Numbers 36

Listen to Numbers 36

Marriage of Female Heirs

1 The heads of the fathers' houses of the clan of the 1people 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.
2 They said, 2"The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the people of Israel, and 3my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters.
3 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.
4 And when 4the 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."
5 And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, "The tribe of the people of Joseph 5is right.
6 This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, 'Let them marry whom they think best, 6only they shall marry within the clan of the tribe of their father.
7 The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel 7shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.
8 And 8every 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.
9 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.'"
10 The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD commanded Moses,
11 9for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father's brothers.
12 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.
13 These are the commandments and the rules that the LORD commanded through Moses to the people of Israel 10in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

Numbers 36 Commentary

Chapter 36

The inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad. (1-4) The daughters of Zelophehad are to marry in their own tribe. (5-12) Conclusion. (13)

Verses 1-4 The heads of the tribe of Manasseh represent the evil which might follow, if the daughters of Zelophehad should marry into any other tribes. They sought to preserve the Divine appointment of inheritances, and that contests and quarrels should not rise among those who should come afterwards. It is the wisdom and duty of those who have estates in the world, to settle them, and to dispose of them, so that no strife and contention may arise.

Verses 5-12 Those who consult the oracles of God, concerning the making of their heavenly inheritance sure, shall not only be directed what to do, but their inquiries shall be graciously accepted. God would not have one tribe enriched at the expense of another. Each tribe was to keep to its own inheritance. The daughters of Zelophehad submitted to this appointment. How could they fail to marry well, when God himself directed them? Let the people of God learn how suitable and proper it is, like the daughters of Israel, to be united only to their own people. Ought not every true believer Israel, to be united only to their own people. Ought not every true believer in Jesus, to be very attentive in the near and tender relations of life, to be united only to such as are united to the Lord? All our intentions and inclinations ought to be subjected to the will of God, when that is made known to us, and especially in contracting marriage. Although the word of God allows affection and preference in this important relation, it does not sanction that foolish, ungovernable, and idolatrous passion, which cares not what may be the end; but in defiance of authority, determines upon self-gratification. All such conduct, however disguised, is against common sense, the interests of society, the happiness of the marriage relation, and, what is still more evil, against the religion of Christ.

Verse 13 These are the judgments the Lord commanded in the plains of Moab. Most of them related to the settlement in Canaan, into which the Israelites were now entering. Whatever new condition God, by his providence, brings us into, we must beg him to teach us the duties of it, and to enable us to do them, that we may do the work of the day in its day, the duty of a place in its place.

Cross References 10

  • 1. Numbers 26:29
  • 2. Numbers 26:55; Numbers 33:54
  • 3. Numbers 27:1, 7; Joshua 17:3, 4
  • 4. Leviticus 25:10
  • 5. [Numbers 27:7]
  • 6. ver. 12
  • 7. [1 Kings 21:3]
  • 8. 1 Chronicles 23:22
  • 9. Numbers 27:1; Joshua 17:3
  • 10. See Numbers 22:1

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 36

This chapter gives an account of an application made by the heads of the tribe of Manasseh, concerning the inheritances of the daughters of Zelophehad, which, should they marry into other tribes, would be removed thither, and so be a loss to theirs, Nu 36:1-4, which case was judged worthy of regard; and to remedy this inconvenience, they were ordered to marry into the family of their father's tribe, and this was to be a law to all heiresses for the future in other tribes, Nu 36:5-9 and accordingly the daughters of Zelophehad married their father's brothers' sons, Nu 36:10-13.

Numbers 36 Commentaries