Numbers 36


‘The family heads of the clan of Gilead son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, who were from the clans of the descendants of Joseph, came and spoke before Moses and the leaders, the heads of the Israelite families. 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 ancestors.” 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 their father’s tribal clan. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors. 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 their ancestors. No inheritance may pass from one tribe to another, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.” So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the LORD commanded Moses. Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. They married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in their father’s tribe and clan. These are the commands and regulations the LORD gave through Moses to the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.’ Numbers 36:1-13

Inheritance Of Zelophehad’s Daughters

The laws mentioned in this chapter are to be viewed in reference to the laws that were given in Numbers 27:1-11, concerning the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad. Their names are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah, Numbers 26:33.

The text here, speaks about if a daughter of one tribe was married to another, then the wife didn’t have any permanent rights to the land of her husband if he died.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The daughters of Zelophehad had obtained an ordinance, which permitted the daughters of an Israelite dying without male issue to inherit their father’s property. The chiefs of the Machirites, of whom Zelophehad had been one, now obtain a supplemental enactment, directing that heiresses should marry within their own tribe.’

Notice that during the year of Jubilee, all land was to be returned to the original tribe. This law placed restrictions on the ownership of land moved from one tribe to another when a man married the daughter of another tribe.

The deed of the land was always in the name of the man, and so, during the year of Jubilee, all land was returned to the male descendants of each particular tribe.

In reference to the daughters of Zelophehad, their original allotment of land was in the name of their father. Although they married outside their tribe, the land stayed in the name of their father, and so, the inheritance of their land stayed with their father’s tribe. It wasn’t passed on to the tribe of their husbands.

The Book of Numbers began with Israel in the wilderness, Numbers 1:1, and finishes with Israel being very near the  Promised Land, the Jordan River.


"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."