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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 36

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-13

Numbers 36:8 . Every daughter that possesseth an inheritance, shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father. An heiress was obliged to marry in her own tribe; but other women might marry into any of the tribes, of which we have many examples in the sacred writings. David, and other kings, did not consider this law as binding to them; neither did the priests. Jehoiada, the highpriest, married the king’s sister; and Zachariah was married to Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary.

Numbers 36:11 . Married unto their father’s brother’s sons. Marriage with cousin germans or first cousins, as in this case, is nowhere forbidden. The lawyers and divines who have entertained scruples on this subject have been few in number: it is nowhere forbidden in the scriptures.


When the great branches of the patriarchal families dispersed to populate the earth, they kept very much together in clans, hordes, or tribes. Small civil communities, thus closely connected, tended very much to internal peace and to public safety. The Tartars, the Arabs, and many of the Negroes, partially adhere to it still. Remains of it from the Celtæ nations still exist in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. It appears from the application which the fathers of the families of Gilead made to Moses, that the Israelites were jealous to preserve the purity of their tribes. But empires, conquests, the charms of a metropolis, or the advantages of residing in commercial towns, gradually superseded these habits of early society.

From the partiality of the Israelites to their own tribes, and the jealousy to preserve their paternal estates, people should learn, as far as possible, to marry by prudence and affection. As passion should be guided by the judgment, so prudence should govern affection. But christians, called to be the new and peculiar people of God, should contract no marriage but in congruity to the laws and hopes of their heavenly inheritance. Let them marry with their brethren in the Lord, that by so doing they may, like the daughters of Zelophehad, have a double portion in the promised land. We had better be martyred with Naboth, than exchange the inheritance of our fathers for Ahab’s vineyard.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 36". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/numbers-36.html. 1835.
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