Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Numbers 27:1–11

Numbers 27:1–11: Zelophehad’s Daughters


In the last chapter, as part of the census, it was mentioned that there was a man named Zelophehad who had no sons, only daughters. (I didn’t mention their names, at the time, but they were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. It’s not really important to the story, but what the heck, you have them now.) In this passage, the daughters approach Moses and Eleazar the High Priest, and demand to have their father’s inheritance:
“Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.” (verses 3–4)
So Moses approaches the LORD, to ask Him about it. And the LORD’s answer may or may not surprise you:

So Moses brought their case before the LORD and the LORD said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.

Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the LORD commanded Moses.’”

(verses 5–11)

It’s not recorded here, but when the Israelites get to the Promised Land, this will be carried out, and Zelophehad’s daughters will be given his inheritance.


I was pleasantly surprised the first time I read this, and I have to wonder if the Israelites were surprised too, or if this is what they would have expected the LORD to say. In their society, it may very well have surprised the Israelites that the LORD commanded for some women to be given an inheritance that would normally go to men. (In fact, knowing the human heart, they may even have assumed that a man having only daughters, and no sons, would be a curse from the LORD, and that his line shouldn’t get an inheritance—but this passage definitely pops that balloon.)

No comments: