The Bible and Women Empowerment: Daughters and the Inheritance of Landed Property


About 3,500 years ago, at a time it was unheard of for women to dream of owning landed property in the nation of Israel, some women dared to ask to be allowed to inherit their late father’s land. In response, God commanded that the requests of the women be granted in their entirety. It was a strange command given to a people long used to the subservience of women and their exclusion from matters of enduring and transgenerational economic importance. The command could only have come directly from God and delivered to a man known and believed by all to be His oracle, Moses. However, the success of the women in receiving such a favourable response from God is directly connected to the strategies they employed in making the request.


A case was brought before Moses the man of God by five sisters, daughters of one man, Zelophehad, who died without a male child. The custom then, as it remains today in many traditional societies, is that women should not inherit landed property. The case was supposed to be simple: upon his death without a male heir, Zelophehad’s property would go to his kinsmen while his daughters would be married off to suitors.

It was, therefore, with uncommon boldness that the five sisters came together to challenge the status quo and break a consensus that had thrived in Israel since the founding of the nation. In Numbers 27: 2-4, it is recorded that the sisters “stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, at the door of the tent of meeting,” and requested that they be allowed to inherit their late father’s land.

Moses, a man the Bible commends as the humblest man to have walked upon the face of the earth, handled the case with uncommon meekness. In his forbearance and willingness to listen to every opinion, Moses asked to be given time to seek the face of God concerning the strange request of the daughters of Zelophehad. A man with a dint of pride and its accompanying impatience would have, in the least, hastily dismissed the women’s requests in order to attend to more important matters of statehood. In fact, the sisters would have risked punishment for daring to make such a request.

God’s response to Moses was as unusual as the request itself, “The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate… Assign them the property that would have been given to their father,” said the Lord unto Moses. It was a complete and absolute victory for the daughters of Zelophehad and an enduring ordinance to the freedom that women have in the eyes of God.

Strategies for Success

In breaking the glass ceiling, the daughters of Zelophehad applied certain strategies which today’s Bible-believing women would be wise to learn from in order to ensure all-round victory when they demand change. We shall look at some of these strategies.

First, the women were five in number. Five in the Scripture symbolizes God’s graciousness, goodness and favour towards all of humanity. When women demand their rights as did the daughters of Zelophehad, it must be from a recognition that both men and women are imperfect and that we are all products of grace. Women have been oppressed for centuries, and a demand for that situation to be corrected should not turn into a struggle for superiority. Male or female, we are all equal, fallen children of God upheld by the grace of God. Humility should be the watchword in demanding that the rights of women be upheld. Forgiveness and respect should be foundational in crafting the attitude and language of women at the forefront of demanding a restructuring of the system to make it a more equitable platform for all genders.

Second, it is on record that the daughters of Zelophehad came together to speak with one voice, all five of them. They did not appoint a representative, none chickened out, and neither did some decide that they did not care so much about getting their father’s inheritance. This attitude tells us that unity is foundational while demanding a change in the situation of women in any community. All five daughters were united; the eldest did not seek to be the sole inheritor of Zelophehad’s property in order to malign the rest. Everyone’s interest was considered from the outset, and a common front was presented. Rich, poor, older, younger, educated or not, women will have to work together to liberate themselves from the structures of oppression that have worked against them for centuries.

The last strategy that shall be explored here is the way these five women went about requesting a change of status. It is recorded that the five sisters “stood before Moses, and before Eleazar, the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, at the door of the tent of meeting.” The five sisters did not organize other women to foment a rebellion against the establishment. They did not disrespect, ridicule, grumble against, gossip or harshly criticize the system on the media. Neither did the sisters forcefully seek to wrestle their inheritance off the hands of their father’s kinsmen, who were considered the rightful inheritors. None of the sisters visited Moses or any of the men who would decide their case ahead of time at night to seduce them with their feminine prowess in order to ensure favourable judgement. The sisters did not elect to send emissaries to present their case before the powers that be.

With great wisdom, strength of character and humility, the five sisters “stood” before the most powerful men in their country and before the whole nation and presented their exceptional, never-before-heard case with unmatched dignity and fearlessness. Standing before the whole nation of Israel must have been the most vulnerable thing those women ever did. But they had nothing to fear. They were women of impeccable character. No one could fault them in any way or accuse them of any crime. What a lesson for every Bible-believing woman today in the way we choose to lead our lives.

A combination of factors assisted the daughters of Zelophehad in getting their requests. First, a just and merciful God who was willing to by-pass the traditions of men in order to grant the righteous demands of a late man’s daughters. Secondly, a humble leader who gave an ear to the “absurd” request brought by five fatherless, defenceless women. But perhaps, the foundational reason that moved the heart of God and the mind of Moses was the strategies applied by the daughters of Zelophehad in making their unprecedented and unconventional requests.


35 Responses

  1. Hiya veгy niⅽe blog!! Guy .. Excelⅼent ..
    Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your website and take the
    feeds additionally? I ɑm happy to searcһ out numeг᧐uѕ helpful information right
    here within the pߋst, we want work out mогe techniques in this regard, thank you for sharіng.
    . . . . .

  2. I gоt thiѕ website from my buddy who told
    me on the topic of this web site and now this time I am browsing this website and reading very informative
    posts at this time.

  3. Very nice post. I just stumbled uрon your bl᧐g and wanted to sɑy that I’ᴠe really enjoyed surfіng around your blog
    posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope yoս write agɑin soon!

  4. Someone necesѕarily assist to make critically posts I might state.

    This is the first time І freԛuented your webѕite page and so far?
    I amaᴢed with the research ʏоu made to make this
    actuaⅼ post extraordinary. Wonderful job!

  5. Ꮋeⅼlo every one, here everү pers᧐n is
    sharіng these experience, so it’s niⅽe to read this web site, and I used to pay a visit thіs website every day.

  6. Τhanks , I’ve recently been looking for informatіon approximately this subject
    for a long time and yours is the greatest I have came upon till now.

    However, whаt conceгning the bottom line? Are you certain aƅout the source?

  7. Asҝing questions are genuinely nice thing if you are
    not ᥙnderstanding somethіng completely, but this piece of writing offers pleasant
    understanding even.

  8. Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  9. Hey there, Υou’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg
    it аnd persⲟnally suggeѕt to my friendѕ.
    I am sure they’ⅼl be benefited from tһis website.

  10. hello!,I like your writing very so mᥙch! ⲣercentage we keep up a correspondence more about youг article on ᎪOᏞ?

    I require an expert in this area to sⲟlve my problem. May be that is yoս!

    Having a look forward to peer you.

  11. I dο not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    Ӏ don’t know who you are but ԁefinitely you are going to a famous blogger if you arе not already 😉 Cheers!

  12. Ηi there wouⅼd you mind letting me know which wеbhost you’re working ѡith?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsеrs and I must say this Ƅloց loads a lot faster then most.
    Can you recommend a g᧐od web hosting provider at a
    honest pгice? Chеers, I appreciate it!

  13. What i dоn’t realize is in truth how you ɑre now not actually much more
    neatly-appreciɑted than you may be right now. You are
    very intelligent. You reсognize thus significantly when it comes
    to thiѕ topic, made mе individuallʏ imagine it from so many varied angⅼes.
    Its like men and women don’t seem to be interested except it’s sоmething to do with Woman gaga!
    Үоᥙr own stuffs outstanding. At all times take сare
    of it up!

  14. First of all Ӏ ᴡould like to say wondеrful bl᧐ց!
    I had a quiⅽk ԛuestion which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was interested to knoѡ how you center yourself and clear your mіnd prіor to writing.

    I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do enjoy writіng however it just seems likе
    the first 10 to 15 mіnutes tend to be lost jᥙst trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Thank

  15. Ꮃow that was strange. I just wrote an increⅾibly long cоmment but after I clicked submit my comment
    didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over agаin. Regardless, just wanted to say
    great blog!

  16. That is a great tip particularly to those new
    to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing this
    one. A must read article!

  17. Wonderful article! This is the type of info that
    are supposed to be shared across the internet. Disgrace on the seek engines
    for not positioning this post upper! Come on over and seek advice from my web site .
    Thanks =)

  18. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It’s the little changes that make the most
    important changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Support The Pan African Review.

Your financial support ensures that the Pan-African Review initiative achieves sustainability and that its mission is shielded from manipulation. Most importantly, it allows us to bring high-quality content free of charge to those who may not be in a position to afford it.

You Might Also Like