Family Heirlooms (Numbers 36)

You know that scene in every other teen show or movie where the main character is wearing something very special, like her grandmother’s necklace, but then she goes to a party and loses it?

I hate that scene. It always gives me undue stress and it just makes me mad. If it was so special to you, why weren’t you careful? Half of the time, she didn’t even need to wear the thing out in the first place!

These scenes work because we all know we’re supposed to take care of precious things, especially old precious things. Even if the old precious thing is a plot of land.

Remember Zelophehad’s daughters from chapter 27? It looked like they would lose their father’s land just because they were girls with no brothers, but they stood up to the patriarchy and won their inheritance.

But there’s always a catch.

And in this chapter, we find it. If the girls married outside of their tribe, their land would pass out of their tribe and to their husbands’ tribe, because a married woman’s inheritance became her husband’s property. In order to keep the land where it rightfully belonged, any young woman with inherited land needed to marry within her tribe.

We already know the daughters of Zelophehad are firecrackers. And now they’re being told who they can and can’t marry! Will they argue? Stand up to the Man again?

No. They agreed. And they kept their land in their tribe.

The end.

Valuable Possessions

Well, not really.

Deconstruction of potential sexism in the Bible times aside, the fact that the daughters of Zelophehad agreed to the terms given shows that there was more than just an old plot of land at stake.

Yes, land meant money and possessions and a safety net, but land also meant history and heritage. A man’s or a woman’s land was a statement about where they came from. It was a reminder of who they were and whose they were.

It was precious.

Landed Gentry?

I don’t own any land. (Surprise) I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t either. But that doesn’t mean that the story of Zelophehad’s daughters is little more than an interesting peek into the past. They’re an example to us.

Because we all have been given something precious by our Father, something valuable that we are not allowed to give away – our faith.

We talk about “Christian culture” and we laugh at memes about how church people act, because they’re rooted in something like truth. Our faith is supposed to shape everything about us: how we treat our bodies, how we talk to others, what we spend our time on, and how we see the world.

But sometimes, gradually, we get more and more intimate with attitudes and values and world views that are outside of our tribe. And suddenly our faith is something like a burden. It holds us back. It restricts our freedom. And even though it’s been passed down through the ages, straight from the God who knit us together in the womb, we wish we could discard it.

Why didn’t Zelophehad’s daughters shirk tradition and marry whomever they wanted? Because something was more important to them than so-called “freedom”.

Is our heritage as sons and daughters of the King of the universe more or less important than our freedom to taste and try whatever the world has to offer? Like Zelophehad’s daughters, we can’t have both.

We have to decide if our tribe is of the world or of God.

“I want to open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing.”

Our inheritance is worth so much more than an old ring or even a plot of land.

Our inheritance is a Friend who will never leave us or forsake us. Our inheritance is hope and peace even when the world is falling apart around us. Our inheritance is strength when we face the darkest valleys and steepest mountains. Our inheritance is a Love so strong it will take our breath away. Our inheritance is eternal life.

Our inheritance is priceless. So why is it so easy for us to dump it somewhere and take off without it? Why is it so easy for us to care so much more about material things, pop culture, and stuff that has nothing to do with God over our spiritual lives?

Why is it so easy to lose our most valuable possession?

Maybe we don’t realize its value. Maybe we don’t realize just how much joy comes from a relationship with the only God. Maybe we haven’t thought about just how powerful God is, and just how safe we are in His arms. Maybe we haven’t meditated on the blessings that are guaranteed us, just because we belong to Him.

Well, it’s time to start. Our faith is precious. Let’s treat it that way.


What do you think? Is your faith your most valuable possession? Comment below and share this with someone.


One thought on “Family Heirlooms (Numbers 36)

  1. Yes. Our faith is tremendously valuable. It is the pearl of great price! “The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl.” Matthew 13:45-46


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