The heads of the fathers’ houses of the clan of the people of Gilead the son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of the people of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and before the chiefs, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel. They said, “The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the people of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. But if they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the people of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So it will be taken away from the lot of our inheritance. And when the jubilee of the people of Israel comes, then their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry, and their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.”
And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, “The tribe of the people of Joseph is right. This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: ‘Let them marry whom they think best, only they shall marry within the clan of the tribe of their father. The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the clan of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers. So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall hold on to its own inheritance.’”
The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD commanded Moses, for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father’s brothers. They were married into the clans of the people of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s clan.
These are the commandments and the rules that the LORD commanded through Moses to the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. (Numbers 36:1-13 ESV)
The first generation of Israelites who came to the land of Canaan refused to obey Yahweh and attack the land and take it. They were too fearful. This next generation is wondering how the land that will be allotted to them when they conquer Canaan will be safeguarded to each tribe. Quite a change and an indication of faith.
Just as Yahweh listened to the daughters of Zelophedad and allowed them to inherit land in their father’s name since he had no sons, now Yahweh listens to their tribal leaders when they express a concern that the daughters might marry out of the tribe and take land allotted to their tribe to another. The answer is to have them marry within the tribe, though presumably if they marry outside the tribe they don’t take the land with them.
The land God gave Israel and its separate tribes and families was a sacred trust. It is still so, though Israel has since this day lost the land on two separate occasions due to their own sinfulness. But God is not finished with Israel nor the land He promised them. One day the nation will repent and receive their Messiah and with that will receive the trust God gave them to steward. In that day they will see the nations flow to them and will be God’s gemstone among all the nations. And the nations will not be jealous of this but with God honor the nation who safeguarded the seed of the woman who will restore the kingdom, Jesus the Righteous One.