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Daughters of Israel

Read Numbers 36:1-13

So Moses gave the Israelites this command from the Lord: “The claim of the men of the tribe of Joseph is legitimate. This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: Let them marry anyone they like, as long as it is within their own ancestral tribe. None of the territorial land may pass from tribe to tribe, for all the land given to each tribe must remain within the tribe to which it was first allotted. The daughters throughout the tribes of Israel who are in line to inherit property must marry within their tribe, so that all the Israelites will keep their ancestral property. No grant of land may pass from one tribe to another; each tribe of Israel must keep its allotted portion of land.”

The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded Moses. Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah all married cousins on their father’s side. They married into the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. Thus, their inheritance of land remained within their ancestral tribe.

These are the commands and regulations that the Lord gave to the people of Israel through Moses while they were camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River across from Jericho.
(Numbers 36:5-13)


Zelophehad had five daughters but no sons. Sons were normally the exclusive heirs to their father’s estate. After Zelophehad died, his daughters appealed to Moses. Because the inheritance normally passed only through the male line, the family line and land of Zelophehad would have disappeared. In response, God agreed that if a man died without sons, then his inheritance could go to his daughters (Numbers 27:8).

Now a new question about marriage arose. If the daughters married outside of their tribe, the land would belong to another tribe at the Year of Jubilee. So Moses commanded that in such cases the women should marry men within their own clan and tribe so that each tribe would retain its original inheritance. Later, when the tribes received their land under Joshua, the daughters of Zelophehad received their inheritance as God had instructed (Joshua 17:3-6).

Many see God as an unbending set of rules, but God is not a legal system, he’s a person. God considered the case of Zelophehad’s daughters and changed the laws to help them.


In the same way, God willingly listens and responds to our requests. God wants a relationship with his people, and Zelophehad’s daughters experienced that. You can too. As you make decisions and look for new opportunities, ask God to open and close doors as may be best for you. Watch what God does, and listen for his leading. You’ll learn more about God along the way.

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