Friday, October 11, 2013

Zelophehad's Daughters: Understanding the Legal and Social Context of Numbers 27 and 36

Later today I'm going to do some research on this.  And if anyone has anything to share then feel free.  I want to learn more about the following:

  • How did nahala (inheritance/patrimony) work?  Was it controlled by the Bet Av?  By the Mishpochah?
  • What was the composition of the Bet Av and the Mishpochah?

It looks like an ancient Israelite from one tribe could've married a woman from another tribe provided that she did not stand to inherit tribal property--which might mean that the whole tribal identity really came down to a connection to the tribal allotment.  And that might, in turn, explain how those identities persisted and, on occasion, were lost.


  1. "which might mean that the whole tribal identity really came down to a connection to the tribal allotment"

    So, there was no tribal identity in Egypt?

    1. It's funny because I was on a long drive just now and was thinking about that. How did they maintain tribal identity in Egypt?

    2. Found a book that might prove useful in understanding this topic:

      "Families in Ancient Israel" (Perdue)

    3. And this:

      "Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions" (Roland De Vaux)

    4. Peter, I can't find the verse now. But do you remember, how each male appeared before the priest and was to give his name and tribe in the wilderness? Some believe that this was supernaturally revealed to him.

      A nachalah is more than an inheritance, as we understand the word in our culture. If I inherit a house from my father, I can live in the house, sell the house, let it fall into disrepair or fail to pay the taxes and have it seized. We had friends who inherited a house with the stipulation that it not be sold so family members could use it for vacation, and no family member would ever be without a place to live. This is much more in line with the nachalah. The Holy One owns the land, and that is why it is so wicked that anyone would think it could be given away.

    5. You're not talking about Nehemiah 7:5ff are you?

  2. Also,
    Ezra 2:62 "These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.

    63 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim."

  3. I personally believe that when the Lord returns He will clarify who belongs to what tribe and will even assign converted and adopted Gentiles a tribe. As it is written:
    • Ezekiel 47:21-23 HCSB "You are to divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. (22) You will allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners living among you, who have fathered children among you. You will treat them like native-born Israelites; along with you, they will be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. (23) In whatever tribe the foreigner lives, you will assign his inheritance there." This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.