When the nation of Israel escaped from Egypt and travelled around in the wilderness for 40 years, Zelophehad’s daughters became some of the most famous women in the nation.
We know nothing much about Zelophehad, except that he had five daughters and no sons. Why was this important? Well, in Israel, a man left his land and goods to his sons. When a woman married, she joined the tribe of the man she married. Any children born to the couple also belonged to that tribe. Even foreign women could join the tribes of Israel in this way. Two examples: Rahab from Jericho and Ruth the Moabitess both married men from the tribe of Judah and thus joined the tribe of Judah.
Of course, most women married local men belonging to the same tribe so they didn’t transferred to another tribe. However, they were free to do so if they chose – in most cases. Continue reading