“A WOMAN OF VALOR WHO CAN FIND. HER WORTH IS FAR ABOVE JEWELS,” PROVERBS 31:10
Celebrating International Women’s Day
Women Who Exhibited Great Courage
Have you ever had anyone make you a promise? You waited and waited and waited for the promise to manifest although it appears it would never come to pass. You become frustrated and are tempted to give up, thinking maybe you misinterpreted what you heard. Maybe you try to make it happen yourself. If you are having doubts and insecurities about God’s promises, you are not alone.
I am inspired by women who defy incredible obstacles to accomplish God’s purposes. This is a story of five courageous sisters who were willing to lay it all on the line to possess what was rightfully theirs. These amazing women showed outstanding courage in the face of difficult circumstances. In Numbers 27, after the forty years in the wilderness, and toward the end of Moses’ life, there is a fascinating story of five sisters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, the daughters of a man named Zelophehad.
The story begins in Egypt with God’s people struggling under tyranny and injustice. When Zelophehad dies, his teenage daughters face a tough decision: do they accept the status quo of a male-dominated society, or risk everything and claim their father’s inheritance? Zelophehad is a faithful man of character and principle. This man is of the tribe of Manasseh and unfortunately dies during the wilderness journey. He has five daughters, but no sons. In Numbers 26, a census is taken of all males over the age of twenty. As the census is concluded, God instructs Moses to apportion the land as shares among all the males. Zelophehad’s daughters are not counted in the census and are not to receive any land as an inheritance. However, the present
interpretation of the law is inequitable because it excluded women who have no brother, father, or husband.
Because Zelophehad has no sons, his daughters are exempt from the portion of the land to which he was entitled. When he dies in the journey to Canaan, his daughters realize they are going to be left out of the promise. They have to develop a strategy. Although they are determined to claim their rights, these women keep their mouths closed until the right time. They don’t spend their time whining and complaining about how unfair the law is towards women. Let’s imagine the scene: the Israelite camp is formed of tribes, each of whom has a determined place, with the tabernacle in the middle. In the center stand the main authority figures, who are all men: Moses, the priest Eleazar, and the chiefs. Imposing as this structure may have been, these five sisters decide to claim their rights.
These young women approach Moses and the rulers of the people to ask if the land that would have been given to their father might be given to them instead. Up to that time, no provision was made in the law for property or possessions to be passed down to women when there are no living male sons. All five sisters are standing before the entire counsel at the doorway of the tabernacle of meeting. Now, just imagine these teenage girls “pulling up” on Moses and the leaders, telling them they want their father’s inheritance. Visualize the scene of these sisters coming forward publicly before the assembly of leaders, officials, and the entire community to present their case. These women truly exemplify faith, courage, humility, temperance, and patience.
In Numbers 27, they begin their appeal by reminding Moses of their father’s integrity and reputation. Because this is an unusual situation, Moses has to take the matter to God for directions on how to handle it. God tells Moses the women are right and that the property should be given to them as an inheritance among their father’s relatives. God’s answer is an excellent example of His fairness to both men and women and how laws can be changed. Most of us, like Zelophehad’s daughters, were once without hope of an inheritance – “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and
without God in the world.”1
We became heirs of the promise when we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior by faith. Like these earnest
women, we now eagerly desire our part. Are you willing to go the distance to possess your God-given inheritance? If you want to leave your desert and embrace all God has promised, you can allow the daughters of Zelophehad to show you the way. James 4:2
says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” These five sisters were not afraid to ask for their inheritance.
Minister Dr. A. Francine Green
All Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard (NASB) unless otherwise noted.
- Ephesians 2:12