Numbers 27:1
Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.
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27:1-11 The five daughters of Zelophehad considered themselves as left destitute, having neither father nor brother to inherit any land. Their believing expectation that the word of the Lord would be performed in due season, and their desire of an interest in the promised inheritance; and the modest, candid manner in which they asked, without secret murmurs or discontents, are a good example. They ask for a possession in the land of Canaan. Herein they discovered, 1. Strong faith in the power and promise of God, concerning the giving of the land of Canaan to Israel. 2. And earnest desire of a place and name in the land of promise, which was a type of heaven. 3. Respect and honour for their father, whose name was dear to them now he was gone. He never had done any thing that might bar his children's claim. It is a comfort to parents when they come to die, if though they have smarted for their own sin, yet they are not conscious of any of those iniquities which God will visit on their children. God himself gives judgment. He takes notice of the affairs, not only of nations, but of private families, and orders them according to his will. The petition is granted. Those who seek an inheritance in the land of promise, shall have what they seek for, and other things shall be added to them.Women in Israel had not, up to the present time, enjoyed any distinct right of inheritance. Yet a father, whether sons had been born to him or not, had the power, either before or at his death, to cause part of his estate to pass to a daughter; in which case her husband married into her family rather than she into his, and the children were regarded as of the family from which the estate had come. Thus, Machir, ancestor of Zelophehad, although he had a son Gilead, left also, as is probable, an inheritance to his daughter, the wife of Hezron of the tribe of Judah, by reason of which their descendants, among whom was Jair, were reckoned as belonging to the tribe of Manasseh (Numbers 32:41; 1 Chronicles 2:21 ff). CHAPTER 27

Nu 27:1-11. The Daughters of Zelophehad Ask for an Inheritance.The law of inheritance: for daughters on defect of sons; and on defect of them to the brother; and if there be none, to the next kinsman, Numbers 27:1-11. God commands Moses to go up into a mountain to view the land of Canaan, and die there: the reason, Numbers 27:12-14. Moses prays to the Lord to appoint an able successor, Numbers 27:15-17. Joshua chose, and confirmed in his office by imposition of hands before all the people, Numbers 27:18-23.

Perceiving that the males only were numbered, and that the land was to be divided to them only, they put in their claim for a share in their father’s inheritance.

Then came the daughters of Zelophehad,.... Who are mentioned among the families of Manasseh, under that of the Hepherites, Numbers 26:33, their father being dead, and they having no brethren, when they heard the land was to be divided among those that were numbered, and who were only males of twenty years old and upwards, were concerned, lest they should have no share in the division of the land; and therefore came, according to the Targum of Jonathan, to the house of judgment, or court of judicature, where Moses, the princes, &c. were now sitting: the genealogy of Zelophehad is given:

he was the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, the son of Joseph; by which it appears he was of the tribe of Manasseh, and of the fourth generation from him:

and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, Noah, ann Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah; in the same order their names are given in Numbers 26:33, but in Numbers 36:11, it is a little altered, Noah and Tirzah change places, which Jarchi says shows they were upon an equality one with another.

Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.
1. Since Manasseh is a tribe, and Machir and Gilead are tribal divisions, and Hepher (Numbers 26:32, 1 Kings 4:10) is a family, it is probable that Zelophehad and his five ‘daughters’ are all names taken from smaller divisions or clans, settled in particular towns in Gilead. See Numbers 26:28-33 with Gray’s notes. But the incident here related is regarded as an historical occurrence in the life of individuals. Its purpose is to introduce the law of inheritance.

1–11. A law on the inheritance of property. The Hebrews always adhered firmly to the principle that landed property must not be alienated from the tribe or family to which it belonged. In early days, inheritance by daughters was not contemplated. If a man died without children, his widow might be married to his brother in order to bear sons who should inherit the property (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; cf. Matthew 22:24). Or if a man wished to sell land, his next-of-kin had the first right of purchase (Jeremiah 32:8). And the same principle underlies the law of the Jubile (Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 25:31). The present law is also based upon the principle, but marks a new departure in the privileges accorded to women.

Verse 1. - The daughters of Zelophehad. The genealogy here given agrees with those in Numbers 26:29-33 and in Joshua 17:3. These women would appear to have been in the eighth generation from Jacob, which hardly accords with the 470 years required by the narrative; some links, however, may have been dropped. Numbers 27:1Claims of Zelophehad's Daughters to an Inheritance in the Promised Land. - Numbers 27:1-4. The divine instructions which were given at the mustering of the tribes, to the effect that the land was to be divided among the tribes in proportion to the larger or smaller number of their families (Numbers 26:52-56), induced the daughters of Zelophehad the Manassite of the family of Gilead, the son of Machir, to appear before the princes of the congregation, who were assembled with Moses and Eleazar at the tabernacle, with a request that they would assign them an inheritance in the family of the father, as he had died in the desert without leaving any sons, and had not taken part in the rebellion of the company of Korah, which might have occasioned his exclusion from any participation in the promised land, but had simply died "through his (own) sin," i.e., on account of such a sin as every one commits, and such as all who died in the wilderness had committed as well as he. "Why should the name of our father be cut off (cease) from the midst of his family?" This would have been the case, for example, if no inheritance had been assigned him in the land because he left no son. In that case his family would have become extinct, if his daughters had married into other families or tribes. On the other hand, if his daughters received a possession of their own among the brethren of their father, the name of their father would be preserved by it, since they could then marry husbands who would enter upon their landed property, and their father's name and possession would be perpetuated through their children. This wish on the part of the daughters was founded upon an assumption which rested no doubt upon an ancient custom, namely, that in the case of marriages where the wives had brought landed property as their dowry, the sons who inherited the maternal property were received through this inheritance into the family of their mother, i.e., of their grandfather on the mother's side. We have an example of this in the case of Jarha, who belonged to the pre-Mosaic times (1 Chronicles 2:34-35). In all probability this took place in every instance in which daughters received a portion of the paternal possessions as their dowry, even though there might be sons alive. This would explain the introduction of Jair among the Manassites in Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14. His father Segub was the son of Hezron of the tribe of Judah, but his mother was the daughter of Machir the Manassite (1 Chronicles 2:21-22). We find another similar instance in Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63, where the sons of a priest who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the rich Gileadite, are called sons of Barzillai.
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