Inheritance by Marriage
The son of Machir of the tribe of Manasseh came to Moses with a concern regarding the land given to the daughters of Zelophehad. (cf. Num 27:5-7) He was concerned that if they married outside of the tribe, the inheritance would be transferred to another tribe and made permanent in the year of jubilee. Moses said, “Let them marry whom they wish; only they must marry within the family of the tribe of their father.” No inheritance shall pass from one tribe to another and if a daughter receives an inheritance she must marry within her own tribe. Thus the daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord had commanded Moses, they married within the tribe of Manasseh and their inheritance remained in that tribe. The book concludes the commandments and ordinances of the Lord through Moses, given on the plains of Moab by the Jordan.
The Lord had promised to give the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Gen 35:12) The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Gen 35:10) and made this promise to him. The sons of Manasseh were worried that the sons of another tribe might obtain Manasseh’s inheritance. Each tribe was to have there own inheritance in the land of Canaan but were to think of themselves as one congregation. This final chapter indicates future division within the congregation and is the background for the historical books. Israel would become divided into northern and southern kingdoms. Through Moses, a spirit of vengeance and possessiveness was solidified in the law, but Jesus changed this way of thinking during his sermon on the Mount.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”