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As God has said, an entire rebellious generation must die off before anyone can enter the long-awaited and much-anticipated land of milk and honey.

27 Now Zelophehad’s five daughters came forward. Zelophehad came from the Manasseh family (he was a son of Joseph’s). Zelophehad’s father was Hepher, his grandfather was Gilead, and his great-grandfather was Machir. The girls’ names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They approached the congregation tent and boldly stood in front of Moses, the priest Eleazar, the Israelite clan chiefs, and even before the whole congregation.

Zelophehad’s Daughters: Our father died in the wilderness; he wasn’t part of Korah’s coup that tried to undermine the authority of the Eternal One. He just died having committed his own wickedness like everyone else in his generation, but he left no sons. Why should his name disappear from his clan simply because no boys were born to him? We request that you give us land of our own, just as you are giving it to the descendants of our uncles.

Zelophehad didn’t have any sons, and their inheritance—claim to the land—will die with him and his place among the people for all generations.

Moses disappeared inside the tent to ask the Eternal One what should be done, and He answered Moses.

Eternal One: Zelophehad’s daughters make a good point. They’re right, so do as they ask. Give them an inheritance such as would be given to a son. They shall have land alongside their uncles’ families. Moreover, tell the Israelites that in the future they should pass the inheritance to the daughter if there is no son. If a man doesn’t have any daughters either, then after he dies, his property shall go to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, then it should go to his uncles. 11 If no uncles, then whoever is his closest relative, give the property to him. This is the system you should apply as a permanent law for the Israelites, coming from Me through Moses.

12 (later God called to Moses) Hike up here, to the top of this mountain amidst the Abarim peaks. When you get to the top, you’ll be able to see the land I’ve already given to the Israelites. 13 After you’ve had that glance, you will join your ancestors, as your brother Aaron did not so long ago. 14 You will not set foot in the promised land, even after all you’ve done for Me and this people because you didn’t follow My instructions back in the Zin Wilderness when the people argued and rebelled. You failed to treat me as holy at the waters before the eyes of the people. This happened at the water called Meribah, in Kadesh of the Zin Wilderness.

15 Then Moses addressed the Eternal One.

Moses: 16-17 Please, take care of these people. Eternal One, God of the spirit in all human beings, see to it that an able leader is appointed to guide and direct Your people by going out and coming in before them so that they are not like sheep without a shepherd.

Eternal One (to Moses): 18-19 Single out Joshua (Nun’s son). In him is the breath of My Spirit. Before the whole congregation, bring him to stand before the priest, Eleazar. Put your hand on him, and commission him into leadership. 20 You should make clear that you are investing him with some of your authority, so that every Israelite accepts his leadership. 21 Joshua shall consult with Eleazar the priest, who will ask of Me (by consulting the Urim and Thummim) to show how they should proceed. In other words, Eleazar will consult the oracle and indicate when the people should go forward and when they should pull back, both he and the congregation of Israel.

Attention now shifts to their future in the land. Just as God has used Moses and Aaron to lead the congregation up until now, a new leader must be trained and in place for Israel to move forward. Remember that Moses and Aaron must be replaced because they are part of that unfaithful generation God won’t allow into the land; they, too, acted against Him and are being punished in spite of their consistent favor with God. The preparation to enter the land needed only a couple of years for God to provide the law, the plans for the congregation tent, and an orderly structuring of the tribes. But the time in the wilderness has stretched on for another 38 years because it took a generation for God to purge the lack of belief on the part of the people.

22-23 Moses did with Joshua and Eleazar exactly what the Eternal One instructed; he laid his hands on Joshua to indicate this transfer of authority. Just as the Eternal One commanded, Moses did.

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