The Daughters of Zelophehad
by Linda Krueger
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Every single thing mentioned in Scripture is there for a reason - to point to the Messiah. I believe this statement with all my heart. No one could ever convince me otherwise. Every word, every letter, is divinely inspired for the ultimate goal of revealing the Messiah. (When I say this I am referring to the original language texts as any translation thereof would by their very nature have a tendency to lose something along the way.) Having said that, I can imagine there's quite a bit of head-scratching going on right about now. What about all those genealogies? What about all those mundane laws? What about all those things that are tucked away and seem to have absolutely no significance whatsoever? I'm glad you asked!
I'd like to take a look at three seemingly unrelated passages. First, let's look at Numbers 27, verses 1 through 11. Here we are introduced to the daughters of Zelophehad, prior to Israel entering into the promised land. They approach Moses with a very grave concern. Their father has passed away in the desert and had only the five daughters - no sons. The girls didn't want their father's name to be lost simply because he hadn't had any sons. They then ask that they be given land among their father's relatives. Moses, being the wise man that he was, took their case before the Lord. The Lord told Moses that the girls were right and said that if any man did not have sons to inherit his property, the daughters could take possession if they married within the father's tribe. This also meant that the husbands had to be willing to set aside their rightful inheritance in order to perpetuate their father-in-law's name. Later, in Joshua 17, verses 1 through 6, we see the girls going to Joshua, who looks up the exception to the law and grants the girls their father's inheritance since they married their father's brothers sons. Wasn't that a nice thing for God to do for these girls?
Now, let's take a look at Jeremiah 22, verses 24 through 30. In this passage the Lord is speaking to King Jehoiachin through the prophet Jeremiah, and what He had to say isn't very uplifting. But considering that Jehoiachin ushered in much evil during his reign, I suppose it was only fitting. In verse 30 we find, “This is what the LORD says: "Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah." (NIV) Yikes! God Himself pronounced a blood curse on Jehoiachin's lineage, that none of his offspring would ever sit on the throne of David. That had to hurt.
The last passage I wanted to take a look at is Matthew 1, verses 1 through 16. This is the lineage of Yeshua, the Messiah, from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Miriam (Mary), Yeshua's mother. It is interesting to note that both Joseph and Mary were members of the house of David, but through different sons of David. As we see in Joseph's ancestry, he is from the line of Jehoiachin (vs. 11), which could pose a serious problem for Yeshua, legally speaking. Mary was told explicitly that her son would in fact sit on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33). But if Joseph took Him as his own son, would the legality of the curse on Jehoiachin be binding, preventing Yeshua from ever sitting on David's throne?
Knowing that God cannot go against His own Law, and in His great wisdom, He took care of this little “glitch” by way of the provision for Zelophehad's daughters. An important aspect of this provision was the relationship between the bride's father and her husband. Although in our society we still use the term son-in-law, the relationship between the two men is anything but legally binding. In ancient Israel, however, things were different. The son-in-law was exactly that - more akin to an adopted son rather than a nice boy who was married to the father's daughter. And it is because of these legalities that Yeshua can make His claim to David's throne, through His mother's lineage which is free from the blood curse.
From this one example, we see that the Bible is more than a collection of interesting stories. The whole of Scripture is there for an integrated purpose - to point the world to Yeshua, Israel's Messiah who died for the whole world. Nothing is included in Scripture for folly and nothing is there by chance. I hope that this will encourage you to dig a little deeper and question what would normally be skimmed over. All the pieces fit together - we simply have to figure out how. As Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.” Let's take the hand of the one who created us and search out these treasures together!
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