Numbers 27:8
And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter.
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(8) If a man die, and have no son . . . —On the general law of inheritance which is here laid down, see Selden’s De Successionibus, London, 1636, and Keil’s Archœol., 2, s. 142.

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.Give unto us - As representing our father; that so he, through us his representatives, may enjoy a like inheritance with his brethren. 4. Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father—Those young women perceived that the males only in families had been registered in the census. Because there were none in their household, their family was omitted. So they made known their grievance to Moses, and the authorities conjoined with him in administering justice. The case was important; and as the peculiarity of daughters being the sole members of a family would be no infrequent or uncommon occurrence, the law of inheritance, under divine authority, was extended not only to meet all similar cases, but other cases also—such as when there were no children left by the proprietor, and no brothers to succeed him. A distribution of the promised land was about to be made; and it is interesting to know the legal provision made in these comparatively rare cases for preserving a patrimony from being alienated to another tribe. (See on [94]Nu 36:5). No text from Poole on this verse. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel,.... The above affair occasioned a law to be made, in which all the people would have a concern, among whom such cases should happen, as after related:

saying, if a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter; as in the above case of the daughters of Zelophehad; what was determined as to their particular case was made into a general law.

And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.
8–11. A formal statement of the law of inheritance. Failing sons, the property passes to a daughter; failing daughters, to brothers; failing brothers, to uncles; and failing uncles, to the next-of-kin (see on Numbers 27:8).Verse 8. - If a man die, and have no son. On this particular case a general rule of much wider incidence was founded. The Mosaic law of succession followed the same lines as the feudal law of Europe, equally disallowing disposition by will, and discouraging, if not disallowing, alienation by grant. Upon the land was to rest the whole social fabric of Israel, and all that was valued and permanent in family life and feeling was to be tied as it were to the landed inheritance. Hence the land was in every case so to pass that the name and fame, the privilege and duty, of the deceased owner might be as far as possible perpetuated. Unto his daughter. Not for her maintenance, but in order that her husband might represent her father. In most cases he would take her name, and be counted as one of her father's family. This had no doubt already become customary among the Jews, as among almost all nations. Compare the cases of Sheshan and Jarha (1 Chronicles 2:34, 35), of Jair (Numbers 32:41), and subsequently of the Levitical "sons of Barzillai" (Ezra 2:61). The question, however, would only become of public importance at the time when Israel became a nation of landed proprietors. Claims 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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