239 – Numbers 27 – God is in the Details
There are Thirty-six chapters in the book of Numbers. We are creeping up to the end of the book as the Israelites are nearing the end of their forty-year-long journey through the wilderness. If you read the Old Testament carefully enough you’ll notice God does not respond to the various situations Isreal finds itself in. He’s not sitting back wringing His hands every time they get into trouble while He haphazardly comes up with a plan while asking, “now what do I do with them?”
Yahweh knows the end from the beginning. He knows full well the past, present, and future. Not only so, but he weaves His divine plan through our history, our present, and our future. His plan can not be thwarted and will come to full fruition regardless of what we, or in this case the ancient Israelites do. Yahweh is a God who He carefully lays out to them each new step He expects them to take in their walk towards fulfilling His will.
I can only summarize Numbers 27, but to do so cheapens the text unless it is read. You read it, I’ll summarize, and hopefully make some helpful comments along the way.
I would summarize the chapter as preparing to enter the promised land, with the following bullet points.
- Preparing Inheritance rules
- Preparing for Moses’ death
- Preparing for Moses’ succession, Joshua
Verses 1-11 present an interesting story. Apparently, a man named Zelophehad died having no sons. His five daughters Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah approached Moses and presented their case.
3 “Our father died in the desert; he was not in the midst of the company of those who banded together against Yahweh in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons.
4 Why should the name of our father disappear from the midst of his clan because he does not have a son? Give us property in the midst of the brothers of our father.” (LEB)
It’s easy enough to understand their ask. Their father had no sons and yet they wanted to inherit the land he would have been given. But why mention Korah? If we look back to Numbers 16 we are reminded that Korah and his entire family were swallowed up by a huge crack in the earth for their wickedness. This effectively ended his family line. These women are reminding Moses that their father was not guilty of the same crime as Korah and they, therefore, had a legal right to state their case. Moses was stumped. He took their case straight to the ultimate supreme court in all of heaven and earth. He submitted their claim before righteous Yahweh (vs 5). God ruled in favor of the women and gave additional rules concerning inheritance. Yahweh cleared up the gray areas because with God there are no gray areas, just His truth.
Yahweh then reminds Moses why he will not be allowed into the promised land (vs 12-14), but tells him to go see it before he dies.
Next, Moses does something that I think proves He was in total alignment with Yahweh’s plan at this stage in His life. He prays that Yahweh will provide the people with a replacement leader (vs 15-17), the very thing Yahweh was about to do.
18 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and place your hand on him.
19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the entire community, and ⌊commission him⌋ ⌊in their sight⌋. (LEB)
In the Lexham English Bible, the publisher puts brackets around idioms they believe would be less clear if translate differently. They then make a note about the more literal rendering for your consideration. The note for “commission him” says “command him”, and the note for “in their sight” says “before their eyes”.
Consider the last two verses in the chapter.
22 Moses did just as Yahweh commanded him, and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before the entire community.
23 And he placed his hands on him and ⌊commissioned him⌋ just as Yahweh spoke by the hand of Moses.
We might say the passing of the torch from Moses to Joshua was ending one chapter and opening a new one for the nation Israel. Fun fact, the name Moses means “to pull out/draw out [of water]” and the name Joshua means “God rescues or Yahweh Saves”. God pulled Israel out of Egypt in the same way Moses was drawn out of the water. Under Joshua, the Israelites must drive the enemy out of the land so they may possess it. Joshua may be leading them, but it truly is Yahweh who will rescue and save them.
Since I’m mentioning the meaning of names, I should point out that the name Israel means Prince with God. You can read about Jacob’s name change to Israel in Genesis 32:28.
I hope you see in this chapter that God truly is in the details. His plan is firm and will come to fruition according to His timetable. This was true for Old Testament Israel, modern-day Israel, and it’s true for you.