Establishing the line of inheritances

Genealogy is established by male descent...

Moses is faced with a problem not legislated for under the law

1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad [ Banot Tzelophechad], the son of Hepher [Ben Chepher], the son of Gilead [Ben Gil'ad], the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh [Ben Menasheh], of the families [Mishpekhot] of Manasseh the son of Joseph [ Menasheh Ben Yosef]: and these are the names of his daughters [shmot of his banot]; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah [Machlah, No'ah, and Choglah], and Milcah, and Tirzah [Tirtzah].

Since the Law provides no specific direction regarding daughters, these women desire the matter clarified, and approach Moses for that purpose. The result is a clarification of the law of inheritances: an important legislation for all Israelites. *

2 And they stood before Moses [Moshe] , and before Eleazar the priest [HaKohen], and before the princes and all the congregation [Nasiim and kol HaEdah], by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation [petach Ohel Mo'ed], saying,

For a matter of this importance, designed to establish a precedent for the future, a general assembly of the leaders of the nation, as representing the people as a whole is gathered to the east of the Tabernacle, where are located the tents of Moses and the priests. The conference took place in the void place on that side. *

3 Our father died in the wilderness [Avinu died in the midbar], and he was not in the company [edah hano'adim (assembly of ones banding together)] of them that gathered themselves together against Yahweh in the company of Korah [Adat Korach]; but died in his own sin [chet] [Rom. 5:12], and had no sons [banim].

Zelophehad was not guilty of any particular act of rebellion that would justify divine anger to the extent of denying him sons, or...disinheriting his family, as in the case of Achan.*

4 Why should the name of our father be done away [shem avinu be withdrawn] from among his family [Mishpakhat], because he hath no son [ben]? Give unto us therefore a possession [achuzzah] among the brethren of our father [achei avinu].

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? - Gen 18: 25

Korah had instigated a revolt, but his family had not been blotted out, his name did not cease. ...Yahweh is both merciful and just, and it was on that basis that women pleaded their cause. On the other hand, a sin of great magnitude might result in the termination of the sinner's posterity (Psa.109:13; Prov. 13:9).*

5 And Moses [Moshe] brought their cause [mishpat] before Yahweh.

Moses had access to the Most Holy...This being a case without precedence, he bypassed Eleazar, and as Lawgiver, made direct approach to Yahweh.

I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel - Ex 25: 22.

Special consideration be given to the fatherless and widows ( Deut. 10:18; 14:29; 16:11,14; 24:17-21; 26:12-13; 27:19).*

6 And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying,

7 The daughters of Zelophehad [Banot Tzelophechad] speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance [achuzzat nachalah] among their father's brethren [achei avihem]; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father [nachalat avichen] to pass [over] unto them [36: 2].

These five women reflect the minds of the five wise virgins of Yahweh's parable (Mat. 25). They had prepared their claim, desiring their inheritance, and thus anticipated the joy of "entering into their possession."

Their names reveal some characteristics: Mahlah means 'Sickness;' Noah (a different word from that in Gen. 6) means 'Movement;' Hoglah means 'Cry of a partridge;' Milcah means 'Queen;' Tirzah means 'Delightsomeness.'

Not only did these women come to Moses and Eleazar, but also "they stood before the princes and the whole congregation, by the door of the tabernacle" (v. 2). Consider the courage of these sisters, who in their actions of claiming the inheritance typify the ecclesia of all ages. -GEM

8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel], saying, If a man [ish] die, and have no son [ben], then ye shall cause his inheritance [nachalah] to pass unto his daughter [bat].

In order to maintain the line of descent that the land inheritance might continue within each tribe

9 And if he have no daughter [bat], then ye shall give his inheritance [nachalah] unto his brethren [achim].

This would retain the inheritance in the family.

10 And if he have no brethren [achim], then ye shall give his inheritance [nachalah] unto his father's brethren [achei aviv].

The person possessing the divine inheritance could not will it to whomsoever he pleased. *

11 And if his father [av] have no brethren [achim], then ye shall give his inheritance [nachalah] unto his kinsman [closest relative] that is next to him of his family [Mishpakhat], and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel] a statute of judgment [chukkat mishpat], as the Lord commanded Moses [Moshe].

The Law thereby established the right of inheritance in the following order:

1. Sons; 2. Daughters (subject tothem marrying within their own tribe —see Num. 36:2-3); 3. Brothers; 4. Uncles;5. Next of kin. The word used for "kinsman" denotes a near relative.


The statutes recorded in the Book of the Covenant were supplemented during the course of the wilderness wanderings by many additional regulations designed to cover special contingencies. We have an obvious example of this in the various inheritance laws which were promulgated from time to time.

Zelophehad died leaving five daughters but no son to succeed him. The daughters petitioned Moses [Moshe] and Eleazar for "a possession among the brethren of our father". God approved of their request and a law was issued regulating this and related cases.

Not long afterwards their petition was followed by another, one presented this time on their behalf by some of the Gileadites, which resulted in the promulgation of the law of territorial inheritance (Num. 27 : 1-11 ; 36: 1-9). The one arrangement, like the law of levirate marriage (Deut. 25 : 5-10) which in purpose bore a close affinity to it, ensured that a man's name was not "done away" from Israel, and the other that 

"the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers".

Their practical purpose is evident ; but so also is their didactic aim. They served to remind each individual Israelite, whatever his circumstances, of the greatness of the honour of being a member of the Covenant People, and of the preciousness of his heritage: they gave him a proper sense of values, and bade him at all costs prove worthy of his high calling and retain his membership of the nation, being "an Israelite indeed".

Law and Grace Ch 6

12 And Yahweh said unto Moses [Moshe] , Get thee up into this mount Abarim [har haAvarim], and see the land [HaAretz ] which I have given unto the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel].

— Mount Abarim comprises a long ridge of harsh, rocky, precipitous hills which extend along the eastern coast of the Dead Sea as far as the eye can see. "Aba" signifies to pass over, and Abarim, a plural word, passages.

The range forms a barrier to the Promised Land. Among its peaks is Mt. Nebo (Deut. 32:49), the top of which is called Pisgah (Deut. 34:1, and see Deut. 34:5-67). It was with sadness that Moses received this message from Yahweh, and he pleaded to be allowed to enter the Land.

His eloquent and appealing prayer is given in Deut. 3:23-25, together with an extended version of Yahweh's reply(Deut. 3:27). If left to us we would doubtless grant such an emotional appeal — particularly if made by such a faithful servant.

Why did not Yahweh? Because He is wiser, kinder, and more understanding than we. In His great goodness and mercy, Yahweh refused Moses' request, and in so doing delivered him from the agony that otherwise would have been his lot to view with the failing powers of advancing age the tragedy of Israel's failure to make the most of its opportunities in the land.

Moreover, in refusing his request, Yahweh provided Israel with a powerful exhortation to obedience, warning the people that they cannot presume on His goodness.

The Christadelphian Expositor

17 Which may go out before them, and which may go [will come] in before them, and which may [will] lead them out, and which may [will] bring them in; that the congregation [Adat] of Yahweh be not as sheep [like tzon] which have no shepherd [no ro'eh].

True to his character and care for Yahweh's people, Moses prayed that Yahweh will set a man over the congregation that they be not as sheep that have no shepherd. By comparing John 10:1-16, where Yahweh Yahshua says that he is the Good Shepherd, Moses' words were certainly prophetic. - GEM, 

18 And Yahweh said unto Moses [Moshe] , Take thee Joshua the son of Nun [Yehoshua Ben Nun], a man [ish] in whom is the spirit [Ruach (HaKodesh)], and lay thine hand [ yad (for s'michah)] upon him; [Zech 6:11-12];

Joshua's name means: 'He who will be Salvation' (from the same root as the Hebrew name of Yahshua: Yahoshua). His father's name (Nun) means 'Perpetuity,' from the root 'springing forth' -- thus, resurrection. The names together spell: 'He who will be salvation, through the resurrection.' Thus it is through the atoning sacrifice that life is obtained. There is no other way. - GEM,