What does it say?
The Levites are God’s servants and receive no inheritance, as do the other tribes (Num 35). Instead, they receive 48 cities scattered among the tribes, six of which are designated as cities of refuge. Remembering the culture of the times and the fact that there is no police force as we know in modern times, these cities of refuge were a place where one that had committed manslaughter could flee to prevent being killed by a family member seeking revenge. The inhabitants of the city would then examine the case to determine if it is really manslaughter or murder. The testimony of multiple witnesses was required and they were to follow the criteria of whether the accused used a weapon of deadly force, displayed premeditation or had motive.
This final chapter of Numbers (Num 36) continues to add detail to the special situation of the daughters of Zelophehad. Moses determined previously that without a male heir, an inheritance passes to the daughters or closest family members. Here the issue is what to do if one of the daughters of Zelophehad were to marry outside her tribe. In such a case the inheritance passes to the daughter only if she marries within her tribe.
What does it mean?
In the case of the levitical cities of refuge, there is no parallel in our modern culture. However, closely examining the chapter reveals many of the same legal principles that many contemporary societies are built upon to this day. We continue to look for the spirit of the Old Testament law and its possible life applications.
Addressing once again the case of the daughters of Zelophehad gives us insight into the process of applying the truth and spirit of the law to specific life situations. Many things that are true are not in the Bible. Two plus two is four; the Internet and modern medicine for example. God’s word is truth (John 17:17), but not all things that are true are necessarily in the Bible. There are, however, principles and truth that can be applied in some way to virtually any circumstance and situation of life. This is the importance of learning the Bible.
How will I respond?
Speaking of applying truth to real life, as I conclude this reading of Numbers, what is the most important lesson that I have learned in this book? Do I have a journal to look back at what I have learned and experienced in this reading? What is the most important action step I have taken as the result of what I have read in Numbers?