Numbering of Israel in the plains of Moab. (1-51) The division of the land. (52-56) Number of the Levites. (57-62) None remaining of the first numbering. (63-65)
Verses 1-51 Moses did not number the people but when God commanded him. We have here the families registered, as well as the tribes. The total was nearly the same as when numbered at mount Sinai. Notice is here taken of the children of Korah; they died not, as the children of Dathan and Abiram; they seem not to have joined even their own father in rebellion. If we partake not of the sins of sinners, we shall not partake of their plagues.
Verses 52-56 In distributing these tribes, the general rule of equity is prescribed; that to many should be given more, and to fewer less. Though it seems left to the prudence of their prince, the matter at last must be settled by the providence of God, with which all must be satisfied.
Verses 57-62 Levi was God's tribe; therefore it was not numbered with the rest, but alone. It came not under the sentence, that none of them should enter Canaan excepting Caleb and Joshua.
Verses 63-65 The execution of the sentence passed on the murmurers, chap. 14:29 , is observable. There was not one man numbered now, who was numbered then, but Caleb and Joshua. Here appeared the righteousness of God, and his faithfulness to his threatenings. Especially observe the truth of God, in performing his promise to Caleb and Joshua. Death makes awful havoc of the human species, and causes surprising changes in families and nations; yet all is appointed in perfect wisdom, justice, and truth, by the Lord himself. This should stir us up to think upon the hateful nature of sin, the cause of all these devastations. We should renew our repentance, seek forgiveness, value the salvation of Christ, remember how frail we are, prepare for the summons of death, and fill up our days in serving our generation according to the will of God.
In this chapter an order is given to number the people of Israel a second time, Nu 26:1-4 and the account begins with Reuben, the firstborn, and the families that sprung from him, and the number of them, Nu 26:5-7 and Dathan and Abiram being of this tribe, the affair of them and Korah is afresh related, Nu 26:8-11, then the tribe of Simeon, its families and number, Nu 26:12-14, next the tribe of Gad, and their families and number, Nu 26:15-18, after that the tribe of Judah, its families and number, Nu 26:19-22 then follows the tribe of Issachar, its families and number, Nu 26:23-25, next to that the tribe of Zebulun, its families and number, Nu 26:26,27 then the sons of Joseph, and first Manasseh, his families and number, Nu 26:28-34 and then the tribe of Ephraim, its families and number, Nu 26:35-37, after that the tribe of Benjamin, its families and number, Nu 26:38-41 next the tribe of Dan, its families and number, Nu 26:42,43 and which is followed by the tribe of Asher, its families and number, Nu 26:44-47, and the muster is closed with the tribe of Naphtali, its families and number, Nu 26:48-50, and the sum total of all the numbers is given, Nu 26:51 and then follows another order to divide the land of Canaan by lot, when conquered, to the several tribes, according to their names and number, Nu 26:52-56 and an account is given of the number of the Levites and their families, their number being taken not with the other tribes, but by themselves, and which is summed up, Nu 26:57-62 and the chapter is concluded with observing, that it appeared upon this numbering of the people, that there were but two persons living of those that were first numbered among the children of Israel, Nu 26:63-65.