Tag Archives: Law

Daughter of Zelophehad and the Illusion of the Bible Changing

I had a conversation with someone awhile back and we were discussing homosexuality. My position was that the Bible never changes and this person disagreed. They used the daughters of Zelophehad as an example of the law being changed by Moses once established so the law is not set into stone or unchangeable.

Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.” Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. And it shall be for the people of Israel a statute and rule, as the LORD commanded Moses.'”
(Num 27:1-11)

In chapter 26, Moses has taken a census of the people who were to enter into the promised land. The census was to be used to determine how to split of the land between the various tribes equally, based on the number of men in those tribes. Since Zelophehad had no sons, according to the rules of the census, that family would not have inherited any of the promised land. There are no Levitcal laws being addressed her, so that part of their argument is incorrect.

Since the rules for inheritance are being further defined here, I can see why they claimed that the Bible’s stance, which would be God’s stance, changes based on various conditions. The daughters were not married, so they would have had no way to provide for themselves once they entered into the Promised Land. That was never the intent of the inheritance rules and Levitcal law has provisions for taking care of unmarried women, usually widows, but would also apply in this case so there is no conflict with the law. In the case of no sons, the daughters had claim to their father’s portion. If the girls would have married, their portion of land would have basically transferred to their husband. If the women would have died without an heir, the male member’s of her family would have the right to purchase and redeem the land and keep it in the family. You see this in practice in Esther.

I still don’t think the Bible changes, at least not based on this example.

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Why the Law?

Exo 19:3-25 while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: (4) You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (5) Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; (6) and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

If you obey my voice and keep my covenant. How do you hear the voice of God?

(7) So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. (8) All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. (9) And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.” When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, (10) the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments (11) and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (12) And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. (13) No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” (14) So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. (15) And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” (16) On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.

Here God warns the people. Consecrate yourselves; make yourself clean. On the third day, do not touch the mountain for you will be killed, until the loud trumpet blast. Then, all of Israel could go up the mountain and be in the presence of God.

(17) Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. (18) Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.

God descends onto the mountain.

(19) And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.

Now the people can go up and be with God.

 (20) The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. (21) And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. (22) Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.”

God tells Moses, remind the people that they need be calm when coming into My presence so no one will be physically injured during the process.

(23) And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.'”

That is not what God had told Moses, so did Moses just get it wrong?

(24) And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” (25) So Moses went down to the people and told them.

God seems upset here. He invites the people up and it appears that a miscommunication occurred, but now God says that neither the priests nor the people can come up to the mountain and be in the presence of God. Doesn’t really make sense just reading it. Why would God deny His people over a misunderstanding.

Exo 20:1-22 And God spoke all these words, saying, (2) “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (3) “You shall have no other gods before me. (4) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (5) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, (6) but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (7) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (8) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (9) Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, (10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (12) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (13) “You shall not murder. (14) “You shall not commit adultery. (15) “You shall not steal. (16) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (17) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The 10 commandments are first spoken to the people, not written down on the tablets.

(18) Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off

Here is the trumpet blast from the last chapter. God spoke His commandments to all of the people as part of his covenant. Remember above, obey my voice and keep my commandment. The only way to hear God is to draw close to Him and be near Him.

(19) and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”

The people rejected being in God’s presence. Tell us what to do Moses. If God speaks to us, we die. They heard the voice and didn’t die, so what dies in the presence of God? Sin.  Remember the statue of Dagon next to the Ark.  It bowed down and was broken.

(20) Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (21) The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

Moses tries to reassure the people before he goes up to talk to God. Moses and the people didn’t misunderstand what God had said. They chose not to enter into the presence of God.

(22) And the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven.

And thus begins the rest of the requirements that Israel was given in order to try and keep the covenant, apart from the presence of God.

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