Saturday, August 30, 2014

Zelophehad's Daughters

Zelophehad was a man who had no sons, only daughters; five daughters to be exact, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. Zelophehad died and left no sons to inherit his land. For the Israelites receiving an inheritance was very important. The land and possessions of a person would be passed down from generation to generation in order for it to stay within the family and to be a part of the Israelites’ territory. In the way that things were done then, since Zelophehad had no sons to inherit his land that would mean that his daughters would be left with nothing. Zelophehad’s daughters set out to change this, but they did it all in the right way. They didn’t demand that they receive their father’s land. They showed respect for the law of the day, those in charge of upholding that law, and those that had the ability to change that law.
They approached the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, “Our father dies in the desert. …Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”   Numbers 27:1b, 2; 27:4
Zelophehad’s daughters sought to keep his name alive among the people. They knew that if they didn’t have property of their own then his lineage would cease.

Moses, being a righteous man of God, sought the LORD on what to do about their request. He heard from the LORD and responded to them with that direction.
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….This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the LORD commanded Moses.  Numbers 27:6, 7, 11b

The story of Zelophehad’s daughters doesn’t end there. In the very last chapter of Numbers they are brought up again. This time some men bring to question the possibility of what would happen if the daughters marry outside of their tribe. If they did this then it would mean that their inheritance would be added to whatever tribe they would marry into. For the Israelites it was incredibly important that each tribe hold on to their tribal inheritance.

Moses again sought the LORD on what to do. Again he was given instruction to pass on to Zelophehad’s daughters.
“This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father.”  Numbers 36:6  
That is just what Zelophehad’s daughters did; they married within their father’s clan. They were obedient to what the LORD had told them to do.

Zelophehad’s daughters were bold to request a change in the way that an inheritance would be handled. And yet, they were humble in the way that they did it. They followed the proper steps to make their request, and then they followed the guidelines that were set out for them when the request was granted. They were faithful to follow the command of the LORD they He gave directly for them. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Miriam was the sister of Moses. (Side note: she may or may not have been the sister that watched over Moses when he was put into the Nile as a baby. The Bible doesn’t call that sister by name. Later when we see the genealogy of Amram, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam are the only children listed (Num. 26:59, 1 Chron. 4:17.) From this, it seems as though Miriam was that sister, but we don’t know for sure.) Moses, Aaron, and Miriam worked side by side to deliver and then lead the Israelites. In Micah 6:4 the three of them are all mentioned as the ones sent to lead God’s people.

Miriam was not just Moses’ sister though, she was a prophetess, and a worshiper of God as well. When we first see Miriam mentioned by name it is after the Israelites have crossed the Red Sea. They had just seen the Egyptian army wiped out and are rejoicing in the fact that God has delivered them. In celebration, they sing a song of praise to the Lord. Miriam did her part in leading the women in song and dance.
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”   Exodus 15:20, 21

This is the last we hear of Miriam until the book of Numbers. Miriam goes from being a worshiper of God, to opposing her brother Moses. It seems as though Miriam and Aaron were not too fond of Moses’ Cushite wife. Essentially they were jealous of Moses and began to talk about him in an unfavorable way. They were jealous because he was the main leader of the people. God also spoke directly (face to face) with him.
Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.  Numbers 12:1, 2
Still today we see this same behavior. We talk against leaders, pastors, politicians, bosses, and others that God has placed in a position of authority. This does not please God. He placed those people in that position, and we are to treat them with respect. We may not completely agree with them on all matters, but we can disagree with respect. Miriam was put in a place of humility because of her actions, and yet we do the same thing without any fear of being brought to humility.  

God wasn’t happy with what Miriam and Aaron were doing and he called them out on it. God spoke directly to them to correct them. When He was done, he left, leaving Miriam to bear the consequences of her actions.
When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam – leprous, like snow.  Exodus 12:10a
Miriam was struck with leprosy. Leprosy was a disgraceful disease. If you had it, you would be quarantined from the rest of the camp because it was an infectious disease. Here Miriam was a leader and prophetess among the people and suddenly she would have to be shunned by them. Moses cried out to God on her behalf. God heard his cries, but first Miriam would have to go through a process of in order to be healed.
The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.  Numbers 12:14, 15  

God was faithful to heal Miriam, but it was a process. A process that would have taught her humility. She probably didn’t go around talking bad about people after that. Miriam was also an example to the people of what do if someone was infected with leprosy. She was remembered for this in Deuteronomy 24:9. This may not have been the legacy that Miriam had wanted to leave behind, but it is one that we can learn a thing or two about humility from.