Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.”
Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. (ESV)
Right now I am going through Numbers in my yearly reading plan, and a few days back I snagged my shoelace in this text. It took a few seconds before I pulled free to finish my reading but I made sure to make a mental note of it.
Lets plant our faces into the text and get something to feed on.
Certain daughters come before Moses, at the tent of meeting, and bring up, in honor of their father, who he was, and kept it honest. They say that he did die in the wilderness, he was a sinner, but that he did not gather with Korah in acting even more rebellion. This fact alone means that his name shouldn’t be blotted out and that he deserved an inheritance like everyone else who also sinned that the whole congregation sinned who died in the wilderness.
They also state that he had no sons. They were asking why should his name be forgotten just because he had no sons. Truly, and ultimately, they were honoring their father’s name. They didn’t want the name of their father to be taken out of the role.
Moses then talks to God in the tent, God agrees with the daughters of Zelophehad, and Moses then implements the new command.
This is significant to notice in America today. We live in a culture where the roles of woman and men are confused and blurred like water colors when a child keeps mixing all the paints together on their canvas. Men act like women, women pretend to be men, and children tell their parents what to do. And in this cultural milieu , a sentiment makes it rounds in the hearts and minds of secular and Christian thinkers alike, and that is that the Bible somehow belittles women. The lie usually goes that being patriarchal is bad, and evil, and that women are oppressed by all sorts of men and a patriarchal society just makes it worst.
Now, I want to affirm that men abuse women. Men use women. And men certainly commit all sorts of evil against women. But, it’s simply false to believe that a patriarchy suppresses and abuses women because we have an example right here of women being listened to. Here is a patriarchal system, implemented by God, that in accordance with God’s law, protects the rights of women to have a possession. Not only that, this system listens to women, and implements a new law that gives possession of land to woman.
If the feminist is correct then this shouldn’t even be in the Bible.
I also want to point out how Godly is was for these woman to seek a possession for themselves, in the name of their father. They pointed out that their father deserved an inheritance, because he didn’t rebel in the way Korah did. He sinned as everyone else had, and yet everyone else was getting their inheritance based on their fathers lot, and yet here they were, not receiving anything even though their father was there when the promise was made to him as well.
Some might object that these women were seeking justice. I think that’s a false view. They weren’t seeking justice. They believed in the promise God had given their father, and then pointed out that based off of all the other laws and the promises made by God, that their father shouldn’t be excluded in receiving an inheritance even though he isn’t alive and he has no sons. His name should continue on.
These women knew the word of God. Their father taught them well, though he was a sinner. And so they believed the word of their father, trusted in the word of God, and made a case to Moses that they also ought to receive an inheritance even though their father was dead and had no male. His name shouldn’t be taken out just because he had only daughters.
And in one case, all of the girls coming together, they were able to honor their father, even though he was dead, and keep his name among his brothers, as well as obtain for themselves an inheritance, demonstrating that woman were not merely second class citizens. And Moses listened to them, and God responded.