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Numbers 27:1-11

Context
Special Inheritance Laws

27:1 1 Then the daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh of the families of Manasseh, 2  the son Joseph came forward. Now these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 27:2 And they stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, 27:3 “Our father died in the wilderness, although 3  he was not part of 4  the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but he died for his own sin, 5  and he had no sons. 27:4 Why should the name of our father be lost from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession 6  among the relatives 7  of our father.”

27:5 So Moses brought their case before the Lord. 27:6 The Lord said to Moses: 27:7 “The daughters of Zelophehad have a valid claim. 8  You must indeed 9  give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s relatives, and you must transfer 10  the inheritance of their father to them. 27:8 And you must tell the Israelites, ‘If a man dies 11  and has no son, then you must transfer his inheritance to his daughter; 27:9 and if he has no daughter, then you are to give his inheritance to his brothers; 27:10 and if he has no brothers, then you are to give his inheritance to his father’s brothers; 27:11 and if his father has no brothers, then you are to give his inheritance to his relative nearest to him from his family, and he will possess it. This will be for the Israelites a legal requirement, 12  as the Lord commanded Moses.’”

Numbers 36:1-13

Context
Women and Land Inheritance

36:1 Then the heads of the family groups 13  of the Gileadites, the descendant of Machir, the descendant of Manasseh, who were from the Josephite families, approached and spoke before Moses 14  and the leaders who were the heads of the Israelite families. 15  36:2 They said, “The Lord commanded my lord to give 16  the land as an inheritance by lot to the Israelites; and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. 36:3 Now if they should be married to one of the men 17  from another Israelite tribe, their inheritance would be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. 18  As a result, it will be taken from the lot of our inheritance. 36:4 And when the Jubilee of the Israelites is to take place, 19  their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our ancestral tribe.” 20 

Moses’ Decision

36:5 Then Moses gave a ruling 21  to the Israelites by the word 22  of the Lord: “What the tribe of the Josephites is saying is right. 36:6 This is what 23  the Lord has commanded for Zelophehad’s daughters: ‘Let them marry 24  whomever they think best, 25  only they must marry within the family of their father’s tribe. 36:7 In this way the inheritance of the Israelites will not be transferred 26  from tribe to tribe. But every one of the Israelites must retain the ancestral heritage. 36:8 And every daughter who possesses an inheritance from any of the tribes of the Israelites must become the wife of a man from any family in her father’s tribe, so that every Israelite 27  may retain the inheritance of his fathers. 36:9 No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe. But every one of the tribes of the Israelites must retain its inheritance.”

36:10 As the Lord had commanded Moses, so the daughters of Zelophehad did. 36:11 For the daughters of Zelophehad – Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah – were married to the sons of their uncles. 28  36:12 They were married into the families of the Manassehites, the descendants of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s family.

36:13 These are the commandments and the decisions that the Lord commanded the Israelites through the authority 29  of Moses, on the plains of Moab by the Jordan River 30  opposite Jericho. 31 

1 sn For additional information on this section, see N. H. Snaith, “The Daughters of Zelophehad,” VT 16 (1966): 124-27; and J. Weingreen, “The Case of the Daughters of Zelophehad,” VT 16 (1966): 518-22.

2 tc The phrase “of the families of Manasseh” is absent from the Latin Vulgate.

3 tn This clause begins with a vav (ו) on a pronoun, marking it out as a disjunctive vav. In this context it fits best to take it as a circumstantial clause introducing concession.

4 tn Heb “in the midst of.”

5 tn The word order is emphatic: “but in/on account of his own sins he died.”

6 tn That is, the possession of land, or property, among the other families of their tribe.

7 tn The word is “brothers,” but this can be interpreted more loosely to relatives. So also in v. 7.

8 tn Heb “[the daughters of Zelophehad] speak right” (using the participle דֹּבְרֹת [dovÿrot] with כֵּן [ken]).

9 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute with the imperfect tense. The imperfect is functioning as the imperfect of instruction, and so the infinitive strengthens the force of the instruction.

10 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect with a vav (ו) consecutive, from the root עָבַר (’avar, “to pass over”). Here it functions as the equivalent of the imperfect of instruction: “and you shall cause to pass,” meaning, “transfer.”

11 tn Heb “a man, if he dies.”

12 tn The expression is חֻקַּת מִשְׁפָּט (khuqqat mishpat, “a statute of judgment”), which means it is a fixed enactment that determines justice. It is one which is established by God.

13 tn The expression is “the heads of the fathers by the family of the Gileadites.”

14 tn The Greek and the Syriac add “and before Eleazar the priest.”

15 tn Heb “heads of the fathers.”

16 tn The infinitive construct “to give” serves here as the complement or object of the verb, answering what the Lord had commanded Moses.

17 tn “Men” is understood; it says “to one from the sons of the tribes of the Israelites for a wife,” or if he has her for a wife.

18 tn Heb “which they will be to them,” meaning, to those who have them, i.e., the marriages.

19 tn The verb הָיָה (hayah) is most often translated “to be,” but it can also mean “to happen, to take place, to come to pass,” etc.

20 tn Heb “the tribe of our fathers.”

21 tn Heb “commanded.”

22 tn Heb “mouth.”

23 tn Heb “the word that.”

24 tn The idiom again is “let them be for wives for….”

25 tn Heb “to the one who is good in their eyes.”

26 tn Heb “turned aside.”

27 tn The subject is “Israelites” and the verb is plural to agree with it, but the idea is collective as the word for “man” indicates: “so that the Israelites may possess – [each] man the inheritance of his fathers.”

28 tn They married in the family as they were instructed. But the meaning of דּוֹד (dod) is not necessarily restricted to “uncle.”

29 tn Heb “by the hand.”

30 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

31 map For the location of Jericho see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.



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