“Speak out” – Seeds of Faith – March 7, 2022

March is Women’s Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year 2022, the United Nations declared the theme of the celebration as – “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”
In the Bible, there is a story that is not often heard. It’s the story of the five daughters of Zelophehad who worked together for a change in a deeply patriarchal society. Their story can be found in Joshua 17.
The names of these brave women are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. What happened to them was very significant because Joshua decided to write their names and their story in his written account.
What can we learn from them?
First, speak out!
The story of these women happened during the time when the land of Canaan was being divided into the tribes of Israel. These women belonged to the tribe of Manasseh who was their great great great grandfather. The allotment was given to the male descendants of the tribe.
They bravely spoke out that they too are entitled to the land allotment.
Here is the account written in Joshua 17:4 — They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.”
So, to the daughters of today, do not be afraid to speak out. Your voice matters!
Second, stand for what is right.
By speaking out to Joshua and the other leaders, these women were reminding them of their agreement with Moses as the Lord instructed. Moses was already dead during this time.
Going back to Numbers 24:4 to 7, we can read how these women spoke to Moses, and how God eventually granted their cause.
The verses say, “Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.” So Moses brought their case before the LORD, and the LORD said to him, “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 to them.”
By speaking out and standing for what is right, these women changed the course of history in their own tribe. The law assumed that only sons could inherit. These daughters challenged that assumption, and God granted their request.
And when they presented this again to Joshua, he had to re-affirm the decision of God as spoken to Moses.
Joshua 17:4 ends by these words, “So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the LORD’s command.”
And because of what they had done, Joshua 17:5 to 6 say, “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. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.”
These women were not given prominence until they spoke up, and stood for what is right.
To all women out there, let the story of Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah be your inspiration!
May God bless us all!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Director, Office of Communications
Central Philippine University