Monday, August 24, 2020

The Daughters of Zelophehad, by Barbara M. Britton, A Trilogy of Women Struggling for Equal Rights!

The story of The Daughters of  Zelophehad, which had escaped me as well as the author who is much more a Bible scholar than myself, was a rare treat for me. These five daughters were what might be called, the first individuals who spoke on Women's Equality Rights! And immediately received a blessing directly from God!

Briefly, Zelophehad and his five daughters, were part of those who relocated to a new land from Egypt. It had been a long journey across the desert; however, God had planned to daily provide for them...Manna from heaven for bread and meat from birds. Nothing would be saved from day to day and it was part of their commitment of trust that this would require daily gathering...

The books are based upon the Biblical story, but have been supplemented with fictional story telling. And so it was said that Zelophehad one day had spoken out about the lack of variety in food and how long their journey was taking. He stormed out of their tent and walked toward where Moses and other elders were located... But he died on the way...

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. --Proverbs 31:30

Mahlah arched her back. A sky, blue and crisp like a faceted gem, draped over the camp. No trade winds cooled the warmth of the fresh, new sun. She picked up a basket from outside her family’s ramskin tent and wedged it against her hip. Grasping her woven belt, she shifted the leather, so her knife was but a flinch away. She wouldn’t allow any beast in the wilderness to harm her sisters.

When her mother died, she took over the duties of meeting the needs of the family. Mahlah was not yet out of her teens, with the others ranging in ages down to the youngest two that still needed special caring. Years had passed on the journey and the young girls were each assigned duties to be handled daily--collecting the manna, cooking, caring for the livestock... But they all looked to Mahlah for what they most needed--love and guidance. And so, when their father had a fit of anger and frustration, yelling and leaving to go to the leaders, it was Mahlah who immediately ran after him to try to stop him from disgrace... But it was already too late, God had struck him dead on his way for not having the patience He had commanded.

Her father's body would be removed so Mahlah slowly walked back to their tent. She had already begun to wonder. What would happen now? She was afraid for her four sisters. The law was clear. The promised land was only given

My reading of this first book was that God's heart was touched by the commitment of the daughters to Him. As Mahlah began to pray and seek help in prayer, she would see a cloud; could it be her Lord? She knew that her father had been correct in his rant--without an heir, there would be no land assigned to his family. Mahlah knew that unless she did something, the five daughters would not remain together. Yes, they would be married off, or provided for until old enough to marry, but they would not be permitted to stay as the family of Zelophehad and receive God's promise for the family's long, faithful lives.

Mahlah had no choice. She felt she had God's blessing and she and her four sisters went before Moses seeking God's guidance. And God spoke to Moses...
And changed the law so that, if the father died and there were no sons, then the daughter(s) would receive his inheritance... 

Now, all of the men were astounded and what God had said was not well received... The story of how Mahlah handled God's support of her request is unbelievable, given the time in which this occurred! While she and the other daughters moved forward as one family. Immediately, one of the men began to seek Mahlah's hand in marriage... but Mahlah had been in love with another man, who had been married and had a child. His wife had died, but, then, Reuben had not first chosen her as his wife... Perhaps, now...?

At the same time, the promised land was before them...and the first battle was designated at Jericho...But God's guidance was extraordinary and His people followed His instructions... And the Walls Came Tumbling Done!

Mahlah's love story is delightful to watch as the young man, for whom she had always pined, had married and a child was born to them. Her death had allowed Mahlah to again...hope... The relationship is tender, contentious, yet loving as Mahlah cared for his son as he went to battle...

This historical story, now fictionalized, has been wonderfully expanded. Surely, the author has been given a great gift to study and interpret the scriptures for today's readers... At this time in the world, it is important for a reminder that, God had given women the same rights as men in gaining their inheritance... 

But, additionally, the three books are a fantastic historical saga, based upon the Biblical story of a family coming out of Egypt and depending upon God to bring them to their promised land. It moves from daily living as they traveled all the way through the battles and, finally, being given their individual inheritance of land.  Extraordinary Stories!  Highly Recommended.


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~ James 1:17 

The camp at Gilgal 
In the Promised Land of Canaan
 Near the fortress of Jericho 

Noah bat Zelophehad tugged her donkey farther from the ramskin tents of her tribe of Manasseh and farther from the stone fortress of Jericho. In the distance, the walls of the Canaanite city rose up, up, up, above the lush plain. How would the army of Israel lay siege to a barricaded city? No one had gone in or come out of Jericho for several Sabbaths. 
If any of her tribesmen dared to draw near the gates, they would be struck with arrows and rock. Boiling oil awaited warriors who neared the city of the false moon god. 
The sooner Jericho fell, the sooner she and her sisters would inherit their father’s land. Land where she could watch over her herds and flocks without the oversight of her kinsmen.

In the first book, we learned that God provided for The Daughters in an extraordinary way, changing the laws to reflect a new situation--the faith of the five daughters and their commitment to Him who provided for their family...

Noah might have been selected by her father to become the shepherd for their animals based upon her loving care provided as she grew. She was a physically strong women who had no problem handling and caring for those animals in her flock and working to find them, or help with births, and more... Noah also was kind enough to share support to another shepherd, as he provided her mutual support. 

Noah was just 16, but she was also Mahlah's "second in command" and was able to stand behind her and support her both physically and emotionally. Readers will thoroughly enjoy her story as she not only works within the family of sisters but cares for her herd...

For me, a primary character interest in this second book is Jeremiah, Noah's friend and fellow shepherd and a mute.  Noah had shared so many years with him that she was able to understand and communicate with him. I believe they were already in love, even before it was time to think of marriage. But Jeremiah's family looked upon him as only able to care for animals... Incredibly, he will later show just how much he could do...and how brave he was... An interesting situation occurred, when the brother of Jeremiah was looking to court and marry a daughter of the family. His own desire for their inheritance creates a drama that could only exist when great riches are being provided...even if they were coming from God as a gift. The tension of pressure some of the men felt was very real as the daughters struggled to work together as a family to provide for their future lives.

Ahh. She knew the identity of one of the men in the tent. Her teeth clenched at the thought of Keenan. The troublemaker had tried to trick her sister Noah into marrying him. Praise God, Keenan’s scheme had not succeeded. Though, the menace was now her sister’s brother-in-law. 
“I am well aware of my brother’s curse.” Keenan’s final word hissed through the tent wall. “My brother will oversee the land of his wife, but two of the daughters of Zelophehad are unmarried. Why should unwed women be allotted land they did not fight for?” 
Because God gave us our father’s land.

In the greatest adventure of the trilogy, the writer has separated, but beautifully blended the stories of the five sisters within this saga, so that the conclusion really completes the individual tales of each sister as they participated in daily life. For instance, for the other three daughters: Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. One cooks for the family and the other two younger ones do basic chores to bring water, the manna...and to help with playing with a younger son of a widower...

There is little emphasis on the battles that take place. The people of lands being given to the Tribes of Israel worship gods whose graven image were statues--idols created by man, rather than the worship of One God. Interaction between God's chosen people with these individuals reveals how that association can taint the children of God if allowed.

The realization that, even with the Israelites, the emotions of jealousy, covetous actions, and the "role of women" at that time is, in my opinion, one of the major thrusts identified  and the role of The Daughters of Zelophehad in that long future journey that women still face.

Finally, arriving at the designated land for the Daughters creates the most memorable family drama and ultimate conclusion that is brought to each of the Daughters through God's love. Their faith, perhaps greater than others? Their commitment to God, perhaps greater than others? We don't know. But, what we do conclude through this fantastic sage of women of the Bible is that God also touches and welcomes the association and devotion of women around the world... For so many reasons, I recommend  all three books as Must-Reads!


(From Final Book)

 Devotional Moment 
God promises to go into battle with us always. Whether it is a war of the flesh, heart, or mind, He is a constant companion in our time of need. When we accept God as our Saviour, we step into a battle for our souls. Temptations will abound, things of the fallen world will be tossed in our path to make us stumble or fall. But God is our rock, our steadfast defender, and He promises to help us over every obstacle, large or small.
Have you ever felt torn between doing what
 your peers want and doing what you know to be right? It can be difficult to face rejection or ridicule or loss, but your strength of character comes directly from God. All you have to do is let it shine through. When you stand with courage and strength, God upholds you through every battle to the end. He tells you in His Word that all things will pass. And it always does. This life is impermanent, but God’s Kingdom is everlasting. Hold on and face whatever life throws at you. God has your back. 


Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures from Ancient Israel to Modern Day USA and especially enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. You can visit Barb online at or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Wow, Glenda, thank you! Your reviews warm my heart. I am so glad you enjoyed the series. Yes, the story of these girls was new to me until a few years ago. I had missed their story for decades. What amazing faith in God these girls possessed.

    1. I agree...they were an amazing family that perhaps could not have acted as one or two, but the 5 together, all recognizing and daily communicating with God, was bound to result in...a miracle...that still lives on...Thank you so much for the research and creative experience to spotlight their story!

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