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Numbers 34-36, Deuteronomy 1

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Numbers Chapter 34

Even before they actually entered their physical promised land, The Lord gave the Israelites the legal boundaries of the country that their nation (see Country and Nation) would inhabit; they knew exactly "how far they could go" from and within their own sovereignty. No one was to violate their territory, nor were they to violate any other people's territory. As with everything else that is good, The Lord was the Creator of property rights, national and personal (see Landmark and Out Of Line).

Israelite Tribal Lands

"The Lord said to Moses, "Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter The Land Of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan in its full extent, your south side shall be from the wilderness of Zin [see also The Wilderness of Sin] along the side of Edom, and your southern boundary shall be from the end of The Salt Sea on the east; and your boundary shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its end shall be south of Kadesh-barnea [see Kadesh-Barnea]; then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and pass along to Azmon; and the boundary shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and its termination shall be at the sea.

"For the western boundary, you shall have the Great Sea [i.e. The Mediterranean Sea] and its coast; this shall be your western boundary.

"This shall be your northern boundary: from the Great Sea you shall mark out your line to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor you shall mark it out to the entrance of Hamath, and the end of the boundary shall be at Zeded; then the boundary shall extend to Ziphron, and its end shall be at Hazar-enan; this shall be your northern boundary.

"You shall mark out your eastern boundary from Hazar-enan to Shepham; and the boundary shall go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain; and the boundary shall go down, and reach to the shoulder of the sea of Chinnereth [i.e. The Sea Of Galilee] on the east; and the boundary shall go down to the Jordan [see The Jordan Valley], and its end shall be at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land with its boundaries all round." (Numbers 34:1-12 RSV)

The tribal lands (see Children of Jacob) within the land of Israel (see map) were also determined with precision.

"Moses commanded the people of Israel, saying, "This is the land which you shall inherit by lot, which The Lord has commanded to give to the nine tribes and to the half-tribe; for the tribe of the sons of Reuben by fathers' houses and the tribe of the sons of Gad by their fathers' houses have received their inheritance, and also the half-tribe of Manasseh; the two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan at Jericho eastward, toward the sunrise." (Numbers 34:13-15 RSV)

Numbers Chapter 35

The Levites had no tribal territory of their own, primarily because, as the priesthood, they lived and worked throughout the entire land of Israel. They were nevertheless given towns of their own that made them self-sufficient if need be - an old and wise principle that insured that those who preached and taught the Word of God could not be financially pressured into preaching anything other than the pure Word of God.

City of Refuge

"The Lord said to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, "Command the people of Israel, that they give to the Levites, from the inheritance of their possession, cities to dwell in; and you shall give to the Levites pasture lands round about the cities. The cities shall be theirs to dwell in, and their pasture lands shall be for their cattle and for their livestock and for all their beasts.

The pasture lands of the cities, which you shall give to the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits all round. And you shall measure, outside the city, for the east side two thousand cubits, and for the south side two thousand cubits, and for the west side two thousand cubits, and for the north side two thousand cubits, the city being in the middle; this shall belong to them as pasture land for their cities." (Numbers 35:1-5 RSV)

Some of the Levite towns were also designated as "cities of refuge" for those accused of murder - not to protect them from justice, but to insure that justice was done i.e. they would be protected from vigilantism until they faced their accusers at a properly authorized trial.

"The cities which you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit the manslayer to flee" (Numbers 35:6 RSV)

"And The Lord said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there. The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment. And the cities which you give shall be your six cities of refuge. You shall give three cities beyond the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan, to be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that any one who kills any person without intent may flee there." (Numbers 35:9-15 RSV)

Numbers Chapter 36

The matter of Zelophehad's Daughters was reiterated (see notes for Numbers 27).


"And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of The Lord, saying, "The tribe of the sons of Joseph is right. This is what The Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, 'Let them marry whom they think best; only, they shall marry within the family of the tribe of their father. The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another; for every one of the people of Israel shall cleave to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers. So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another; for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall cleave to its own inheritance.'"

The daughters of Zelophehad did as The Lord commanded Moses; for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father's brothers. They were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father." (Numbers 36:5-12 RSV)

Deuteronomy Chapter 1

On the eve of their entering their physical promised land, Moses gave the Israelites a review of their history, their rights, their obligations, and their future (see the Fact Finder question below for the meaning of "deuteronomy").

The Stars of The Sky

"And in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that The Lord had given him in commandment to them, after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and in Edrei. Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law, saying, "The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, 'You have stayed long enough at this mountain; turn and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland, and in the Negeb, and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which The Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.'" (Deuteronomy 1:3-8 RSV)

Moses then reminded them why a few months' journey had taken them over forty years - that this was the second time in their history that they were being given the opportunity to go home (see A Journey Without A Destination).

Fact Finder: What does "deuteronomy" mean?
See The Deuteronomy of Moses

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