The Daughters Of Zelophehad


Numbers 27:1-8

The Bible is full of stories about women; their struggles and triumphs, their fears and faith. Women who faced impossible situations and prevailed. Women who changed the course of history. Some of the women are very well known, and others are not very famous but their testimony and story is found in the living word. These women have inspired this series of stories which I pray will speak to our hearts and encourage each one of us as we look at them from a slightly different lens, that of illustrated story telling!

Down the dusty road they strode, five women with nothing but the faith beating in their hearts. Leading them was Mahlah, their first born and leader. Following closely behind were her sisters, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.

As they drew near the crowd, Tirzah the youngest drew back. She looked at the multitude in front of them. She gasped and drew her head scarf around herself wishing she could disappear. The whole community was here! Was this really wise? Should they not wait for another moment, another time when Moses was alone to give him their petition?

But no, Mahlah had said that this was the day they had to face not only Moses and Eleazer the priest, but also all the tribal leaders. Tirzah was not happy about this. She worried and she feared. What would happen to them after they presented their petition to Moses? What Mahlah and her older sisters had agreed on had never been done before! Their father had never been around much especially after their mother died giving birth to Tirzah. Mahlah had taken over running the home and taking care of her as well. They worked for anyone and everyone but it was never enough to take care of their needs.

The night before Mahlah had reminded them about Joseph.

“Our ancestor was Joseph, a man who lost everything. But even when he was thrown into a pit he never gave up, and God made him a ruler in a foreign land. That had never been done before. Our God, Tirzah, is a God of miracles and a God of the impossible. We must trust Him to make a way for us where there seems to be no way.”

As they walked through the crowd, Tirzah pulled her headscarf forward to cover her face more securely. She did not want to be recognized. Tirzah was so intent on trying to be invisible she did not realize that her sisters had stopped. She bumped into Noah and nearly tumbled to the ground. Noah was the strongest among them, the one named before birth, when hope and expectation that she would be a boy was running high. After she was born, no one bothered to change her name and Noah she remained!

The whole congregation fell silent, watching the five women facing Moses, Eleazer the priest and the tribal elders.

“Our father died in the wilderness,” Mahlah cried. Overcome with emotion, she started to sob. Quiet purposeful Hoglah stepped forward, feeling the need to bring clarity.

“He was not among Korah’s followers, who rebelled against the Lord.” She hung her head, ashamed and embarrassed about what she was about to admit. “He died because of his own sin,’ she said, barely above a whisper.

“But he had no sons,” said Noah, pain in her voice as she reached out to Milcah who was standing silently beside her. That was the encouragement Milcah needed to speak up.

“Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons?”

Emboldened by her sisters, Tirzah looked up and with confidence she cried out,

“Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.”

Surprised, her sisters drew her forward. United in vision, tears in their eyes they forgot their fears. They were crying and holding each other as they had done so many times in the past.

With compassion in his eyes Moses looked at the sisters. Some of the tribal leaders were restless and impatient. Tirzah heard one of them say to another,

“What do they need property for? What they need is a man!”

She felt her heart break. A man? What if no one ever wanted them? Would they die, unwanted and cast into the wilderness, forgotten?

“I will bring this case before the Lord,” she heard the strong voice of Moses speak up. Startled she looked up with hope in her eyes? Really? Did Moses think they had a case? Did God care?

Everyone started to talk at once. Some people were shouting, others stomping their feet and others just shook their heads in amazement. This had never happened before. In the midst of the noise and commotion, Moses withdrew into the Tabernacle.

The daughters of Zelophehad sat down, too tired to join in any conversation or answer questions.

However Moses did not take long and he soon came out of the Tabernacle with a wide smile on his face. He raised his arm and all the people kept quiet.

“Thus saith the Lord, The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their Father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father. And give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If a man dies and has no son, then give his inheritance to his daughters.”

Laughing, crying and hugging one another the daughters of Zelophehad rejoiced! For on that day, when desperation and faith had brought them before the whole Israelite community, God had answered their petition and given them a miracle.

Written by
Jane Gichohi

I'm a Pastor's wife and writer. I have been a columnist and freelance writer, and I'm currently focused on writing a book on infertility. I'm also keen on writing devotionals and inspirational short stories.

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Written by Jane Gichohi