1 And the chief fathers of the families or the children of Gilead drew near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel:
2 And they said, The Lord commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters.
3 And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received; so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance.
4 And when the jubilee of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received:
5 And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the Lord, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well.
6 ......the Lord doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.
7 So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.
8 And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.
10 Even is the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:
11 ...... and were turned unto their father's brothers' sons.
IN a former chapter there was a sense of justice shown towards the daughters of Zelophehad, but here a new complication arises. The uncles of these girls had their eyes on the property and perhaps feared that their sons had not found favor in the eyes of their cousins, as they might have seen and admired some fine looking young men from other tribes. So the crafty old uncles moved in time to get a statute passed that would compel daughters to marry in the tribe of their fathers and got a direct command from the Lord to that effect, then the young women, compelled to limit their predilections, married their cousins, setting the laws of heredity quite aside; property in all ages being considered of more importance than persons. Thus, after making some show of justice in giving the daughters of Zelophehad the inheritance of their fathers, the Israelites began to consider the loss to their tribe, if peradventure the five sisters should marry into other tribes and all this property be transferred to their enemies.
They seemed to consider these noble women destitute of the virtue of patriotism, of family pride, of all the tender sentiments of friendship, kindred and home, and so with their usual masculine arrogance they passed laws to compel the daughters of Zelophehad to do what they probably would have done had there been no law to that effect. These daughters were known by the euphonious names of Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah and Noah, and they all married their father's brothers' sons. Cousins on the mother's side would probably have been forbidden.
If Moses, as the mouthpiece of God, aimed to do exact justice, why did he not pass an ordinance giving property in all cases equally to sons and daughters.
E. C. S..
Moses gave what appears to be, in the light of this Christian era, a just judgment when he decided that the daughters of Zelophehad should inherit their father's property, but he gave as the law of inheritance the direction that "if a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter;" thus, as I think, unjustly discriminating between women who have brothers and women who have none, and he goes on further to deal unjustly with women when he directs that the daughters of Zelophehad marry so that the inheritance justly awarded them should not go out of the family of the tribe of their fathers.
"Let them marry to whom they think best," and those words seemingly recognize their righteous freedom. But immediately he limits that phrase and informs the five women they must only marry in their father's tribe, and were limited also to their father's family. The result was that each married her own cousin. If this was contrary to physiological law, as some distinguished physiologists affirm, then they were compelled by the arbitrary law of Moses to break the law of God.
P. A. H.