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Women and Land Inheritance

36 Then the heads of the family groups[a] of the Gileadites, the descendant of Machir, the descendant of Manasseh, who were from the Josephite families, approached and spoke before Moses[b] and the leaders who were the heads of the Israelite families.[c] They said, “The Lord commanded my lord to give[d] the land as an inheritance by lot to the Israelites; and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. Now if they should be married to one of the men[e] from another Israelite tribe, their inheritance would be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry.[f] As a result, it will be taken from the lot of our inheritance. And when the Jubilee of the Israelites is to take place,[g] their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our ancestral tribe.”[h]

Moses’ Decision

Then Moses gave a ruling[i] to the Israelites by the word[j] of the Lord: “What the tribe of the Josephites is saying is right. This is what[k] the Lord has commanded for Zelophehad’s daughters: ‘Let them marry[l] whomever they think best,[m] only they must marry within the family of their father’s tribe. In this way the inheritance of the Israelites will not be transferred[n] from tribe to tribe. But every one of the Israelites must retain the ancestral heritage. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance from any of the tribes of the Israelites must become the wife of a man from any family in her father’s tribe, so that every Israelite[o] may retain the inheritance of his fathers. No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe. But every one of the tribes of the Israelites must retain its inheritance.’”

10 As the Lord had commanded Moses, so the daughters of Zelophehad did. 11 For the daughters of Zelophehad—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah—were married to the sons of their uncles.[p] 12 They were married into the families of the Manassehites, the descendants of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s family.

13 These are the commandments and the decisions that the Lord commanded the Israelites through the authority[q] of Moses, in the rift valley plains[r] by Moab along the Jordan River[s] opposite Jericho.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 36:1 tn The expression is “the heads of the fathers by the family of the Gileadites.”
  2. Numbers 36:1 tn The Greek and the Syriac add “and before Eleazar the priest.”
  3. Numbers 36:1 tn Heb “heads of the fathers.”
  4. Numbers 36:2 tn The infinitive construct “to give” serves here as the complement or object of the verb, answering what the Lord had commanded Moses.
  5. Numbers 36:3 tn “Men” is understood; it says “to one from the sons of the tribes of the Israelites for a wife,” or if he has her for a wife.
  6. Numbers 36:3 tn Heb “which they will be to them,” meaning, to those who have them, i.e., the marriages.
  7. Numbers 36:4 tn The verb הָיָה (hayah) is most often translated “to be,” but it can also mean “to happen, to take place, to come to pass,” etc.
  8. Numbers 36:4 tn Heb “the tribe of our fathers.”
  9. Numbers 36:5 tn Heb “commanded.”
  10. Numbers 36:5 tn Heb “mouth.”
  11. Numbers 36:6 tn Heb “the word that.”
  12. Numbers 36:6 tn The idiom again is “let them be for wives for….”
  13. Numbers 36:6 tn Heb “to the one who is good in their eyes.”
  14. Numbers 36:7 tn Heb “turned aside.”
  15. Numbers 36:8 tn The subject is “Israelites” and the verb is plural to agree with it, but the idea is collective as the word for “man” indicates: “so that the Israelites may possess—[each] man the inheritance of his fathers.”
  16. Numbers 36:11 tn They married in the family as they were instructed. But the meaning of דּוֹד (dod) is not necessarily restricted to “uncle.”
  17. Numbers 36:13 tn Heb “by the hand.”
  18. Numbers 36:13 sn This is the area of the rift valley basin to the north of the Dead Sea and east of the Jordan. See the note at Num 21:1.
  19. Numbers 36:13 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

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