Tribal Intermarriage and the Laws of Inheritance

Jul 7, 2015

וַיִּקְרְבוּ רָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת לְמִשְׁפַּחַת בְּנֵי־גִלְעָד בֶּן־מָכִיר בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁה מִמִּשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי יוֹסֵף וַיְדַבְּרוּ לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂאִים רָאשֵׁי אָבוֹת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

The family heads in the clan of the descendants of Gilad son of Machir son of Menashe, one of the Yosefite clans, came forward and appealed to Moshe and the chieftains, family heads of the Israelites.

Numbers 36:1

אֵלֶּה הַמִּצְוׂת וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב עַל יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ׃

These are the commandments and regulations that Hashem enjoined upon the Israelites, through Moshe, on the steppes of Moab, at the Yarden near Yericho.

Numbers 36:13

The book of Numbers closes with a return to the daughters of Zelophehad, who, in their zeal and love for the Land of Israel, insisted on being granted an inheritance among the members of their tribe in place of their father, who died without sons. Now, their cousins approach Moses with a complaint: if the daughters marry men from other tribes, the land which they inherited will be annexed to their husbands’ tribes and the tribe of Manasseh will become diminished in property!


Moses acknowledged the justice of their complaint and comes up with a solution. A woman who inherits property should choose her spouse from among the members of her own tribe. The daughters of Zelophehad accept this ruling and marry the sons of their father’s brothers.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think this ruling is made now and was not part of the original discussion when the daughters were granted their share?

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