God told Moshe that Pinchas, Aharon’s grandson, should become a Kohen in recognition of his righteous actions in stopping the public display of immorality described at the end of last week’s sidra. The names of the two offenders are Zimri from the tribe of Shimon and Kozbi, a Midianite princess. God commanded Moshe to smite the Midianites as retribution for luring the Israelites into idol worship and immorality. Moshe and Elazar, the Kohen Gadol, were told to take a census of men above the age of 20.
The main descendants of each tribe are listed, as well as the overall number within each tribe, as counted in the census. The overall census number is 601,730.
God told Moshe to apportion the Land to those counted in the census. The tribes with more people would receive proportionally more land area. Although this distribution was calculated mathematically, it was carried out through Elazar drawing lots, guided by Divine inspiration. The main Levite families, who were not included in the census, are listed. They numbered 23,000 males above the age of one month. No one who was included in the first census when the Israelites left Egypt was included in this census, as they had died in the desert, apart from Yehoshua (Joshua) and Calev.
The five daughters of Tzelofchad, a descendant of Menashe, ask Moshe to be given their deceased father’s share in the Land, as they have no brothers to inherit him. Moshe consulted God about their request. God declared that Tzelofchad’s daughters are justified in their request and that, in the absence of sons, daughters inherit from their father. Other hierarchical inheritance rights are stated.
God told Moshe to ascend Mount Avarim and look at the Land of Cana’an from afar, reminding him that he would not come into the Land because of his mistake of hitting the rock (see Bemidbar 20:9-12). Moshe asked God to appoint a new leader. God told him to appoint Yehoshua, which Moshe did, in the presence of Elazar and the Sanhedrin.
God instructed Moshe to tell the Israelites to bring the twice-daily tamid (continual) offering, consisting of a male lamb, together with a flour offering mixed with oil and a wine libation. The additional Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh offerings are detailed. The special offerings for Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also detailed. The Torah details the many extra offerings brought during Succot, including 70 bulls. Shemini Atzeret, the day after Succot, has its own set of offerings.