"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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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.”
5 And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the Lord, saying, “The tribe of the people of Joseph is right. 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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.’”
10 The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded Moses, 11 for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father's brothers. 12 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.
13 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."
It will be useful to remind ourselves of the lessons we learned from chapter 27. An un- protected, defenceless family of daughters, who seemed to have no provision made for them within the known and declared legislation inheritance in the Promised Land appealed to the justice and mercy of God for recognition and redress, and their appeal was upheld and honoured: legislation was instituted, and it became law that the inheritance due to those who died could and should indeed pass to their daughters. But the legislation having been instituted and accepted, and examined, it began to be seen that it could raise certain problems. What would happen if and when the daughters of Zelophehad, having received their inheritance, should marry? Was there not the possibility that the inheritance could pass out of the tribe by marriage, if they married outwith their own tribe? This, of course, was a possibility, and the elders of the tribe brought the matter before Moses, and before the Lord, for a judgment. And the judgment was that the daughters of Zelophehad were to marry only within their own tribe, so that marriage could not jeopardise their inheritance or take it out of the tribe, and so alter the divine provision and pattern for the division of the land among the twelve tribes.