Numbers 27:17
Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Which may go out before them . . . —The expression going out and coming in is used here, as in many other places, to denote the ordinary life of man (Deuteronomy 28:6; Deuteronomy 31:2). Leading out and bringing in (literally, causing to go out and to come in), as a shepherd in respect of his flock (John 10:3-9), denotes the direction of the conduct of others.

Numbers 27:17. Go out before them — That is, who may wisely conduct them in all their affairs, both when they go forth to war, or upon other occasions, and when they return home and live in peace. A metaphor from shepherds, who in those places used not to go behind their sheep, as ours now do, but before them, and to lead them forth to their pasture, and, in due time, to lead them home again.27:15-23 Envious spirits do not love their successors; but Moses was not one of these. We should concern ourselves, both in our prayers and in our endeavours, for the rising generation, that religion may be maintained and advanced, when we are in our graves. God appoints a successor, even Joshua; who had signalized himself by his courage in fighting Amalek, his humility in ministering to Moses, and his faith and sincerity in witnessing against the report of the evil spies. This man God appoints to succeed Moses; a man in whom is the Spirit, the Spirit of grace. He is a good man, fearing God and hating covetousness, and acting from principle. He has the spirit of government; he is fit to do the work and discharge the trusts of his place. He has a spirit of conduct and courage; he had also the Spirit of prophecy. That man is not fully qualified for any service in the church of Christ, who is destitute of the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit, whatever human abilities he may possess. And in Joshua's succession we are reminded that the law was given by Moses, who by reason of our transgression could not bring us to heaven; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, for the salvation of every believer.The God of the spirits of all flesh - An acknowledgment that man, who is but flesh (compare Genesis 6:3), is of himself helpless; and "lives and moves and has his being" in God Acts 17:28. The words are suitably employed here to introduce an entreaty that God would not leave the congregation without a guide and leader, and in Numbers 16:22 as a preface to an intercession that the whole people should not suffer for the sin of a, few. 16. God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation—The request was most suitably made to God in this character, as the Author of all the intellectual gifts and moral graces with which men are endowed, and who can raise up qualified persons for the most arduous duties and the most difficult situations. i.e. Which may wisely conduct them in all their affairs, both when they go forth to war, or upon other occasions, and when they return home and live in peace. A metaphor from shepherds, as it here follows, which in those places used not to go behind their sheep, as ours now do, but before them, and to lead them forth to their pasture, and in due time to lead them home again. Of this phrase see Deu 28:6 Acts 1:21. Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in,.... Which may lead them out, and go before them in war, and command them in battle and bring them in peace, having conquered their enemies; or these phrases only mean the administration of civil government among them, and diligence and assiduity in it, see 2 Chronicles 1:10, unless it has any peculiar respect to the leading the people of Israel out of the wilderness, and introducing them into the land of Canaan:

that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd; and so wander about, having none to guide them into proper pastures, or to protect them from beasts of prey; which is to be in a most forlorn and distressed condition; see Matthew 9:36.

Which may {e} go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.

(e) That is, govern them and do his duty, as in 2Ch 1:10.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. as sheep which have no shepherd] Cf. 1 Kings 22:17; Matthew 9:36 = Mark 6:34.Verse 17. - Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them. A comparison with the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 31:2, and of Caleb in Joshua 14:11, shows that the going out and coming in refer to the vigorous prosecution of daily business, and the fatigues of active service. Which may lead them out, and which may bring them in. The underlying image is that of a shepherd and his flock, which suggests itself so naturally to all that have the care and governance of men (cf. John 10:3, 4, 16). As sheep which have no shepherd. And are, therefore, helpless, bewildered, scattered, lost, and devoured. The image is frequent in Scripture (cf. 1 Kings 22:17; Ezekiel 34:5; Zechariah 10:2; Matthew 9:36). The words of the Septuagint are ὡσεὶ πρόβατα οῖς οὐκ ἔστι ποιμήν On this occasion God issued a general law of inheritance, which was to apply to all cases as "a statute of judgment" (or right), i.e., a statute determining right. If any one died without leaving a son, his landed property was to pass to his daughter (or daughters); in default of daughters, to his brothers; in the absence of brothers, to his paternal uncles; and if there were none of them, to his next of kin. - On the intention of this law, see my Archaeol. 142 (ii. pp. 212, 213); and on the law of inheritance generally, see J. Selden, de success. ad leges Hebr. in bona defunctorum, Fkft. a. O. 1695.
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