Numbers, chapters 33-36

‘They may marry whomever they wish. However, they should marry someone from a family of the tribe of their father.” […]
The daughters of Zelophehad did just as Jehovah had commanded Moses. […] so that their inheritance would remain in the tribe of their father’s family.
~Numbers 36:6,10,12

When looking up information on Zelophehad, what we know about him mostly comes from the story about what his five daughters did after he passed away (Insight on the Scriptures, vol. II, pp. 1228-1229).

He was a descendant of Manasseh, having died during the forty years in which Israel wandered the desert, and he never had any sons (Nu. 26:29-33; 27:3).

Had he had at least one son, his family line would have most likely blended into the Scriptures along with the names of Jacob’s many other descendants.

Originally, the promised land was to be distributed from fathers to sons.

But when Zelophehad’s daughters asked, “Why should the name of our father be lost from his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers,” Jehovah replied through Moses:

“The daughters of Ze·lo′phe·had are correct. You should by all means give them the possession as an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer their father’s inheritance to them,” (Nu. 27:4-7).

Zelophehad had no way of knowing that after his death, his name would not only remain, but be used as a reference in matters concerning the just distribution of inheritances and as an example of pious obedience and loyalty.

Who knows what personal sacrifices his five daughters had to make in order to obey Jehovah’s new law concerning the marriage and inheritance of brother-less women.

Did they already have boyfriends or their own personal plans for the future?

At least one of them, perhaps Mahlah, had to be old enough to take the initiative and guide the others before the entire assembly (Nu. 27:2).

In any case, by marrying men within their own tribe, they demonstrated a respect toward God that was obviously influenced by their upbringing.

Zelophehad must have been an excellent father. He would have been very proud of his daughters.

We have no way of knowing the extent to which our actions influence the future, so even when we feel irrelevant, it is important to try wholeheartedly to carry out our roles the best we can.




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