What does the story of Zelophehad's daughters teach us about how God's law was to be applied in the Promised Land?

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The story in the book of Joshua of Zelophehad's daughters is particularly interesting. These daughters approached Joshua, saying, "Our father had no sons. Now that it's time to distribute the land inheritance, we're asking you to give us our land." This was not the first time this had happened. In Numbers 27:1-11, these same daughters of Zelophehad went before Moses and Eleazar the priest saying the same words: "When the time comes, we want to inherit the land that belonged to our father." And God answered Moses, "The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall transfer the inheritance of their father to them." Thus, God's law was being contextualized for the circumstances in which his people were living in order for his righteousness to shine. God's law will always seek to fulfill his righteousness, to make sure it is God who gets the glory. So, God told Moses to put a clause into the law, to please add this in case history repeats itself: "If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father's brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it," so that the name of this Israelite will be perpetuated. In other words, looking at the law of God in that historical moment, which is unique to Zelophehad's daughters' request, we understand how to contextualize what God is saying without losing its essence as a divine command. We keep it applicable, but in such a way that divine justice shines over everything. It's very simple to deny a reasonable request just because we've never had it before, rather than analyzing the purpose of the law, as well as the circumstances in the moment, and then asking God for wisdom to make a final decision. For Moses this was a lesson, for Joshua this was a lesson, and for us it's also a lesson. So deep, so important that from that moment on, a new clause was added to God's law.

Answer by Pastor Ornan Cruz

Pastor Ornan Cruz is Pastor of Los Pinos Nuevos in Cuba.