Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Women in Israel had not, up to the present time, enjoyed any distinct right of inheritance. Yet a father, whether sons had been born to him or not, had the power, either before or at his death, to cause part of his estate to pass to a daughter; in which case her husband married into her family rather than she into his, and the children were regarded as of the family from which the estate had come. Thus, Machir, ancestor of Zelophehad, although he had a son Gilead, left also, as is probable, an inheritance to his daughter, the wife of Hezron of the tribe of Judah, by reason of which their descendants, among whom was Jair, were reckoned as belonging to the tribe of Manasseh (Num 32:41; Ch1 2:21 ff).
By the door of the tabernacle of the congregation - The place of solemn assembly of the elders. The daughters of Zelophehad made their suit to the princes, the heads of tribes and of families, who were making the census under the superintendence of Moses and Eleazar.
But died in his own sin - i. e., perished under the general sentence of exclusion from the land of promise passed on all the older generation, but limited to that generation alone. By virtue of the declaration in Num 14:31 the daughters of Zelophehad claim that their father's sin should not be visited upon them.
Give unto us - As representing our father; that so he, through us his representatives, may enjoy a like inheritance with his brethren.
Mount Abarim - See Num 21:20 note.
The God of the spirits of all flesh - An acknowledgment that man, who is but flesh (compare Gen 6:3), is of himself helpless; and "lives and moves and has his being" in God Act 17:28. The words are suitably employed here to introduce an entreaty that God would not leave the congregation without a guide and leader, and in Num 16:22 as a preface to an intercession that the whole people should not suffer for the sin of a, few.
In whom is the spirit Compare Gen 41:38. Joshua was endowed by God with the requisite spiritual qualifications for the office. Moses howerer, was to lay his hands upon him, both in order to confer formal and public appointment, and also (compare Deu 34:9) to confirm and strengthen the spiritual gifts already bestowed. The previous reception of the inner grace did not dispense with that of the outward sign; compare the case of Cornelius Act 10:44-48; and Paul's baptism after his miraculous conversion Act 9:18.
Of thine honor - i. e., of thy dignity and authority (compare Num 11:17, Num 11:28). Joshua was constituted immediately vice-leader under Moses, by way of introduction to his becoming chief after Moses' death.
And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest ... - Joshua was thus to be inferior to what Moses had been. For Moses had enjoyed the privilege of unrestricted direct contact with God: Joshua, like all future rulers of Israel, was to ask counsel mediately, through the High Priest and those means of inquiring of God wherewith the high priest was entrusted. Such counsel Joshua seems to have omitted to seek when he concluded his hasty treaty with the Gibeonites (Jos 9:3 ff).
Judgment of Urim - See Exo 28:30 note.