If any ask why such a particular account is kept of the tribes, and families, and numbers, of the people of Israel, here is an answer for them; as they were multiplied, so they were portioned, not by common providence, but by promise; and, for the support of the honour of divine revelation, God will have the fulfilling of the promise taken notice of both in their increase and in their inheritance. When Moses had numbered the people God did not say, By these shall the land be conquered; but, taking that for granted, he tells him, Unto these shall the land be divided. “These that are now registered as the sons of Israel shall be admitted (as it were by copy of court-roll) heirs of the land of Canaan.” Now, in the distributing, or quartering, of these tribes, 1. The general rule of equity is here prescribed to Moses, that to many he should give more, and to few he should give less (Num. 26:54); yet, alas! he was so far from giving any to others that he must not have any himself, but this direction given to him was intended for Joshua his successor. 2. The application of this general rule was to be determined by lot (Num. 26:55); notwithstanding it seems thus to be left to the prudence of their prince, yet the matter must be finally reserved to the providence of their God, in which they must all acquiesce, how much soever it contradicted their policies or inclination: According to the lot shall the possession be divided. As the God of nations, so the God of Israel in particular, reserves it to himself to appoint the bounds of our habitation. And thus Christ, our Joshua, when he was urged to appoint one of his disciples to his right hand, another to his left in his kingdom, acknowledged the sovereignty of his Father in the disposal: It is not mine to give. Joshua must not dispose of inheritances in Canaan according to his own mind. But it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared of my Father.
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