Matthew Poole's Commentary
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:The inconvenience of daughters inheriting is remedied by a general command that all such marry in the tribe of their fathers, to which of them they shall think best, Numbers 36:1-9. They obey, Numbers 36:10-12. These commands God gave by Moses to Israel in the plains of Moab, Numbers 36:13.
The chief fathers of the families, who had the care and management of the public affairs of that tribe committed to them.
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.Our brother, i.e. our kinsman, one of our tribe, Joshua 17:2,3.
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.For their inheritance will pass to their children, who will be of another tribe by their father’s side, which alone is considered in this place.
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.Which God appointed principally for this end, to preserve the inheritance in the hands of the tribes and families to which they were first given.
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.Their plea is just and reasonable. God did not take particular care about every occurrence that happened, or might happen, but left divers things to be found out by human prudence, which being his own gift, it was meet there should be opportunities left for the exercise of it; and God thought fit to approve and ratify the prudent and profitable inventions of men by his own law or sanction; as in the case of Jethro, Exo 18, of Zelophehad’s daughter, Num 27, and here of their brethren. But it is observable, that God allowed this only in civil affairs, but never in the matters of his worship, where he utterly forbids it.
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.They seem hereby to be confined not only to the same tribe, trot also to the family of their tribe, as appears from the reason of the law, for God would have the inheritance of families as well as tribes kept entire and unmixed; and this was one reason of that law of marrying the brother’s wife, Deu 25. And although the next verse may seem to thwart this interpretation, the reason of this law being there given that inheritances might not go from tribe to tribe, Numbers 36:8 confirms it, where the very same phrase is repeated, and that more emphatically, that such shall marry one of the family of the tribe of her father; and this further reason and restriction is added, that they may enjoy every man the inheritance (not only of his tribe, but) of his fathers, to wit, belonging to his father’s family.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.By which clause it seems that 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, which it is not likely they would have done, if this had been a transgression of God’s law,) but restrained to heiresses, or such as were likely to be so. See 1 Chronicles 23:22. But if they had brethren, it is probable they were free to marry into any tribe, yet so that, if their brethren died, their punishment was, that 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:No text from Poole on this verse.
For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons:It is certain whether brothers or sons be taken strictly and properly, or more large, as those words are oft used in Scripture.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.