Friday, March 1. Numbers 36 – Deuteronomy 2

The book of Numbers ends with another look at Zelophahad’s daughters, which seems like an odd way to end this book.

On the other hand, remember that the real name for the book of Numbers is “In the Desert.” Yet, from 33:50 to the end of the book, The Lord (through Moses) isn’t talking about the desert. He is talking about entering the Promised Land. The promise of God and the expectation of this book is that now, Israel will enter Canaan (see the repeat of this assurance in 33:51; 34:2; and 35:10). The final laws given in Numbers all have to do with the apportionment of the land and their behavior in the land. The story of Zelophahad’s daughters (first addressed in Numbers 27) speak once again to that assurance.

The land is to be divided up into sections of different sizes. The tribes of Israel were to receive their allotment of land according to their size, but also “by lot,” that is, there was a bit of chance in what land they would actually receive.

Why the “game of chance”? The “drawing” would not be dependent on “chance,” but the divine guidance of God (not your role of the dice, but God’s guidance of the dice). That way, no one in Israel should complain about the amount or quality of land they received. It was a gift from God. Additionally, the gift was forever. The land could not be sold forever. The “year of jubilee” too care of that. Nor could the land pass from one tribe to another through marriage. This way, the gifts and promises of God could be seen as eternal.

The book ends with the expectation that Israel will cross the Jordan and receive the land. But before they do, Moses has some things to say and for those things, we now turn to Deuteronomy.