Numbers 26:3
And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
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26:1-51 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.After the plague - These words serve to show approximately the date at which the census was taken, and intimate the reason for the great decrease in numbers which was found to have taken place in certain tribes. Compare Deuteronomy 4:3 and Numbers 26:5 note in this chapter. 2. Take the sum of all the congregation—The design of this new census, after a lapse of thirty-eight years, was primarily to establish the vast multiplication of the posterity of Abraham in spite of the severe judgments inflicted upon them; secondarily, it was to preserve the distinction of families and to make arrangements, preparatory to an entrance into the promised land, for the distribution of the country according to the relative population of the tribes. In the plains of Moab; see Numbers 22:1 33:48

And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them,.... With the children of Israel, with the heads of them, their chief and principal, to assist in taking the number of the people; as when they were numbered thirty years ago, when a prince out of each tribe was taken to be with Aaron and Moses in doing that business; but those princes were now all dead, and another race succeeded, who were now employed in this service; so the Targum of Jonathan says, they spoke with the rulers, and ordered them to number them:

in the plains of Moab, by Jordan, near Jericho: or of Jericho, as the same Targum, on the other side of Jordan to that on which Jericho stood; for as yet the children of Israel had not passed that river, nor entered into the land of Canaan, in which Jericho was, but they were now opposite it; See Gill on Numbers 22:1,

saying; as follows.

And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them in the plains of Moab by Jordan {b} near Jericho, saying,

(b) Where the river is near to Jericho.

Verse 3. - Spake with them, i.e., no doubt with the responsible chiefs, who must have assisted in this census, as in the previous one (chapter Numbers 1:4), although the fact is not mentioned. Numbers 26:3"And Moses and Eleazar the priest spake with them" (דּבּר with the accusative, as in Genesis 37:4). The pronoun refers to "the children of Israel," or more correctly, to the heads of the nation as the representatives of the congregation, who were to carry out the numbering. On the Arboth-Moab, see at Numbers 22:1. Only the leading point in their words is mentioned, viz., "from twenty years old and upwards" (sc., shall ye take the number of the children of Israel), since it was very simple to supply the words "take the sum" from Numbers 26:2.

(Note: This is, at all events, easier and simpler than the alterations of the text which have been suggested for the purpose of removing the difficulty. Knobel proposes to alter וידבּר into ויּדבּר, and לאמר into לפקד: "Moses and Eleazar arranged the children of Israel when they mustered them." But הדבּיר does not mean to arrange, but simply to drive in pairs, to subjugate (Psalm 18:48, and Psalm 47:4), - an expression which, as much be immediately apparent, is altogether inapplicable to the arrangement of the people in families for the purpose of taking a census.),

- The words from "the children of Israel" in Numbers 26:4 onwards form the introduction to the enumeration of the different tribes (Numbers 26:5.), and the verb יהיוּ (were) must be supplied. "And the children of Israel, who went forth out of Egypt, were Reuben," etc.

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