King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Numbers 36

The inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad. (1-4) The daughters of Zelophehad are to marry in their own tribe. (5-12) Conclusion. (13)

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The inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad

1 And the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came 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 jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.

The daughters of Zelophehad are to marry in their own tribe

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 This is the thing which 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.

9 Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.

10 Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:

11 For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their fathers brothers’ sons:

12 And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father.

Conclusion

13 These are the commandments and the judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Galaad. The descendants of Machir, who were settled in Galaad, were particularly interested, in knowing how their female relations of the house of Salphaad, were to dispose of their fortunes, which God had allowed them. They knew that, by the law, their husbands would obtain possession; and if those husbands should be of another tribe, part of the land allotted to Manasses might be lost. See C. xxvii. and Jos. xvii. 1. 3.

Ver. 4. That is, an explanation of the jubilee, added by S. Jerom, who gives the sense of the Heb. though not the very words. — Lots. Heb. “when the jubilee of the children of Israel is come, then shall their inheritance be added to that of the tribe in which they are received; so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.” H.

Ver. 6. Tribe. Heb. adds family also: for heiresses were obliged to marry in their own family, to prevent the confusion of the inheritances. If they had a mind to renounce their right, they were at liberty to marry where they pleased. C. — The nearest relations, who chose to receive their land, were under an obligation of marrying them. Ruth iv. 6. H. — A similar law prevailed at Athens.

Ver. 7. Wives. Heb. “shall keep to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.” Those who marry heiresses must be of the same family: but others may take wives from any of the tribes of Israel, as the most holy did without scruple. S. Jerom in Jer. xxxii. T. E. — The Rabbins extend this law to all, with the Vulgate: but only during the time that the land of Chanaan remained undivided. Seld. Succ. c. xviii.

Ver. 8. Women. Heb. “every daughter that possesseth an inheritance…shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father.” Commonly the females were debarred from inheriting land, when they had any brothers. The Levites were not concerned in these regulations, as they had no inheritance; and hence, we need not be surprised to find that S. Elizabeth, of the daughters of Aaron, (Luc. i. 26,) was related to the blessed Virgin, who was of the family of David. The mother of S. Elizabeth might be of the tribe of Juda; or a maternal ancestor of the blessed Virgin might spring from the tribe of Levi. C. — Tradition determined the lawfulness of such marriages, and in this case, S. Augustine (Consens. Ev. ii. 23) admires the providence of God, in causing his beloved Son, the great anointed, to be born both of the regal and priestly tribes, in which an unction was required, before the priests and kings were put in possession of their respective offices. Thus Christ was both priest and king, and such were anointed in the law of Moses. W.

Ver. 11. Father. They married their cousin-germans. The original is rather undecisive, as Dod may signify, “an uncle, great uncle, or cousin;” and a son, in Scripture, is often put for any descendant. The marriages of cousins were not expressly forbidden by the law, and if they had, they might have been dispensed with on this occasion, as well as when a brother died without issue. C. — Claudius was the first of the Romans who obtained leave of the senate to marry his brother’s daughter. Sueton. D.