So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the LORD commanded Moses. Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. Numbers 36:10-11

This is an encouraging note to conclude the book of Numbers. This new generation was prepared to do as the Lord commanded, even when it required a sacrifice on their part.

As Israelites, God had commanded them not to marry anyone from the seven Canaanites nations who occupied the land before their arrival (Exodus 34:15, Deuteronomy 7:3-4). This further prohibition was only to marry within their tribe. This wasn’t binding on everyone, but only on daughters with an inheritance. It limited their choice to one-twelfth of Israel. However, this may not have been as restrictive as it appears. Generally speaking, people didn’t travel far at the time, so young women may not have been in the habit of meeting young men from other tribes.

Nevertheless, these girls made a decision, that even if the opportunity presented itself, they would not marry outside their tribe, and thus keep their land in their family.

These days we don’t have these kinds of issues, yet the passage teaches us to be wise and thoughtful about those we spend time with. Relationships can be difficult between people who have an alternative belief system and value different things. We may feel we aren’t influenced by others’ beliefs, yet if the arrangement becomes a marriage and children are involved, then our decisions will have ongoing repercussions.

There are other situations where we would be wise to voluntarily restrict our choices, such as the movies we watch, the books we read, and the internet sites we visit.

May it be said of us, that we honoured the Lord in the choices we made.


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