The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forwardand stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “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.”
So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and the Lord said to him, “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.
“Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. 9 If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers.If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’” (Numbers 27: 1-11)
The 5 Daughters of Zelophehad protected the father’s family line
Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah lived during a time in Israel when women were not recognized apart from their fathers and husbands. During this time in history, all property, including women, were possessions of men as outlined by the Law. Zelophehad, their father, had died in the wilderness without bearing a son and so his portion of inheritance would have gone to others within his tribe (the tribe of Manassah) if not for their courage to ask for it themselves.
The 5 Daughters of Zelophehad stood firm, but respectful in their request
Their motives were not selfish in asking, they gave a righteous reason for their request: “Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”
The daughters reminded Moses that their father did not rise up against the Lord and therefore, his name should be remembered. In the culture of that time, the family line was only secured through sons. until now.
The 5 Daughters of Zelophehad were responsible for re-writing the law to include daughters as inheritors
Moses took this matter before the Lord to see what should be done and the Lord answered by saying the daughters were right in what they had requested. Then, the Lord proceeds to clarify that is a man dies with no son to carry on the family line, then the daughters shall be given his inheritance. The law was changed to accommodate the daughters on son-less fathers!
The Lord’s reaction is significant because it shows that He is truly a God of Justice and Fairness.
The 5 Daughters of Zelophehad received and carefully stewarded their father’s inheritance
In order to keep the family line pure and within the tribe of Manasseh, the daughters were commanded to marry men only from that tribe. This is recorded in Numbers 36:6-9:
“This is what the Lord commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors. Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of their ancestors. No inheritance may pass from one tribe to another, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.”
The scripture goes on to say that the daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded them to ensure that their father’s inheritance would be properly preserved and his name would carry on in the eyes of the Lord.
They married their cousins in order to keep the inheritance within their tribal clan, ensuring that the inheritance would stay where it should for generations to come.
The 5 daughters of Zelophehad show us the right way to bring a matter before leaders and the Lord
Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah conducted themselves with boldness, fairness, respectfulness and integrity for a greater purpose that resulted in the preservation of their family line. They obeyed the Lord’s commands concerning their inheritance and shifted the culture for women within all the tribes of Israel.
I hope this post inspires you to boldly take action in the right way in matters requiring justice and fairness. May you be rewarded as you obey the Lord and steward His Inheritance in your life!