Sexist Inheritance

Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father's brothers." Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, "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. 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.'" -Num 27:4-8

This passage was extremely interesting to me after hearing Pastor John's sermon this weekend. One of his points was how Christianity is a spiritual religion that grows by making spiritual offspring who are born of the Spirit--as opposed to Judaism which is based on physical offspring born of the flesh. This passage is about that old covenant and these daughters who are seeking to preserve their father's name. The reason God appointed inheritances only to sons (except in this exception clause) was to pass on the name.

Maintaining a family's possessions requires the use of only one gender to pass it on. Suppose inheritances were divided among sons and daughters equally. Now a daughter from one family marries a son from another and pass their possessions on to their one and only child. Now this child has inheritance from two separate grandfathers. The distinction of what came from which grandfather has been blurred. The purpose of passing the inheritance was to preserve the grandfather's legacy, but that has now been blurred. This would not have happened if it had only been passed through one gender.

Pragmatically speaking, God had to choose one gender to pass the inheritance through. I can come up with some other "practical" reasons why sons were chosen (like multiple wives), but I believe there exist deeper theological reasons. Namely, God created Adam first, God gave the covenant to Abraham, and the coming Messiah was to be male.

What does this mean for us? I see three things. One, there is a proper place for gender differences. Typically, inheritances were to only be divided amongst sons. Second, there are improper places for gender differences. Denying these daughters an inheritance would have been wrong. Third (and most important), we are under a New Covenant that is not procreation-based. Our eternal inheritance is in no way based on our gender, "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons (heirs) of God, through faith. There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:6, 28).

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