Many people have written books and articles that accuse God that He does not care about women. They contend that Scripture suppresses them and regards them as inferior, et cetera, et cetera. The problem with those people is usually a lack of Bible knowledge. Scripture says, ‘…pay attention to what I [God] say; listen closely to my words…’ 1 That means,
- You have to read the Bible very carefully, otherwise you might jump to your own conclusions and not discern God’s character.
- God is only revealed in the 66 books of the Holy Bible. Information from outside the Bible is just that, information or personal opinions that often don’t accord with what Scripture reveals about God’s character.
- Let us look at what an easily missed Old Testament portion teaches about God’s attitude towards women.
God’s attitude towards women
- There are many ‘Christians’ who claim that they are ‘New Testament’ Christians. For them, the Old Testament is of no use at all. Where they get that idea, nobody knows.
- Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith was an Old Testament scholar. He, the omniscient Son of God, quoted from the Old Testament because it was relevant to what He taught (of course the New Testament was not yet written).
- The Holy Spirit never threw the Old Testament into the dustbin. It is part of God’s revelation to us. So, what does the Old Testament teach about women’s ‘rights?’
Zelophehad and his five daughters
We meet Zelophehad from the tribe of Manasseh in Numbers 27:1. He had five daughters who were so special to God that the Old Testament mentions their names (Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah) four times in Numbers 26:33; 27:1; 36:11; Joshua 17:3. 1 Chronicles 7:15 also mentions them.
They had an interesting history.
- Their father, Zelophehad, died without sons.1 According to the law at that time, daughters could not inherit land. As members of the tribe of Manasseh, they refused to be deprived of their right to an inheritance.
- They approached the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly. 2 There they stated that their father died because of sin and had no sons.
- They thought it unfair that their father’s portion of the promised land should be lost, since they could not inherit land. Their plea for justice was, ‘Give us property among our father’s relatives.’ 3
Moses discussed the issue with God.
God’s answer was fair and without favoritism, ‘What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance over to them.’ 4 Scripture is clear, ‘This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’ 5
Five daughters who insisted on their rights
When it was time for the allotment of the different tribes, the five daughters went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua and the leaders, and said, ‘The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.’ 6 Joshua obeyed, ‘Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons….’ 7
- The lesson of Zelophehad’s daughters carries through to the New Testament. In God’s Kingdom men are not superior to women, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ 8
- Peter also writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit, ‘Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.’ 9
Godly women need never fear that they will ‘inherit an inferior portion’ to men on the new heavens and earth. Our wonderful Lord will see to it.
- Proverbs 4:20
- Numbers 27:1
- Numbers 27:2
- Numbers 27:4
- Numbers 27:5
- Numbers 27:11; Numbers 36:1-11
- Joshua 17:4
- Joshua 17:6
- Galatians 3:28
- 1 Peter 3:7