This past week's parsha had an interesting little incident at the end of it that warrants some discussion.
The leaders of Menashe were concerned over the fact that Tzelofchad's daughters would be inheriting land in the Land of Israel. If they should marry out of the tribe, the leaders of Menashe argued, their portions would eventually pass to their children, who would be members of other tribes, which would diminish thier own tribal area. Moshe agreed and decreed that any daughter who inherits land must marry within her father's tribe.
This incident, however, raises several questions:
1. What, exactly, were the leaders of Menashe worried about? It certainly wasn't about population -- they weren't concerned about any of their daughters marrying out of the tribe, but rather land. But, were Tzelofchad the only person among the Jews who didn't have any sons? I would think not. In reality, there were probably plenty of people who had only daugters (or other female heirs) from all the tribes. So, so what if Machla married someone from Zevulun? Certainly, in the end, it would all average out anyway.
2. While Menashe's complaint sounds like one that would apply down through the ages, for some reason, it didn't. The requirement that an inheriting daughter marry within her tribe only applied to that generation. Later generations were not bound by this requirement, and yet, even so, the same logic should apply. So, why didn't this requirement carry onward?
3. Of course, even if the requirement to marry within the tribe did carry on, it still wouldn't prevent the "problem" of "islands" of territory within one tribe belonging to another tribe. After all, there were, no doubt, situations, where a married daughter (possibly even with children already belonging to another tribe) finds herself an heiress after the death of her brother.
So, in any event, it seems that there really is no way to prevent this from happening, and after that generation, no effort was made to prevent it. If that's the case, what was the validity of Menashe's claims?