by the end of the 38 years wanderings in Num. 26.


Num 26:8 The sons of Pallu: Eliab-
"Pallu", meaning severed / differentiated, is the word used to describe how Israel were separated from amongst the Egyptians at the Exodus (Ex. 8:22; 9:4; 11:7). Probably he picked up this name (see on :6) in reference to this; perhaps he had been severed from the Egyptians in some spectacular way.  

Num 26:9 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. These are that Dathan and Abiram, who were renowned in the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against Yahweh-
Israel’s rejection of Moses was a rejection of the God who was working through Moses to redeem them. Thus Korah and his followers “strove against Moses... when they strove against Yahweh” (Num. 26:9 cp. 16:11). Moses understood that when Israel murmured against him, they murmured against Yahweh (Ex. 16:2,7; Num. 17:5; 21:5). They thrust Moses away from them (Acts 7:27,39) - yet the same word is used in Rom. 11:2 concerning how God still has not cast away Israel; He has not treated them as they treated Him through their rejection of Moses and Jesus, who manifested Him. Moses manifested Yahweh and in this sense whatever was done to him was done to Yahweh. This doesn’t mean that Moses was Yahweh Himself in person. Likewise Jesus carried the Name of God (Jn. 5:43) but wasn’t God in person. We who are baptized into the Name are in the same situation- whatever is done to us is done to God, and our attitudes to those in His Name are our attitudes to Him (Mt. 25:40,43).

Num 26:10 and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died-
A case could be made that the whole record of Israel’s rejection from entering the land of Canaan is framed to adduce a reason for this as the fact they chose to believe that the land was inhabited by an evil dragon who would consume them there. This was a slander of the good land, and the whole point was that if they had believed in the power of God, then whatever ‘adversary’ was in the land, in whatever form, was ultimately of no real power (Num. 13:32; 14:36; Dt. 1:25). And yet it was not God’s way to specifically tell the people that there was no such dragon lurking in the land of Canaan – instead He worked with them according to their fears, by making the earth literally open and swallow up the apostate amongst them (Num. 16:30) – emphasizing that by doing this, He was doing “a new thing”, something that had never been done before – for there was no dragon lurking in any land able to swallow up people. And throughout the prophets it is emphasized that God and not any dragon swallowed up people – “The Lord [and not any dragon] was as an enemy; He has swallowed up Israel” (Lam. 2:5 and frequently in the prophets). The people of Israel who left Egypt actually failed to inherit Canaan because they believed that it was a land who swallowed up the inhabitants of the land (Num. 13:32), relating this to the presence of giants in the land (Num. 13:33). As Joshua and Caleb pleaded with them, they needed to believe that whatever myths there were going around, God was greater than whatever mythical beast was there. And because they would not believe that, they failed to enter the land, which in type symbolized those who fail to attain that great salvation which God has prepared.

At which time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men-
Destruction by fire was an appropriate judgment for those who had offered strange fire. Judgment is related to the crime because men are self condemned more than being condemned by God. For saving, rather than destroying, is God's passion. Ps. 106:18 says that God kindled a fire to destroy them, but in reality, they  kindled that fire themselves (Is. 9:18; Hos 7:6). Lev. 10:2 uses the same term for fire from Yahweh devouring Nadab and Abihu as in Num. 16:35 about the destruction of Korah's rebels. They were clearly aware of what had happened to those rebels, and were daring God to repeat it. It was truly the sin of presumption.

And they became a sign-
In that their censers became plates on the altar as warning against apostacy and rebellion. The example of sinners from previous generations ought to be a warning to us. Asaph in Psalm 73 explains how he struggled with the fact that sinners appear to have a blessed life and the righteous suffer; but when he entered the sanctuary, “then understood I their end” (Ps. 73:17), probably a reference to him beholding the plates on the altar made from the censers of these sinners.  


Num 26:11 Notwithstanding, the sons of Korah didn’t die-
The inspired titles of the Psalms sometimes mention that the Psalm was written by the sons of Korah. They therefore dedicated themselves to God’s service, not following the bad example of their father. We in Christ are a new creation, and not inevitable victims of our upbringing or bad parental example. There are times when our loyalty to the Lord will result in us having to experience some kind of separation from family members who choose not to go the Lord’s way; Jesus foretold this would happen frequently (Mt. 10:34-37).


Num 26:12 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-
But according to 1 Chron. 4:24,25, it was not through these sons but rather through the line of Shaul, born from Simeon's relationship with a Gentile woman, that the line of Simeon continued. Again we see God's style of working through human weakness, and the fact that Israel were not at all ethnically pure.


Num 26:13 of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites; of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites-
Gen. 46:10 shows that Shaul was Simeon's son by a wrong, casual relationship with a Gentile. But ethnic purity was never made a condition of belonging to Israel. It was later Judaism which became obsessed with this. Rather God's people were to be open to the Gentiles. And so the family of Shaul are counted as members of Israel.


Num 26:14 These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty-two thousand two hundred-
All these figures may seem irrelevant, but analyzing them provides confirmation that the Bible we read is indeed God’s inspired word, because there is so much incidental confirmation of the truth of the record provided. The sum total of Israel at the end of their wilderness wanderings was 1,820 less than it had been at the beginning, nearly 40 years previously. But the tribe of Simeon had decreased by 37,100 (cp. Num. 1:23). The plague of chapter 25 had killed 24,000 people for committing fornication with the Moabites (Num. 25:9); but the ringleader of that had been Zimri, a Simeonite prince (Num. 25:14). It’s likely therefore that he led his tribe into the orgy with the Moabites, which resulted in so many of them being killed.


Num 26:15 The sons of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites; of Haggi, the family of the Haggites; of Shuni, the family of the Shunites-
We notice the complete absence of any prefix or suffix referring to God in many of these names. Israel were not spiritually strong when entered the Kingdom. And perhaps we can take courage from that.

Num 26:16 of Ozni, the family of the Oznites; of Eri, the family of the Erites-
The seven sons of Gad differ in just one name from the list in Gen. 46:16: "The sons of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli". Ezbon ['quick to understand'] has been replaced by Ozni ['quick ears']. The similar meanings of the names suggest these were just different forms of the same word.


Num 26:17 of Arod, the family of the Arodites; of Areli, the family of the Arelites-
"Arodi" is "wild ass man", a similar idea to the description of Ishmael in Gen. 16:12, who chose to go away from covenant relationship with God. We simply do not get a great impression of the family; and that is the point. Israel were not morally better than the surrounding nations, many of whom were descended from Abraham too. They were saved by grace.


Num 26:18 These are the families of the sons of Gad according to those who were numbered of them, forty thousand five hundred-
The Hebrew word translated as "thousand" can mean a family, or some other administrative division. Many of the 'number problems' in the Hebrew Bible are only really resoluble using this approach. And that may be in view in the census of Israel taken in Num. 1, and in the statement that six hundred 'thousands' of footmen left Egypt (Ex. 12:37). The census of Num. 1 gives figures such as those in Num. 1:21 for Reuben, which could be rendered: "forty six families ['thousands'] and five hundred (men)". Although a "hundred" might also refer to an administrative division. The total in Num. 1 would then be 598 families with a total of 5550 men. The sum given in the second census in Num. 26 comes out as roughly the same, with 596 families amounting to 5730 men. On this basis, the total population (including women and children) would be anything between 20,000 to 40,000. This would enable us to make better sense of the statements that Israel were the smallest numerically of all the surrounding peoples (Dt. 7:1,7; 11:23; 20:1). If we insist upon taking "thousand" literally in Ex. 12:37, then 600,000 male foot soldiers would imply a total population of between two and six million. The population density would have been intense, and far greater than that of many modern nations. Estimates of global population at the time suggest it was only about 40 million, and the population of Egypt was a maximum of three million (probably far less). If the Israelites were smaller than the other nations, and they numbered say 5 million, then the total population of the seven peoples of Canaan would have been at least 40 million. The territory of Canaan could not have supported such numbers. Only 70 Israelites came into Egypt with Jacob. Expansion over 430 years to several million is not realistic. This approach helps us better understand how all the men of war marched around Jericho (Josh. 6:3). If there were literally 600,000 men then the city would have had to be many kilometers in circumference for them all to march around it seven times in one day. Archaeological evidence from Jericho simply doesn't support the idea of such a vast city. If Israel numbered say 5 million people, and recall there was also a "mixed multitude" with them, then if they marched 10 abreast this would require a column stretching around 1000 kilometers. Their promises to Edom and the Amorites to march only along a highway and not spill over it (Num. 20:17; 21:22) is unrealistic if they had such huge numbers. A figure of 600 family units leaving Egypt is more realistic; otherwise we start to wonder how ever all the Israelites, millions of them, came to be in one place at one time on Passover night. This would then make better sense of Ex. 23:30 GNB: "I will drive them out little by little, until there are enough of you to take possession of the land". This indeed sounds as if Israel were the smallest of the nations, and not a huge nation comprising several million people.


Num 26:19 The sons of Judah: Er and Onan; and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan-
In the context of taking a census at this point in Israel's history, we enquire why the deaths of these men "in the land of Canaan" over 400 years ago is now mentioned. I suggest it was a warning- that even when they entered the land, they would still be subject to Divine law and would be judged for their sin. Presence in the land of Canaan was not to be seen as a kind of covering for their sin.

Num 26:20 The sons of Judah after their families were: of Shelah, the family of the Shelanites; of Perez, the family of the Perezites; of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites-
Gen. 38:29 gives the background: "It happened, as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out, and she said, Why have you made a breach for yourself? Therefore his name was called Perez". The theme of the second born being the chosen one continues. It was accepted that Perez was the one in the line of the Messianic seed and that this pregnancy was of God (Ruth 4:12), even though he was not technically the firstborn. "Made a breach" is literally 'to spread abroad', and is the word used in the promises of how the Messianic seed was to break forth or spread abroad (Gen. 28:14).


Num 26:21 The sons of Perez were: of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Hamul, the family of the Hamulites-
"Hamul" means 'The one who was spared', which rather suggests he too had sinned like Er and Onan (:19), but was spared by grace. Again, we hardly get a very positive spiritual impression of Jacob's family. They were saved by grace.


Num 26:22 These are the families of Judah according to those who were numbered of them, seventy-six thousand five hundred-
If we are to understand blessing under the old covenant as related to numbers of children, then there may be the hint that Judah were the most faithful. We note that Judah increased by a ratio of 1.02, 74,600 rose to 76,500. Dan also increased by exactly the same ratio of 1.02, 62,700 rose to 64,400. Likewise Benjamin increased by a ratio of 1.28, 35,400 rose to 45,600; and Asher also increased by the same ratio of 1.28, 41,500 rose to 53,400. Quite what we are to make of that isn't clear, although the figures are so exact that clearly God was in it. If the idea is that number of children is associated with blessing under the old covenant, perhaps the point is that amongst the children of God, some will respond to exactly the same extent as others. Others just marginally more than others- thus Zebulun increased by a ration of 1.05, 57,400 rose to 60,500. Whereas others respond markedly more, or less.


Num 26:23 The sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites; of Puvah, the family of the Punites-
What mother would call her child 'worm' ["Tola"]? Clearly people were given names, or became known by names, other than their birth names- and these names stuck with them. There are many other examples of this, like Mahlon and Chilion. This explains why people could have far more than one name, and that must be remembered when comparing the genealogies.


Num 26:24 of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites; of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites-
"Jashub" means 'he will return'. A faithful parent may have named him this in faith that Israel would one day return from Egypt to Canaan. Even when any ultimate change of circumstances may seem unlikely for us, we are to remember the final perspective- the fulfilment of the promises of the Kingdom in our lives.


Num 26:25 These are the families of Issachar according to those who were numbered of them, sixty-four thousand three hundred-
This tribe increased by about ten thousand during the wilderness journeys. Other tribes decreased. It was God's intention that the seed of Abraham should multiply. And yet some tribes multiplied by different amounts, and others decreased. We see that the promises to Abraham will have different levels of fulfillment for those who are faithful; and no fulfillment for some who are technically the seed, but don't walk in the steps of faith of Abraham. And so it is today. Some will make more of God's truth than others; some multiply their talents more than others, in terms of the Lord's parable. And so some stars will shine brighter than others in God's Kingdom.  

Num 26:26 The sons of Zebulun after their families: of Sered, the family of the Seredites; of Elon, the family of the Elonites; of Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites-
Elon's name means 'grove of oaks', clearly with reference to pagan practices. The reference is maybe to the judge of this name (Jud. 12:12). The fact he is not recorded as having renamed himself could suggest that he remained an idolater, although was used by God to deliver Israel. Being used by God doesn't mean we are therefore faithful to Him and assured of His acceptance.


Num 26:27 These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those who were numbered of them, sixty thousand five hundred-
Zebulun increased by a minimal amount over the course of the wilderness journey (see on :22). As discussed on :25, this is rather like the person who receives the talent of God's truth and keeps it but doesn't develop it much. We get this same impression of Zebulun in 2 Chron. 30:18.


Num 26:28 The sons of Joseph after their families: Manasseh and Ephraim-
Ephraim was the younger son, whom Jacob had made the firstborn, much to Joseph's disagreement. But here the two sons are listed according to their birth order. For all angst endured by the patriarchs about the question of who was the firstborn, the subsequent Biblical records make clear that this was of no real meaning.


Num 26:29 The sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the family of the Machirites; and Machir became the father of Gilead; of Gilead, the family of the Gileadites-
Machir was Manasseh's son by a Gentile woman (1 Chron. 7:14). 1 Chron. 2:21 adds: "Afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he took as wife when he was sixty years old; and she bore him Segub". We again have the theme of marital and sexual weakness in the family of Israel. Machir was Manasseh’s oldest son by a Syrian, Gentile woman. It was the Divine intention that marriage should be within the tribes of Israel so as to keep the inheritance which God intended. But here we have Manasseh and Judah intermarrying.


Num 26:30 These are the sons of Gilead: of Iezer, the family of the Iezerites; of Helek, the family of the Helekites-
"
Iezer" is the Abiezer of Josh. 17:2 and the Gideon story.


Num 26:31 and Asriel, the family of the Asrielites; and Shechem, the family of the Shechemites-
There are quite different numbers of families recorded within each tribe, and the genealogies in Chronicles are in places more detailed, mentioning other children and families. This may be because at this point not all chose to pay the atonement money required for the census (:1) and so were not numbered amongst Israel.


Num 26:32 and Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites; and Hepher, the family of the Hepherites-
"Hepher" means 'shame', and was surely not his birth name; see on :23.


Num 26:33 Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters; and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah-
The fact God allows His children to live His truth on different levels needs to be grasped firmly by us, lest we become discouraged that others live on an apparently lower level than we do in some aspects of life. Being surrounded by ‘lower levels’ ought to inspire us to the higher levels. Zelophehad had only daughters; usually, in his context, a man would have taken concubines in order to produce sons. The record of his only having daughters is presented in the context of genealogies which show that many Israelite men had more than one wife (1 Chron. 7:15). But Zelophehad wasn’t dragged down by this; God inspired him to maintain the higher level which he had chosen to live by. He didn't use the principle of Jephthah's vow. And his daughters likewise refused to be limited by their status as females, but obtained an inheritance amongst their brethren (Num. 27:1-7)


Num 26:34 These are the families of Manasseh; and those who were numbered of them were fifty-two thousand seven hundred-
We note the huge growth of Manasseh during the wilderness journeys,  32,200 rose to 52,700; whilst Ephraim's 40,500 fell to 32,500. This would appear to contradict Joseph's desire to bless Ephraim more than Manasseh (Gen. 48:14). It shows that the utterances of a patriarch were not determinate. For under the old covenant, numbers of children were related to obedience to the covenant. Prophecy was and is not determinate, but always conditional upon human response. Hence not all the blessings of the tribes uttered by Jacob came true; because the potential wasn't realized by the descendants. And so it is sadly true of so many people who turn away from the Kingdom promises.


Num 26:35 These are the sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthelahites; of Becher, the family of the Becherites; of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites-
We notice the lack of any spiritual reference in the meaning of these names. "Becher", 'camel man', would be a strange name for someone who respected the law's pronouncement of the camel as an unclean animal.


Num 26:36 These are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites-
A total of 57 families are mentioned in this list, excluding Levi. But only three families of Ephraim, and then one family from a grandson. It would seem they had chosen not to pay the atonement money required at the census (see on :1), and those who didn't want to make this acceptance of atonement were not numbered amongst Israel.


Num 26:37 These are the families of the sons of Ephraim according to those who were numbered of them, thirty-two thousand five hundred. These are the sons of Joseph after their families-
We note the huge growth of Manasseh during the wilderness journeys,  32,200 rose to 52,700; whilst Ephraim's 40,500 fell to 32,500. This would appear to contradict Joseph's desire to bless Ephraim more than Manasseh (Gen. 48:14). It shows that the utterances of a patriarch were not determinate. For under the old covenant, numbers of children were related to obedience to the covenant. Prophecy was and is not determinate, but always conditional upon human response. Hence not all the blessings of the tribes uttered by Jacob came true; because the potential wasn't realized by the descendants. And so it is sadly true of so many people who turn away from the Kingdom promises.


Num 26:38 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 simple truth is that Benjamin, the "little one" (Gen. 44:20), has more descendants listed to his name in the Chronicles genealogies than any of the brothers. Is. 60:22 clearly alludes to this- "a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation". It is the theme of the patriarchal family; the firstborns are deposed, the elder serves the younger, the weak become strong, the little one becomes mighty.


Num 26:39 of Shephupham, the family of the Shuphamites; of Hupham, the family of the Huphamites-
"Shephupham" means 'serpent like' and was surely not his birth name; see on :23. This family got this name from a corrupt ancestor. But they paid their atonement money (see on :1) and were numbered amongst Israel. Bad background is no reason a person cannot be numbered amongst God's people.

Num 26:40 The sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: the family of the Ardites; of Naaman, the family of the Naamites-
Gen. 46:21 says that Benjamin had ten sons when the Jacob family moved into Egypt, but here seven of them are in fact his grandsons. Benjamin was hardly a child when the brothers came to buy corn. He was in his 20s, and according to the Hebrew text he had ten sons already, and presumably some daughters; perhaps suggesting that his father's favouritism and obsession with him had not been helpful morally, and had resulted in him having multiple relationships from a young age. However, the LXX lists only three sons, and makes the rest of the list the sons of Bela. And yet Benjamin would not have been old enough to have been a grandfather. So it could be that he had married a woman who had children of her own who became Benjamin's, or that he somehow adopted these children. There would have been a very large extended family around Jacob, and maybe these children were simply under the care of Benjamin. However, the genealogy in Num. 26:40 appears to support the LXX text here, with Ard and Naaman given as grandsons of Benjamin and not sons. We must remember that genealogies, numbers and dates are not used in Semitic languages in the strictly literalistic way in which they are in European languages. Heb. 7:10 can therefore argue that Melchizedek blessed Levi because he blessed Abraham, and Levi was a descendant of Abraham, "yet in the loins of his father". And this establishes Melchizedek as greater than Levi, and in turn, the priests descended from him. That argument may appear very stretched and even technically inaccurate to European ears. But it had absolute validity in Hebrew thought. And so the grandchildren of Benjamin, yet unborn, could be listed as being in existence when Benjamin went into Egypt, and even be numbered amongst the group at that time. This is why the grandchildren of the maids are counted as if they are the direct children of the maids; see on Gen. 46:9,18. We likewise read that Jacob brought his twelve sons out of Mesopotamia, including Benjamin (Gen. 35:24,26). But Benjamin was born later, in Canaan. But on this basis of being counted as "in the loins of" an ancestor, Benjamin could also be presented as having come out of Mesopotamia. If this kind of thing were better appreciated by Bible readers, it would be better understood that there was no personal pre-existence of the Lord Jesus in actuality, although He is spoken of as existing prior to His birth.


Num 26:41 These are the sons of Benjamin after their families; and those who were numbered of them were forty-five thousand six hundred-
Benjamin's 35,400 rose to 45,600 by the end of the wilderness journeyings. We note that Judah increased by a ratio of 1.02, 74,600 rose to 76,500. Dan also increased by exactly the same ratio of 1.02, 62,700 rose to 64,400. Likewise Benjamin increased by a ratio of 1.28, 35,400 rose to 45,600; and Asher also increased by the same ratio of 1.28, 41,500 rose to 53,400. Quite what we are to make of that isn't clear, although the figures are so exact that clearly God was in it. If the idea is that number of children is associated with blessing under the old covenant, perhaps the point is that amongst the children of God, some will respond to exactly the same extent as others. Others just marginally more than others- thus Zebulun increased by a ration of 1.05, 57,400 rose to 60,500. Whereas others respond markedly more, or less.


Num 26:42 These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham, the family of the Shuhamites. These are the families of Dan after their families-

Shuham is called "Hushim" in Gen. 46:23, which means "hasty", not a particularly spiritual characteristic. As noted earlier, Hebrew names are not necessarily birth names, but the names by which people came to be known, reflective of their personalities or experiences. However he is here called "Shusham", "humble". So maybe his over hasty actions humbled his descendants in due course.


Num 26:43 All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those who were numbered of them, were sixty-four thousand four hundred-
Dan had only one son and yet by this time had become the second largest tribe in Israel. Benjamin had ten sons (Gen. 46:21) but was one of the smallest tribes. Again we see how God doesn’t work through human strength or advantage; the passage of time reveals over the generations that human blessing soon fades away.

We note that Judah increased by a ratio of 1.02, 74,600 rose to 76,500. Dan also increased by exactly the same ratio of 1.02, 62,700 rose to 64,400. Likewise Benjamin increased by a ratio of 1.28, 35,400 rose to 45,600; and Asher also increased by the same ratio of 1.28, 41,500 rose to 53,400. Quite what we are to make of that isn't clear, although the figures are so exact that clearly God was in it. If the idea is that number of children is associated with blessing under the old covenant, perhaps the point is that amongst the children of God, some will respond to exactly the same extent as others. Others just marginally more than others- thus Zebulun increased by a ration of 1.05, 57,400 rose to 60,500. Whereas others respond markedly more, or less.


Num 26:44 The sons of Asher after their families: of Imnah, the family of the Imnites; of Ishvi, the family of the Ishvites; of Beriah, the family of the Berites-
All the names here are absolutely secular in their meaning and have no hint of spirituality. The consistent impression is that Israel were a secular, unspiritual people who were saved by grace. Even other nations tended to have the names of their gods mixed in with their personal names; but the list we have here has very little of that.


Num 26:45 Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites; of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites-
We note how most of the names which reference God feature the 'El' suffix or prefix and not 'Yah' or 'Iah'. This is understandable, for Moses declared the Name of Yahweh to the people after most of these men had been born. This kind of artless internal corroboration is to me one of the strongest arguments for the Divine inspiration of the Bible.


Num 26:46 The name of the daughter of Asher was Serah-
The mention of women in such lists is unusual, and I suggest that the names are of those who became heads of family clans within the tribes. So the mention of Serah would mean that she became a head of family; although rare or unknown in the world around them, this was not totally unheard of in the Jacob family and we see in this the respect of women amongst the people of God.


Num 26:47 These are the families of the sons of Asher according to those who were numbered of them, fifty-three thousand and four hundred-
We note that Judah increased by a ratio of 1.02, 74,600 rose to 76,500. Dan also increased by exactly the same ratio of 1.02, 62,700 rose to 64,400. Likewise Benjamin increased by a ratio of 1.28, 35,400 rose to 45,600; and Asher also increased by the same ratio of 1.28, 41,500 rose to 53,400. Quite what we are to make of that isn't clear, although the figures are so exact that clearly God was in it. If the idea is that number of children is associated with blessing under the old covenant, perhaps the point is that amongst the children of God, some will respond to exactly the same extent as others. Others just marginally more than others- thus Zebulun increased by a ration of 1.05, 57,400 rose to 60,500. Whereas others respond markedly more, or less.


Num 26:48 The sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites; of Guni, the family of the Gunites-
"Jezer" (:49) means "image", "Guni" means "painted with colours", both suggestive of idolatry. If the people were fully committed to Yahweh, we would expect them to have removed all associations with idolatry from their names. For I have noted repeatedly that people often changed their names or became known by other names.


Num 26:49 of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites; of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites-
Gen. 46:24 lists Jezer (see on :48) and Shillem as also sons of Naphtali.


Num 26:50 These are the families of Naphtali according to their families; and those who were numbered of them were forty-five thousand four hundred-
Naphtali's 53,400 fell to 45,400 by the end of the wilderness journeys, a decrease by a ratio of 0.85; very similar to how Gad's 45,650 fell to 40,500, a decrease by a ratio of 0.88. See on :47.


Num 26:51 These are those who were numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty-
We must remember that "thousand" can refer to a group rather than a literal number. Perhaps in commentary upon the temptation to trust in numbers now that the number had been taken, Moses says that the number of Israel was "as numerous as the stars in heaven" (Dt. 1:10). And yet they went into Canaan knowing they were not the most numerous of the tribes there (Dt. 7:1,7; 11:23; 20:1). So Moses may have in view Angels as stars, the idea being that whatever number Israel were on earth, they had the hosts of Angels in Heaven fighting on their side, an Angel for each of them. For all trust in numbers is not the approach of faith.


Num 26:52 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The purpose of the census may have been not so much to know numbers, but to define the Israelites into clear family units; for it was God's intention that each unit should have a specific inheritance in the land they were now going to enter. We likewise will each have a specific, unique nature of inheritance in the future Kingdom of God. But those who refused to pay the atonement money were not numbered (see on :1). The inheritance of the Kingdom requires our acceptance of the atonement and response to it.


Num 26:53 To these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names-
"The number of the names" is the phrase used in Acts 1:15 of the very early church. The idea was that the fledgling Christian church was now the new Israel of God, who were to go out and do spiritual warfare in conquering the world for Christ. The idea of inheriting our "lot" is often applied to our inheritance in the Kingdom (Eph. 1:14,18; Col. 1:12; Dan. 12:13).


Num 26:54 To the more you shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer you shall give the less inheritance: to everyone according to those who were numbered of his family shall his inheritance be given-
We would expect the quality of the land to be factored in. But instead, land area was to be simply proportionate to the size of the family. God's ideal intention was that Israel would be obedient and experience the blessings of the covenant outlined in Lev. 26, which would include huge fecundity of the land- even on the top of the mountains there was to be corn. But they failed, and so these blessings didn't come about; and perhaps the actual division of the land was therefore based on more secular and spiritually realistic assumptions.


Num 26:55 Notwithstanding, the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit it-
The living inherit from the dead, but this is phrased in the Hebrew to imply that the dead "fathers" were being given an inheritance by the living. This is flagging attention to something. The idea was perhaps that the promised inheritances were going to be eternally experienced by those dead "fathers", as they along with the patriarchs were to be resurrected to inherit the land. 


Num 26:56 According to the lot shall their inheritance be divided between the more and the fewer-
As discussed on :54, there was initially the ideal assumption that Israel's obedience would lead to huge agricultural blessing in the land, of a supernatural degree. Therefore the quality of the land, in a secular, agricultural sense, was not taken into account.


Num 26:57 These are those who were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites; of Merari, the family of the Merarites-
"Gershon" means 'expelled', maybe meaning that like Reuben he was expelled from the role of firstborn [he is mentioned first as if he was the firstborn]. This is a theme of the Genesis record. But perhaps because of these weaknesses, the line to the high priest ran through Kohath.


Num 26:58 These are the families of Levi: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korahites. Kohath became the father of Amram-
The Levites were not numbered in the first census, but they were at the end of the wilderness journey. The number of 23,000 given in :62 makes them one of the smallest tribes. If we are to understand blessing under the old covenant as related to numbers of children, then there may be the hint that Judah were the most faithful and Levi and Simeon the least, in line with Jacob's curse of those two sons for what they did at Shechem. But it was from this spiritually weak group of Levites that God wished to raise up a priesthood to spiritually guide His people. This is typical of His counter instinctive way of working with people.


Num 26:59 The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt: and she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister-
Amram lived to the same age as Levi (Ex. 6:16,20). Numbers and ages are used in Semitic literature often in a non literal sense, in order to make some point. Perhaps the idea here is that Amram was indeed a true son of Levi; despite Israel's general apostacy in Egypt, he married within his own tribe, as if seeking to keep the spirit of the later legislation to this effect. Moses' father Amram had married his father's sister (Ex. 6:20), thus disobeying the principle of Lev. 18:20. The founding fathers of Israel broke these very principles, showing how the whole nation was built upon Divine grace rather than obedience.


Num 26:60 To Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar-
We note the lack of emphasis upon the children of Moses and Miriam, the great wilderness leaders of Israel. There was to be no cult of personality nor nepotism, no riding on the name of a forefather in order to be a leader of God's people. Spiritual leadership in the Bible was intended to be based upon spiritual qualification. This also continues the major Biblical theme, that the firstborn is often not used by God and is replaced. This is His style, to exalt the underdogs.


Num 26:61 Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before Yahweh-
"The fire" refers to the fire of the altar which was ideally intended to be that kindled at the time of Lev. 9:24 when the tabernacle was consecrated. It was to be kept perpetually burning by the sacrifices being continually placed upon it, a lamb every morning and every evening. But they offered strange or Gentile fire, other than from that fire. The fire which never went out or was 'quenched' (Lev. 6:13). is a double symbol. The phrase is used multiple times with reference to the wrath of God in condemning sinners; it is the basis of the idea of eternal fire which will not be quenched. Rather like the cup of wine from the Lord being a symbol of either condemnation or blessing. So we have a choice- be consumed by the eternal fire now as living sacrifices, or be consumed by it anyway at the last day.


Num 26:62 Those who were numbered of them were twenty-three thousand, every male from a month old and upward; for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel-
38,000 Levites were numbered by David in 1 Chron. 23:3, although "thousand" may mean a division rather than a literal 1000. At the time of Num. 4:47,48 there were only 8,580. And Levite males from a month old were 22,000 in Num. 3:39 and 23,000 at the time of Num. 26:62. This suggests a great increase in the number of Levites by David's time; or perhaps he more generously counted who was a Levite, because he wanted to have as many as possible involved in his grandiose plans for the temple services. There was no need for such large numbers of Levites in order to serve God effectively, for there were far fewer Levites at the time of the figures given in the book of Numbers, and the sanctuary and Divine service still continued. See on :58.


Num 26:63 These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho-
Aaron was now dead, so the record is careful to say that Moses and Eleazar numbered the people at the end of their wanderings, whilst Moses and Aaron numbered them at the start of their wanderings. Having studied every verse of the Bible over the course of many years, the lack of contradiction in the text is such an impressive sign of Divine inspiration.

Num 26:64 But among these there was not a man of them who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai-
The point may be that the Levites were not numbered then, and we have just read that they were numbered at the end of the wilderness journey. This would explain why Eleazar and Phinehas were not slain. The Rabbis like to suggest that "a man" refers to males and females were not included in the condemnation, but I cannot find reason to be certain about that. 

Num 26:65 For Yahweh had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. There was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun-
Num. 14:30 adds: "Surely you shall not come into the land, concerning which I swore that I would make you dwell therein, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun". This promise was solemnly made, with uplifted hand as it were, to that generation who left Egypt (Ex. 6:8). But they did not enter the land, as Num. 14:30 makes clear. This was because Israel broke their side of the covenant, and did not in fact want to enter the land; and continued serving the idols of Egypt, which they took with them through the Red Sea (Ez. 20:8; Acts 7:43). But that promise was guaranteed by the fact that "I will bring you into the land... I am Yahweh" (Ex. 6:8). The very essence of Yahweh, that 'I will' save, as surely as 'I will be who I will be', a saviour God, was fought against by Israel's idolatry and unfaithfulness to the covenant. And because 'Yahweh' involves His character, which includes His judgment of sin and not turning a blind eye to it (Ex. 34:4-6), human intransigence and faithlessness was allowed to as it were even counteract His most essential 'being' a saviour God for His beloved people.