Num 26. 1-65 tells us about another census. The first one was before the wilderness in Num 1, and now we have a second one after the wilderness here. It is like the Lord, the good shepherd, is counting his sheep after a wold attack. Here is another concept to remember. It is not important that you have a testimony that “I came out of Egypt” in Num 1. Almost all of those who had that testimony died, except for Caleb and Joshua (Num 26.65). What is important is to make a testimony that they were going into the land of promise, the list in Num 26. Receiving the promise is better that the first list in Num 1 because faith prevailed.
Now, we are going to end up with almost the same totals as the first list. We should never be satisfied that we are “in the camp” which means we have said a “sinner’s prayer” or “walked an aisle” and been baptized, joined a congregation and call ourselves a believer. All the people who came out of Egypt could say that. But, they needed to get up and walk in the Torah everyday, and it is the same with us. Jer 9.23-24 says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a man boast of his wisdom and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am Yehovah who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things’ declares Yehovah.”
If we don’t walk, we will be left behind. Take note of one group in Num 26.11. It says that “The sons of Korah, however, did not die.” They were the founders of a family of psalmists who wrote Psa 42, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84 (a total of seven psalms, the number of completion). Their father’s legacy did not stop them. The wilderness experience wasn’t so good for some, but for others, they went forward to proclaim the name of Yehovah in the Psalms and lived. Talk about a bad home life. Korah’s sons had a father that was in rebellion against God, yet they went on to the promised land because they did not let their father influence them when it came to following the Lord, and they lived.
Jer 7.21-26 deals with this issue, and in v 24 it says the people in the wilderness went “backward and not forward.” When all was said and done, more was said than done for the Lord. Ecc 12.13 puts it this way, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, fear God and keep his commandments because this applies to every person.”
Num 26 gives us the actual census. They will need to know how to allot the land and in how many portions. This census applied to all males 20 years old and up, whoever is able to go to war. There will but two people who are numbered in Num 26 that were numbered in the first census when they came out of Egypt. These two will be Caleb and Joshua (Num 26.13).
Num 27 gives us the Law of Inheritance. It records the petition of the daughters of Zelophedad. It was decided that when there were no male heirs, the inheritance should pass to females, and if there were no females, to the next of kin. The Torah permitted inheritance through the mother and this is how Yeshua can be the Messiah (Luke 3.23). In contrast to Israel’s neighbors, early Torah law reflected a nomadic clan structure. The foremost goal of the legal system was the preservation of the clan. Equity between members of the tribe/family preserves peaceful relationships and strengthens cooperation. SO, the daughters of Zelophedad were just in their request where upholding the clan/family was concerned.
Now, there is a word called “pilpul” and it means a “peppered argument.” It is an argument that can get a little “spicy.” There is a rabbinical argument that asks, “Is it better to be king of Israel or a priest?” This debate involved David and Aaron, and it went back and forth. Finally, Aaron wins and it is over the issue of inheritance. All of Aaron’s sons get to be priests, but only one of David’s sons get to be king.
The argument (pilpul) concludes by saying, “The Messiah, after the order of Melchizedek, must come first to do the work of a priest before he comes to do the work of a king because of the reason of inheritance, so that we can receive the inheritance of eternal life first (the spiritual work of the High Priest), then he can do the work of a king (rule as a warrior high priest).” Now, that is very close to how we see Yeshua! He came to do the work of a priest first (sacrifice) and then he will come as a king to rule.
Eph 1.4-14 talks about our election and our inheritance. It tells us we have been chosen in him before the world was even created that we should be set apart (have a kedusha). He has predestined us to adoption as sons. We are redeemed, have salvation and are sealed with the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) who has been given to us as a pledge “of our inheritance.” That’s why our names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Phil 4.3). We are in a census to receive an inheritance.
We have a Father who has left us with an inheritance. We have something to look forward to. We need to remind ourselves of this and be like the worldly people wanting the inheritance of their fathers. We have an inheritance of the Lord and we should want it. The Lord wants us to want it and he desires to give it to us. And unlike a worldly inheritance, it does not diminish because we have other brothers and sisters!
That is why some call this book “Numbers” in English. The Lord is numbering his people so that they can receive an inheritance. This concept of inheritance is one of the most important concepts in the Scriptures and one of the least understood. Num 27.1-11 is totally out of step with the issues of the day so far. When everyone else was saying, “Let’s go back to Egypt” the daughters of Zelophedad were interested in the land and their inheritance.
Five daughters plead their case about the inheritance of their father who died in the wilderness. He did not participate in Korah’s mutiny but “died of his own sin.” He left no sons and they requested a possession among their father’s brothers (uncles). But first, they needed a word from God on this so they go to Moses,and so should we when we need a word from God. The words, “their case” in Hebrew is “Mishpatan” and it is written with an over-sized “nun.” The letter “nun” is number 50 and it alludes to the 50th year of the Yovel when property and homes return to their ancestral owners. Shavuot is 50 days after leaving Egypt and the Torah is given. In the Lord our inheritance won’t be taken away from us, and we won’t lose it.
Looking at these passages eschatologically, this issue of inheritance and the daughters of Zelophedad is based on the concept of the “Seed of the Woman” in Gen 3.15. The Torah permitted inheritance through the mother based on that verse. That means Yeshua can be king through his mother. The key verse for that is Num 27.11 where it says, “And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his nearest relative in his family, and he shall possess it; and it shall be a statutory ordinance to the sons of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses.” Too often people view the Torah and the ways of Israel in conjunction with the Torah as being anti-female. However, this is not true and it is the exact opposite. This hasn’t been an issue until the last 100 years or so.
In Part 29 we will pick up with the successor to Moses upon his death.