Daughters of Zelophehad: Will You Show Up?


“That’s not fair!”

“This is completely unjust!”

“Why isn’t anyone (preferably a man---maybe an elder in Israel) speaking up for us?”

These are all thoughts that could have gone through the five sisters minds as they heard how Moses would divide the land of Israel.

It was a simple plan: After the Israelite's conquered the Promised Land, the land would be divided tribe by tribe. Within the tribe each family would be receive a portion which would be passed down from generation to generation---father to son. Overall, it seemed like a generous and equitable plan.

That is, unless there were no sons. What happened then?

Numbers 26:33 tells us about a family in this very predicament:

(One of Hepher’s descendants, Zelophehad, had no sons, but his daughters’ names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.)

With their father gone and no brothers, it seemed like these women were about to become the victims of an unjust law.

But what could they do?

Well, here’s what they didn’t do: They didn’t sit around and start a grumbling campaign turning the hearts of the people against God and Moses like so many had done before. Nor did they choose to sit back and pout about their plight.

Instead, they chose to be brave---to respectfully speak up bringing their case to Moses and appealing to God’s righteousness and justice.

The daughters of Zelophehad showed up…..They came to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.

They stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and the congregation and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He wasn’t part of Korah’s rebel anti-God gang. He died for his own sins. And he left no sons. But why should our father’s name die out from his clan just because he had no sons? So give us an inheritance among our father’s relatives.” (Numbers 27:1-4)

And the amazing thing is that when Moses took their petition to God---God took their side!

God ruled:

Zelophehad’s daughters are right. Give them land as an inheritance among their father’s relatives. Give them their father’s inheritance.

Then tell the People of Israel, If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give it to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give it to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give it to the nearest relative so that the inheritance stays in the family. This is the standard procedure for the People of Israel, as commanded by God through Moses.”

There’s a quote that says, “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

In this passage, the daughters of Zelophehad showed up and history was made---an unjust law was changed---and women throughout the rest of Israelite history no longer had to be afraid of losing their inherited land or their family name going extinct if they had no father or brother.

God’s true heart of equality and fairness for women was revealed because five women had the courage to be Princess Warriors and show up.

Can I be brutally honest with you?

Putting myself in their situation, I don’t know that I would have had the same courage.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to rock the boat. My first inclination probably wouldn’t have been to step out in tenacity and bravery and say, “This is wrong, we need to consult God and take a second look.”

But this is my weakness---and it’s a weakness that in recent days the Holy Spirit has been calling me to abandon.

What the Holy Spirit has been showing me through the examples of women like these seven sisters is that sometimes---actually often times---God wants US to be the ones who show up, who speak out. Rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to see injustice and solve it, perhaps God is calling out to you and I:

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I know, it makes me quiver in my flip flops a little bit, too.

But the promise we have to hold onto whenever God calls us into one of these situations is that just as He was with the five daughters of Zelophehad, He will be with us wherever we go.

When we are following His call and appealing to His justice and righteousness, you can trust that just as He helped them change their world, He will help you change your world, too.

Thoughts to Ponder:

In what situation is God asking to “Show up and be the voice”?

What is holding you back?

What part of your world does God want you to change?

****Remember you don’t have to tackle a global issue to make a difference, perhaps God is calling you to help one person or one situation in your sphere of influence that only you can help.

Are you willing to step out in faith, be Strong and Courageous and become a Warrior Princess?

What if you’re praying for God to send someone to speak up and make a difference and God’s answer is You Do IT?

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