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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Encampment on the Plains of Moab and Preparation to Enter Canaan

UNIT THREE ( 22.2–36.13 ) finds the Israelites encamped on the eastern side of the Jordan opposite Jericho, their destination within visible reach. This unit, like the previous two, is composed of narrative and legal material; it also contains lengthy poetic folk traditions. The theme centers on the new Israelite community's final preparation to inherit the land of Canaan. As such, much of the legal material here focuses on inheritance.

The first section, composed of narrative and poetry, is the story of the Moabite king Balak and the prophet Balaam whom he hires to curse the Israelites (chs 22–24 ). God thwarts Balaam's mission, turning the intended curse into a blessing. Israel's apostasy at Baal‐peor follows ( 25.1–18 ); the plague that God inflicts upon the sinners eliminates the last members of the exodus generation.

The opening of chapter 26 is an alternate juncture for the end of unit two and the beginning of unit three. With the demise of the older generation and the crossing into Canaan imminent, Moses conducts a second census and apportions the land to the tribes (ch 26 ). The Levitical clans, who are not allotted landholdings, are counted separately. Arising from the process of apportioning land is the special case of Zelophehad's daughters, who petition for the right of women to inherit when there are no male heirs ( 27.1–11 ). That case is followed by the succession of Joshua ( 27.12–23 ). Next is an insertion of ritual prescriptions establishing the cultic calendar and governing the daily, new moon, Sabbath, andfestival offerings ( 28.1–30.1 ). The section ends with a discussion on the annulment of vows and oaths. Following a statement that men are bound by their vows and oaths comes a list of conditions under which women's vows can be annulled ( 30.2–17 ). The narrative resumes with a war against the Midianites, allegedly in retaliation for their seduction of the Israelites at Baal‐peor (ch 31 ).

Having routed her enemies in Transjordan, Israel begins the settlement process. The tribes of Reuben and Gad ask to receive a portion of land on the eastern side of the Jordan (ch 32 ). Part of the tribe of Manasseh settles there as well. A summary of the wilderness itinerary that highlights key events follows ( 33.1–49 ). The next narrative section continues where the previous one left off ( 32.42 ); having appropriated land to two and a half tribes in Transjordan, Moses reformulates the division of Canaan among the remaining nine and a half tribes ( 33.50–35.8 ). As part of the process, he defines the boundaries of Canaan and assigns Levitical towns in place of tribal land for Levites.

Unit three ends with several final prescriptions ( 35.9–36.13 ). Moses designates six cities of refuge, three of which are across the Jordan River, in the land about to be conquered; furthermore he distinguishes between involuntary and deliberate homicide. The last section outlines marriage regulations for female heirs, using the case of Zelophehad's daughters as a model. The issue of land inheritance projects into the future since it is significant only after the land of Israel is settled. The book of Numbers ends by stating that the precepts in this unit were enjoined upon the Israelites “on the steppes of Moab, at the Jordan near Jericho.” This phrase forms an inclusio with the last phrase of the second unit ( 22.1 ), a transition between units two and three.

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