Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zelophehad's Daughters

In the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Joshua we are introduced to five strong women, sisters, who resolved not to stand idly by while the menfolk partook of an inheritance, designing to omit the women from the division of the land.

It is only right that these sisters be remembered by their names, for they are so remembered in scripture.  They were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.  They were the daughters of Zelophehad who was the great-great grandson of Manasseh.  Zelophehad had no sons, and hence the rightful share he had in Manasseh should go to his daughters.  They thought so, and they prosecuted their case before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua and the entire assemblage of the princes of the Israelites.

This court ruled in favor of the women, and they were awarded the appropriate share of the land.

If one understood the customs of property and inheritance, even to primogeniture among the sons determining ownership of the heritage, one would better appreciate what it cost these women to plead their case, and the courage it required. We would not overlook the fact that justice prevailed in spite of precedent, not because of it.

While it may be the case that it is sometimes convenient to go along to get along, we have here an example of justice bestowed because of righteous determination.

The women were told they should choose whom to marry as they "thought best," but with the admonition that they must select their husbands from within the tribe of Manasseh.  To this injunction they were obedient. Thus the land would remain within the tribe.

With possession comes responsibility.


Sharkbytes said...

And also one of the many examples of how Judeo-Christians were always on the cutting edge of women's rights in their culture.

vanilla said...

Shark, yes, it is that.