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Num 27:1 Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher the son of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah-

The fact God allows His children to live His truth on different levels needs to be grasped firmly by us, lest we become discouraged that others live on an apparently lower level than we do in some aspects of life. Being surrounded by ‘lower levels’ ought to inspire us to the higher levels. Zelophehad had only daughters; usually, in his context, a man would have taken concubines in order to produce sons. The record of his only having daughters is presented in the context of genealogies which show that many Israelite men had more than one wife (1 Chron. 7:15). But Zelophehad wasn’t dragged down by this; God inspired him to maintain the higher level which he had chosen to live by. He didn't use the principle of Jephthah's vow. And his daughters likewise refused to be limited by their status as females, but obtained an inheritance amongst their brethren (Num. 27:1-7).

Num 27:2 They stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation at the door of the Tent of Meeting, saying-

Examples of spiritual ambition are inspirational; just as soldiers inspire each other by their acts of bravery. Achsah followed her father Caleb’s spiritual ambition in specifically asking for an inheritance in the Kingdom (Josh. 14:12; 15:18); and this in turn inspired the daughters of Zelophehad to ask for an inheritance soon afterwards (Josh. 17:4). And so it ought to be in any healthy congregation of believers. Ponder the parallel between Is. 51:1 and 7: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord… hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness”. To know God’s righteousness is to seek / follow it; of itself, it inspires us to ambitiously seeking to attain it.

 


Num 27:3 Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against Yahweh in the company of Korah; but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons.
Num 27:4 Why should the name of our father be taken away from among his family, because he had no son? Give to us a possession among the brothers of our father-
Considering the low status of women at that time, we see here a commendable spirit of initiative and spiritual ambition for these women to dare ask a male dominated society to change their rules to allow them to have an inheritance. We see too how God and Moses weren’t at all anti-women, and responded positively. Note how the women were allowed to come directly to the decision makers, without needing to appoint a male representative for their case, as was common in surrounding cultures. The value of the human person is consistently seen throughout the Pentateuch. They asked about this matter before the land had been possessed, reflecting their strength of faith that God would fulfil His promise of giving His people the Kingdom; they imagined what it would be like there, and acted accordingly even before they got there, as if the land was already theirs in possession- just as we should.


Num 27:5 Moses brought their cause before Yahweh.
Num 27:6 Yahweh spoke to Moses saying,
Num 27:7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak right. You shall surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers; and you shall cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them-
 
The fact God allows His children to live His truth on different levels needs to be grasped firmly by us, lest we become discouraged that others live on an apparently lower level than we do in some aspects of life. Being surrounded by ‘lower levels’ ought to inspire us to the higher levels. Zelophehad had only daughters; usually, in his context, a man would have taken concubines in order to produce sons. The record of his only having daughters is presented in the context of genealogies which show that many Israelite men had more than one wife (1 Chron. 7:15). But Zelophehad wasn’t dragged down by this; God inspired him to maintain the higher level which he had chosen to live by. He didn't use the principle of Jephthah's vow. And his daughters likewise refused to be limited by their status as females, but obtained an inheritance amongst their brethren (Num. 27:1-7).


Num 27:8 You shall speak to the children of Israel saying, ‘If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter.
Num 27:9 If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers.
Num 27:10 If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers.
Num 27:11 If his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his kinsman who is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it; and it shall be to the children of Israel a statute and ordinance, as Yahweh commanded Moses’-
One wonders why this statute had not been included within the Law of Moses. Perhaps God had reserved it in potential, waiting the initiative of these women?



Num 27:12 Yahweh said to Moses, Go up into this mountain of Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel-
In Jn. 3:3,5, the Lord speaks of how a man must be born again in order to see and enter the Kingdom. He parallels seeing the Kingdom with entering it. Moses saw the land of the Kingdom of God, but couldn’t enter it. This is surely behind the Lord’s words here. Given the many allusions to Moses in John’s Gospel, I submit that the Lord was surely saying something about Moses’ seeing of the land before he died (Num. 27:12). It’s as if He felt that Moses’ seeing the land meant that he would ultimately enter it. To be enabled to see the land, with ‘born again’ special eyesight, was therefore a guarantee that Moses would enter the Kingdom. And Is. 33:17 speaks of beholding the King in his beauty and seeing “the land that is very far off” [an obvious allusion to Moses seeing the land] as a picture of ultimate salvation.



Num 27:13 When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered-
Moses seeing the promised land but being unable to enter it himself points to how the Law of Moses gave a view of salvation, but couldn’t bring people into it.


Num 27:14 because you rebelled against My word in the wilderness of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify Me at the waters before their eyes. (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin).
Num 27:15 Moses spoke to Yahweh, saying,
Num 27:16 Let Yahweh, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation-
Moses did not get bitter at his rejection, nor disinterested in Israel's future because he would not be with them in the land. He asked God to provide a replacement for him. We see here Moses’ selflessness, his concern was always for the wellbeing of God’s people rather than his own status. He didn’t ask for one of his own family members to take over the leadership; for he realized that spiritual leadership must be based upon spiritual qualification, not family connection.


 


Num 27:17 who may go out before them, and who may come in before them, and who may lead them out, and who may bring them in; that the congregation of Yahweh be not as sheep which have no shepherd-
Quoted by Jesus about the crowds of Israelites in the first century (Mt. 9:36). He clearly saw those confused and misguided people, with all their wrong beliefs and attitudes, as still the congregation of God. We also learn from what Moses says and the Lord’s approval of it that God’s people need shepherds. There is an undoubted teaching regarding the need for leadership / shepherding throughout the Bible. When God’s people are leaderless, they go astray.

 

Moses sought for a prophet / successor like unto him, who would lead out and bring in the sheep of Israel (Num. 27:17,21). The descriptions of the good shepherd not losing any sheep (Jn. 10:28; 17:12) perhaps allude to the well known Jewish stories about Moses being such a good shepherd that he never lost a sheep. L. Ginzberg, Legends Of The Jews has a section on ‘Moses as faithful shepherd’ (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1910) Vol. 2 pp. 300-316).

Moses was a shepherd for 40 years, and then for 40 years he put this into practice by leading Israel as God's shepherd for 40 years in the same wilderness (Num. 27:17;  Ps. 80:1; Is. 63:11). As Moses was willing to sacrifice his eternal life for the salvation of the sheep of Israel (Ex. 32:30-32), so Christ gave his life for us. John's Gospel normally shows the supremacy of Christ over Moses. In this connection of them both being shepherds willing to die for the flock, Moses is not framed as being inferior to Christ- in that in his desire to die for Israel, he truly reached the fullness of the spirit of Christ. "The good shepherd" was a Rabbinical title for Moses; Christ was saying "I am Moses, in his love for your salvation; not better than him, but exactly like him in this". In a sense, Moses' prayer was heard, in that he was excluded from the land for their sakes (Dt. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21; Ps. 106:33); they entered after his death. This was to symbolise how the spirit of his love for Israel was typical of Christ's for us.


Num 27:18 Yahweh said to Moses, Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him-
Because Joshua had the Spirit, Moses was told to lay his hand on him. Yet Dt. 34:9 says that Moses laid his hand on him so that Joshua might receive the Spirit. Here we see the upward spiral of spirituality at work- those who are of the Spirit are made more spiritual.


Num 27:19 and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight.
Num 27:20 You shall put of your honour on him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may obey-
Num. 27:20 LXX says that Moses put or gave of his glory upon Joshua- and this passage is alluded to by the Lord in Jn. 17:22: “The glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them”. Note that the Lord’s prayer of John 17 is full of allusion to Moses. So the disciples, indeed all those for whom the Lord prayed in His prayer, are to see themselves as Joshua. Further, in the same context, the Lord washed the disciples’ feet. This would’ve been understood by the disciples as an allusion to a well known Jewish legend that in Num. 27:15-23, Moses acted as a servant to Joshua by preparing a basin of water and washing Joshua’s feet. And the LXX of Moses’ final charge to Joshua in Dt. 31:7,8 [“fear not, neither be dismayed”] is quoted by the Lord to His disciples in Jn. 14:1,27.


Num 27:21 He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before Yahweh. At his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation-

 


Num 27:22 Moses did as Yahweh commanded him; and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation;
Num 27:23 and he laid his hands on him, and commissioned him, as Yahweh spoke by Moses.