Candid Insights into Numbers 36: A Critical Commentary

In this enlightening commentary, we turn our theological focus to Numbers 36, a truly interesting chapter in the Old Testament of the Bible that merits a comprehensive analysis. This chapter serves the valuable purpose of educating us on pertinent aspects of Israel’s journey to the Promised Land, particularly focusing on land inheritance and marital guidelines within the twelve tribes.

Serving as our guide through these profound narratives, this commentary will be based on passages from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible – an accurate and readable translation favored by many scholars and lay readers alike. As a Charismatic Christian writer and theologian, I will endeavor to infuse this exegesis with keen biblical insights and revelatory comprehension, yet maintaining a neutral tone to ensure the scriptural understanding is left untainted by personal bias.

Join me as we walk through this fascinating tapestry of faith, law, and divine directive, deepening our understanding of God’s word as depicted in Numbers 36.

Key Takeaways

Viral Believer is reader-supported. We may earn a small fee from products we recommend at no charge to you. Read Our Affiliate Disclosuree

  1. Context of Numbers 36: Numbers 36 addresses the issue of land inheritance and marital guidelines within the twelve tribes of Israel. The concern raised by the clan of Gilead revolves around preserving tribal boundaries and preventing the transfer of land from one tribe to another through intertribal marriages.
  2. Importance of Inheritance: The chapter highlights the significance of inheritance within tribal boundaries and the preservation of family property and name. It acknowledges the right of women to inherit in the absence of male heirs.
  3. Maintaining Tribal Boundaries: Moses’s ruling emphasizes the need to marry within one’s tribe to maintain tribal integrity and prevent the alteration of land allocations. This ensures the fair and equitable distribution of the Promised Land among the tribes.
  4. Obedience and Respect for God’s Law: The daughters of Zelophehad demonstrate obedience and respect for God’s law by accepting the directive to marry within their tribe. Their actions exemplify humility and submission to God’s sovereignty.
  5. Balancing Individual and Collective Rights: The passage highlights the tension between individual rights and collective tribal rights. Moses’s judgment seeks to protect both the rights of the daughters and the integrity of tribal inheritances, striking a balance between individual needs and the communal structure.
  6. Justice and Equity: The laws and judgments outlined in Numbers 36 reflect God’s concern for justice and equity in the distribution of land and inheritance. The principles established in this chapter resonate with the call for social justice and fairness in contemporary society.
  7. Preserving Divine Inheritance: Numbers 36 teaches the importance of preserving our divine inheritance, both in the context of physical land allocations and in the spiritual realm. It underscores the need to value and safeguard our spiritual inheritance in Christ.
  8. Affirmation of Women’s Rights: The account of the daughters of Zelophehad highlights God’s recognition of women’s rights and His commitment to justice for all His people, regardless of gender. It serves as an early affirmation of the importance of gender equality and respect for women’s voices.
Candid Insights into Numbers 36: A Critical Commentary

Understanding the Context of Numbers 36: Land Inheritance and Family Preservation

In Numbers 36, laws are provided to the Hebrews regarding land inheritance and family preservation. Specifically, in the Kingdom of God, preservation of family property and name was a serious matter.

As a case point, Moses had previously allowed daughters of Zelophehad to inherit their father’s land since he had no sons (Numbers 27:1-11). But some concerns were raised as to what would happen if these daughters married men from other Israelite tribes.

God, through Moses, offered an effective solution: the daughters could marry anyone they wanted, as long as they were from their own ancestral tribe (Numbers 36:6). This way, there would be no transfer of land from one tribe to another. Some points to take away from this include:

  • The importance of inheritance within the tribal boundaries. Each tribe was to maintain its inheritance without interruption (Numbers 36:7-9).
  • Women, in the absence of male heirs, were entitled to their father’s inheritance.
  • Marry within your tribe. This might look restrictive but its underlying intention was to prevent land (inheritance) from changing tribal ownership.

The daughters of Zelophehad dutifully obeyed God’s ruling (Numbers 36:10-12). This signifies the respect and obedience towards God’s providences regardless of our personal preferences or societal norms. These women grasped something which is of utmost importance to us, believers, today – the reality that the Lord is the God of justice and He makes provisions for everyone in His Kingdom (Psalm 89:14, Matthew 6:33).

Numbers 36:1-4 Commentary: The Concern of the Clan of Gilead

In the book of Numbers chapter 36, verses 1-4, we see the heads of the fathers of the Gilead clan (descendants of Machir, son of Manasseh, and of Joseph’s lineage) approaching Moses and the other leaders with a concern related to the inheritance of their daughters.

The fear of these men was of a potential disruption in the distribution of the land if daughters of Israel marry men from another tribe. That might cause the land allotted to one tribe to be transferred to another, thus the tribal inheritance of the Israelites could be distorted.

“And the heads of the fathers’ house of the family of the sons of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and before the leaders, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the sons of Israel, and they said: “The Lord commanded my lord Moses to give the land as an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. If they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and it will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry; so it will be taken from the lot of our inheritance.” (Numbers 36:1-4 NKJV).

The clan of Gilead’s concern indeed highlights a crucial consideration in the distribution of the Promised Land. Their understanding of God’s command to Moses argues for a gender-sensitive, and tribe-sensitive land distribution model.

This passage not only underscores the importance of maintaining tribal boundaries and heritage but also emphasizes that structural and systemic mechanisms are important in preserving God’s plans and promises.

Great attention is paid to the fairness and equity of the distribution of the inheritance, assuring that each tribe receives and retains its rightful portion. In this instance, we witness an early example of the Bible addressing and a concern for social justice and equity which continues to resonate with our contemporary times.

Analyzing Numbers 36:5-9: Moses’ Judgment on Inheritance Rights

In Numbers 36:5-9, Moses offers judgment on a case involving inheritance rights for daughters of Israel. The daughters of Zelophehad, of the tribe of Manasseh, come to Moses and the congregation looking for a clarification.

Their father died without a son, and they request their father’s share of land so the family name does not disappear. The issue arose when certain tribal leaders raised concerns about the land allocation to women, which could potentially change tribal boundaries if these women were to marry men from other tribes.

Moses’ response serves as a significant precedent for women’s rights in biblical history. In Numbers 36:6, Moses decrees, “What the tribe of the sons of Joseph speaks is right. This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, ‘Let them marry whom they think best, but they may marry only within the family of the tribe of their father.’” (NKJV)

Here, Moses not only confirms the inheritance rights of the daughters of Zelophehad but also provides a solution to counter the concerns of altered tribal boundaries. The daughters may marry, but they must do so within their tribe. This safeguard helped maintain the specific land allotments for each of the Israelite tribes.

However, a close reading of these verses also reveals a tension between the individual rights of the daughters and collective rights of the tribe, a theme representative throughout scriptures. Moses’s ruling elicits two important points:

  • Women were entitled to their father’s inheritance in situations where no male heir existed, emphasizing the seeming importance of family rights in Israelite society. The critical aspect of these rights was around property, highlighting how central the concept of land was to the Israelites.
  • Moses also recognized the importance of maintaining tribal boundaries, which were established by God for each tribe. Hence, he urged that the women marry within their own tribe to preserve these boundaries. This was core to Israelite identity and nationhood, as each tribe’s unique character and contribution to Israel was preserved through these land allocations.

Overall, this passage presents a remarkably progressive judgment for its time, as Moses mediated a nuanced situation to protect both women’s rights and tribal integrity. It highlights the balance of individual and collective rights, a lesson that remains relevant even today.

Numbers 36:10-13 Explained: The Obedience of Zelophehad’s Daughters

The daughters of Zelophehad were described in Numbers 36:10-13 as obedient to the LORD’s command regarding their inheritance. In this passage, it is reported that “The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD commanded Moses” (Numbers 36:10, NKJV).

Their actions and decisions were guided by their obedience to God’s law, providing us with a model of adherence to divine direction. They are depicted as women who have a deep understanding of their roles and rights under God’s law. Thus, their story is not just a record of obedience; it’s a powerful testimony about faith and obedience in a society where women rarely showcased such characteristics.

Key points in the narrative of Zelophehad’s daughters, which underline their obedience are:

  • Request for inheritance: Despite being women in a patriarchal society, Zelophehad’s daughters boldly requested their father’s inheritance, as per God’s law (Numbers 27:1-7).
  • Acceptance of God’s directive: When God gave the directive that they should marry within their own tribe to keep the inheritance intact (Numbers 36:6), they agreed, demonstrating humble submission to God’s sovereignty.
  • Marriage within own tribe: By marrying within their tribe, they not only kept their inheritance but also sustained their father’s name and prevented his heritage from being lost (Numbers 36:10-13).

This series of events paints a clear picture of their obedience and reverence for God’s law.

In drawing lessons from the account of Zelophehad’s daughters, Christians today can recognize the importance of deference to divine direction – whether it fits societal norms or not.

Their story teaches us the value of diligently seeking righteousness, the integrity maintained in upholding God’s directive, and the resultant blessings that follow such obedience. “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!” (Psalm 119:2, NKJV). Just like Zelophehad’s daughters, let our actions be guided by God’s Word and His Spirit, illuminating our paths to righteousness.

Theological Implications and Teachings from Numbers 36

In Numbers 36, the tribe of Manasseh raised a concern regarding the potential loss of their inheritance should the daughters of Zelophehad (who have been given the right to inherit their father’s estate since he had no sons) marry men from outside their tribe. This chapter closes the book with a reinforcement of the God-given laws on inheritances and intertribal marriages (Numbers 36:1-9 NKJV). There are significant theological implications and teachings that can be drawn from this final chapter of Numbers:

  • Maintaining the Integrity of Divine Inheritance: In verses 7 to 9, God through Moses established a law that required the daughters of Zelophehad to marry within their own tribe. This was to ensure that each tribe’s inheritance remained intact and did not shift from one tribe to another due to marriage. This emphasizes God’s wisdom in safeguarding the inheritance of His people – a principle that applies even today in how we should protect and value our spiritual inheritance in Christ.

In the New Testament, Apostle Peter echoes this principle when he speaks of our inheritance that is “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4 NKJV). Thus, our priority should be to guard this spiritual inheritance, not tarnishing it by worldly inclinations or pursuits.

  • God Honoring the Rights of Women: The narrative of the daughters of Zelophehad is one of the earliest biblical affirmations of women’s rights. They courageously stood before Moses and the entire congregation to plea for their rightful inheritance (Numbers 27:1-7), which God himself granted. In Numbers 36, the legislation is further fine-tuned to ensure their marriage choices didn’t compromise the divine order of tribal inheritance. This shows that God values justice for all His people, irrespective of their gender.

In conclusion, Numbers 36 offers crucial spiritual lessons on preserving our divine inheritance and God’s upholding of justice. It testifies that God is a God of order – His laws, even those concerning property and marriage, were designed for the welfare and harmony of His people. Thus, believers are called to respect and abide by Godly principles and values to maintain spiritual balance and peace.


As we end this commentary on Numbers 36, it behooves us to ruminate on the principles that we have parsed from the passages, not only in regards to inheritance rights, but regarding broader matters of obedience, justice, and respect for divine ordinances. A pertinent takeaway is found in Numbers 36:13 where the Scripture says, “These are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded the children of Israel by the hand of Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho.” (NKJV)

This verse reminds us that every commandment and ordinance in the Bible were given for the well-being and prosperity of God’s people. Even in matters like inheritance that can seem mundane and legalistic, God’s purposefulness and love for us are evident. He prescribes these laws, not to restrain us, but to build just, fair and healthy communities.

Our study should inspire in us a renewed respect for the Word of God, His omniscient wisdom, and His inseparable connection with us, His children. As we strive to live out His commandments daily, let us remember the overarching themes of love, integrity, and allegiance to God found within the often unexplored book of Numbers. The teachings therein enlighten us and could impact not just our individual lives but our families, churches, and communities.

Therefore, let us delve deeper, moving beyond the surface reading of the Scriptures, recognizing the depth of His wisdom, and absorbing all that He has to teach us. It is my prayer that this commentary on Numbers 36 will serve as a dynamic resource in your journey of understanding, applying, and teaching the Word of God. May the profound insights found within Numbers guide us as we navigate the wonderful journey of faith, love, and obedience to our Lord and Savior. God bless.

About The Author

Scroll to Top