Numbers 27:21 MEANING

Numbers 27:21
(21) After the judgment of Urim . . . --See Exodus 28:30, and Note.

At his word . . . --i.e., Joshua and the children of Israel were to abide by the decision of the high priest, which was obtained by means of Urim and Thummim.

Verse 21. - He shall stand before Eleazar the priest. This points to the essential difference between Moses and Joshua, and all who came after until the "Prophet like unto" Moses was raised up. Moses was as much above the priests as he was above the tribe princes; but Joshua was only the civil and military head of the nation, and was as much subordinate to the high priest in one way as the high priest was subordinate to him in another. In after times no doubt the political headship quite overpowered and overshadowed the ecclesiastical, but this does not seem to have been so intended, or to have been the case in Eleazar's lifetime. Who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord. Rather, "who shall inquire for him in the judgment of Urim." בְּמִשְׁפַט הָאוּרִים. Septuagint, τὴν κρίσιν τῶν δήλων. The Urim of this passage and of 1 Samuel 28:6 seems identical with the Urim and Thummim of Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8. What it actually was, and how it was used in con-suiting God, is not told us in Scripture, and has left no reliable trace in the tradition of the Jews; it must, therefore, remain for ever an insoluble mystery. It does not appear that Moses ever sought the judgment of Urim, for he possessed more direct means of ascertaining the will of God; nor does it seem ever to have been resorted to after the time of David, for the "more sure word of prophecy" superseded it. Its real use, therefore, belonged to the dark ages of Israel, after the light of Moses had set, and before the light of the prophets had arisen. At his word. Literally, after his mouth, i.e., according to the decision of Eleazar, given after consulting God by means of the Urim (cf. Joshua 9:14; Judges 1:1).

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.And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest,.... This was for the honour of God, whose priest Eleazar was, and whose oracle was consulted by him; for it is said (z), the high priest did not come into the presence of the king but when he pleased; and he did not stand before him, but the king stood before the high priest, as it is said, "and before Eleazar the priest shall he stand"; though it is commanded the high priest to honour the king, and to rise up and stand when he comes unto him; and the king does not stand before him, but when he consults for him by the judgment of Urim; and his posture seems to be different from other persons that consulted; for the same writer (a) observes, in answer to a question,"how do they consult? the priest stands, and his face is before the ark, and he that consults is behind him, and his face to the back of the priest;''whereas here Joshua stood before the priest, and so any king or supreme governor:

who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: of the Urim and Thummim which were in the breastplate of judgment, and of consultation by them; see Gill on Exodus 28:30 and from this place the Jews (b) infer that consultation was not made by them for a private person, but for a king, or for one the congregation stood in need of:

at his word shall they go out, and at his word shall they come in; go out to war, and return from it, or do any service enjoined them; that is, either at the word of the Lord, or rather at the word of Eleazar the priest, declaring the will of God, which comes to much the same sense; or at the word of Joshua, directed by the high priest, according to the oracle of God; and he being under such direction, the people could never do amiss in obeying him, or be in any fear or danger of being led wrong by him; but he is mentioned in the next clause, as included in those that went out, and came in:

both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation; which Maimonides (c) interprets thus, "he", this is the king; "and all the children of Israel", this is the anointed for war, or he whom the congregation hath need of; "and all the congregation", these are the great sanhedrim, or seventy elders.

(z) Maimon. Hilchot Melachim, c. 2. sect. 5. (a) Maimon. Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 10. sect. 11. (b) Misn. Yoma, c. 7. sect. 5. Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 10. sect. 12. (c) lbid.

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