Num. 26:1-27:11; 36:1-14
Thirty-eight years had passed since the rebellion of the ten spies had prevented the Israelites from entering the Promised Land. God was ready for them to take the land. Since there had been many shifts in population of the various tribes during that time, God ordered another census of men over twenty years of age to be taken. Those numbers would be used to allocate the portions of land for each tribe. The land belongs to God. Man only uses it temporarily.
Populations of some tribes during the wilderness wandering had increased while others had decreased. All men over twenty years in the twelve tribes totaled 601,730 compared to 603,550 previously. Since they were to be supported by the other tribes and to receive no inheritance, the Levites were counted separately.
Zelophehad’s daughters questioned Moses and Eleazar about the fairness of being excluded from any inheritance. He had died without leaving any sons to claim a part of the land. Upon hearing their case from Moses, the Lord made provisions for the lineage of a man who had no sons.
There were objections by some of the chief fathers to the plan that was devised by God. It would allow Zelophehad’s daughters to receive their father’s inheritance and if they married into another tribe, the land would go with them into that tribe. Moses amended the plan to state that they could only marry men within their own tribe.