April 1, 2022 - Numbers 26-27
Every decade the United States takes a census of all the people in America. The first Federal Population Census was taken in 1790 and has been taken every ten years since. The census is used for many purposes other than to count how many people are living in the country.
A census had been taken earlier in Numbers One. Israel was now commanded by the Lord to take a second census. This was to determine how many people were available to go to war that were over the age of twenty.
This new census would also allow Moses and the leadership to know how to allocate the land each tribe had been promised. The distribution of land was determined by the size of the tribes. The boundaries were expanded or reduced according to the numbers that were reported to Moses.
In a culture and period that was dominated by male leadership and ownership, it is surprising to have a section devoted to women who appealed for their own rights and ultimately granted an inheritance. The daughters of Zelophehad presented their case before Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the congregation to ask for their father's inheritance. Moses takes it before the Lord, and they receive their proper rights.
It is refreshing to see the Lord was responsive to needs regardless of gender even when it was contrary to cultural or normal traditions. God is a God of order and concerned for the less fortunate and underprivileged. This new precedent was established, allowing future cases to be settled. The Lord gave clear directions for transfer of inheritances and further secured the welfare of family inheritances from that time forward.
Having both foresight and tenacity to come before leadership over unknown issues takes courage. Living a life of faith requires both of these traits as we face issues and unknown trials ahead. Like Joshua and these women, let us "...Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).