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THEN came the daughters of Salphaad, the son of Hepher, the son of Galaad, the son of Machir, the son of Manasses, who was the son of Joseph: and their names are Maala, and Noa, and Hegla, and Melcha, and Thersa.

Ver. 1.  Salphaad, a descendant of Joseph, had departed this life in the desert, being one of those who sinned, by murmuring, at Cades-barne.  See C. xiv. and xv. 32.  C.


--- He only left these five daughters behind him; and, as many others might be under the same predicament, their case deserved the attention of the legislator, who referred it to God.  H.


2 And they stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the people at the door of the tabernacle of the covenant, and said: 3 Our father died in the desert, and was not in the sedition, that was raised against the Lord under Core, but he died in his own sin: and he had no male children. Why is his name taken away out of his family, because he had no son? Give us a possession among the kinsmen of our father.

Ver. 3.  Father, the portion which would have been assigned him; that so those whom we may marry, may take the inheritance, under the name of Salphaad, which some of the children may also bear.  M.


4 And Moses referred their cause to the judgment of the Lord.

Ver. 4-6.  Their.  The first of these pronouns is written larger than usual, the second is improperly masculine in Heb.; both, it is pretended, to honour the young women.  Kennicott.

5 And the Lord said to him: 6 The daughters of Salphaad demand a just thing: Give them a possession among their father's kindred, and let them succeed him in his inheritance. 7 And to the children of Israel thou shalt speak these things: 8 When a man dieth without a son, his inheritance shall pass to his daughter.


9 If he have no daughter, his brethren shall succeed him.

Ver. 9.  Him.  The Jews observe, that if the father of the deceased were still alive, he would take the inheritance.  Seld. Success. xii. and xiii.  But if his wife were inclined to marry again, she might insist on his next relation taking her, before she could be required to give up his goods.  Deut. xxv. 5.  Hence the Gemarra of Babylon says, "If we are the daughters of Salphaad, let them give us his estate; but if we are not his daughters, let them make the brother of Salphaad marry our mother."

10 And if he have no brethren, you shall give the inheritance to his father's brethren. 11 But if he have no uncles by the father, the inheritance shall be given to them that are the next akin. And this shall be to the children of Israel sacred by a perpetual law, as the Lord hath commanded Moses.

Ver. 11.  Uncles.  His nephews are at a greater distance from the original stock.  The Phœnicians carried the same regulations into Africa.  Grot. Jur. ii. 7.  The relations by the mother's side, could claim no part.  The husband was heir to all his wife's goods, except her dowry, which went to her children.  People born of a slave, or of a harlot or strange woman, were not lawful heirs.  "These regulations have been adopted by all civilized nations."  Orig. hom. 22.  C.

12 The Lord also said to Moses: Go up into this mountain Abarim, and view from thence the land which I will give to the children of Israel.



Mountains in N. Moab.

13 And when thou shalt have seen it, thou also shalt go to thy people, as thy brother Aaron is gone:

Ver. 13.  People, in limbo.  M.


--- He was not buried in the grave of his ancestors, but on some part of Mount Abarim, called Nebo.  Deut. xxxiv. 1. 6.  H.


--- Moses, hoping that this sentence of exclusion from the promised land might be only a threat, had earnestly besought God to let him enter.  But being forbidden to speak of the matter any more, he understood that it was as irrevocable as an oath.  Deut. iii. 26. iv. 21.  He turned, therefore, his whole solicitude to obtain of God some one, who might enjoy the honour and happiness of conducting the people, and putting them in  possession of God's promises.  He regards not flesh and blood on this occasion, (Philo, de caritate.  Salien,) but sets a noble pattern for all ecclesiastical superiors to imitate.  D.


14 Because you offended me in the desert of Sin in the contradiction of the multitude, neither would you sanctify me before them at the waters. These are the waters of contradiction in Cades of the desert of Sin.



Cades, not far from Mount Hor, on the confines of Idumea, v. 22. and Jud. xi. 16. C. --- Misphat, or of judgment and contradiction, because there the Hebrews contended with Moses and Aaron: it was afterwards called Cadez. Num. xx. 11. --- Cades. The desert of Pharan, or of Cades, is the same. H. --- Sin, or Tsin. Cades is another name of the same desert. Near the city of Cades-barne, the Hebrews encamped a long while, and had plenty of water; but here they murmured for want of it, and Mary departed this life. C. xx. C.

15 And Moses answered him: 16 May the Lord the God of the spirits of all flesh provide a man, that may be over this multitude:

Ver. 16.  Flesh, who gives life, and penetrates the secrets of hearts.  C. xvi. 22.

17 And may go out and in before them, and may lead them out, or bring them in: lest the people of the Lord be as sheep without a shepherd.

Ver. 17.  Shepherd.  Christ makes use of the same comparison.  Jo. x. 1.  Kings are often styled shepherds in Homer.  Moses begs that his successor may be enabled to conduct the multitude in both peace and war.


--- To go in and out, means to govern, (3 K. iii. 7,) and includes all the occurrences of life.  Act. i. 21.  Ps. cxx. 8.  C.


--- Thus, temporal princes are the shepherds of the people.  But they are not, on that account, supreme in spiritual causes.  For here Josue only receives part of the glory of Moses, while Eleazar is appointed to consult the Lord for him, and to direct him in all matters of importance, v. 20. 21.  W.


18 And the Lord said to him: Take Josue the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and put thy hand upon him.

Ver. 18.  Spirit of God, which was given to him, when he was appointed a judge; (C. xi. 17,) the spirit of prophesy, (Onkelos,) and of wisdom, (Deut. xxxiv. 9,) of which he received a fresh increase, by the imposition of the hands of Moses.  By the like ceremony people are confirmed, and ministers of religion are still ordained.  Act. vi. 6.  1 Tim. iv. 14.  C.


--- God endues Josue with all the necessary qualifications for his high office.  He makes choice of him, and not of any of the relations of Moses, that the people might not be offended at the supreme power being in a manner engrossed by one family; and he appoints one 93 year old, that the success of war might not be attributed to Josue, though he had been long at the head of the armies, and a man of greatest authority, even the vice-gerent of Moses.  He declares his election before all the multitude, with the high priest at their head, that there might be no dispute about the matter; and, on this account, he requires various external ceremonies to be observed.  Salien.


19 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest and all the multitude: 20 And thou shalt give him precepts in the sight of all, and part of thy glory, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may hear him.

Ver. 20.  Precepts, to accept of this office, (C.) and to discharge it with integrity.  H.


--- Glory, not that which shone on the face of Moses, as Onkelos would have it, but all the marks of distinction due to a chief magistrate, (C.) the insignia of his office.  See Ex. xviii. 21.  Salien.


--- Treat him with respect, as your successor.  M.


--- Let him henceforward commence to exercise his authority before you, that all the people may hear and obey him.  Sararius.  T.

21 If any thing be to be done, Eleazar the priest shall consult the Lord for him. He and all the children of Israel with him, and the rest of the multitude shall go out and go in at his word.

Ver. 21.  For him.  Hebrew adds, "according to the judgment of Urim."  See Ex. xxviii. 30.  Nothing better shews the theocracy of the Hebrews, as Josephus styles it, (c. Apion. ii.) than this order for the chief magistrate in civil affairs, to consult and be guided by God's minister, and by the sentence which he should pronounce in his name.  Till the reign of David, at least, we find few wars undertaken, without consulting God: (C.) and the Rabbins assert, that the kings could not declare any war of their own accord, without the consent of the high priest and Sanhedrim.  Seld. Syned. iii. 12.  Saul lost his crown and life for not complying with the injunctions of God, which were communicated to him by the prophet Samuel.  H.

22 Moses did as the Lord had commanded. And when he had taken Josue, he set him before Eleazar the priest, and all the assembly of the people,

Eleazar Commissioning Josue

Eleazar Commissioning Josue

Moses did as the Lord had commanded. And when he had taken Josue, he set him before Eleazar the priest, and all the assembly of the people,

23 And laying his hands on his head, he repeated all things that the Lord had commanded.

Ver. 23.  Commanded. This Moses executed on his birth-day, when he was 120 years old, (Deut. xxxi. 2. 7,) having frequently before given proper instructions to Josue.  Deut. i. 38. and xxxii. 44.  H.

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Holy Spirit