For the week of July 16, 2011 / 14 Tammuz 5771
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 25:10 - 30:1
Haftarah: 1 Melachim / 1 Kings 18:46 - 19:21
When You're Right You're Right
Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, "The daughters of Zelophehad are right." (Bemidbar / Numbers 27:5-7; ESV)
This week's parsha (Torah reading portion) contains an incident where the orphaned daughters of a man by the name of Zelophehad came to Moses and other leaders to make a claim on their father's estate. It appeared that up to that time God's directives regarding inheritances did not include their particular situation. When Moses brought their case to God, God said that they were right and established a precedent for future generations.
Before we deal with the issue of God's response itself, I want to point out that these women had a voice. It seems to me that many people think that women in biblical times were allotted no respect whatsoever to the extent that the leaders would not have given them the time of day let alone consider their legal claim. The biblical record indicates something very different from the picture of complete repression that is commonly painted of the past.
Whatever this incident reveals about women in biblical times, note that God had no issue with accepting that their situation was not fully covered by his earlier stipulations. What they said was right, so God was fine with acknowledging that and making it a statute for future generations.
If God has no problem acknowledging that someone else was right, how much more should we be open to the input of others? If the God of the Universe - the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, self-sufficient God - is humble enough to admit that his directives required input from others, then should not we - imperfect, finite, limited human beings - be more then glad when people point out gaps in our thinking.
It is instructive that Moses knew the difference between a legitimate issue that required going to God for clarification as opposed to dealing with yet another rebellious complaint. Perhaps he was able to pick up something in the attitude of the women or, more likely, he was quick to understand that this was an issue that needed to be addressed. We would do well to follow Moses' example. Not every concern is legitimate, but some are. We need God's wisdom and to have a thorough understanding of his Word to know when people are bringing legitimate concerns to us that might require going to God for clarification. We shouldn't feel threatened by legitimate issues that expose gaps in our thinking.
We should also be encouraged to go to God with legitimate concerns ourselves. Whether we simply haven't discovered what God's Word already says about a certain issue or we have encountered a life situation that is not directly addressed by the Scriptures, God is glad to hear us and will clarify our issues.
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