Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
This verse reminds us of a situation that has been going on since late in the life and ministry of Moses. Four times—according to my quick search—the Old Testament lists the names of these five sisters whose father had no son. Repeatedly in the biblical account, these women are said to have taken their situation to Moses who took their request before God. God provided that these women would not lose their inheritance simply because there was no brother to protect them.
The reason this stands out to me is because it flies in the face of a very false statement that is often made about the Bible and specifically about the Old Testament. I have heard it said many times that women were seen as the property of men in biblical days, or at least during the Old Testament period. But those who make this claim fail to see passages like this one which actually show the great value placed upon women by the word of God. God elevates women to a position unheard of by other cultures of that day.
The proper response here is two-fold. First, it is appropriate to see that God has truly made both men and women in his image. It is good to see that we are to protect those who are often neglected in the world around us. It is good for men to remember that we are here to protect women and never to take advantage of or use them.
It is also good to recognize that such a view has been God’s way from the beginning. God was not late to the party when it comes to the issue of equal worth between men and women. While God defines differing roles for men and women, he most certainly shows that we both have value in his sight. So, please, let none of us make the faulty statement that God did not treasure women or elevate their value far above that of the culture surrounding Israel.