Zelophehad's Daughters
by Leonard Lehrman
(#3 from Sisters op. 100)
Copyright 1984

We did it, Sisters! We challenged them, and we won!

Now at last a woman's rights must be recognized.

When our father Zelophehad died, we asked of the elders: "Why should our father's good name not be remembered? Just because his wife had borne him no sons? We his five daughters - Mahlah, and Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah - we should have the right to cherish, to honor, to inherit and to possess what was his. We are his legitimate heirs. Why should his name be lost for all time, simply because his children are all women?"

The captains of tens would not hear our plea; likewise did the captains of fifties refuse; and so on to he captains of hundreds, and of thousands, until we approached the very highest authority. And then, Moses, taking divine counsel, granted the righteousness of our plea:

Henceforth a woman shall not count for naught. Sisters, it is a beginning. The path has been long, and stretches far into the distance. There will be, there must be, many more struggles to come, before the Promised Land is reached - and even then!

But for now, let us rejoice in the victory that is ours - rejoice in the victory for justice, rejoice in the victory for all Israel, rejoice in the victory not just for women alone, rejoice in the victory for all humanity!

Sources: Num. 11:1, 14:1, 14:44, 15:32, 26:33, 27:1-11, 36:1-12; Zohar 3:157a; Josh. 17:3-6; Job 42:14-15; Chron. 7:15; BB 18b, 119a&b, 1201, 122b; Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Bible (1911) v. 3 pp. 391-5.

recorded by Helene Williams on Songs of Conscience
cassette 3/91; re-issued on CD, 6/03

[posted online at: amc.net]