We are in an interesting stretch of the Conquest Era as we read in Joshua 15-19 this week. It is easy to often blow through these parts of God’s word, as they feel they do not have must direct application for us in our daily faith walk. When you reach sections of God’s word like this, I want to encourage you when you to take the time to dig a little deeper and long to see what God has for us, and why these things are important in the overall narrative of God’s work to fulfill his covenants and plan of redemption. Do not forget that every word that is in the holy Scriptures is ordained by God to be there and studied by His people. Therefore, it is not to be skipped over but studied and understood.
Today I want to focus in on the inheritance given to the people of Manasseh. Joshua 17:1 tells us that Manasseh was the firstborn of Joseph. Verse 3 tells us that a man named Zelophehad is the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh. Zelophehad had no sons but only daughters, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
Now, why is this worth digging into? Because the formal ways of inheritance were always to the eldest son, but what happens when you don’t have a son? Should the daughters be given an opportunity to inherit the father’s portion?
Well the answer lies in the book of Numbers 27 verses 1-11. Look with me at what happened there, as these daughters approached Moses to inquire about their father’s inheritance and it remaining in his family instead of going elsewhere.
Numbers 27:1-11 Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father's brothers.”
Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father's brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father's brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. And it shall be for the people of Israel a statute and rule, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”
So, the first thing that is exciting to see here is God ordained that the daughters should receive their father’s inheritance, and He went on to clarify how He wants the inheritance divided if the father doesn’t have a son. God showed them grace and favor, and in doing so, blessed their family and following generations. We serve a good and gracious God.
One of the factors that makes this detail in the narrative so special is the boldness of the daughters to respectfully plead their case before Moses and then in our text later before Joshua.
Here is the account in Joshua 17:4:
They approached Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our brothers.” So according to the mouth of the Lord He gave them an inheritance among the brothers of their father.
They did not come in pride or disrespect, but they did come boldly and with respect, and the Lord honored them. Moses and Joshua both heeded the Lord’s command, and their family was blessed as a result.
This is the teaching we find in the New Testament in Hebrews 4:16: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”
We to need to come boldly to the throne of our gracious God--not timid, prideful, or disrespectful, but boldly.
We can be bold to know that our Father in heaven wants to hear from us and wants us to bring Him our thoughts and hopes and life happenings.
To teach us this, Jesus told this story in Luke 18:
Luke 18:1-8 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. "There was a judge in a certain city," he said, "who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. `I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, `but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!' " Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?"
I pray that this is a simple but critical reminder for you to go to our God often in prayer and to come to Him knowing He loves you and wants you to bring all that you are going through to Him. May you ultimately trust Him, and as Jesus modeled say, “Not my will but your will be done.”
“There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”