Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Daughters of Zelophehad

Excerpt from Bold Girls Speak: Girls of the Bible Come Alive Today
 Author: Mary Hanson
Illustrator: Lisa Guinther

from chapter two: "Five Sisters Who Asked for their Inheritance"
“The priests are counting the entire population of Israelites for when they divide up the promised land between the tribes,” Milcah reported to us.
“Oh, they are taking a census all right, but only of the men. They are the only ones who will receive land,” Mahlah, our worldly oldest sister said.
“What do they mean we will draw lots for land which we will actually own?” Hoglah added, “I can’t imagine actually owning anything and living in a house.
“We are only girls, what will happen to us?” young Tirzah suddenly understood the bigger issue. “And we will no longer have manna to eat? How can this be a promised land?”
“We will grow our own food. We will stay in one place long enough to plant grains and then harvest them,” added in Noah. “The elders are already drawing maps with sticks in the dust. They write their names on stones and rearrange them endlessly like game pieces.”
“But our names are not on the stones. As women we won’t get land and our father is dead,” Hoglah predicted.
“Well, we will certainly marry, then husbands will take care of us,” our idealistic littlest sister piped in. She knows her stories about how our ancestor Jacob met Rebecca at the well, and how Moses also found his wife at a well.
“Hey, get realistic sister,” said Hoglah. “Look at us. We are sunburned. Our skin is like leather, sand-blasted from the wind. No eligible young men will ever give us a second look, even if we are struggling with heavy jars to pull water up from the wells. We have to get land in order to eat.”
“Our father never regretted that we were all born female, at least he never expressed it,” Noah sighed. “Yet he knew he would never live to see the Promised Land and receive his allotment of land. What would he want us to do?”
“It is a matter of justice,” Milcah hands planted on her hips. “Without a son, his family inheritance promised by Yahweh will disappear unless we advocate for ourselves.”
 “Father knew Moses and said he was a fair and good man. Maybe he would help us preserve our father’s memory,” Mahlah lightened up.
“Not to mention, provide us land to keep some sheep and grow crops for a living,” Noah added.
“Do you know anything about planting a field?” Hoglah asked.
“Well then, we have two problems, no land, and we don’t know wheat from a weed. All we have seen in this barren wilderness is manna and thorns that poke through our thin sandals,” Milcah added.
So which one of us is going to approach the great Moses and ask for an inheritance? I have heard that he actually talks to Yahweh, and once received the commandments from Yahweh on Mt. Sinai,” we fell silent at that thought.
“So, will Yahweh condemn us for daring to ask and will he remember our loss?” Hoglah asked the hard question. We all looked at each other. One of us will have to be very brave. Better yet, all of us together.
We hesitated at the gate of the tabernacle when the curtain was pulled aside for us to enter. Compared to the dullness of our dusty, everyday lives, we seemed to be looking into the splendor of heaven. The morning incense had already been burned, leaving behind a fragrance that assaulted our noses with a heady sweetness.
 “We are the daughters of Zelophehad,” Mahlah told the guard at the gate of the enclosure. “May we approach Moses with a special request concerning our father’s inheritance?”
“Come nearer, Daughters of Zelophehad,” we heard a voice from within call us. We hesitated to put one foot ahead of the other and progress into the enclosure. “I knew your father, I am sorry for your loss, is there anything I can do?”
This was the first time that we had seen Moses close up. He wore the years of desert life in his deeply creased face. He and several other priests formed a line of gold-trimmed, heavily embroidered robes. Eleazar, Aaron’s son as the high priest, was dressed in the ephod, or a sort of apron that was decorated with large gems of precious stones, each represented one of the twelve tribes. We had never seen ruby, topaz, and sapphire stones, which reflected the morning sun with dazzling light. The whole effect of the tabernacle made us quite dizzy with awesome majesty.
“Our father died in the desert and he was a good man. He did not participate in the rebellion of Korah but died of old age,” Mahlah dared break the silence.
“He taught us well to serve Yahweh with fear and reverence. He told us all the stories of the Exodus and forty days at Mt. Sinai when you, Moses, received the law from the hand of Yahweh,” added Noah.
“We are five sisters, without any brothers. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son?” Hoglah continued.
“The tribe of Manasseh should not lose this land. We wish to receive our father’s portion along with his male relatives in the Promised Land of Canaan,” Milcah finished the request.
“Well, it is rather irregular that women would receive an inheritance of land. I will have to ask Yahweh about this unusual request.” Moses thoughtfully replied.
“When do you next talk to Yahweh?” our littlest sister piped up. We had forgotten to tell her not to talk.
“Ahem,” Moses had a rather shocked look on his tired old face. We were horrified that our whole cause could be lost. After an impossibly long pause, Moses spoke up again, “I can’t really say, Yahweh speaks in Yahweh’s own time, but I should get in one more talk before I see him face to face.”
“What did he mean by that?” we gazed at each other. No one sees God face to face and lives to tell about it.
We retreated backwards a few steps before turning around somewhat dejected. “Well what kind of answer did we get? Moses did not refuse us. We have to wait on Yahweh,” Hoglah broke the silence on the way to our tent.
“Were we too bold to ask for this exception?” we questioned among ourselves.
“You know women don’t inherit land,” some men taunted us. “There will be more land for us if you don’t inherit. After all, do you know what to do with land?”
“Well none of us knows how to plant grains and vineyards. Our generation has never been settled in one place,” Milcah reminded them.


  1. Nice post for story and book lovers. I haven't read the complete blog, but will do it as the starting seems interesting.

  2. equality means do justice with every one either its man or women its not only for who have power