Temple Institute, Daughters of Zelophehad, and Women’s Rights

Artist portrayal of the ‘Daughters of Zelophehad’ before Moses (Wikipedia)


The Temple Institute (a Jewish organization) sent out the following:

“Tzelaphchad’s daughters speak justly!”

(Numbers 27:7)

Tammuz 16, 5779/July 19, 2019

This week’s Torah reading, Pinchas, could easily bear the subtitle “Profiles in Courage.” …

The second act of courage which occurs in our parasha was performed by the five daughters of Tzelaphchad – Machlah, Noa, Choglah, Milchah and Tirtzah. Their father had died without a son, and as things stood, that is, as Torah had stipulated, he had no one to inherit his portion in the land of Israel. The five sisters approached Moshe and challenged this law, saying to Moshe, “Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against HaShem in Korach’s assembly, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should our father’s name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father’s brothers.” (ibid 27:3-4)The five sisters exhibited courage simply in standing before Moshe, as this was unprecedented. We have not heard of such a thing in the patriarchal society of the desert encampment. Had Miriam been alive they might have first enlisted her support, but Miriam was no more. They went directly to Moshe. But even more courageously, they appealed directly to G-d, via Moshe’s good offices. Like Pinchas, the five sisters, Machlah, Noa, Choglah, Milchah and Tirtzah, were of the unassailable conviction that their desire was G-d’s desire, that what they were asking for was what G-d wanted for them. And, as in the case of Pinchas, G-d testified directly to their righteousness: “Tzelaphchad’s daughters speak justly!” (ibid 27:7) And so it was. In response to their query G-d dictated to Moshe an entire addendum to the Torah laws of inheritance, which, like Pinchas’ entry into the kehunah, would, from that day forth, stand forever.

(These women are called the “the daughters of Zelophehad” in Numbers 27:1, NKJV.)

Yes, women do have rights–and the New Testament also shows that many women had courage (cf. Hebrews 11).

Sadly, if you believe many US politicians, a woman’s “fundamental right” is the right to kill any child she may conceive–and while a women has the right to choose whether to marry or not, she does not have the right to kill via abortion or infanticide.

Jesus understood real women’s rights and roles.

Now, at the time of Jesus, one of the three routine declarations Jewish men made in the synagogue or their morning prayers was, “Thank God I am not a woman.”

Furthermore, in a rabbinic exposition of Jewish law, there were written these words:

A man should ever avoid women; thus he should never make any gestures at them, either with his hands or his feet, nor wink at them, nor jest with them . . .

A man must not greet a woman under any circumstances, and he is forbidden to send his regards to her even through her husband” (Ganzfried S. Translated by Hyman Goldin. Code of Jewish Law. Volume IV, Chapter 152, Verses 8,9, Hebrew Publishing Company, NY, 2004, p. 20).

Yet these “laws” were not found in the Bible, but were often generally understood improper traditions of men at the time of Christ.

Jesus denounced Jewish traditions that were in conflict with God’s commands (e.g. Matthew 15:3) and treated women differently than the Jewish leaders of His day did.

Some of the Jewish leaders saw limited good in women:

Rabbi Hiya taught: A woman is only for beauty, or only for the sake of the children she will bear. (Gemara as cited in The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, [1944], pp. 164-165. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/bata/bata10.htm viewed 08/15/13)

But women are more valuable than simply being beautiful objects to bear children.

The Bible says that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), and it often showed that He refused to take part in various added laws of Jewish tradition (Mark 7:5-13).

And this included the Jewish traditions involving women.

Notice John 4:7-19:

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

In the above account, Jesus violated two non-biblical Jewish traditions at the same time: He greets a woman and has interactions with a foreigner. And even this foreign woman knew that this was not the usual practice of the Jews.

Jesus even went a step further and started to talk with her about issues relating to religion and salvation. Hence, He considered that women were as deserving and capable as men in the area. And while that may seem to be self-evident, this does not seem to have been the usual practice amongst Jewish religious leaders of His day.

Furthermore, that woman, a foreigner, realized that Jesus was the Messiah before many men did:

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:10-26)

Jesus clearly felt that the woman had the right to get some questions answered.

That woman gave testimony of Jesus that others believed:

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”

40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word. (John 4:39-41)

So a foreign woman, and other foreigners, who had some familiarity with the scriptures, believed.

Notice that Jesus had to teach something to the Sadducees, who tended to be priests, that they had not grasped. He corrected their poor doctrinal understanding:

23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. 27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:23-32)

Thus, many people were surprised that Jesus did NOT relegate a resurrected woman to be inferior to any man. This was a radical departure from the non-biblical traditions that they held.

Women have the same spiritual potential as men (e.g. see What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).

Those who do not recognize this do not know “the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

As far as the role of women in the church and more specific rights, check out the article: Women and the New Testament Church. A related sermon is also available: Women’s Roles in the Church.

Some items of possibly-related interest may include:

Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here are links to two related sermons: Women’s Roles in the Church and New Testament Women.
True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? Is there still a place for being feminine? Here is an article from Herbert Armstrong about his thoughts relating to women and womanhood.
Dating: A Key to Success in Marriage, a practical dating guide for Christians This is a scripture-filled dating guide. It discusses many aspects of dating, as well as who to not consider for marriage. Two related sermons are available: The Art of Christian Dating. and No One to Date? Teen Q&A? Engagement? 2nd Marriage? A short animation is also available: First Date: Worldly vs. Christian.
Love, Marriage, and Sex It is important to get them in the right order.
God Created Marriage Some falsely claim that God did not create marriage and that fornication is fine.  What does the Bible really teach? Here is a version in Mandarin Chinese y^R ZZYû.
Making Your Marriage Work Marriage is not always easy, but it pictures a divine relationship. How can you make your marriage work? Here is a link to the video sermon: You Can Make YOUR Marriage Work.
Here’s the Plain Truth About OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY by Herbert Armstrong. Here is a related article in the Spanish language: ¿Es la poligamia una senda de Dios?
Husbands Love Your Wives An article written by the late Selmer Hegvold.
Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman’s Right to Choose Do you know what the Bible teaches on this? Has the Roman Catholic Church allowed abortions? What about the real Church of God? Some may wish to view the YouTube videos Abortion, the Bible, and US Debt, American Infanticide, and Land of ‘Free’ Abortions and Debt.
What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? What is your ultimate destiny? What does the Bible teach? Is deification only a weird or cultic idea? Are you to rule the universe? Here is a link to the video sermon What is Your Destiny?
Christians are to Rule Are Christians really to rule? If so, how will that turn out? A related sermon is titled A sermon of related interest is titled Are Christians really supposed to rule?
Priscilla and Aquila An early Christian married couple from Rome who moved to Asia Minor.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.

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