And Moses brought their cause before the Lord. — Numbers 27:5
When my youngest sister was about eight years old, she decided that she would like to have a rabbit as a pet. The first thing she did was ask our parents if they would get her a rabbit. They felt that we already had enough animals, and gave her a negative answer. Her response was that she would ask Jesus to help her get a pet rabbit.
Imagine my father’s astonishment the following morning when he discovered that someone had dropped off an entire family of rabbits in the state park where we lived! Jesus had indeed rewarded my sister’s childlike faith with not just one rabbit, but the whole family: a mother, a father, and three darling little half-grown baby rabbits! Her response to this turn of events was that “Jesus sent rabbits because I asked Him to.” Of course, since the Lord had so generously answered my sister’s request, our parents assured us that we would be allowed to keep them.
In today’s account, we read how the daughters of Zelophehad went to Moses with a similar faith: They were not forward or demanding, but confident that Moses would intercede with the Lord on their behalf. Their faith was rewarded when God told Moses that if a man did not have sons, his possessions could pass to his daughters (Numbers 27:8).
This request was made “before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Numbers 27:2). In this way the Lord ensured that this question of inheritance was not limited to one isolated case. For a people who had not been able to own land for generations, this was an important issue that needed resolution.
It is interesting to consider that these sisters asked about the inheritance even before God had delivered the land to the Children of Israel. Their confidence in God’s ability to fulfill His promise to His people was so great that they wanted to make sure the inheritance matter was taken care of even before the allotments were made.
What a lesson in faith this should be to us! From this account we learn that we can claim the promise before we see the final answer. Just as an earthly father will provide for his children’s needs when they ask, our Heavenly Father will honor our faith and provide for our needs as we seek His will for us.
This exchange occurred immediately after the census of the Children of Israel was taken a second time. As Moses and Aaron prepared to cast lots to determine what land was to be occupied by each tribe, it was necessary to have an accurate number of the population so that the amount of land required for each tribe could be determined. This census also served a second purpose: to make sure that all of the older generation had passed away, in fulfillment of the Lord’s judgment of them at Kadesh (Numbers 14:20-23).
By this point in time, Moses was approaching 120 years of age, and he would soon go and be with the Lord. Because of his past disobedience at Meribah, God let him know that he would not enter the Promised Land. Moses’ true devotion to his people was seen in his request that God choose a successor, that the “congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” God’s choice was Joshua, a man who had begun his adult life as a military commander (Exodus 17:8-14).
In the culture of that time, it was very important to maintain the family inheritance from generation to generation, with land and possessions passing from father to son. If there were no sons, a man’s property would pass to his nearest male relative. A daughter was never allowed to inherit property. Instead, she would receive a dowry when she married and went to live with her husband’s family. This dowry served as her inheritance.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. Events on the plain of Moab
B. The preparation for entering Canaan
2. Miscellaneous instructions
a. The law of inheritance for women (27:1-11)
b. The appointment of Moses’ successor (27:12-23)
Is there a need in your life that you would “bring before the Lord?” Ask a trusted friend or family member to help you pray about the matter. Exercise your faith and believe that God will hear your prayer and provide the answer that you need.