God cares about JUSTICE and FAIRNESS for ALL His CHILDREN
February 20 Bible Reading: Numbers Chapters 34-36
"Just as the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad; for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to the sons of their father's brothers. They were married into the families of the children of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father's family." (Num. 36:10-12)
The five daughters of Zelophehad - Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah – appear in the book of Numbers twice as proponents of a specific case that could not be addressed by the general laws given by God to the Israelites. These five ladies were the great-great-great-granddaughters of Manasseh, who approached Moses with a problem in Numbers 27:1-11. Their father Zelophehad had died in the wilderness and had left them without any brothers. The question at that time was if they would now inherit the land of their father in Canaan. During their short presentation (27:3-4), these five ladies boldly declared their father’s innocence, and thereby displaying their deep loyalty to their father. In their case, God ruled that their father’s inheritance should be turned over to them as his only surviving daughters, and this later became the precedence for all families that lacked male heirs.
The five daughters of Zelophehad had totally submitted to Moses’ ruling and they also eventually submitted to their husbands. For a member of the unbelieving generation of Israel, Zelophehad is greatly honored in Scripture through his faithful daughters (Num. 26:33; 27:3, Joshua 17:3–6, 1 Chron. 7:15). This striking record of obedience and faithfulness is a promising note on which to end such a book that contrasts Israel’s unfaithfulness with God’s faithfulness. The implicit conclusion is, “Be like the faithful daughters of Zelophehad, not like the unbelieving first generation.”
The last chapter of Numbers (36) now presents the interest of the relatives of Zelophehad, who were worried about possible complications of the decision to allow the five daughters of Zelophehad to inherit their father’s possession in the land. If the daughters were to marry outside their tribe and family, then the tribal integrity would be hopelessly lost, and this was complex legal problem. Three parts of the Law were affected by this predicament: the division of the Promised Land, the laws of inheritance, and the law of the Jubilee.
After consulting with God, Moses decided that this concern of the relatives of Zelophehad was legitimate. He did not overrule the earlier decision to allow the women to inherit the portion that would have gone to their father, but He regulated their marriage choices to maintain the integrity of each tribe as a unique entity. Only this could guarantee the tribal territories assigned by divine decree. This incident ends with the daughters of Zelophehad obeying Moses readily by marrying men within the tribe of Manasseh itself (vv. 10–12).