Numbers 36

1 The heads of the fathers’ households of the family of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spoke before Moses, and before the princes, the heads of the fathers’ households of the children of Israel. 2 They said, “The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the children of Israel. My lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. 3 If they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then will their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of our fathers, and will be added to the inheritance of the tribe to which they shall belong. So will it be taken away from the lot of our inheritance. 4 When the jubilee of the children of Israel shall be, then will their inheritance be added to the inheritance of the tribe to which they shall belong. So their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.” 5 Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the LORD’s word, saying, “The tribe of the sons of Joseph speaks right. 6 This is the thing which the LORD does command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, ‘Let them be married to whom they think best; only they shall marry into the family of the tribe of their father. 7 So shall no inheritance of the children of Israel move from tribe to tribe; for the children of Israel shall all keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. 8 Every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may each possess the inheritance of his fathers. 9 So shall no inheritance move from one tribe to another tribe; for the tribes of the children of Israel shall each keep his own inheritance.’” 10 The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD commanded Moses: 11 for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to their father’s brothers’ sons. 12 They were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph. Their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father. 13 These are the commandments and the ordinances which the LORD commanded by Moses to the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

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Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–4

The heads of the tribe of Manasseh represent the evil which might follow, if the daughters of Zelophehad should marry into any other tribes. They sought to preserve the Divine appointment of inheritances, and that contests and quarrels should not rise among those who should come afterwards. It is the wisdom and duty of those who have estates in the world, to settle them, and to dispose of them, so that no strife and contention may arise. (Nu 36:5-12)

Verses 5–12

Those who consult the oracles of God, concerning the making of their heavenly inheritance sure, shall not only be directed what to do, but their inquiries shall be graciously accepted. God would not have one tribe enriched at the expense of another. Each tribe was to keep to its own inheritance. The daughters of Zelophehad submitted to this appointment. How could they fail to marry well, when God himself directed them? Let the people of God learn how suitable and proper it is, like the daughters of Israel, to be united only to their own people. Ought not every true believer Israel, to be united only to their own people. Ought not every true believer in Jesus, to be very attentive in the near and tender relations of life, to be united only to such as are united to the Lord? All our intentions and inclinations ought to be subjected to the will of God, when that is made known to us, and especially in contracting marriage. Although the word of God allows affection and preference in this important relation, it does not sanction that foolish, ungovernable, and idolatrous passion, which cares not what may be the end; but in defiance of authority, determines upon self-gratification. All such conduct, however disguised, is against common sense, the interests of society, the happiness of the marriage relation, and, what is still more evil, against the religion of Christ.

Verse 13

These are the judgments the Lord commanded in the plains of Moab. Most of them related to the settlement in Canaan, into which the Israelites were now entering. Whatever new condition God, by his providence, brings us into, we must beg him to teach us the duties of it, and to enable us to do them, that we may do the work of the day in its day, the duty of a place in its place.

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