Numbers 36

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Read Numbers 36

Inheritance of Zelophehad’s Daughters

36 The family heads of the clan of Gilead son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, who were from the clans of the descendants of Joseph, came and spoke before Moses and the leaders, the heads of the Israelite families.They said, “When the Lord commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance to the Israelites by lot, he ordered you to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. Now suppose they marry men from other Israelite tribes; then their inheritance will be taken from our ancestral inheritance and added to that of the tribe they marry into. And so part of the inheritance allotted to us will be taken away. When the Year of Jubilee for the Israelites comes, their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their property will be taken from the tribal inheritance of our ancestors.”

Then at the Lord’s command Moses gave this order to the Israelites: “What the tribe of the descendants of Joseph is saying is right. This is what the Lord commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan.No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors. Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of their ancestors. No inheritance may pass from one tribe to another, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.”

10 So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the Lord commanded Moses.11 Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. 12 They married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in their father’s tribe and clan.

13 These are the commands and regulations the Lord gave through Mosesto the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.

Go Deeper

This chapter calls us back to Numbers 27 with the daughters of Zelophehad’s inheritance brought into question by the head of the clan of Gilead. They were essentially asking, “What happens to the land they inherited if those daughters marry outside of the tribe of Manasseh?”

We see God answer this question through Moses by saying in verse 6 that the daughters may marry whomever they think best within the tribe of their father. What we learn is that the Lord values the inheritance of each tribe. In verse 9, we see the Lord declare that no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another. 

In our eyes, this may seem very limiting to Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Micah, and Noah to impose on them the limit to only marry within their tribe. In reality, the fact that they received an inheritance is completely against the cultural norm of ancient times, as is the fact they are able to marry whomever they wanted. In ancient times, their father would be the one to choose and sign off on the wedding. The daughters did as the Lord commanded and were married into the people of Manasseh keeping the inheritance in the tribe. 

The question you may be thinking is Why is this the last story in Numbers? Robert Alter, a Hebrew scholar and author, says of this chapter, “It does serve as a vivid focus for the prospect of inheriting the land that confronts the Israelites as they await orders to begin their invasion…. with the viability of the tribal division of the land thus reaffirmed, the Israelites are prepared to begin the conquest.”

Inheritance is a theme throughout the New Testament. We see that believers are promised an inheritance from the Lord. Ephesians 1:3-14 tells us that when we heard the truth of the Gospel and believed in Jesus’s work on our behalf, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance. First Peter 1:4 says this inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. We don’t have to worry (like the heads of the Tribe of Manasseh did) about losing our inheritance, because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.


  1. What can we learn about obedience from the daughters of Zelophehad? 
  2. Do we value the inheritance we are given as much as God values the promised land for the Israelites? 
  3. What does it mean to have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God? Search the writings of the New Testament for the word “inheritance”

Watch This

Now that we’ve completed six weeks reading through the book of Numbers, go back and watch the overview video from The Bible Project

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4 thoughts on “Numbers 36”

  1. As we’ve witnessed throughout Numbers, God is in the details. He overlooks nothing nor no one but carefully lays out a good plan to follow. He is the perfect provider, just and trustworthy. As we’ve come to the end of Numbers, one commentator suggests we learn these lessons from the Israelites:
    •Unbelief is disastrous.
    •Do not long for sinful pleasures of the past.
    •Avoid complaining.
    •Stay away from all forms of compromise.
    Let’s not ignore the message in the book of Numbers, but learn to live and flourish under God’s perfect design and order.

  2. Questions? God has the answer. Even the women had concerns BUT GOD had the solution. The Israelites had to take their questions to Moses, who then took it to God, and then God gave the answer to Moses and then Moses gave it to the people. (whew) But because of Jesus Christ we have Holy Spirit and simply ask God, search His Word. But we do have to listen for the answer? It is again through the Holy Spirit that we hear. We are, they were, broken people who lacked humility and/or faith in their/our human nature BUT GOD is holy, just and merciful. Moses was their mediator and now we have Jesus as ours. The responsibility is up to us to make right choices and do right things so that we can glorify and edify God. Learning to listen and obey, to look at others through God’s love goggles, and to love, have joy, live in peace, be patience, show kindness, see goodness, to have faithfulness, show gentleness, show and have self-control is an example to others and God we are His chosen people by our fruit. BUT GOD through Jesus Christ because of Holy Spirit is the answers to the questions.

    Thank You God that You have given us a rule book, a guide to this life. Thank You for giving Your son for me (this is so overwhelming). Thank You for guiding me through this wilderness. I am so sorry it has taken me this long to figure it out. God but I am figuring it out and I praise again and again with a wonderful and thankful WOOHOO!!!! God may I see others today as I interact with them through Your love goggles, and show them with Your love, by my actions, how much they are loved. God may my words be Your words only. Thank You for these minutes in this day to be used to Your glory and honor in and through my life in Jesus name amen

  3. Goodbye Numbers! Thanks for all the wisdom an insights for applications for living as a follower of Christ 2024!

    6 “They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan.”

    Here God employs a classic parenting technique . . . allowing us to choose, but within limits!

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    The book of Numbers reveals how God reminded Israel that He does not tolerate rebellion, complaining and disbelief without invoking consequences. We learn from this the importance of trusting and obeying the Lord.
    * God’s desire for holiness and order.
    * God’s mercy towards sin.
    * The unwavering faithfulness of God to His covenant promises.
    Thanks be to God for this valuable life changing lesson found in Numbers and the way my eyes see clearer Your living Word. Help me to lean more into Your wisdom, In Jesus name, Amen!

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