Numbers 36:2
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.
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36:1-4 The heads of the tribe of Manasseh represent the evil which might follow, if the daughters of Zelophehad should marry into any other tribes. They sought to preserve the Divine appointment of inheritances, and that contests and quarrels should not rise among those who should come afterwards. It is the wisdom and duty of those who have estates in the world, to settle them, and to dispose of them, so that no strife and contention may arise.The daughters of Zelophehad had obtained an ordinance Numbers 28:6-11 which permitted the daughters of an Israelite dying without male issue to inherit their father's property. The chiefs of the Machirites, of whom Zelophehad had been one, now obtain a supplemental enactment, directing that heiresses should marry within their own tribe.CHAPTER 36

Nu 36:1-13. The Inconvenience of the Inheritance.

1. the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead—Being the tribal governors in Manasseh, they consulted Moses on a case that affected the public honor and interests of their tribe. It related once more to the daughters of Zelophehad. Formerly they had applied, at their own instance, to be recognized, for want of male heirs in their family, as entitled to inherit their father's property [Nu 27:1-11]; now the application was made on behalf of the tribe to which they belonged—that steps might be taken to prevent the alienation of their patrimony by their alliance with husbands of another tribe. The unrestricted marriages of daughters in such circumstances threatened seriously to affect the tenure of land in Israel, as their inheritance would go to their children, who, by the father's side, would belong to another tribe, and thus lead, through a complication of interests and the confusion of families, to an evil for which even the Jubilee could not afford a remedy. [See on [108]Le 25:13].

Our brother, i.e. our kinsman, one of our tribe, Joshua 17:2,3.

And they said,.... One in the name of the rest:

the Lord commanded my lord; that is, Moses, whom they address in a very respectable manner, being the chief governor of the nation under God:

to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel; which command may be seen, in Numbers 26:53,

and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother; or kinsman, being of the same tribe:

unto his daughters; who sued for it, and upon Moses's consulting the Lord about it, it was ordered they should have it, Numbers 27:1 and which these princes observed was likely to be attended with the following inconvenience.

And they said, The LORD commanded {b} 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.

(b) Meaning Moses.

Verse 2. - My lord. אֲדֹנִי. The singular form is constantly used in Hebrew, as in other languages, together with the plural personal pronoun (see at Genesis 23:6). The deference now paid to Moses (cf. chapter Numbers 32:25, 27) is in marked contrast to the treatment he had received from the former generation. Only Aaron (and that under the influence of terror - Exodus 32:22; Numbers 12:11) and Joshua (Joshua 11:28) had addressed him as Adoni before. Numbers 36:2The occasion for this law was a representation made to Moses and the princes of the congregation by the heads of the fathers' houses (האבות for בּית־האבות, as in Exodus 6:25, etc.) of the family of Gilead the Manassite, to which Zelophehad (Numbers 26:33) belonged, to the effect that, by allotting an hereditary possession to the daughters of Zelophehad, the tribe-territory assigned to the Manassites would be diminished if they should marry into another tribe. They founded their appeal upon the command of Jehovah, that the land was to be distributed by lot among the Israelites for an inheritance (Numbers 36:2 compared with Numbers 26:55-56, and Numbers 33:54); and although it is not expressly stated, yet on the ground of the promise of the everlasting possession of Canaan (Genesis 17:8), and the provision made by the law, that an inheritance was not to be alienated (Leviticus 25:10, Leviticus 25:13, Leviticus 25:23.), they understood it as signifying that the portion assigned to each tribe was to continue unchanged to all generations. (The singular pronoun, my Lord, in Numbers 36:2, refers to the speaker, as in Numbers 32:27.) Now, as the inheritance of their brother, i.e., their tribe-mate Zelophehad, had been given to his daughters (Numbers 27:1), if they should be chosen as wives by any of the children of the (other) tribes of Israel, i.e., should marry into another tribe, their inheritance would be taken away from the tribe-territory of Manasseh, and would be added to that of the tribe into which they were received. The suffix להם (Numbers 36:3) refers ad sensum to מטּה, the tribe regarded according to its members.
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