Ancient Israel was a kinship-based society, with kinship defined through the patriline (i.e. inheritance was through the male), so that both genealogies and rights of inheritance were, with only a very few exceptions (e.g., Num. 27:1–11; 36:1–12), traced through patrilineal lines of descent. (Ackerman)
Not only was marriage the norm in ancient Israel, for both men and women, the norm within marriage was for women to bear children. Sons, in particular, were important for maintaining a father’s lineage within ancient Israel’s system of patrilineal descent and for transmitting through the generations the landholdings that every Israelite family claimed perpetually to hold as its inalienable patrimony. (Ackerman)
With the above in mind, it is important to note two instances where women asked and claimed their inheritance. The first instance was Caleb’s daughter, Achsah who was given to her cousin in marriage as a reward for capturing some land. The scripture doesn’t indicate what prompted her, but she went to Caleb and asked for a land with springs – and Caleb gave her the upper and nether springs. Caleb’s daughter probably knew of the promise of land to Caleb and his descendants. The land she and her husband received was probably not adequate enough for farming. She needed access to water so that her land could produce and be fertile. There was nothing wrong with asking – so she asked and got what she requested and then some. It seems that the Bible celebrates her “pushiness” or moxie since this story is told twice in the exact manner – Judges 1:12-15 and Joshua 15:16-19.
Then there was the great grandson of Manasseh – Zelophehad (bet you never heard of him), who had no sons but five daughters. Manasseh was Joseph’s son and he and his brother Ephraim were included in the 12 tribes of Israel. When the land was being parceled out, these five sisters said to Joshua, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren.” This was the second time these women spoke up and this time it was to re-affirm what they had already accomplished. Because they recognized that the law made no provision for inheritance if a man did not have a son, they brought their case before Moses. (Numbers 27:1-11) As a result, an adjustment was made to the law. So now at this point, Joshua could give them an inheritance for future generations. According to the commandment, Joshua gave them an inheritance. (Joshua 17:1-6) These women might have been overlooked if they had not spoken up and the law would not have been changed.
Here’s what we can learn from all of these women:
- These women knew the traditions and laws of the land; they were knowledgeable.
- They were determined.
- They understood what they were entitled to.
- They weren’t afraid to ask and did nothing wrong by asking.
- They received what they were asking for.
As a woman, don’t let society's laws, rules, traditions or practices dictate your worth. You are worthwhile because God made you and you are made in the image of God. Marches are nice; I didn’t feel compelled to participate because to me the motive seemed reactionary and ultimately marching wouldn’t change my worth. It’s more important to know who you are regardless of the circumstances around you. This knowledge should center you and give you wisdom on how to act.
Scripture never discounts the female intellect, downplays the talents and abilities of women, or discourages the right use of women's spiritual gifts. But whenever the Bible expressly talks about the marks of an excellent woman, the stress is always on feminine virtue. The most significant women in Scripture were influential not because of their careers, but because of their character. The message these women collectively give is not about "gender equality;" it's about true feminine excellence. And that is always exemplified in moral and spiritual qualities rather than by social standing, wealth, or physical appearance. (McArthur)
As women, know your worth. If you’re confused by all the messages around you, start with the Bible. God created you (warts and all) in his image and you are worthwhile in His eyes. In His kingdom, women are not afterthoughts or appendages. You have equal value with men and full rights to all of His benefits.
And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. Job 42:15 [KJV]
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! Psalms 139:17 [KJV]
Do you know your worth in God's eyes? Are you claiming what God has for you?