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Friday, May 27, 2005

Women in the Old Testament: 5 Sisters

Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah--they were the daughters of Zelophehad, and their story is told in Numbers 26:33, 27:1-7, 36:2-12, and Joshua 17:3-6. What was their story? They were the only children of their father. He had no sons. Since he had no sons, his family stood to lose any hope of possessions in his name in the Promised Land. The five sisters did something about this. They thrust themselves forward, appealing to Moses, and asked that they be given rights to land ownership, just as men were. It is possible that they presented their request to one or more underlings of Moses first. If so, the underling decided that this was a hard case, and passed the decision on up. Moses listened to their request, and passed it up, too. He asked God, and God said that they were right, and that they should be given an inheritance, so that Zelophehad's name would not be lost.

Numbers 36:6b is amazing: "Let them be married to whom they think best; only into the family of the tribe of their father shall they be married." (ASV) This gave these five women the privilege of selecting husbands for themselves. I don't believe there is another record of this in the Old Testament, unless it be Rebekah's choice whether or not to go with Abraham's servant, to marry Isaac. True, the privilege of choosing a spouse is tempered by a restriction, and a restriction not placed on men, but the privilege is still there.
God's people were willing to hear a request by women for treatment as full citizens, and God Himself made sure that the request was granted.

I have posted on Women in the Old Testament previously. Here's a post on Tamar. Here's the first in the series. I have also posted on Abishag, a particular woman. For a post on Athaliah, and links to posts on women in the OT, generally, see here.

Thanks for reading!

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