God gives His girls equality—and has commissioned them to take territory for His kingdom.
Israelites who traveled through the Sinai desert with Moses probably
knew about the daughters of Zelophehad. While other women hid inside
tents and covered themselves head to foot with heavy veils, these
girls—Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah—defied the patriarchal
system of their day and earned a special place in biblical history.
rarely hear sermons about Zelophehad’s daughters today, even though
they are mentioned in the Bible five times (see Num. 26:33; 27:1-7;
36:1-12; 1 Chr.
7:15; Josh. 17:1-6). Maybe this is because many church leaders simply
don’t want to empower women or are afraid to. But it is time we unlocked
these women’s secret for a new generation.
daughters must understand who they are, how their heavenly Father views
them, and what He has commissioned them to do in His kingdom. The
daughters’ portion must be claimed.
may have been told that women have only second-class status in the
church, or that your role is limited because of your gender. You may
have even been told that women are less valuable to God, or less useful.
But the Bible contradicts this view.
fact, the Old Testament contains several accounts of daughters who were
empowered and given their full inheritance—in an age when boys were
preferred over girls, and women had no civil rights. The stories of
these daughters are recorded in Scripture so that you, too, will muster
the courage to claim your inheritance.
FIVE PIONEER WOMEN
At a time when most women in Israel lived like prisoners in polygamous households, the daughters of Zelophehad
must have spent lots of time outside their tent. They were curious.
They had a zest for life. And they refused to be confined by the
limitations of their culture.
did they think differently from other women of that era? My theory is
that their parents offered these girls overwhelming validation and
encouragement. Zelophehad, who had no sons, must have decided after his
first daughter was born that he was content to raise a houseful of
women. He recognized their value. He was generous with his affection and
instilled in his daughters a powerful sense of personal destiny.
probably showered his daughters with gifts, held them in his lap after
dinner and told them stories about the exodus from Egypt while he tucked
them into bed. They knew their daddy loved them, and his affirmation
nurtured a sense of empowerment.
can imagine these playful girls dancing and singing next to their
father’s goat pens as they did their chores. Their ankle bracelets
jingling as they skipped past the tents in Manasseh’s encampment.
might have even complained about all the giggling that came from
Zelophehad’s household. They may have shouted to Zelophehad’s wife,
“Tell those girls to be quiet!”
But these girls were not easily silenced. They were God-ordained troublemakers. They would soon make history.
the girls blossomed into women, their confidence grew. They must have
started talking among themselves about the problems with patriarchy,
finally asking the most forbidden questions: “Why don’t the women have
any privileges around here? Why can’t women own land? Why can’t we get
an inheritance when we cross the Jordan?”
The Bible tells us that after Zelophehad’s
death, his daughters went to Moses and made a daring proposal: “‘Why
should the name of our father be withdrawn from among his family because
he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers'” (Num. 27:4, NASB).
We can’t even begin to imagine how bold and audacious this request was.
Women in Israel did not ask for rights. Yet the daughters of Zelophehad
risked their reputations by approaching the leader of their nation and
asking for something revolutionary.
is most remarkable is that Moses took their request seriously and
sought God about it. Most church leaders who restrict women’s
involvement in ministry don’t pray about this issue at all. They simply
consult their denominational policies and traditions and decree, “No
women in the pulpit. Women can’t teach men. Women can’t lead anything.”
Then they reinstate man-made rules that quench the Holy Spirit.
But Moses asked God, and God had a surprising reply: “‘The daughters of Zelophehad
are right in their statements. You shall surely give them a hereditary
possession among their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer the
inheritance of their father to them'” (Num. 27:7).
that moment, God contradicted centuries of prejudice and wrong-headed
tradition. He made it clear that in His kingdom, women are not
afterthoughts or appendages. They have equal value with men and full
rights to His benefits.
A DAUGHTER’S DOUBLE PORTION
Hidden in another Old Testament book is the story of Achsah, the
daughter of Caleb (see Josh. 15:16-19). Like Zelophehad’s daughters,
this daring young woman also claimed territory in the land of Canaan.
you imagine what it would have been like to grow up in the household of
Caleb, one of Israel’s champions of faith? The giants who ruled Canaan
did not intimidate this man—and I suspect he imparted that same
fearlessness to this young girl.
Bible tells us that when Caleb inherited his territory in the land of
Judah, his daughter approached him with a bold proposal: She asked him
for land in a day when women were not considered worthy of owning
But the story does not stop there. Achsah
said to her father: “‘Give me a blessing; since you have given me the
land of the Negev, give me also springs of water'” (v. 19). Caleb, not
one to deny his little girl anything, gave her “the upper and the lower
Achsah had spunk. She wasn’t satisfied with the status quo.
Not only did she ask for land, she asked for more! She pressed forward
until she got the water necessary to turn the dry desert into a garden.
is this obscure passage included in the Scriptures? I believe the Holy
Spirit has woven a subtle theme throughout the Bible, pointing to the
fact that redeemed women who have been set free from the curse of sin
will inherit the kingdom. They will not live on the sidelines while men
partake of heaven’s blessings. They will not be penalized from full
participation in the church simply because of gender.
God is calling women of faith to arise and claim land for Him. He is
looking for women who have a giant-killing mentality. Dare I say it? He
is looking for women with an apostolic spirit—women whose burden for
souls weighs so heavy that they cannot rest until the whole earth has
been filled with His glory.
wants women who are not content to simply work in the nursery and lead
women’s luncheons. (Nothing against the nursery, but the church has lost
so much of its power by limiting women’s gifts to domestic functions.)
It is time for women to shake loose from the trappings of religious
culture and step into their full potential.
can still work in the nursery or the kitchen (as can men, since all of
us are called to be servants). But they can also plant churches,
disciple new believers, counsel the addicted, heal the sick, perform
miracles, cast out devils, own and run successful businesses, feed the
poor, hold political office and transform nations for Christ. There is
so much territory to be claimed.
you did not know you could ask for nations. Perhaps you did not realize
that God has a role for you to play in the evangelization
of the world. As you get to know the Father more intimately, you will
come to understand that He is eager to give you more when you are
willing to ask for it.
Beautiful Company of Women There is yet a third Old Testament reference
to daughters who claimed their inheritance. They are the daughters of
Job—Jemimah, Keziah and Keren-happuch—who are described as the most beautiful women in the land (see Job 42:12-15).
must have had special affection for these girls. After all, he had lost
all 10 of his original children years earlier when a storm destroyed
his house. When God restored Job’s fortunes, and gave him double for all
that had been taken from him, Job had 10 more children. It is
interesting to note that the Bible says Job had seven sons and three
daughters—and then it provides the names of the girls only.
Job 42:15 says: “In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s
daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers.”
Why are only the daughters’
names mentioned? Why is there a reference to the girls’ beauty? And why
are we told that they were given an inheritance?
the Holy Spirit is showing us God’s heart for women. Although men have
abused, marginalized and oppressed women—even in the church—God will
have the last word on this subject. This passage in Job, one of the
oldest books of the Bible, offers a glimpse into the last days. It
signifies a day when women who are empowered by the Holy Spirit will be
fully restored to their place of spiritual authority.
Job, human beings were stripped of their dignity and spiritual power
because of sin. But when Jesus Christ purchased redemption at Calvary,
His blood not only paid the full price for our transgressions, it also
broke the power of shame, guilt and oppression off of women. It made
them beautiful again, and restored to them the right to their spiritual
Do you know
that the Lord sees you as beautiful? Perhaps your self-image has been
marred by life’s disappointments and tragedies.
women struggle to find their identity in Christ because of sexual
molestation, domestic abuse or the shame of abortion or fornication.
Don’t let the mistakes of the past or the wounds inflicted by people
stop you from gaining your inheritance. God calls you beautiful. He can
take your filthy rags and give you a new wardrobe—one of righteousness
and purity. Regardless of the pain of your past, He has a glorious
future planned for you.
CLAIM YOUR PORTION
God has placed a passion in my heart to see women take
their full place in the church and society. Perhaps that’s because I
have four daughters of my own.
soon as my first daughter, Margaret, was born 25 years ago, I realized
that girls are special. So my wife and I kept having more. Meredith was
born in 1987. Gloria arrived two years later. Charlotte came along in
1992. Four girls in seven years!
tell people that I have been drowning in a sea of estrogen since the
day we brought that first baby girl into our home. But I have no
regrets. I know that the Father does not look at girls as inferior.
did not make them to serve as appendages to men. He created women with
unique callings that must be released in full potential.
of my income today is being spent on my daughters’ college education,
and more probably will be spent on their weddings. I could never deny my
daughters any good gift. How much more is the Father willing to lavish
His blessings, spiritual gifts and empowering grace on His girls?
you may have experienced gender prejudice, this tragic attitude does
not reflect the Father’s heart for you. He longs to give you the
J. Lee Grady
is a contributing editor of Charisma and author of 10 Lies the Church
Tells Women and 25 Tough Questions About Women and the Church. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe. All are
published by Charisma House.