The Daughters of Zelophehad

Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham

The Daughters of Zelophehad

Women of The Bible

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Seeds of Promise Women of the Bible The Daughters of Zelophehad (A Descendant of Joseph) Numbers 27, Numbers 36, Joshua 17:3-6 Audio

Devotional Reading: Numbers 27:1-11 AMP

1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, from the families of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders, and all the congregation at the door of the Tent of Meeting, saying, Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among those who assembled together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin as did all those who rebelled at Kadesh], and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be removed from his family because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brethren. Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, The daughters of Zelophehad are justified and speak correctly. You shall surely give them an inheritance among their father’s brethren, and you shall cause their father’s inheritance to pass to them. And say to the Israelites, If a man dies and has no son, you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. If he has no daughter, you shall give his inheritance to his brethren. 10 If he has no brethren, give his inheritance to his father’s brethren. 11 And if his father has no brethren, then give his inheritance to his next of kin, and he shall possess it. It shall be to the Israelites a statute and ordinance, as the Lord commanded Moses.

The daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah; and they had no brothers. This is the first time in the recorded scriptures that women are specifically illuminated to receive a blessing without having to be the wife of someone distinguished, or the sister of a prophet, or the daughter of Pharaoh, or to be a widow, or to marry a widow’s kin. In fact, God established on that day what was to be done in a situation where fathers of the people were survived by daughters with no brothers. Apparently, it had not happened before in this manner; or it was dealt with in much different way until now.

It is first empowering to see that these women stood up for their rights to inheritance among their father’s kin, seeing as they were daughters of the people, whose parents were not part of the houses that were cut off from their people. There was no good reason why they should have been made beggars or forced to marry in order to have a stable livelihood. Moses asked God about this specific case, whether the women should have an inheritance. God upheld to case of the women and said that they were right in seeking their inheritance. They had not sinned against God or their people and it would have been a reproach to them to be denied an inheritance. They might have had to seek domicile with relatives and lived at the mercy of others’ hospitality.

Devotional Reading: Numbers 36:1-13 AMP

1 The heads of the fathers’ houses of the families of the sons of Gilead son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the fathers’ houses of the sons of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and the leaders, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Israelites. They said, The Lord commanded [you] my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the Israelites; and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. But if they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the Israelites, then their inheritance will be taken from that of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe to which they are received and belong; so it will be taken out of the lot of our inheritance. And when the Jubilee of the Israelites comes, then their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe to which they are received and belong; so will their inheritance be taken away from that of the tribe of our fathers. And Moses commanded the Israelites according to the word of the Lord, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph is right. This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: Let them marry whom they think best; only they shall marry within the family of the tribe of their father. So shall no inheritance of the Israelites be transferred from tribe to tribe, for every one of the Israelites shall cling to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the Israelites shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father, so that the Israelites may each one possess the inheritance of his fathers. So shall no inheritance be transferred from one tribe to another, but each of the tribes of the Israelites shall cling to its own inheritance. 10 The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded Moses. 11 For Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to sons of their father’s brothers. 12 They married into the families of the sons of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father. 13 These are the commandments and ordinances which the Lord commanded the Israelites through Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan [River] at Jericho.

After it was settled that the daughters of Zelophehad should receive an inheritance among their father’s kin, some time later a complaint was brought to Moses concerning the changing of hands of that inheritance. Apparently, the men were concerned that if either of the daughters married outside of their family lineage, their inheritance would become the benefit of a different tribe and taken from the heritage of the original tribe to which it belonged. Suddenly, the women were limited. They were made to marry and told from whence their husbands should come.

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