Inheritance For Women


Numbers 36


Luke lists Jesus’ genealogy through Mary, albeit he names Joseph rather than Mary in Luke 3:23. It would be enough to say that “son” could just as easily mean “son-in-law,” and that's all we would need to know. But Numbers 36 gives us more insight.


By way of background, Numbers 26 might look like an ordinary re-census of the people. But there was much more at stake than knowing that the population of Israel declined by 1,820 over 40 years. Israel was already subdivided by tribe. Beginning in Numbers 26, Israel gets further sub-sub-divided into family (or clan in some versions). God would use Numbers 26 as a means to allocate the land He was about to grant to them. And the rule was that the land would pass from generation to generation through the male children. (The rule does not appear in scripture. But Numbers 27 makes no sense otherwise.)


Numbers 27 introduces us to Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah – the five daughters of Zelophehad. Zelophehad had died prior to the Kadesh Barnea rebellion, and left no son. (Probably) Mahlah appealed to Moses that the way the rule was written, Zelophehad would become defunct as a family. (Numbers 26:33) Under such circumstances, daughters should be eligible to inherit land.


And God agreed.


Numbers 27:8-11 record the new law, that if a man left no sons, the daughters could inherit. In Numbers 36, the tribe of Manasseh reported a loophole, and God closed it. The loophole was about the possibility that a daughter could gain an inheritance of land, that she would marry outside the tribe, and then the land would transfer from tribe to tribe over time. God closed the loophole in Numbers 36:8 by adding that the daughter had to marry within the tribe – and not only within the tribe, but also within the family within the tribe.


Assuming that Mary had no brothers (possible from John 19:26-27), Mary became the heir to this particular line according to the terms of numbers 36, and because she married within the tribe (Judah) and within the family (David), this inheritance got transferred to Joseph when they got married.


[There are some that believe that due to the curse pronounced in Jeremiah 22:28-30, Mary's inheritance was required for Christ to be the rightful King. But that's a different topic for a different day.]


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