Daughters of Zilophehad

Text: Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11

Julie Herrera-Maxwell
A few years before I moved to America, my country was going through a very difficult time politically. The revolution took over my city and soon became part of daily life. As in any situation, once it touches your family you can no longer take the situation casually. One of my uncles was arrested for no reason, and the government sent him far away to an unknown place. He had three daughters, and even though they were still relatively young (between the ages of 19 and 23), they were not afraid to go to the most dangerous places, to where the government kept their political prisoners, in order to fight for their father's release.

There is a lot of power when women get together to fight for a cause. Just ask Nancy G Brinker, the pioneer of breast cancer awareness advocacy. Zilophehad's five daughters were women of hope and conviction. These women decided to take their concerns all the way to Moses. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah prepared their argument -- probably even rehearsed what they were going to say -- and then took their case to the highest authority, hoping for a good result.

What influenced these women to take this kind of stand? What gave them the courage to plead their case before hundreds of men? I believe it was the fact that they knew Israel's God. They knew that He was a just God, so they acted upon that hope and knowledge. In other words, they put hope in their shoes and walked by faith.


Suzy Silk
When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God gave Moses specific instructions for dividing up the land among the twelve tribes. Each tribe was to be given a portion of land that was then to be divided up among the clans in that tribe -- one portion for each of the sons of the original 12 sons of Israel. 

At this time the Israelites lived in a patriarchal society in which sons were given leadership and inheritance, and daughters were simply married off. And yet, throughout the Bible we see moments when God intervenes in this patriarchal system in order to protect and provide for his daughters. The daughters of Zilophehad are a perfect example of this. These five daughters did not want their father's legacy to be lost once the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land. They didn't want his inheritance to be divided up among the men these women chose to marry. And so these women broke the norm by presenting their case before all of the male leaders of the Israelites. They broke social norms so they could obey a greater commandment - to honor their father (and mother). And how did God respond? He said "they are right"! Not only does God provide for these women by changing the rules and giving them an inheritance, but He also extends this change in inheritance laws to all of Israel. 

This theme is picked up in the New Testament when God gives an inheritance to all those who believe in Jesus -- whether male or female. He declares all of us his "sons" -- eligible to receive the Holy Spirit, eternal life, and every spiritual blessing. He invites us, as His daughters, to approach His throne with confidence and to present to Him all of our prayers and petitions.

The daughters of Zilophehad were women characterized by Hope -- they believed in a God who would provide for them, even when there seemed to be no easy way to do that in their society. The systems and structures of their society provided them with no help, so they confidently approached the highest authority -- God himself.

Is there an area of your life in which you need God's provision? In what aspects of your life do you feel hindered -- unable to live confidently as God's daughter? How can you approach God more boldly, asking to receive your full inheritance guaranteed you through Jesus?