Numbers 36


וַיִּקְרְבוּ רָאשֵׁי הָאָבֹות לְמִשְׁפַּחַת בְּנֵי־גִלְעָד בֶּן־מָכִיר בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁה מִמִּשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי יֹוסֵף וַיְדַבְּרוּ לִפְנֵי   36:1

מֹשֶׁה וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂאִים רָאשֵׁי אָבֹות לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

Numb. 36:1  And the heads of the fathers’ households belonging to the families of the children of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh from the families of the children of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and before the princes, the heads of the fathers’ households belonging to the children of Israel,

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶת־אֲדֹנִי צִוָּה יְהוָה לָתֵת אֶת־הָאָרֶץ בְּנַחֲלָה בְּגֹורָל לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאדֹנִי צֻוָּה בַיהוָה לָתֵת   36:2

אֶת־נַחֲלַת צְלָפְחָד אָחִינוּ לִבְנֹתָיו

Numb. 36:2  and they said, “My lord, the Lord commanded to assign the land as an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad, our brother, to his daughters.”

וְהָיוּ לְאֶחָד מִבְּנֵי שִׁבְטֵי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל לְנָשִׁים וְנִגְרְעָה נַחֲלָתָן מִנַּחֲלַת אֲבֹתֵינוּ וְנֹוסַף עַל נַחֲלַת   36:3

הַמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר תִּהְיֶינָה לָהֶם וּמִגֹּרַל נַחֲלָתֵנוּ יִגָּרֵעַ

Numb. 36:3  “But they could become wives to another from the sons of the tribes of the children of Israel; then their inheritance would be withdrawn from the inheritance of our fathers, and added onto the inheritance of the tribe to which they will be established, so it will be withdrawn from the lot of our inheritance.”

The pronoun it in the last phrase of this verse, being masculine, can refer only to the lot.  So the meaning is that the lot of the sisters will be taken away from the lot of their tribe, the children of Gilead.

וְאִם־יִהְיֶה הַיֹּבֵל לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנֹוסְפָה נַחֲלָתָן עַל נַחֲלַת הַמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר תִּהְיֶינָה לָהֶם וּמִנַּחֲלַת מַטֵּה   36:4

אֲבֹתֵינוּ יִגָּרַע נַחֲלָתָן

Numb. 36:4  “And when the jubilee for the children of Israel will arise, then their inheritance will be added onto the inheritance of the tribe to which they will have become established, and their inheritance will be withdrawn from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.”

The scribe may have made an error in this verse, which relates back to the previous verse.  The same Hebrew verb for will be withdrawn appears in both verses, and I remarked that the subject of the verb could have been only the lot.  But in this verse the subject is identified, and it is the inheritance, a feminine noun.  If I was right about the occurrence of the verb in v. 36:3, then the repetition of the verb here is an error, and should have had a feminine form.

וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־פִּי יְהוָה לֵאמֹר כֵּן מַטֵּה בְנֵי־יֹוסֵף דֹּבְרִים   36:5

Numb. 36:5  Then Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the Lord saying, “Rightly are the tribe of the children of Joseph speaking.”

In this verse, in the words that Moses commands, the numbers of the subject and verb do not agree.  The subject, tribe, is singular, while the verb participle, are speaking, is plural.  Probably the word tribe means the representatives of the tribe, not the tribe as an entity.  Thus while the Hebrew grammar is not exact, it may clarify what was probably intended by the scribe.

But there’s another significant point here that begs to be illuminated.  What vss. 36:3 and 36:4 are saying is that a woman’s property becomes her husband’s when she marries him.  Moreover, it remains his in the jubilee year.  It doesn’t revert to his wife, its former owner.  This is an exception to the ordinances of the Jubilee, applying only to women.  Even slaves were given more consideration than that.  Can this be God’s perception of women?  Or does this illuminate the scribe’s or Moses’ interpretation as a reflection of the culture of the time?  I dare not hazard a guess.

זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה יְהוָה לִבְנֹות צְלָפְחָד לֵאמֹר לַטֹּוב בְּעֵינֵיהֶם תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים אַךְ לְמִשְׁפַּחַת   36:6

מַטֵּה אֲבִיהֶם תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים

Numb. 36:6  “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded about the daughters of Zelophehad saying, ‘Let them be for wives to the best in their eyes; only let them be for wives to the families of the tribe of their fathers.’”

וְלֹא־תִסֹּב נַחֲלָה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמַּטֶּה אֶל־מַטֶּה כִּי אִישׁ בְּנַחֲלַת מַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו יִדְבְּקוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   36:7

Numb. 36:7  “Thus shall no inheritance be transformed for the children of Israel from tribe to tribe, but each of the children of Israel shall cleave to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.”

וְכָל־בַּת יֹרֶשֶׁת נַחֲלָה מִמַּטֹּות בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְאֶחָד מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת מַטֵּה אָבִיהָ תִּהְיֶה לְאִשָּׁה לְמַעַן   36:8

יִירְשׁוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ נַחֲלַת אֲבֹתָיו

Numb. 36:8  “Then every daughter possessing an inheritance from the tribes of the children of Israel can be for a wife to one of the families of the tribe of her father, in order that the children of Israel may possess, each, the inheritance of his fathers.”                   [Return to Deut. 17:12]

וְלֹא־תִסֹּב נַחֲלָה מִמַּטֶּה לְמַטֶּה אַחֵר כִּי־אִישׁ בְּנַחֲלָתֹו יִדְבְּקוּ מַטֹּות בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   36:9

Numb. 36:9  “So you shall not remove an inheritance from a tribe to another tribe, for the tribes of the children of Israel shall cleave, each to his inheritance.”

כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה כֵּן עָשׂוּ בְּנֹות צְלָפְחָד   36:10

Numb. 36:10   As the Lord commanded Moses, so the daughters of Zelophehad did.

וַתִּהְיֶינָה מַחְלָה תִרְצָה וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְנֹעָה בְּנֹות צְלָפְחָד לִבְנֵי דֹדֵיהֶן לְנָשִׁים   36:11

Numb. 36:11   And Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were wives to sons of their uncles.

מִמִּשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי־מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן־יֹוסֵף הָיוּ לְנָשִׁים וַתְּהִי נַחֲלָתָן עַל־מַטֵּה מִשְׁפַּחַת אֲבִיהֶן   36:12

Numb. 36:12   They became wives of the families of the children of Menassah son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained with the tribe of the family of their father.

אֵלֶּה הַמִּצְוֹת וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעַרְבֹת מֹואָב עַל יַרְדֵּן   36:13


Numb. 36:13   These are the commandments and the ordinances that the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses to the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

Torah Commandments in this Chapter

388. You shall not remove an inheritance from one tribe to another tribe.    V. 36:9


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