Zelophehad’s Daugthers

The story of Zelophehad’s daughters is a story of family, love for a father, and a lasting legacy.  With only fifty words they had their wish come true, their father’s name did not “disappear” just because he had no sons (Numbers 27:1-11).  Now, this did not happen without conditions (Numbers 36) and a little reminder to Joshua and the elders (Joshua 17:4), twelve more words.  Their story is recorded in three books of the Bible-Numbers, Joshua, and 1 Chronicles.  If you timeline this, Numbers 27 occurs and then the elders of Manasseh in Numbers 36 are worried about land that has not even been won yet but God agrees and sets conditions for inherited land and how it should be passed on if no son was born to a father.  After Numbers 27 + 36 Moses is called to go up the mountain, view the land and die so this may have been the last set of rules he sought God on.

The girls loved their father and he had brought them up to be obedient and independent.  They had a strong sense of justice and knew that just because there was no male descendant that they should not exclude them from their rights in the Promised Land.  So they looked to God and the authorities to do the right thing.

Zelophehad’s daughters were very conscious of politics in the camp and were aware that their father had made some wrong choices. So they start their petition for the inheritance with the fact that he died for his own sins, not Korah’s.  Korah wanted to be a priest (Numbers 16) and lead a rebellion against Moses and Aaron (see Jude 11).  The daughters were very aware that he was not a perfect man when they said he died for his own sins, which would have been grumbling, complaining, and wanting to go back to Egypt.

Names are important in the Bible and it is always interesting to see what the names of people mean.  (I know that sometimes I make too much of the meaning.)  I always assume that the name we see was the one given them at birth but it is always possible that it could have been changed as they grew or that they were nicknames.  With that said here are the meaning for the daughters’ names from my Strong’s/Vines Concordance for the KJV.

  • Mahlah – 4244 – weak one
  • Noah – 5270 – movement (not exactly the same of Noah of the Ark)
  • Hoglah – 2295 – partridge
  • Milcah – 4435 – queen
  • Tirzah – 8656 – delightsomeness

Zelophehad’s name is used 11x in KJV and 9x in the NIV.  In the Strong’s Concordance it is not given a meaning but in the NIV Concordance, it listed as – shadow of dread, terror or protection from dread.  He is also the son of Hepher (pit or shame).  Maybe the Dead Sea Scroll’s shed new light on the root words that made up his name.

As part of Manasseh, the girls received land on the west side of the Jordan not in Gilead that was for the shepherds of the family.

The last mention of them is in 1 Chronicles 7:15. Where again it is pointed out that God had done something special for Zelophehad and his daughters. The land was the inheritance and it was important but his daughters gave him the gift of being remembered because they were brave enough to stand up for their family name and their father.

Follow Me – The 13th Disciple

Oh! You mean the guy in Acts. No, I mean the ones that were invited and never followed.

But let’s start with the one in Acts 1:20 – 26.  Matthias was the one picked over Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus; both had met certain requirements but God used the roll of the dice to pick him.  Ok, casting lots (rolling dice, modern counterpart), picking a stone from the Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:21, 1 Samuel 28:6), flipping coins or drawing straws it was still God choosing and the disciples believing that He could direct the “lot.”  Nothing is recorded about him after this brief mention in Acts and the Catholic Encyclopedia has several possible stories of his life and times but nothing of any relibality. If you are triskaidekaphobia he can be the 2nd 12th disciple.

I am talking about a legitimate number 13 like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:17 and Luke 18:18, who got a “come follow me” from Jesus OR the person in Luke 9:59 who had to bury his father first. We don’t even know if the man was dead, probably not because he “would have stinketh by then!” These three stories lead to a discourse about the cost of following Jesus and the promise that if you leave everything you will get that and more back.

Has it cost you something? Did you leave anything behind and not tried to replace it?

The phrase “follow me” carries the idea of choosing to be on a road with someone and going with them.  Paths and ways are another study but there are four things you can do on a road: 1. Stay on it and go with Him. 2. Turn and go the other direction. 3.Just get off. 4. Stand still.   Hot, cold or lukewarm.

I started to rethink this topic after looking at the Man of Gerasenes and his desire to follow Jesus and the Master’s redirecting him stay at home and witness there. Why?

Was he not ready? Had he already paid the price and this was his reward? Was he, because of his experience, in a different place in “the walk” than the twelve and Jesus knew they would not mix?

The picture of St. Matthias is from http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/stm17001.jpg