The Daughters of Zelophehad

Numbers 27:1-11

As it becomes apparent that the nation is about to enter the land, the five brotherless daughters of Zelophehad approach Moses with an unusual request. Their father, they explain, perished in the desert, but was not among those who were punished with losing their claim to a portion of the land. Since they have no brothers, however, there is no descendent qualified to inherit the land their father should have received. They ask Moses if they may inherit his portion.


Moses consults God on the matter, Who says the women are right. He instructs Moses to give them their father’s inheritance and states for all time that where there are no sons, daughters may inherit from their fathers. If the deceased is childless, his share passes to his surviving brother or his brother’s heirs. If he has no brother, it reverts to his father’s brothers and, if not, to his next closest relative.


The Israel Bible highlights the daughters’ love for the Land of Israel. It is no coincidence that their lineage is traced back to Joseph, who loved Israel so much he made his brothers swear to take his remains back to the Holy Land when they left Egypt.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

This story deals with women’s rights in Torah law. How does it fit into your expectations of the portrayal of women in the Torah? Is it surprising? Why or why not?

Comments ( 5 )

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  • Well it doesn't surprise me very much since women in the previous accounts were usually protected, for instance Moshe protected Jethro's daughters when she found them at the well; Judah protected Tamar from shame having realized his error of denying her a kinsman redeemer for her deceased husband. However, on the other hand it is quite surprising since Dinah for example, never got an inheritance in Yisrael and yet she was one of Yacob's children.

  • The portrayals of women in Scriptures is mostly inferior to men. Not less valid but less bearing responsibility. So women are equal to men. (otherwise HaShem should have created Chawa out Adam's feet, but HE created her out of his side !) But Adam was the first and the leader. In former times women were considered of less value, but not in Torah. (see Devorah and Sarah and Rivka ) It is surprising that this omission was made in Torah. These daughters loved the country so much (just like Joseph) that they wanted a piece of land in the Promised land. And that's what we all want, don't we…..?Remarkable that Torah uses the Word "pass over " in stead of "to give". This reminds me of Pesach in which we all take part. Question: does this mean that lovers of the G-d of Israel also get a share in in the inheritance of our people ?

  • Sheila

    These women in a spirit of unity put their trust in the Lord by presenting their case before Moses—–their right of inheritance. Because God is a God of Righteousness and Justice, He defended them when they allowed Him to be their Provider. This was also an appeal for equal rights for women

  • Diana Brown

    I believe Torah was the road to freedom for all women everywhere. Before Torah, women were property. Torah teaches men how to love the woman God has gifted them with. If the woman is of a sweet nature, you need to protect and provide for her. If she is hard to live with, you must endure and help her heal. Sometimes, God will send a man a sweet woman to bring out the warrior in him. Sometimes, God will send him an untamed shrew to bring the man before Him as Moses came before the Lord. A wounded woman in her body, spirit, and soul requires a humble, serving Moses type of man to lead her out of her Egypt past and into the Wilderness of learning Torah so she too can inherit the Promised Land of Abundant Life.

    • This is women's wisdom. Thank you for these remarks. I will take advantage of them. Thanx !
      (valid even now it is written about one year ago) 🙂

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