The Daughters of Zelophehad - The Word About Women

The Daughters of Zelophehad

“Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

Numbers 27:3-4

For context, read Numbers 27:1-11

After the exodus and during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, a man named Zelophehad died leaving behind no sons. According to the interpretation of the law at that time, he had no one to inherit and his name was as good as dead. It seems like a very sad legacy. Except for the fact that he left behind 5 bold daughters. Daughters who would not let their father’s name die quietly. In fact, they brought the case all the way to Moses.

Now, the Bible only states that the women presented their case to Moses. But, we know from Exodus 18:25-26, that Moses had listened to his father-in-law’s advice and set up a system of judges to help lighten his load. There were officials over the tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands. Only the toughest cases that could not be solved by the lower judges were brought to Moses. Because of this, we can infer that Zelophehad’s daughters had to take their case through all of the judges before the case was set before Moses. If that is the case, not one judge prior to Moses had ruled in favor of giving the women their father’s inheritance. But they did not give up.

In verse 1, the Scriptures list each daughter by name; Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah. Verse 2 says that “they came forward and stood before Moses, the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting”. Talk about intimidating. They pleaded their case in public and sought the ruling of the most important men in the land.

Thankfully, Moses was wise. Verse 5 says, “So Moses brought their case before the LORD”. Moses did not lean on his own understanding of the law nor did he just rule in favor of tradition and throw their case out. He listened to their request and then sought direction from the LORD.

And the LORD ruled in the women’s favor. He said, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them.”

What’s more, the LORD told Moses to make this a perpetual statute among the Israelites. From that day on, if men died without sons, their daughters were next in line to inherit. The daughters had to marry within their father’s tribe to keep it, but they were granted what they sought.

The WORD about women here is that the LORD cares about His daughters. Through the determination of the daughters of Zelophehad, God righted a wrong in Israel. He corrected an injustice. He affirmed a women’s right that had previously been denied. Sisters, God cares about injustices against women.

What does this narrative reveal to you about God’s character?

Father, I am so grateful that I am one of Your daughters. You see me and you care about me. You are a righteous judge. One day, you will right all wrongs. Amen.

We look forward to your comments and questions below!

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