The term, “Fight Like A Girl,” is the title of a book by Lisa Bevere. This call to women resonated in such a way that her charge has become a cultural phenomenon. The goal is to encourage women ( and girls )to embrace, celebrate, and savor our God – given uniqueness, as feminine creation, instead of viewing ourselves as lacking, or the “weaker sex.” While we may be from Venus, as opposed to Mars, God is intentional in our divine and unique design. We possess God’s spiritual DNA. As women, we are created in God’s own image.
Ultimately, “fighting like a girl,” means that , as women, we should view our femininity as strength, instead of weakness. An outgrowth of our femininity is sisterhood. Sisterhood is a godly construct which allows us to use our combined strength, love, and compassion to gain wisdom and power, as individuals; but, more importantly, from and for the benefit of each other and the world. Sisterhood is a construct of love and sharing; whereby, we joyfully embrace the sister to sister relationship to strengthen and bless each other for the journey of life we are intended to walk together.
This holds especially true when we must fight for what is rightfully ours; whether property or employment; whether political or financial power, whether for dignity or acceptance; whether for our families or ourselves, or for all of the above. Sisterhood is our strength. It is a dynamic force which keeps us together and keeps us going.
The story of the Daughters of Zelophehad is a story of sisterhood and its outcome: Women’s Empowerment. Their story shows us how we win, when we work TOGETHER, for a common goal.
And now, THE WORD from our Sponsor………………………………….
Numbers 27:1-11 (NIV)
The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. 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.
“Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”
The story of the Daughters of Zelophehad is found in the book of Numbers. Moses, the Law Giver, has successfully led God’s people out of Egypt, and the Israelites find themselves in the wilderness, waiting to enter the Promised Land. While it will be another 40 years before the Israelites possess the Promised Land, Moses and the male leadership begin to parcel off the land of Canaan which God promised to the children of Israel. In chapter 26 of Numbers, we find the leadership of Israel (all male) takes a census. They count every adult male, 20 or more years old; however, females and children ARE NOT counted. The land grants are parceled to each particular tribe, to the clan, to the family, to the father, to the son. Without a male headed household, there is no land grant – so for the daughters of Zelophehad, instead of inheritance, there is disinheritance!
The five sisters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah, are second generation Israelites whose parents experienced Egyptian slavery; but, were also freed by the mighty hand of Yahweh. While God’s people have yet to enter into the Promised Land, there is the understanding that they will be victorious, through God’s divine intervention. So the issue of land holding in this story, is actually promised inheritance (think of 40 acres and a mule, as a working analogy).
For these five sisters, the promised inheritance of land did not apply. Their father has died, and they have no brothers for their father’s inheritance. . Their gender excluded them from any hope of gaining what legally belonged to their father. In other words, as women, they were not counted and they did not matter.
Their story shows us that gender did not stop these five sisters from demanding what they believed was rightfully theirs. With bold determination and audacity; they get into formation and go to the “entrance of the tent of meeting” to state their case before Moses, the great leader; Eleazar, the High Priest; the tribal chieftains, and the entire assembly of men. Rather than requesting consideration for the inheritance, the daughters of Zelophehad demanded what they knew was rightfully theirs: “Give us property among our father’s relatives.”
Their demand for land inheritance had no legal precedent in Mosaic law. These five sisters were forging new ground. Moses, acting as their legal support, takes their case before the Lord. The Lord acts with favor and swift decisiveness for these five sisters. As a result, the Israelites are confronted with new case law: “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter.”
Without benefit of a father or brother to state their case before Moses and the tribal chieftains, the Daughters of Zelophehad do it for themselves. Their victory stands, not just for them; but, for all Israelite women born into similar circumstances into perpetuity. Because of their fierce courage and determination, women were included in the most important construct of wealth in ancient Israel: PROPERTY. The daughters of Zelophehad demand and win justice for themselves and for Israeli women who come after them.
The story of the Daughters of Zelophehad is a story of women’s empowerment. It teaches us that despite the circumstance, taking ahold of our lives with our own hands is what God desires for His daughters. It teaches us that God is invested in sisterhood – in fact, God created sisterhood! It clearly demonstrates that when we work diligently on behalf of justice, and in good faith, we earn victory for ourselves and leave a blessed legacy for others.
Despite what the current media images are for women, we must reject identities which seek to denigrate and minimize our character and strength. We do this for ourselves, for our daughters, as well as women who come after us. We then agree with what Dr. King urges us to consider: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?”
QUESTIONS FOR OUR CONSIDERATION AND DISCUSSION:
This is an ancient story with contemporary implications. Property is still considered as a primary way to achieve wealth and status. Without any legal precedence to follow, why do you think these sisters acted in the fashion that is shown in the story?
Think about the biblical verse, Romans 8:31 (b): “If God be for us, who can be against us?” How does this verse apply to the Sisterhood of Zelophehad.
Consider this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” How does this story connect with King’s understanding of victorious living?
What does this story teach us about women’s empowerment and sisterhood?
What does this story teach us about legacy and forward action?
Imagine these five sisters planning their strategy meeting before they go before Moses and the Elders. What do you think they considered as most important for their case? What were some of the character traits they possess, as women, to demand what was rightfully theirs?
What does this story tell us about God and God’s favor towards women?
In this story, what does it mean to “fight like a girl.”
Finally, does this story have any application or implications for your own life? Explain.