Numbers 27

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Read Numbers 27

Zelophehad’s Daughters

27 The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meetingand said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and the Lord said to him,“What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them.

“Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers.10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”

Joshua to Succeed Moses

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Rangeand see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

Go Deeper

In this chapter, we see two different narratives: one involving Zelophehad’s daughters and another involving Moses and Joshua. While both stories deal with the graciousness of the Lord (in Zelophehad’s daughters’ case, His sovereignty in providing them an inheritance), today we’re going to zoom in on the story of Moses’ leadership being passed to the next generation through Joshua. 

Remember back in Numbers 20 when Moses disobeyed the Lord by hitting the rock for water, rather than speaking to it like the Lord instructed? Beginning in verse 12 we see the consequence of Moses’ disobedience begin to unfold and God’s graciousness highlighted. Verses 12-14 explain that Moses will not be able to enter into Canaan and how he will die after seeing the Promised Land from Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). Moses’ reaction to God’s announcement of his death was quite admirable. 

Wouldn’t you think Moses would be upset that he wouldn’t be able to lead his people into the land the Lord has promised? Instead, Moses prayed to the Lord. “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community… so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 16-17).  We begin to understand that Moses truly sees Yahweh as sovereign by surrendering full control to Him when deciding who is to be appointed next to lead the Israelites.  

The Lord’s response back to Moses is where we can deeply see the Lord’s graciousness. In verse 18, the Lord appoints Joshua. One of the most important qualifications of Joshua’s leadership is mentioned in this same verse, “a man who has the Spirit in him” (v. 18, CSB). The Lord then asks his servant Moses to appoint Joshua by laying his hands on him in front of the whole Israelite community. This is significant because the Lord desired for his people to see and follow the man whom he appointed to lead the next generation into the Promised Land.

When reading today we can be reminded that the Lord is the true Good Shepherd. The Lord is the one who fulfills everything Moses was pleading for in verse 16 to lead the Israelites. Deuteronomy 31:8 reiterates this to us: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” The Lord was sovereign in preparing a way for the Israelites to enter into Canaan with a leader whom the Spirit of the Lord was in.


  1. What do both of these narratives teach you about God? What do they teach you about humanity? 
  2. Where do you need to surrender control to fully allow the Lord to be the Good Shepherd of your life? 
  3. In what ways do you feel the Lord is preparing you to enter into a new season?

Pray This

Lord, I thank you that you are the Good Shepherd in my life. Thank you for all the ways you have gone before me and prepared a way to care for me, even if it is different than what I expected. Please reveal to me where I need to surrender control to see the plan you have been writing for me. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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6 thoughts on “Numbers 27”

  1. We see that God showed gracious impartiality to the daughters of Zelophehad in regard to their father’s inheritance. They seem to understand the nature of God’s character and his justice when pleading their cause. As a result they are heard and assigned property in the new land. Isn’t it amazing that in a nation that numbered in the millions, God saw and cared about the lives of these 5 sisters? It’s a reminder that we can trust he knows us as well, even to the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). I appreciate the courage of these women who didn’t grumble and complain but brought their request to the one who could intervene on their behalf. Let’s be encouraged that God sees and he will see to it as “we come boldly to the throne of grace, where we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

  2. I have so many thoughts about this chapter. BUT GOD!! But God, in the lives of these women, they went to Moses because they knew God had been so gracious throughout their journey, so let’s ask about what would be a blessing for our descendants. Then, God shows Moses the land he was suppose to be a part of, and says look at it, then you will die. What would I/we have done? Moses walking with God wanted to know how to take care of the people he was responsible for, not me, I am sure I would have been so selfish and so that is a big take away. Then Moses had to (or got to) continue to help the people he was responsible for by giving them a new leader, that God picked. Are we seeking out people to help or just being selfish? Once again with all that was going on Moses went to God to ask Him how and what to do for ALL the situations. Is this where I am at? God is a good shepherd, vs 15-17″Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” God wants to direct our paths for His glory and good. Today is the starting of the Sisterhood study on Psalm 23, so be praying for the sisters in Christ that are working on knowing and understanding more deeply about our God, as He shepherds us.

    God let me be like Moses in that I bring everything, completely all to You in prayer for direction so that You can lead me to still waters and restore my soul. Thank You for leading me in paths of righteousness for Your name sake. Even when I walk through valleys, I will not fear evil because You are with me. Your rod and staff comforts me as You prepare a table in the presence of my enemies, You anoint me with oil as my cup overflows with Your goodness and mercy all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever as You guide in this world, so that I come to You for all my needs in Jesus name amen

  3. Diane Frances Rogers

    God’s grace. God’s provision. Letting go, and leaning in. Total submission. Lord, I desire Your will above all else. Holy Spirit, help me to learn God’s will for my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    God’s grace. God’s provision. Letting go, and leaning in. Total submission. Lord, I desire Your will. Holy Spirit, help me to learn God’s will for my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

  5. A Godly Inheritance

    How I love watching God at work! Here we see Him comprehend both the legacy of land grants for generations to come — AND the more immediate fate of these five women before Him. Given many of us are either “big picture“ people or “detail” people, how amazing to see God’s infinite capacity to be both/and, all at once, all the time.

    I must confess, though, I got hung up on one particular GO DEEPER detail. While I understand the directive to “zoom in” on Moses, I don’t want to zoom PAST the story of these women.

    It warrants special attention — by Moses, by God— and by contemporary Christians.

    Primogeniture has often been problematic, especially where women are concerned. (As every fan of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey can attest!), when estates are “entailed away from the female line,” many a daughter is left in dire straits.

    These women inspire me deeply by their boldness and faith. Consider the courage it must have required to come forward so publicly — and so persistently. Not only did God honor their request, He endorsed it (v. 7).

    This story reminds me again that God‘s perfect plan was —and is — for EVERYONE.

    Today may I step forward with equally bold faith and claim my own share of God’s promises!

    “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.”
    ‭‭-Galatians‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬-‭29‬ ‭MSG‬‬

    “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
    -Hebrews 4:16

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