Long before there was the National Organization of Women, there was God. In this chapter, the daughters of a man named Zelophehad came to Moses to plead their case: their father had died, never having had any sons, and under the current rules of ownership in Israel, they would be left without any land inheritance. So they said, "Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives." (vs 4)
What an extraordinary request for these women to make! They were asking to own property in a time and place in which they were considered property. The first thing Moses did was to take their question straight to the Lord. Apparently, he wasn’t too sure what the answer should be. After all, as an Israelite man, his first thought would likely have been something along the lines of, Women don’t own property.
But the answer came back from the Lord: "Say to the Israelites, 'If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter.'" (vs 8) Fascinating. God was making a way for women to own property — something unheard of in ancient times, and something that likely went against every patriarchal instinct in the minds of Israelite men. But God didn’t want to leave them stuck in their patriarchal ways. He wanted them to know that He doesn’t see women as inferior to men. In His view, women were just as worthy to receive an inheritance.
How wonderful to see that, in our work to champion the rights of women around the world, we are simply joining the cause God began 6,000 years ago in ancient Israel!