Daughters Who Claim Their Inheritance

March 28, 2008

There are three short, obscure stories within the Old Testament that give me hope for women being empowered to reclaim their full spiritual inheritance in The Kingdom of God. So certain people don’t have an aneurysm, I am not claiming that this hope is the definitive meaning of these scriptures or that they necessarily “prove” anything. They are just tiny glimmers of comfort that God has used in my own journey because I personally struggle with much of the old testament.

Some of these instances don’t seem like a big deal to those of us who live in our modern part of the world, where women possess far more rights and “worth,” than they ever had in ancient Israel. These stories made it into scripture and I believe they exist for a reason: to foreshadow a time when women, too, would be redeemed from the curse and be able to reclaim an equal inheritance with their brothers in their Father’s kingdom.
Zelophehad’s five daughters; Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirza; who defied Israel’s longstanding male-dominated tradition and approached Moses to grant them the full portion of their father’s inheritance. Their father had no son and since women were considered unworthy to own anything, the inheritance would be distributed to far-off relatives while his daughters were left destitute. This was an ugly reality for families with no male heir. So, they waltzed up to Moses and 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).
This is a remarkable and revolutionary act for women in ancient Israel to risk. They are not only asking for the inheritance that a son would get, but are questioning the logic of Israel’s law! Talk about assertive eh? Laws in theocratic Israel were different from the law of secular countries, they were equated with God’s truth. So this is an incredibly ballsy move! Moses actually took these bold women seriously and inquired of the Lord about what to do.
God gives an amazing reply:
Numbers 27:5-8
“So Moses brought their case before the LORD 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 turn their father’s inheritance over to them. Further, you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. ‘”

J. Lee Grady expounds on this passage:

“In that moment, God contradicted centuries of prejudice and wrong-headed tradition. He made it clear that in His kingdom, women are not afterthoughts or domestic appendages…When God looks at redeemed mankind through the blood of Jesus Christ, He does not limit women from full participation in His kingdom.”

So, God gives Zelophehad’s daughters their inheritance, demonstrating His tender concerns for their well being and their due as human beings. God commands that Israel’s legal code be changed as a result of Zelophehad’s daughters, legislating that daughters were to receive the full inheritance, if the father had no sons. Not exactly what we would consider today to be full equality, but for a time when women weren’t considered worthy to own anything, this was a miraculously liberating development. Their courage benefited many other women, who would have been “disowned” and left with nothing. If Moses is a picture of Christ, then him bringing these women’s case before the Lord becomes all the more meaningful.

In Joshua 15:18-19, we meet Achsah, the daughter of Caleb. When Caleb acquires a lush portion of land in Judah, his daughter asks him for part of land. Again, in a time when women were traditionally not permitted to own anything, let alone property, this is shockingly bold. Caleb gives her the land of Negev. Achsah then asks for more: “Give me a blessing since you have given me the land of Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gives her the “upper and lower springs.” His daughter receives a triple portion, above and beyond what she asks for. She receives her own land, and two sets of springs. Having access to fresh water was considered a great luxury in ancient times. The story of Caleb and Achsah paints a beautiful picture of a father’s love for his daughter, a love that empowers her.

And my favorite instance is found in Job 42: 12-15.

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

Job, considered to be one of the most righteous men of all time, thought it best to bestow his inheritance upon both his sons and daughters, which was virtually unheard of in ancient times. If Job is a picture of Christ, the fact that he chose to empower all of his children with the same opportunities and resources, with a full inheritance, is significant, at least to me.
All these stories reveal the subtle theme of a father’s love for his children and how that love takes shape. Jesus came to redeem us, to restore humanity to this beautiful parent/child relationship, to live out a full inheritance in His Kingdom. Let’s empower all of God’s children to rise up and take it, and let the Spirit determine how this inheritance takes shape, not our reproductive organs.
On To The New Testament…
next post: at least it’s not a woman preaching, right?
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3 Responses to “Daughters Who Claim Their Inheritance”

  1. Rhonda Says:

    I am a daughter dealing with an inheritance issue. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction!!!!!!!!!!

  2. lily Says:

    Does anyone know the Modern Orthodox Inheritance law for woman in general without relating to a specific country?

  3. lily Says:

    Is their a Christian Orthodox law for inheritance for man and woman?is there a specified share?


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