BIBLE STUDY SERIES #404-406

15 August, 1999

ZELOPHEHAD'S DAUGHTERS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our regular sequence of on-going Bible Studies, starting a number of years ago with The Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Genesis 12 has followed his progeny down to the Tribes of Israel who are presently on the border of the Promised Land. Having passed out of Egyptian bondage through The Exodus, the first generation of Israelites, although they had experienced the commitments of Sinai, and the lessons of The Tabernacle, had stumbled in their approach to this borderland of Canaan. It has been left to the present generation, children of those who failed forty years before, to make good God's Word regarding His intent to give them the Promised Land as their inheritance.

On leaving Egypt the Tribes had of necessity been organized Tribe by Tribe, and Moses had a census taken. Now, with the passage of the years, and the expiry of those of that former generation who had failed to move forward in God's strength to take the land, and who had, in consequence, been condemned to wander in the wilderness until death claimed them, the children had taken their place. These were now, counted in a new census, to establish the present situation regarding their numbers, and the organization needed for mustering to war, and division of the Promised Land, once occupation had begun. In Numbers 26, we find the Scriptural passage which details this, and we had read and considered to verse 65, the last verse of that chapter, all the verses pertaining to the actual genealogical sub-divisions of each of the Tribes, together with the numbers of males available for war in each division, that is to say, those men twenty years of age and upward.

We had been speaking about the preparation for the entrance into the Promised Land, and we noted on the last study that the land would be apportioned according to the populations in the various tribes, and that the land itself would be assigned by lot. That is to say, as explained in a notation in The Companion Bible at verses 55 and 56, Eleazer, the High Priest, wearing the Ephod and the Breastplate, "must be present for the lot to speak and give Jehovah's decision (Josh. 17. 4)." Somehow the indication would be drawn from the pouch or pocket embedded within the breastplate through those tokens of affirmation or denial which are termed Urim and Thummim, for the Scriptures give the description of the lot as "the lot came up" (in Joshua 18:11), "came forth" (in Joshua 19:1), "came out" (in Joshua 19:17) of the bag containing these symbols, to gain a statement of the will of The Almighty in regard to each Tribe's allotment of the segments of land which must thereby be designated severally, to every tribe. The Hebrew term for "the lot" gives the meaning "the mouth of the lot", as though the "lot" spoke and was personified in the process.

We now come, in Numbers 27, to the specific resolution of the particular case of those five daughters of Zelophehad wherein inheritance was placed in doubt and the question had been set by Moses before The Lord for His ruling on the matter. We have already mentioned the particulars of the case as they were sketched in the previous chapter in regard to those five daughters of Zelophehad, a descendant of the Tribe of Manasseh as listed in Numbers 26:33, who had died without leaving male issue. The question would have been particularly worrying to these daughters as the nation was being formed within the context of societal norms based in measure on the Laws of Hammurabi and on the Pharaonic rules of Egyptian society which tended to leave daughters without certain of those rights which we today assume for every citizen, male and female (unless one has the unhappy lot to reside yet within the womb of a mother who desires pleasures and freedoms which exclude childbirth)!

The answer given to Moses by The Almighty is found in verses 6-11 of Numbers 27. Perhaps we might at this point read our Scripture portions for today, out of Numbers 27 as these include the explanation of the details, to see how the matter was resolved.

1. 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.
2. 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,
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.
6. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
7. 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.

Here, The Companion Bible indicates that the Hebrew term translated "shalt surely give" is "a giving thou shalt give" containing a repetition for emphasis. It adds that this command was obeyed in Joshua 17:4.

8. 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.
9. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.
10. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren.
11. 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.

Here, we read of a very significant example of case law which was to go down in the history of Israel, confirming both the right of daughters to inherit, and also the right of next of kin to do the same, should no direct heir exist to receive the inheritance of someone who dies without male issue. As a note in The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "b. A special problem regarding inheritance of land (xxvii. 1-11)" puts it, "The account makes entirely clear the problem raised by the daughters of Zelophehad (1-4), who have already been given special mention in the census (xxvi. 33). The Lord's answer to the problem (6-11) shows His desire that the land of Canaan be kept in small holdings and passed down along hereditary lines. See also xxxvi. 1-13." When we reach that last-mentioned Scripture portion, we will discover that a further amplification of the law would be required in cases where this law must be applied to the specific matter of inheritance of land within the tribal allotments in Canaan.

Keil and Delitzsch give their insights under the heading "The Daughters of Zelophehad Claim to Inherit" in dealing with verses 1-11, "Claims of Zelophehad's Daughters to an Inheritance in the Promised Land. - Vers. 1-4." in these words: "The divine instructions which were given at the mustering of the tribes, to the effect that the land was to be divided among the tribes in proportion to the larger or smaller number of their families (chap. xxvi. 52-56), induced the daughters of Zelophehad the Manassite of the family of Gilead, the son of Machir, to appear before the princes of the congregation, who were assembled with Moses and Eleazar at the tabernacle, with a request that they would assign them an inheritance in the family of the father, as he had died in the desert without leaving any sons, and had not taken part in the rebellion of the company of Korah, which might have occasioned his exclusion from any participation in the promised land, but had simply died 'through his (own) sin,' i.e. on account of such a sin as every one commits, and such as all who died in the wilderness had committed as well as he. 'Why should the name of our father be cut off (cease) from the midst of his family?' This would have been the case, for example, if no inheritance had been assigned him in the land, because he left no son. In that case his family would have become extinct, if his daughters had married into other families or tribes. On the other hand, if his daughters received a possession of their own among the brethren of their father, the name of their father would be preserved by it, since they could then marry husbands who would enter upon their landed property, and their father's name and possession would be perpetuated through their children. This wish on the part of the daughters was founded upon an assumption which rested no doubt upon an ancient custom, namely, that in the case of marriages where the wives had brought landed property as their dowry, the sons who inherited the maternal property were received through this inheritance into the family of their mother, i.e. of their grandfather on the mother's side. We have an example of this in the case of Jarha, who belonged to the pre-Mosaic times (1 Chron. ii. 34, 35). In all probability this took place in every instance in which daughters received a portion of the paternal possessions as their dowry, even though there might be sons alive. This would explain the introduction of Jair among the Manassites in chap. xxxii. 41, Deut. iii. 14. His father Segub was the son of Hezron of the tribe of Judah, but his mother was the daughter of Machir the Manassite (1 Chron. ii. 21, 22). We find another similar instance in Ezra ii. 61 and Neh. vii. 63, where the sons of a priest who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the rich Gileadite, are called sons of Barzillai. - Vers. 5-7. This question of right (mishpat) Moses brought before God, and received instructions in reply to give the daughters of Zelophehad an inheritance among the brethren of their father, as they had spoken right. Further instructions were added afterwards in chap. xxxvi, in relation to the marriage of heiresses. - Vers. 8-11. On this occasion God issued a general law of inheritance, which was to apply to all cases as 'a statute of judgment.' (or right), i.e. a statute determining right. If any one died without leaving a son, his landed property was to pass to his daughter (or daughters); in default of daughters, to his brothers; in the absence of brothers, to his paternal uncles; and if there were none of them, to his next of kin."

We shall leave the rest of the chapter for our next Study.

22 August, 1999

TRANSFERRED AUTHORITY - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our regular sequence of on-going Bible Studies, starting a number of years ago with The Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Genesis 12 has followed his progeny down to the Tribes of Israel who are presently on the border of the Promised Land. Having passed out of Egyptian bondage through The Exodus, the first generation of Israelites, although they had experienced the commitments of Sinai, and the lessons of The Tabernacle, had stumbled in their approach to this borderland of Canaan. It has been left to the present generation, children of those who failed forty years before to make good God's Word regarding His intent to give them the Promised Land as their inheritance, to claim it now, with energetic steps. This was the intent, and it was to be done under a new leader, and led by the directives of The Almighty Whose covenant it was to fulfil the matter.

We had been speaking about the taking of a preparatory census, and the other preparations which would be necessary for the entrance into the Promised Land, and we noted on the last study that the land would be apportioned according to the populations in the various tribes, and that the land itself would be assigned by lot. However, before any land was claimed, there was still going to be the necessity of leading an army to occupy the lands assigned to each tribe, and the local Canaanites were obviously not of a mind to yield this land without putting up resistance.

We now approach a section of Scripture which details the transfer of authority from Moses to that new leader in Israel. The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "c. The appointment of a new leader for the conquest of Canaan (xxvii. 12-23)" states "God commands Moses to climb a mountain where he can get a good view of the Promised Land (12), and informs him that afterwards he, like Aaron (xx. 23-29), will die, since the two of them had sinned at Kadesh (13-14; cf. xx. 7-13). Abarim (12) is a mountainous region; later the particular mountain is specified (Dt. xxxii. 49). Moses' response (15-17) reflects great credit on him. His immediate thought is for the welfare of the congregation; he spends no time bewailing his fate or pleading with God to remit the penalty, but thinks only of requesting that God appoint a suitable leader to take his place. There is no more crucial time in the history of a nation or of a church than when a change of leaders occurs. Many a man fails at this point, and the results of his work disappear. Moses knew that it required divine wisdom, and asked the Lord to determine the matter. God answered Moses' request by directing him to lay his hand on Joshua, the son of Nun (18), and to consecrate him to be the new leader of Israel. A man in whom is the spirit (18). Joshua had long been associated with Moses (Ex. xvii. 9-14, xxiv. 13, xxxii. 17, xxxiii. 11; Nu. xi. 28). He was one of the two faithful spies (xiii. 16, xiv. 6, 30, 38). What a joy it must have been to Moses when God appointed as his successor the one who had been his right-hand man so long! Moses did not seek this dignity for his own sons, but left the decision entirely in God's hand. Few men with the ability to be great leaders have the humility to occupy a second place as Joshua did for so many years, and to serve a long apprenticeship before themselves taking command. Few men comparable in power to Moses are able to work with a man of like calibre under them, without ruining the subordinate's individuality. The relationship does much honour both to Moses and to Joshua, as does the great record of accomplishment by Joshua after Moses' death. While Moses was still living, Joshua was installed as his successor (20-23), thus insuring against any misunderstanding or uncertainty at Moses' death. The command in verse 12 does not state how soon it is to be carried out. In this case several weeks intervened before the command was executed. Moses proceeded to do the work described in the remaining chapters of Numbers, and to give the great farewell addresses contained in the book of Deuteronomy. At their conclusion, God repeated the command, together with His judgment on Moses' sin (Dt. xxxii. 48-52). It is not unusual in the Bible for a command to be given some time before it is intended to be carried out (cf. 1 Ki. xix. 15-16 with 2 Ki. viii. 13 and ix. 5-6). Some critics claim that Dt. xxxii. 48-52 and Nu. xxvii. 12-14 are variant accounts of the same thing. However, there is nothing unreasonable in the Lord repeating the command in amplified form when the time came to carry it out. The material from here to the end of Deuteronomy reads continuously and there is no legitimate reason for breaking it up and parcelling it among various documents."

12. 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.
13. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.
14. 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.

You will, perhaps, remember that there was a certain "rock" which followed along, or was carried along, with the Israelites during their 40 years' wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai, as mentioned by Paul in I Corinthians 10:1-4. The words indicate that the multitudes of Israelites drank water in two senses. They quenched their physical thirst by the literal fluid which spilled out in abundance to meet their physical need, and likewise they "drank in" the spiritual message in what was given for this was also a spiritual lesson and indeed moreover a prophetic ceremony presented by God, their "spiritual rock" that followed them. Both the literal rock and the One Who stood upon it were "Anointed." (The word "Christ", if it had been translated into English, would be read as the word "anointed." In the AV it is left untranslated, and so is there read as "Christ.")

We know that the water was physical liquid, for the Israelites and their flocks and herds all had to have such, so the rock was doubtless the rock called Jacob's Pillow stone, which Jacob had anointed at Bethel after his famous visionary dream of the ladder reaching to heaven. God, (in form as pre-incarnate Christ), had stood upon that rock at Horeb (Mount Sinai) when it was struck, to identify Himself symbolically with this physical rock and the action of that rock being struck at that time. That occasion was prophetic for it had symbolised Christ's being struck and Crucified at His First Advent.

On the second occasion when water was needed from this rock, at Kadesh, many miles away from Horeb, Moses had been told simply to speak to this same rock, at which time water would flow from it again. That occasion was intended prophetically to symbolise Christ's Second Advent, wherein Christ is to come as King, and so the rock with which He was identifying Himself was not again to be struck for if struck at that point, then the action would prophetically indicate a second Crucifixion. Christ was only to die once for our Sin. He was not to be symbolised as being such a Sacrifice on that second occasion at Kadesh, as had happened on the first, at Horeb (Sinai), for at Sinai, the Law had been given, and the breaking of that Law is called Sin, which would require a sacrificial covering for such Sin. Kadesh, on the other hand, lay at the border to The Promised Land. When Moses struck the rock a second time, before the whole people of Israel, he broke the prophetic intent of the ceremony, and that was the great Sin for which The Almighty had to prevent him from entering into The Promised Land as to allow Moses in with such a mistaken symbolism would directly counter the whole prophetic intent of the matter at both occasions.

15. And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,
16. Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
17. 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.

Here, The Companion Bible notes "God=Elohim. God, the Creator of men and the spirits of men (Gen. 2:7), Who giveth the spirit to man, and takes it to Himself again (Ecc. 12. 7), and Who giveth all the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 14. 12)."

18. 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;
19. And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.
20. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
21. 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.
22. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation:
23. And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

We are out of time for today, so we shall pick up this matter in the next Study.

29 August, 1999

TRANSFERRED AUTHORITY - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our regular sequence of on-going Bible Studies, starting a number of years ago with The Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Genesis 12 has followed his progeny down to the Tribes of Israel who are presently on the border of the Promised Land. Having passed out of Egyptian bondage through The Exodus, the first generation of Israelites, although they had experienced the commitments of Sinai, and the lessons of The Tabernacle, had stumbled in their approach to this borderland of Canaan. It has been left to the present generation, children of those who failed forty years before to make good God's Word regarding His intent to give them the Promised Land as their inheritance, to claim it now, with energetic steps. This was the intent, and it was to be done under a new leader, and led by the directives of The Almighty Whose covenant it was to fulfil the matter.

In our last study we saw how The LORD had told Moses that, because he had failed to carry out the words of God exactly at Kadesh in that, instead of only speaking to the rock which was to yield flowing water for the multitudes of Israel, he had struck it in the same manner that he had been told to do at Mount Sinai, he had sinned in a manner which prevented God allowing him to lead Israel into The Promised Land. We had simply read from Numbers 28:15 but we had reserved comments on that portion of God's word for today's Study.

Today, we will examine that latter portion of Numbers 28, wherein another leader is ordered to be appointed over Israel. Perhaps we just ought to read over the passage again to get the picture it presents beginning at verse 15:

15. And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,
16. Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
17. 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.
18. 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;
19. And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.
20. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
21. 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.
22. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation:
23. And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

As we find in verse 18, the new leader of Israel, in succession to Moses himself is to be the choice of God, the man called Joshua. Who was this man named Joshua? Perhaps we might diverge for a few moments to consider some other sources. Nelson's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts, in the section called "People of the Bible", and at the item "Joshua", explains of the name "Joshua" that the same name can also be found in the forms "Jehoshua" and "Jeshua", a name which, it goes on to explain, means "Jehovah is salvation". It seems that there were several men in the Bible who bore this name besides this successor to Moses. Others who were called by that name were "A native of Beth-shem in the days of Eli, and also one who was the Governor of Jerusalem under Josiah. The High Priest at the rebuilding of the temple also bore the same name. However the most prominent is of course, this leader who succeeded Moses. It was he who was the general who led the conquest of the Promised Land. Moses changed his name from Hoshea meaning "Jehovah is help", to Joshua. Oshea is another form of Hoshea. Joshua and Jehoshua are simply forms of the same name. He is also called Jeshua in Nehemiah.

The New Bible Dictionary, item "Joshua" explains that this most prominent leader to hold the name was Joshua ben Nun, grandson of Elishama chief of Ephraim. He was called by his family Hoshea, 'salvation', and it is transliterated Oshea in Numbers 13 when listed among the spies who were sent to spy out the Promised Land forty years before. The name recurs in the tribe of Ephraim in later times. The Greek "Iesous" reflects the Aramaic contraction "Yesu."

At the Exodus Joshua was a young man (Exodus 23:11). Moses chose him as personal assistant, and gave him command of a detachment from the as yet unorganized tribes to repel the raiding Amalekites in Exodus 17. As the Ephraimite representative on the reconnaissance from Kadesh (Numbers 13 and 14), he supported Caleb's recommendation to go ahead with the invasion. Caleb, the senior and leading figure, is sometimes mentioned alone in this connection; but "it is unlikely that there was a tradition of the reconnaissance excluding Joshua, or that any later historian denied, or did not know, that he too escaped the curse on the unbelieving people."

"While Moses was alone before God at Sinai, Joshua kept watch; in the Tent of Meeting he also learnt to wait on the Lord; and in the years following something of Moses' patience and meekness was doubtless added to his valour. In the Plains of Jordan he was formally consecrated as Moses' successor to the military leadership, co-ordinate with Eleazar's priesthood. He was then probably about seventy years old; his senior, Caleb, was a remarkably vigorous eighty-five when he began to occupy the Judaean Hills."

What of Moses' view of that Promised Land? Keil and Delitzsch take some space to discuss the location of the "mountains of Abarim" and of Nebo, which is sometimes described as "one of the mountains of Abarim" and at other times as "the top of Pisgah." They dismiss "Jebel Attarus" as that location stating that according to Eusebius, the position is to be found "opposite Jericho." The position was evidently one such that the landscape was visible for many miles in various directions. They mention that, according to one authority, even from the city of Heshbon the prospect was of 30 miles in every direction. We must remember, if we call such an observation into question, that the Dead Sea Rift Valley encloses, at the Dead Sea, the lowest points of dry land on the planet, and thus the eye of an observer standing atop the heights at its edge might well scan to such distances.

Moving to their comments on today's verses, we read under the heading "Consecration of Joshua as the Successor of Moses" these words: "The announcement thus made to Moses led him to entreat the Lord to appoint a leader of His people, that the congregation might not be like a flock without a shepherd. As 'God of the spirits of all flesh,' i.e. as the giver of life and breath to all creatures..., he asks Jehovah to appoint a man over the congregation, who should go out and in before them, and should lead them out and in, i.e. preside over and direct them in all their affairs." Examining the Hebrew words which may simply translate as "go out" and "go in", being a description of the conduct of men in every-day life, they move on to examine the Hebrew term which carries the further force of signifying "the superintendence of the affairs of the nation", and which "is founded upon the figure of a shepherd."

Following this, we read "The Lord then appointed Joshua to this office as a man 'who had spirit.'" They explain that this does not simply mean "insight and wisdom, but the higher power inspired by God into the soul, which quickens the moral and religious life, and determines its development; in this case, therefore, it was the spiritual endowment requisite for the office he was called to fill. Moses was to consecrate him for entering upon this office by the laying on of hands, or, as is more fully explained in vers. 19 and 20, he was to set him before Eleazar the high priest and the congregation, to command... him, i.e. instruct him with regard to his office before their eyes, and to lay of his eminence... upon him, i.e. to transfer a portion of his own dignity and majesty to him by the imposition of hands, that the whole congregation might hearken to him, or trust to his guidance... . The eminence and authority of Moses were not to be entirely transferred to Joshua, for they were bound up with his own person alone (cf. chap. xii. 6-8), but only so much of it as he needed for the discharge of the duties of his office. Joshua was to be neither the lawgiver nor the absolute governor of Israel, but to be placed under the judgment of the Urim, with which Eleazar was entrusted, so far as the supreme decision of the affairs of Israel was concerned. This is the meaning of ver. 21: 'Eleazar shall ask to him (for him) the judgment of the Urim before Jehovah.' Urim is an abbreviation for Urim and Thummim (Ex. xxviii. 30), and denotes the means with which the high priest was entrusted of ascertaining the divine will and counsel in all the important business of the congregation."

Keil and Delitzsch continue their comments, explaining the term "After his mouth" in the words "(i.e. according to the decision of the high priest, by virtue of the right of Urim and Thummim entrusted to him), Joshua and the whole congregation were to go out and in, i.e. to regulate their conduct and decide upon their undertakings." They explain "All the congregation," in distinction from "all the children of Israel," denotes the whole body of heads of the people, or the college of elders, which represented the congregation and administered its affairs." Verses 22 and 23 indicate "Execution of the divine command."

That brings us to the end of our present chapter as seen through the comments of Keil and Delitzsch, and the end of today's Study.

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