The Division of the Land
It was the fortieth year since the exodus from Egypt, shortly before the Jewish people were to enter the Promised Land. G‑d had informed Moses that each tribe’s territory would be determined, among other things, by lottery. Each man in the tribe would receive a parcel of land in his tribe’s territory. Upon the man’s death, his sons would inherit his property, thus guaranteeing that each plot would remain in the family to which it was originally assigned.
One man, Zelophehad, of the tribe of Manasseh, had only daughters. Zelophehad himself died in the desert (more on that soon), and his daughters were worried that they would not receive a share in the land of Israel. They therefore turned to Moses and requested that they be granted the land that would have gone to their father.
The Torah describes the scene: