Numbers 36 “A Sticky-Wicket Problem or Not?
Zelophehad had been a devoted father, but he had no sons, only daughters. We know he was faithful because the daughters eulogized him in chapter twenty-seven; “Our father died in the wilderness, although he was not part of the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah but died for his own sin, and he had no sons.” [Num 27:1-11] Because the tribal lineage passed through the male line, they learned that their father’s name would be lost from among his family. So they asked Moses to rule regarding Zelophehad’s inheritance. In chapter thirty-six we find that the heads of their tribe came to Moses with a “sticky-wicket” problem of marriage. If these daughters married outside their tribe, then the inheritance would pass to the new husband and the new tribe which also included husband’s land.
Moses concurred with the men that these girls should only marry in their tribe so that there would not be a problem with the land inheritance in the year of the Jubilee. The girls agreed, and they went on to marry men of their tribe.
God placed this long tale here and in three chapters of Numbers and Joshua to show how God honors our appeal process as well as our obedience, decisions, and choices.