The Daughters Of Zelophehad

48”x84” 3 panels Oil on Canvas 2006

The daughters of Zelophehad, son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh son of Joseph, drew near -
and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah - and they stood before Moses....saying, "Our father died in the wilderness, .....but he died of his own sin; and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be omitted from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father's brothers.” And Moses brought their case before God.

We read about the daughters of Zelophehad in the Book of Numbers.
As the children of Israel came to the end of their forty year journey, God commanded a final census of His people in preparation for the division of the land according to the tribes.

After the counting of the children of Israel, the daughters of Zelophehad approached Moses. Since their father had no sons, and sons were the traditional heirs, Zelophehad’s name would be obliterated and his descendants deprived of a share in the promised land unless his daughters could inherit.

Moses brought the case before God, and God told Moses: ... “the daughters of Zelophehad speak properly. You shall surely give them a possession of inheritance”.

The courage of these women who spoke out to the leaders of the nation against an unfair system resulted in a crucial shift in the law. The sages tell us that the women were also motivated by an intense love of the land of Israel. The division of the land was still in the future, but their desire to share in it signaled their faith in Israel’s eventual possession of its promised land.

In this painting of the Daughters of Zelophehad, the figures are imagined as sentinel figures, archaically draped, and set against a panorama of walls - ancient and modern, including the politically charged contemporary wall between Israel and her Arab neighbors. The incised writing in the red areas is the text of the narrative.

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