Female inheritance (Num 27:1-27:11)

“Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward.   Zelophehad was the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, ‘Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against Yahweh in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. He had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.’”

Here we have the case of the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the son of Joseph. These are the five daughters mentioned above, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They went to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the congregation, to say that their father died in the wilderness. Although he was not among the company that gathered against Yahweh with Korah, he died for his own sins. However, he had no sons. They wanted a possession among their father’s brothers.

“Moses brought their case before Yahweh. Yahweh spoke to Moses. ‘The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying. You shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them. You shall say to the Israelites, `If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers.   If his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. It shall be for the Israelites a statute and ordinance, as Yahweh commanded Moses.’”

Moses then brought their case before Yahweh and Yahweh responded. Yes, the daughters of Zelophehad are right. They should possess the inheritance of their father. Then there were a set of rules to follow. If a man dies, and has no son, then his inheritance goes to his daughter or daughters. If he has no daughter, then his inheritance goes to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then it goes to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan. The lines of inheritance are clearly drawn. Only the daughters as females have rights, while the wife does not. Beyond the daughters it goes to other males in the clan.

 

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