Numbers 27:1-11 – Inheritance for the Daughters of Zelophehad


Numbers 27:1-11


The daughters of the deceased Zelophehad are permitted to gain their father’s inheritance. This event established inheritance rights for women who had no brothers.


The normal rule in Israel, as a patriarchal society, was that inheritance was passed from the father to the sons. But here something new is instituted. What if a man who died with the older generation in the wilderness had only daughters and no sons? Who would inherit? Who would carry on the family name? Moses takes this case before God, and a new edict is given: not only in this particular case, but in general, women without brothers will be able to inherit from their father (the ramifications of the case continue in chapter 36). The move from the old generation to the new in the wilderness gave rise not only to new life in the Promised Land for all, but to new possibilities for women in particular. This case also shows how women were able to petition Moses for relief of legal and economic inequity.