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:Numbers 36:1-3. The chief fathers of the families, &c. — We read before of a provision made for the family of the heiresses of Zelophehad, a branch of the tribe of Manasseh, chap. 27.; and though Moses had secured them a distinct inheritance, yet some of the chief heads of that family, foreseeing that a great inconvenience might possibly happen in the marriage of these women, made a new petition to Moses, in the presence of the princes, or chief fathers of Israel, for a proper law to prevent it. They represented to him, that in case these heiresses should marry into other tribes, the estates they were invested in would, of course, be alienated from their own tribe, and be incorporated into that in which they married, by the right of their husbands.
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.
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.
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.Numbers 36:4. When the jubilee shall be, &c. — The jubilee itself, they remonstrate, though designed, among other purposes, to preserve a perfect distinction of estates, tribes, and families, would afford no remedy for this inconvenience, since these inheritances would descend, at the jubilee, by the common right of marriage, to the heirs of these women, should they marry into another tribe.
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.
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.Numbers 36:6. Only to the family — They were not confined to any particular person, but might have their choice among such as solicited their consent, who were descended from the same stock. But they were restrained from marrying men of another tribe or of another family of the same tribe; for God would have the inheritance of families, as well as of tribes, kept entire and distinct. And accordingly they actually did marry their cousin-germans, Numbers 36:11.
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.
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.Numbers 36:8. The inheritance of his fathers — This law was not general, to forbid every woman to marry into another tribe, as may be reasonably concluded from the practice of so many patriarchs, kings, priests, and other holy men, who have married women of other tribes, yea, sometimes of other nations; but restrained to heiresses, or such as were likely to be so. But if they had brethren they were free to marry into any tribe, yet so that, if their brethren died, the inheritance went from them to the next akin of their father’s tribe and family. And the principal reason why God was solicitous to preserve tribes and families unmixed was, that the tribe, and family too, out of which the Messiah was to come, and by which he should be known, might be evident and unquestionable.
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.
Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:
For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons:
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.
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.