The Daughters Were Right
The Lord said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them.” – Numbers 27:7 (NRSV)
Who do you know who needs this story of the daughters of Zelophehad?
The story of five young women who—because of (supposedly) divinely inspired inheritance laws that disinherited daughters—faced destitution after their father’s death.
The story of their courage, desperation, or some combination thereof that motivated them to go to the Tent of Meeting and make their case before the great Moses, the high priest Eleazar, the elders, and the whole assembly.
The story of Moses not dismissing the young women, but instead bringing their case before the Lord. Most of all, the story of the Lord proclaiming “the daughters are right” and changing the law.
Who needs to know this story? Perhaps it’s the person struggling to reconcile their sexuality with the teachings of the faith they’ve trusted since childhood. Perhaps it’s the mid-career cis-woman who’s hit the glass ceiling in the culture of her workplace. Maybe it’s a parent trying to figure out what’s best for their child and what words like male, female, trans, cis mean in a gender-fluid world.
Going beyond gender issues, maybe this story about a God who gives heed to the disenfranchised daughters can also give hope and courage to someone who’s been dismissed or passed over because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, economic status, or accent.
Who needs this story? Perhaps it’s anyone who yearns to know there is always more light and truth to break forth from God’s word and God’s ways.
Thank you, God of light and truth, for this story. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.