The law of female inheritance

Never forget the three what’s! What from? Believers are redeemed from hell and destruction. What by? By the precious blood of Christ. What to? To an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that will not fade away. – (Charles Haddon Spurgeon). … More

Inheritance

In previous instructions it was decreed that the inheritance of a man who died without sons must go to the daughters (27:8). In this passage (vv. 1-12) a situation has arisen involving the daughters of Zelophehad, a descendant of the Manassehite clan of Gilead (27:1-11). The question was as to the disposition of the properties of daughters who married men from other tribes. Zelophehad had five daughters but no sons. This meant that when he died the inheritance would go to his daughters but if the daughters were to marry outside of their tribe, the land would belong to another tribe.

When Moses was confronted with this situation he commanded that in such cases the women should marry within their own tribe so that each tribe would retain its territorial integrity (vv. 7- 9). So Zelophehad’s daughters married their paternal cousins, thus preserving their inheritance within their own tribe (vv. 10-12). Later, when the tribes received their land under Joshua, the daughters of Zelophehad received their inheritance as God had instructed (Joshua 17:3-6). The worst thing that can happen to a promise is the dissolution of its blessing in the process of its fulfillment. Hence the command of unmixed marriages.

The book of numbers covers 39 years and closes with the Israelites poised on the banks of the Jordan river ready to enter the Promised Land. The wanderings in the wilderness have come to an end and the people are preparing for their next big move. The last chapter of Deuteronomy will take up their history again, with the death of Moses. The apostle Paul says that the events described in numbers are examples that warn and help us avoid some of the mistakes the Israelites made (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). From these experiences we learn (1) that unbelief is disastrous, (2) we are not to long for the sinful pleasures of the past, (3) to avoid complaining, (4) and to stay away from all forms of compromise.

Application

The issue dealt with in this passage concerned disqualification of the inheritance. I am so thankful that there is nothing that can ever disqualify me from my eternal inheritance.

Numbers 36:1-13 (English Standard Version)

The heads of the fathers' houses of the clan of the people of Gilead the son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of the people of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and before the chiefs, the heads of the fathers' houses of the people of Israel. They said, "The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the people of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. But if they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the people of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So it will be taken away from the lot of our inheritance. And when the jubilee of the people of Israel comes, then their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry, and their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers." And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, "The tribe of the people of Joseph is right. This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, 'Let them marry whom they think best, only they shall marry within the clan of the tribe of their father. The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the clan of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers. So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall hold on to its own inheritance.'" The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD commanded Moses, for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father's brothers. They were married into the clans of the people of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father's clan. These are the commandments and the rules that the LORD commanded through Moses to the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

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