God spoke to Moses: “Divide up the inheritance of the land based on population. A larger group gets a larger inheritance; a smaller group gets a smaller inheritance—each gets its inheritance based on the population count. Numbers 26:52-54 (MSG)
Along the journey I have had the experience of walking families through the death of a loved one and the accompanying grief process. Death is a subject most of us try to avoid, and therefore it is a stretch of life’s journey that few individuals – not to mention entire families – are prepared to walk through.
What has been extremely sad for me to witness is the descent into conflict and bitterness that often occurs after the funeral of the deceased loved one. Family members position themselves for shares of the family inheritance. Sometimes the conflict is over large sums of money and land, but it I have often witnessed just as much conflict over small material possessions of little worth.
Looking back, I recognize that the issues and conflicts which arose while dividing the inheritance were the fruit of relational and emotional seeds planted within the family system years, sometimes generations, before the argument took place.
In today’s chapter, God gives Moses instructions for the division of the land in which the people are going to settle. The will is being drawn up. The inheritance is going to be divided among the 12 tribes representing numerous family clans and 600,000 men and their families. If you think there’s conflict in dividing the inheritance among a relatively small nuclear family, imagine the conflict that’s going to occur among the tribes, clans and families of the millions of Israelites.
The largest tribe, according to the census was Judah. This meant that Judah would received the largest amount of land as an inheritance. It’s interesting to note that Judah would eventually secede from the other tribes, establishing its own kingdom and entering into civil war with the other tribes. Were the seeds of that eventual discord planted in this process of dividing the inheritance of the land?
Today, I’m reminded that this world, with all that it possesses, is not my home. I’m reminded that the things of true value cannot be bought, sold, divided, or acquired by legal inheritance. I’m thankful for family and friends who value love more than any material object this world could possibly contain.