How were women treated in the Old Testament? I can recall being told by folks with utter confidence that, in the Old Testament, women were nothing but property. But a genuine look at the Old Testament shows us that this is not true. Let me show you a simple example.
Numbers 27:5-8 – 5 Moses brought their case before the Lord. 6 And the Lord said to Moses, 7 “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. 8 And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter…
In multiple places in the Old Testament, we see a mention of the daughters of Zelophehad. These five daughters were in a difficult situation as the wilderness wandering of Israel came to an end. Their father died, and they had no brothers to inherit his portion. The ladies fear that they could lose their property. So, they bring their case to Moses.
Moses does not know how the Lord will handle this, so he goes to ask. God does something interesting. First, the lord is clear that these women are genuine citizens of Israel with real rights. They are not ignored. God will not take their family property from them.
Second, God does not undo his model for the family by throwing off the concept of male headship in the home. These women have rights, more rights than women in many other cultures of that day. At the same time, these women, and all Israelite women, are to be protected by a system of family that God has intended from the beginning.
God is good. His ways are best. God’s design for the family is right and is the best possible model for human flourishing. More important than flourishing, God has designed the family to reflect his goodness and his glory. And just because God’s standard is not that promoted in our secular society does not mean his standard is not good. Old Testament or New, God has not changed. And God is good to all he has made, male and female, husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter.