Thou shalt surely give them - an inheritance among their father's brethren - There is a curious anomaly here in the Hebrew text which cannot be seen in our translation. In Hebrew they, them, and their, you, ye, and your, are both of the masculine and feminine genders, according as the nouns are to which they are affixed; but these words are of no gender in English. In this verse, speaking of the brethren of the father of those women, the masculine termination הם hem, Their, is used instead of the feminine, הן hen, governed by בנות benoth, daughters. So להם lahem, to Them, and אביהם abihem, Their fathers, masculine, are found in the present text, instead of להן lahen and אביהן abihen, feminine. Interpreters have sought for a hidden meaning here, and they have found several, whether hidden here or not. One says, "the masculine gender is used because these daughters are treated as if they were heirs male." Another, "that it is because of their faith and conscientious regard to the ancient customs, and to keep the memory of their father in being, which might well benefit men." Another, "that it signifies the free gift of God in Christ, where there is neither male nor female, bond or free, for all are one in Christ;" and so on, for where there is no rule there is no end to conjecture. Now the plain truth is, that the masculine is in the present printed text a mistake for the feminine. The Samaritan, which many think by far the most authentic copy of the Pentateuch, has the feminine gender in both places; so also have upwards of fourscore of the MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi. Therefore all the curious reasons for this anomaly offered by interpreters are only serious trifling on the blunder of some heedless copyists.
While on the subject of mysterious reasons and meanings, some might think it unpardonable if I passed by the mystery of the fall, recovery, and full salvation of man, signified, as some will have it, by the names of Zelophehad and his daughters.
His first daughter, מחלה Machlah, infirmity;
the second, נעה Noah, wandering;
the third, חגלה Choglah, turning about or dancing for joy:
the fourth, מלכה Milcah, a queen;
the fifth, תרצה Tirtsah, well-pleasing or acceptable.
By these names we may observe our reviving by grace in Christ; for we are all born of the shadow of fear, (Tselophchad), being brought forth in sin, and through fear of death being all our life time subject to bondage, Hebrews 2:15. This begets (Machlah ) infirmity or sickness - grief of heart for our estate. After which (Noah) wandering about for help and comfort we find it in Christ, by whom our sorrow is turned into joy (Choglah). He communicates of his royalty (Milcah) to us, making us kings and priests unto God and his Father, Revelation 1:6. So we shall at last be presented unto him glorious and without blemish, being (Tirtsah) well-pleasing and acceptable in his sight." This is a specimen of pious Ingenuity, which has been endeavoring to do the work of an Evangelist in the Church of God from the time of Origen to the present day.