Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.
Nu 27:1-11. The Daughters of Zelophehad Ask for an Inheritance.
And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons.
3. Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not … in the company of … Korah—This declaration might be necessary because his death might have occurred about the time of that rebellion; and especially because, as the children of these conspirators were involved along with their fathers in the awful punishment, their plea appeared the more proper and forcible that their father did not die for any cause that doomed his family to lose their lives or their inheritance.
died in his own sin—that is, by the common law of mortality to which men, through sin, are subject.
Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.
4. Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father—Those young women perceived that the males only in families had been registered in the census. Because there were none in their household, their family was omitted. So they made known their grievance to Moses, and the authorities conjoined with him in administering justice. The case was important; and as the peculiarity of daughters being the sole members of a family would be no infrequent or uncommon occurrence, the law of inheritance, under divine authority, was extended not only to meet all similar cases, but other cases also—such as when there were no children left by the proprietor, and no brothers to succeed him. A distribution of the promised land was about to be made; and it is interesting to know the legal provision made in these comparatively rare cases for preserving a patrimony from being alienated to another tribe. (See on Nu 36:5).
And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.
And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.
And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.
And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren.
And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.
Nu 27:12-17. Moses Being Told of His Approaching Death, Asks for a Successor.
12. The Lord said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land—Although the Israelites were now on the confines of the promised land, Moses was not privileged to cross the Jordan, but died on one of the Moabitic range of mountains, to which the general name of Abarim was given (Nu 33:47). The privation of this great honor was owing to the unhappy conduct he had manifested in the striking of the rock at Meribah [Nu 20:12]; and while the pious leader submitted with meek acquiescence to the divine decree, he evinced the spirit of genuine patriotism in his fervent prayers for the appointment of a worthy and competent successor [Nu 27:15-17].
And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.
For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.
And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,
Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
16. God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation—The request was most suitably made to God in this character, as the Author of all the intellectual gifts and moral graces with which men are endowed, and who can raise up qualified persons for the most arduous duties and the most difficult situations.
Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;
Nu 27:18-23. Joshua Appointed to Succeed Him.
18. Take thee Joshua … a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him—A strong testimony is here borne to the personality of the divine Spirit—the imposition of hands was an ancient ceremony. (See Ge 48:14; Le 1:4; 1Ti 4:14).
And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.
And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
20, 21. Thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him—In the whole history of Israel there arose no prophet or ruler in all respects like unto Moses till the Messiah appeared, whose glory eclipsed all. But Joshua was honored and qualified in an eminent degree, through the special service of the high priest, who asked counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord.
And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation:
And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.