JOSHUA 17
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1 There was also a lot [goral] for the tribe of [Menasheh]; for he was the firstborn of Joseph [the bechor of Yosef]; to wit, for Machir the [ bechor of Menasheh], the father of Gilead [av of Gil`ad]: because he was a man of war [ ish milchamah], therefore he had Gilead [got Gil`ad] and Bashan.

The portion allotted to Manasseh was divided among ten clans. The first to be named is that of Machir. "To Machir, Manasseh's eldest son and father of Gilead, there fell, as was right for a fighting man, the country of Gilead and Bashan. . ." (J.B.).

In view of the excellent quality of this country, this allotment proved to be an outstanding reward. Machir - who is mentioned in Gen. 50:23 - had undoubtedly been a man of excellent attributes. So much so, that his name continued to identify the descendants of his clan...

It comes as no surprise to learn that the descendants of this valiant man of God were given the magnificent country of Gilead and Bashan. Gilead was a hilly and mountainous region, east of Jordan. It extended from the northern end of the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee, an area about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide. Bashan was to the north. It stretched from Gilead to Hermon. Both areas were lush and fertile, with beautiful scenery and thickly afforested hills and valleys (cp. Gen. 37:25; Num. 32:1; Deut. 32:14; Ps. 22:12; Ezek. 39:18). *



The inheritance of The Five Wise Sisters

3 But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons [But Tzelophechad ben Chepher ben Gil'ad ben Machir ben Menasheh had no banim], but daughters [banot]: and these are the names of his daughters [shmot of his banot], Mahlah [Machlah], and Noah, Hoglah [Choglah], Milcah, and Tirzah [Tirtzah].

4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest [HaKohen], and before [Yehoshua ben Nun], and before the princes [nasi'im], saying, Yahweh commanded [Moshe] to give us an inheritance among our brethren [ nachalah among acheinu]. Therefore according to the commandment of Yahweh he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father [nachalah among the achim of their av].

5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh [ten tracts of land to Menasheh], beside the land of Gilead [in addition to Eretz Gil'ad] and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan [ the Yarden];

6 Because the daughters of Manasseh [banot of Menasheh] had an inheritance among his sons [nachalah among his banim]: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead [Bnei Menasheh had Eretz Gil'ad].

Zelophehad had died, leaving five daughters but no male heir (Num. 26:33). Whilst the Israelites were still camped in the plains of Moab, the five daughters of Zelophehad had made an appearance before Moses and Eleazar and the princes of the congregation. They maintained that the name of their father would be "done away from among his family",

as he left no male heir to receive Zelophehad's inheritance. They proposed that they should receive the family inheritance after Israel had taken possession of the land.

Not knowing how to answer them, Moses took the five sisters' petition to Yahweh. Yahweh decreed that the five daughters of Zelophehad had spoken rightly. He instructed Moses that these wishes should be carried out. Moreover, as a direct result of this incident, Yahweh commanded that an addition be made to the Law to cover any similar circumstances which may have arisen in the future (Num. 27:1-11).

A further addition to the Law resulted from this event. The ''chief fathers" of the tribe feared the consequences of inheritances being passed down to daughters. They saw the possibility of inheritances being transferred from tribe to tribe, due to the marriage of such daughters to the men of other tribes. This could have resulted in a serious weakening of the strength and stability of some tribes. There was considerable wisdom in their logic. As a result, an addition was made to the Law which stipulated that in the event of inheritances passing to daughters, they were restricted to marriage only within their own tribe (Num. 36).

Thus the daughters of Zelophehad made quite a mark upon Israel's history, and their circumstances resulted in the addition of prudent, practical and wise additions to the Law.

These five young women exhibited much of the strength of character and fortitude which was manifested by faithful Caleb. They wanted an inheritance in the kingdom, and were prepared to respectfully argue their case. They showed courage and earnestness; and they willingly conformed to the conditions which were required (Num.36:10-12).

Most men in those times would have hung their heads in shame at having produced daughters, but no sons. In fact, Zelophehad had been blessed with five daughters. "Five" is the Biblical number which symbolises grace and restoration. In teaching the parable of the "five wise virgins" did the Lord have in mind the five daughters of Zelophehad?

The meanings of their names reveal a great deal. It becomes evident, in fact, that these five women typify the Bride of Christ. Mahlah means "diseased" or "sick". Noah means "rest" or "comfort". Hoglah means "a partridge". (The Hebrew for partridge is goreh, 'a caller' - from its cry). Milcah signifies "a queen". Tirzah means "she is willing, delightful"...

...Thus it was that, at the appropriate time, when Manasseh's portion was to be divided amongst the various clans, the five daughters of Zelophehad "came near" before Eleazar and Joshua, and the princes, and besought them for the inheritance which had been promised.

Eleazar and Joshua were to pass judgment upon the matter. Once again, the reader should note the meticulous detail of the record: As the allocation of territory was primarily a spiritual exercise, Eleazar is always mentioned first.

In these matters Eleazar's office took precedence over that of Joshua's (cp. 14:1). The Law itself had been expressly definitive in this regard: "These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun. . ." (Num. 34:17).

With an attitude of confidence and faith, the five sisters came forward to press their claim. They believed that Yahweh would honour the commitment He had made, and that these two faithful men, Eleazar and Joshua, would endorse the declared will of Yahweh. They

typify the spirit of those who will continue to reach forward - towards Yahweh and the Kingdom. "Let us therefore come boldly (lit., 'with confidence' - Diag.) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. . ." (Heb. 4:16).

The spiritual goals which ultimately may be attained through the Truth are open equally to both men and women. This wonderful incident beautifully illustrates this fact. Apart from the reality that there will be gradings of rewards bestowed at the Judgment Seat (Lk.19:12-27), during the Kingdom Age no immortalised saint will be bound by such limitations as are experienced in these present times.

The full impact of Paul's words will become evident in that day: There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. . ." (Gal. 3:28). *

*Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times