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Numbers 27

Listen to Numbers 27

The Daughters of Zelophehad

1 Then drew near the daughters of 1Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
2 And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying,
3 "Our father 2died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD 3in the company of Korah, but 4died for his own sin. And he had no sons.
4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? 5Give to us a possession among our father's brothers."
5 Moses 6brought their case before the LORD.
6 And the LORD said to Moses,
7 "The daughters of Zelophehad 7are right. 8You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father's brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them.
8 And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, 'If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.
9 And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers.
10 And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father's brothers.
11 And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest 9kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. And it shall be for the people of Israel 10a statute and rule, as the LORD commanded Moses.'"

Joshua to Succeed Moses

12 The LORD said to Moses, "Go up into 11this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel.
13 When you have seen it, you also 12shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was,
14 13because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing 14to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes." (These are 15the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)
15 Moses spoke to the LORD, saying,
16 "Let the LORD, 16the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation
17 who 17shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be 18as sheep that have no shepherd."
18 So the LORD said to Moses, "Take 19Joshua the son of Nun, a man 20in whom is the Spirit, and 21lay your hand on him.
19 Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation, and you shall 22commission him in their sight.
20 You shall invest him with some of your authority, 23that all the congregation of the people of Israel may obey.
21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him 24by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation."
22 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole congregation,
23 and he laid his hands on him and 25commissioned him as the LORD directed 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.

Cross References 25

  • 1. Numbers 26:33; Numbers 36:11; Joshua 17:3
  • 2. Numbers 14:35; Numbers 26:64, 65
  • 3. Numbers 16:1, 2
  • 4. [Ezekiel 18:4]
  • 5. Joshua 17:4
  • 6. Exodus 18:19
  • 7. Numbers 36:5
  • 8. Numbers 36:2
  • 9. See Ruth 4:3-6; Jeremiah 32:6-9
  • 10. Numbers 35:29
  • 11. Numbers 21:11; Numbers 33:44, 47; Deuteronomy 32:49; [Deuteronomy 3:27; Deuteronomy 34:1]
  • 12. See Numbers 20:24
  • 13. Numbers 20:12, 24
  • 14. Numbers 20:12, 13
  • 15. Numbers 20:13; Deuteronomy 32:51; [Exodus 17:7]
  • 16. See Numbers 16:22
  • 17. Deuteronomy 31:2; 1 Samuel 8:20; 1 Samuel 18:13; 1 Kings 3:7; 2 Chronicles 1:10; [Joshua 14:11]
  • 18. 1 Kings 22:17; Ezekiel 34:5; Zechariah 10:2; Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34
  • 19. Numbers 32:28
  • 20. Genesis 41:38; See Judges 3:10
  • 21. Deuteronomy 34:9
  • 22. Deuteronomy 3:28; Deuteronomy 31:7, 8
  • 23. See Joshua 1:16-18
  • 24. See Exodus 28:30
  • 25. [See ver. 19 above]

Chapter Summary


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.