Traditional Jewish text - Numbers 27:1-11 (B'not Zelophehad)
1 The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. They approached 2 the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, 3 "Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah's followers, who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. 4 Why should our father's name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father's relatives."
5 So Moses brought their case before the LORD 6 and the LORD said to him, 7 "What Zelophehad's daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father's relatives and turn their father's inheritance over to them.
8 "Say to the Israelites, 'If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter. 9 If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father's brothers. 11 If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the LORD commanded Moses.' "
- How are the daughters of Zelophehad identified? Why is this important?
- How do they make their case? On what grounds do they make their argument that they should inherit their father's land?
- How is the law that God dictates to Moses different from the case that the daughters of Zelophehad make?
- What role does the law play in this narrative? Do you think it is significant that God not only makes a determination in this particular case but also dictates a general law about inheritance rights? Why or why not? What do you think is the value of general laws versus rulings limited to a specific situation?
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Traditional Jewish text - Numbers 27:1-11 (B'not Zelophehad)." (Viewed on September 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/numbers-27-1-11-bnot-zelophehad>.