The family leaders of the Gilead clan and the clans that had descended from Joseph, went to speak to Moses, as well as many leaders from the different Israelite families. They told Moses and the others that when God had commanded that the land be given as an inheritance to them by lot, God also ordered that the inheritance of their brother Zelophehad be given to his daughters.
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Questions about Zelophehad’s Daughters
They asked what if Zelophehad’s daughters married men from some other Israelite tribe will that mean their inheritance will not be part of our ancestral inheritance, because it would be given to the tribe that they had married into. They went on to tell Moses and the others that their allotted inheritance would be taken away from them.
They said that when the Jubilee year arrives, their inheritance is going to become part of whatever tribe Zelophehad’s daughters marry into and will no longer be part of the tribal inheritance for their ancestors.
Inheritance for the Israelites
God then commanded that Moses give an order to all of the Israelites. Moses told them that God had agreed with the tribe that had descended from Joseph. He said that God had commanded the following: Zelophehad’s daughters could marry whomever they pleased, as long as Zelophehad’s daughters married within the tribal clan of their father.
God did not want any inheritances in Israel to be passed on to another tribe outside the particular tribal clan. All Israelites were to keep their tribal inheritance that came from their ancestors. Moses said that God had stated that every daughter that has inherited land from an Israelite tribe had to marry a person from their father’s tribal clan. God said this was so every Israelite would have the inheritance from their ancestors.
Zelophehad’s Daughters Follow the Command
Zelophehad’s daughters followed what God had commanded to Moses. Zelophehad’s daughters (Noah, Milkah, Hoglah, Tirzah and Mahlah), married their cousins that were on their father’s side. They married into the clans that were Manasseh’s descendants, who was Joseph’s son, and their inheritance stayed in the tribe of their father. God gave Moses this command on the Moab plains, across from Jericho.
Numbers 36 (King James Version)
1 And the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel:
2 And they said, The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters.
3 And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance.
4 And when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.
5 And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well.
6 This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.
7 So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.
8 And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.
9 Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.
10 Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:
11 For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father’s brothers’ sons:
12 And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father.
13 These are the commandments and the judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.