God is just.
That probably sounds a little like stating the obvious, but I just felt the need to point it out. Here in chapter 27 we see the Israelites face a situation that they, once again, weren’t quite sure what to do with. Several times, now, there has been passages where the Israelites have decided they’re not sure how to resolve a situation, so Moses brings it before God. Once again, it happens here.
Israelite society at this stage – actually, pretty much all of civilisation – was a very patriarchal society. Possessions and names were transferred from father to son, through the male line. Suddenly, though, this guy Zelophehad dies and has only daughters.
Now I’m sure there had probably been situations before this where a father had died with no son, but it would seem that this was the first time that the daughters had actually come forward and stated that they deserved the inheritance of their father. These girls may well have been the first recorded feminists! Standing up for their rights as heirs to their father’s property.
God backed them up, too. He actually lays down a set of guidelines for the situation that allows a just and fair determination of who should inherit the property.
Second part of the chapter is where Moses finally begins to hand over the reins. We’ve jumped to the end of the story here, it would seem. In chapter 26, the new census was taken advising that everyone had died who left Egypt, save Joshua and Caleb.
So for forty years, or thereabouts, Joshua’s’ been Moses’ right hand man. Now, God, Moses and Eleazar, the priest, all acknowledge that Joshua is the successor to Moses, the next leader fo the Israelite people as they head into the promised land at last.
It’s probably a vital aspect of leadership, I think. Succession.
Without a clear succession, then it’s far to easy for something to die with the person who was leading. Perhaps the biggest example that I can think of would be Alexander the Great; he established perhaps the greatest of all empires recorded in the history of the world. When he died, though, there was no clear succession, instead the empire was divided between his lieutentants, and was never the same again.
God had a succession plan in place, and he and Moses were grooming Joshua for forty years or so, to take the place when the time came.