Thursday, July 05, 2007

Numbers 36

Numbers 36: Zelophehad’s Daughters Revisited


We first read about Zelophehad’s daughters in Numbers 27:1–11. Their father had died, and had left no sons, so it was decided that his inheritance should pass to his daughters, to keep his name from disappearing from his clan.

In this passage, other members of the clan of Manesseh come to Moses, worried that Zelophehad’s daughters might marry men from outside the clan; then the property would leave the clan of Manesseh.
They said, “When the LORD commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance to the Israelites by lot, he ordered you to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. Now suppose they marry men from other Israelite tribes; then their inheritance will be taken from our ancestral inheritance and added to that of the tribe they marry into. And so part of the inheritance allotted to us will be taken away. When the Year of Jubilee for the Israelites comes, their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their property will be taken from the tribal inheritance of our forefathers.” (verses 2–4)
Moses then brings back word from the LORD:
Then at the LORD’s command Moses gave this order to the Israelites: “What the tribe of the descendants of Joseph is saying is right. This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from tribe to tribe, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal land inherited from his forefathers. Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of his fathers. No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.” (verses 5–9)
So Zelophehad’s daughters do as commanded, and marry cousins on their father’s side, to keep the land within their own tribe. (It’s not reported if they were first cousins, second cousins, or what.)


I don’t really have any thoughts on this chapter, actually. Which is too bad, since it’s the last chapter in the book of Numbers—it would have been nice to end the book with something really deep.

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