THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD

WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL

MAY 15, 2024

TOPIC: THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD

BY T. O. BANSO

“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” (Numbers 27:6-7 New International Version).

Zelophehad, a man of the tribe of Manasseh, died while the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. He had no son, but only five daughters, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah (Numbers 26:33; 27:1).

In Numbers 16, God commanded Moses to list the names of all the male Israelites twenty years and above. This was done for each tribe but Zelophehad had no son who could be counted. After this census, God instructed Moses that the Promised Land should be divided among the males counted. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘The land is to be allotted to them as an inheritance based on the number of names. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe.  Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups” (Numbers 26:52-56 New International Version).

Because Zelophehad did not have male children to be allotted land, as their father’s inheritance, the five daughters went to Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting demanding to inherit the land due to their father. There was no provision of the law that addressed this particular situation.

The Bible says, “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 forward and 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.’” (Numbers 27:1-4 New International Version).

There are some lessons to learn from these five daughters of Zelophehad. I imagine how everybody, including Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the entire congregation, listened to these ladies when they stood before them to state their case. It was a male-dominated society, but these ladies spoke and made a case for themselves.

I feel very proud of these ladies! They proved themselves to be worthy daughters of their parents. They challenged the status quo, which they considered unjust, and did so politely. They wondered what would happen to their father’s name in his clan. They, therefore, demanded the inheritance due to their father, more so that their father didn’t die as a rebel. They fought for the name of their father; they fought for themselves.

Since there was no precedent for their demand, Moses took the matter to the LORD and He replied in their favour. “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’” (Numbers 27:6-7 New International Version).

By their bold action, the five daughters set a precedent. A new law was made, because of these daughters of Zelophehad, to address a situation where a man, with no male child, died leaving only female children. The new law included the provision that in case a dead man had no male inheritor, the female children would not be denied the right of inheritance. However, they must marry within their tribes so that their inheritance could remain within their tribal clan – every Israelite will possess the inheritance of their ancestors (Numbers 27:8; 36:2-11).

Although some people prefer one sex to the other in the family, God determines the sex of the children He gives each person. He gave Zelophehad five daughters who could stand for themselves. He gave Phillip the evangelist four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9-10).

The daughters of Zelophehad didn’t send any uncle to argue their matter; they went themselves! That speaks a lot about their character. The daughters of Zelophehad believed the inheritance was important. They were unlike Esau, who sold his birthright and felt it was nothing (Genesis 25:29-34; Hebrews 12:17).

Attributes of the daughters of Zelophehad

1. They were knowledgeable. They were not ignorant of how their father died and what happened in Israel in the past. They came before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and the whole assembly and stated the fact, which nobody contradicted.

They argued, “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” (Numbers 27:3-4 New International Version). Nobody challenged their claim.

There are pieces of information your children should know about your family. Educate them.

2. They were confident children. They had robust self-esteem. Even though Israel was a male-dominated society, they could come forward and stand before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and make their demands without any fear of intimidation.

Parents should build their children’s self-esteem. They and other members of the family shouldn’t look down on female children or make them look down on themselves. Train your children, female and male, to be confident.

3. They were good communicators. They spoke so well that Moses had no choice but to go to God. Moses couldn’t wave their submission aside.

Children must be taught to develop basic communication skills. That doesn’t mean they must become orators! Let your children express themselves. When they’re wrong, correct them. Don’t shout them down or embarrass them.

4. They knew God was just and had faith in Him to redress injustice. They didn’t believe that the existing law was final and nothing else could be done where there was a gap or injustice. They believed God would not support the unfairness or injustice about which they had complained. God said they were right.

5. They had regard for their father. Although their father had died, they honoured his memory. They didn’t want his name to disappear from their family. They said, “Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives” (Numbers 27:4 New International Version).

One of the Ten Commandments, the first with a promise, says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 New International Version).

Moses referred to this commandment in Deuteronomy 5:16. Also, Jesus quoted it (Matthew 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20). Similarly, Paul quoted this commandment in Ephesians 6:2. Children must honour their parents.

6. They didn’t play the victim. They could have sat down at home grumbling or complaining. They could have blamed their dead father or mother for their failure to give birth to a male child! They could have even blamed God, Moses, or the other Israelites for the inheritance right that didn’t favour them. But they didn’t whine. They must have planned what to do and rehearsed what to say.

Train your children never to see themselves as victims. They should think as victors. They must develop a problem-solving mind. They have the Holy Spirit as their advantage.

Raise your daughters never to feel inferior to men. The daughters of Zelophehad told Moses and the other leaders, “Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives” (Numbers 27:4 New International Version). In other words, they didn’t want to be treated less than men.

7. They had foresight. They didn’t live only for the moment. They considered the future. The inheritance they were asking for was a share in the Land of Canaan, which the Israelites had not even possessed. But they had faith in God that they would conquer the land and wanted the inheritance due to their father. And God said Moses should give their father’s inheritance to them (Numbers 27:7).

It was under Joshua’s leadership that the allotment of the Land of Canaan to the different tribes was done. Again, the daughters of Zelophehad took a bold step to ensure obedience to God’s command to Moses that their father’s inheritance should be given to them. “They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, ‘The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.’ So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the Lord’s command” (Joshua 17:4-6 New International Version).  

You may never know what you can achieve until you act. The daughters of Zelophehad acted wisely concerning their situation and God granted their request. Moses did, too. He said their father’s inheritance should be given to them on the condition that they must marry within their father’s tribe (Numbers 27:8-11; 36:1-11). The daughters of Zelophehad did.

Galatians 3:26-29 says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (New International Version).

Conclusion: Train your children to imbibe qualities or attributes that will make them excel. Whether God has given you all boys, all girls, or both sexes, train them well. God determines the sexes of children He gives people. Don’t complain; don’t be ungrateful. Some people are crying to God for what others seem not to appreciate.

More importantly, as Christians, we must always remember that God has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Colossians 1:12). God has also reserved a priceless inheritance for His children which is kept in heaven for us; it is an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance (1 Peter 1:4). You won’t miss your inheritance in Jesus’ name.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You must join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for the children You have given me. Help me to train the children you have given me or will give me well. Father, visit everyone trusting You for the fruit of the womb and give them their babies. Make them joyful mothers.

(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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