Numbers 27

A Case of Daughters' Inheritance

1 The daughters of Zelophehad approached; [Zelophehad was the] son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh from the clans of Manasseh, the son of Joseph. These were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
2 They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and the entire community at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said,
3 "Our father died in the wilderness, but he was not among Korah's followers, who gathered together against the Lord.[a] Instead, he died because of his own sin, and he had no sons.
4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan? Since he had no son, give us property among our father's brothers."
5 Moses brought their case before the Lord,
6 and the Lord answered him,
7 "What Zelophehad's daughters say is correct. You are to give them hereditary property among their father's brothers and transfer their father's inheritance to them.
8 Tell the Israelites: When a man dies without having a son, transfer his inheritance to his daughter.
9 If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers.
10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father's brothers.
11 If his father has no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative of his clan, and he will take possession of it. This is to be a statutory ordinance for the Israelites as the Lord commanded Moses."

Joshua Commissioned to Succeed Moses

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go up this mountain of the Abarim [range][b] and see the land that I have given the Israelites.
13 After you have seen it, you will also be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was.[c]
14 When the community quarreled in the Wilderness of Zin, both of you rebelled against My command to show My holiness in their sight at the waters." Those were the waters of Meribah[d] of Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.[e]
15 So Moses appealed to the Lord,
16 "May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh,[f] appoint a man over the community
17 who will go out before them and come back in before them,[g] and who will bring them out and bring them in, so that the Lord's community won't be like sheep without a shepherd."[h]
18 The Lord replied to Moses, "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him.[i]
19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole community, and commission him in their sight.
20 Confer some of your authority on him so that the entire Israelite community will obey [him].
21 He will stand before Eleazar who will consult the Lord for him with the decision of the Urim.[j] He and all the Israelites with him, even the entire community, will go out and come back in at his command."
22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua, had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire community,
23 laid his hands on him, and commissioned him, as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

Numbers 27 Commentary

Chapter 27

The daughters of Zelophehad apply for an inheritance, The law of inheritances. (1-11) Moses warned of his death. (12-14) Joshua appointed to succeed Moses. (15-23)

Verses 1-11 The five daughters of Zelophehad considered themselves as left destitute, having neither father nor brother to inherit any land. Their believing expectation that the word of the Lord would be performed in due season, and their desire of an interest in the promised inheritance; and the modest, candid manner in which they asked, without secret murmurs or discontents, are a good example. They ask for a possession in the land of Canaan. Herein they discovered, 1. Strong faith in the power and promise of God, concerning the giving of the land of Canaan to Israel. 2. And earnest desire of a place and name in the land of promise, which was a type of heaven. 3. Respect and honour for their father, whose name was dear to them now he was gone. He never had done any thing that might bar his children's claim. It is a comfort to parents when they come to die, if though they have smarted for their own sin, yet they are not conscious of any of those iniquities which God will visit on their children. God himself gives judgment. He takes notice of the affairs, not only of nations, but of private families, and orders them according to his will. The petition is granted. Those who seek an inheritance in the land of promise, shall have what they seek for, and other things shall be added to them.

Verses 12-14 Moses must die, but he shall have the satisfaction of seeing the land of promise. This sight of Canaan signified his believing prospect of the better country, that is, the heavenly. Moses must die, but death does not cut him off; it only brings him to rest with the holy patriarchs. It is but to die as they died, having lived as they lived; and as their end was peace, why should we fear any evil in the passage of that dark valley?

Verses 15-23 Envious spirits do not love their successors; but Moses was not one of these. We should concern ourselves, both in our prayers and in our endeavours, for the rising generation, that religion may be maintained and advanced, when we are in our graves. God appoints a successor, even Joshua; who had signalized himself by his courage in fighting Amalek, his humility in ministering to Moses, and his faith and sincerity in witnessing against the report of the evil spies. This man God appoints to succeed Moses; a man in whom is the Spirit, the Spirit of grace. He is a good man, fearing God and hating covetousness, and acting from principle. He has the spirit of government; he is fit to do the work and discharge the trusts of his place. He has a spirit of conduct and courage; he had also the Spirit of prophecy. That man is not fully qualified for any service in the church of Christ, who is destitute of the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit, whatever human abilities he may possess. And in Joshua's succession we are reminded "that the law was given by Moses," who by reason of our transgression could not bring us to heaven; but "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," for the salvation of every believer.

Footnotes 10

  • [a]. Nm 16:1-3
  • [b]. Mount Nebo; Nm 33:47-48; Dt 32:49; Jr 22:20
  • [c]. Nm 20:22-29
  • [d]. quarreling
  • [e]. Nm 20:2-13; Dt 32:51
  • [f]. Nm 16:22
  • [g]. Jos 14:11; 1 Sm 18:13-16; 2 Sm 5:2; 11:1; 1 Kg 3:7; 2 Kg 11:9
  • [h]. 1 Kg 22:17; Ezk 34:5
  • [i]. Dt 34:9
  • [j]. The Urim and Thummim were 2 objects used to determine God's will; Ex 28:30.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 27

This chapter relates, that, upon a petition of the daughters of Zelophehad, the affair of inheritances was settled; and it is directed that, in case of want of male issue, inheritances should pass to females, and in failure of them to the next of kin, whether father's brethren or any near kinsman, Nu 27:1-11, also an order to Moses to go up to the Mount Abarim, and take a view of the good land, and die; with the reason of it, Nu 27:12-14, upon which Moses desires a successor of him might be appointed, Nu 27:15-17, in answer to which Joshua is nominated, and being presented before the high priest and the people, was invested with his office, by imposition of hands, and had his charge given him, Nu 27:18-23.

Numbers 27 Commentaries