Ver. 1. Galaad. The descendants of Machir, who were settled in Galaad, were particularly interested, in knowing how their female relations of the house of Salphaad, were to dispose of their fortunes, which God had allowed them. They knew that, by the law, their husbands would obtain possession; and if those husbands should be of another tribe, part of the land allotted to Manasses might be lost. See C. xxvii. and Jos. xvii. 1. 3.
Ver. 4. That is, an explanation of the jubilee, added by S. Jerom, who gives the sense of the Heb. though not the very words.
--- Lots. Heb. "when the jubilee of the children of Israel is come, then shall their inheritance be added to that of the tribe in which they are received; so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers." H.
Ver. 6. Tribe. Heb. adds family also: for heiresses were obliged to marry in their own family, to prevent the confusion of the inheritances. If they had a mind to renounce their right, they were at liberty to marry where they pleased. C.
--- The nearest relations, who chose to receive their land, were under an obligation of marrying them. Ruth iv. 6. H.
--- A similar law prevailed at Athens.
Ver. 7. Wives. Heb. "shall keep to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers." Those who marry heiresses must be of the same family: but others may take wives from any of the tribes of Israel, as the most holy did without scruple. S. Jerom in Jer. xxxii. T. E.
--- The Rabbins extend this law to all, with the Vulgate: but only during the time that the land of Chanaan remained undivided. Seld. Succ. c. xviii.
Ver. 8. Women. Heb. "every daughter that possesseth an inheritance...shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father." Commonly the females were debarred from inheriting land, when they had any brothers. The Levites were not concerned in these regulations, as they had no inheritance; and hence, we need not be surprised to find that S. Elizabeth, of the daughters of Aaron, (Luc. i. 26,) was related to the blessed Virgin, who was of the family of David. The mother of S. Elizabeth might be of the tribe of Juda; or a maternal ancestor of the blessed Virgin might spring from the tribe of Levi. C.
--- Tradition determined the lawfulness of such marriages, and in this case, S. Augustine (Consens. Ev. ii. 23) admires the providence of God, in causing his beloved Son, the great anointed, to be born both of the regal and priestly tribes, in which an unction was required, before the priests and kings were put in possession of their respective offices. Thus Christ was both priest and king, and such were anointed in the law of Moses. W.
Ver. 11. Father. They married their cousin-germans. The original is rather undecisive, as Dod may signify, "an uncle, great uncle, or cousin;" and a son, in Scripture, is often put for any descendant. The marriages of cousins were not expressly forbidden by the law, and if they had, they might have been dispensed with on this occasion, as well as when a brother died without issue. C.
--- Claudius was the first of the Romans who obtained leave of the senate to marry his brother's daughter. Sueton. D.