Numbers 36 (CEV)
The Laws about Married Women and Land
1One day the family leaders from the Gilead clan of the Manasseh tribe went to Moses and the other family leaders of Israel 2and said, “Sir, the LORD has said that he will show what land each tribe will receive as their own. And the LORD has commanded you to give the daughters of our relative Zelophehad the land that he would have received.
This passage is a reference back to Numbers 27:1-11, where the five daughters of Zelophehad were concerned that their father’s inheritance would vanish, because there were no sons in their family. God, through Moses, declared that if a father has no sons, the inheritance can then go to the daughters.
3But if they marry men from other tribes of Israel, the land they receive will become part of that tribe’s inheritance and will no longer belong to us. 4Even when land is returned to its original owner in the Year of Celebration and Jubilee, we will not get back Zelophehad’s land–it will belong to the tribe into which his daughters married.”
If the land was given to the daughters, then when the daughters married, the land went to their husband’s tribe — and eventually, the original tribe’s lands would become depleted.
5So Moses told the people that the LORD had said:
These men from the Manasseh tribe are right. 6I will allow Zelophehad’s daughters to marry anyone, as long as those men belong to one of the clans of the Manasseh tribe.
7Tribal land must not be given to another tribe–it will remain the property of the tribe that received it. 8-9In the future, any daughter who inherits land must marry someone from her own tribe. Israel’s tribal land is never to be passed from one tribe to another.
The solution is fairly simple. If a daughter in a family receives an inheritance of land, she must marry within the tribe. Since the tribes were large enough, this really was no burden. If a daughter married outside the tribe, she had to forfeit the inheritance, because not only did she have inheritance rights, but the tribe did also.
10-11Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah the daughters of Zelophehad obeyed the LORD and married their uncles’ sons 12and remained part of the Manasseh tribe. So their land stayed in their father’s clan.
13These are the laws that the LORD gave to Moses and the Israelites while they were camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho.
The Book of Numbers began “in the desert of Sinai” (Numbers 1:1). It now finishes as close to the Promised Land as you can get without actually being there!
As the Children of Israel stood across from the city of Jericho, we should consider what it took to take them from Egypt to this place across the Jericho.
i. From their encampment at Mount Sinai, God gave Israel the opportunity to grow from being a slave people to being a Promised Land people. He taught them how to be ordered, organized, cleansed, separated, blessed, how to give, to be reminded of God’s deliverance, given God’s presence, and received the tools to advance to the Promised Land.
ii. Then, as the nation actually set out from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land, they found themselves struggling with the flesh — they murmured, complained, and rebelled; most of all, they failed to enter into what God had set before them by faith — and a generation of unbelief was condemned to perish in the wilderness.
iii. God led the nation for some 38 years in the wilderness, with much motion but no progress — enduring more rebellion and murmuring, but essentially waiting until the generation of unbelief had died and a generation willing to trust God for big things had come to maturity.
iv. So they set out towards the Promised Land again, and faced the same challenges of the flesh — but dealt with them better this time, until they made their way to the threshold of the Promised Land.
The end of the book of Numbers.
From The Bible Project — HERE is a fun, animated 5-minute review of the book of Numbers. Enjoy!
Upon finishing Numbers, let us consider these thoughts from the Apostle Paul–
1 Corinthians 10:1-12 (NIV)
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
“Forever God Is Faithful” seems a fitting song with which to close out our study of Numbers. HERE it is performed by Michael W. Smith.