Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day: Zelophehad’s daughters (Numbers 27:1-11).

Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward. Zelophehad was son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph, a member of the Manassite clans. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and they said, “Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin; and he had no sons. 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 spoke to Moses, saying: The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them. You shall also say to the Israelites, “If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter. If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. It shall be for the Israelites a statute and ordinance, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

  • animus

    It’s almost as if Moses was just making up laws as he needed them.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Or if he is working from a general principle – of compassion and fairness – and ruling from general principles (inheritance with sons) for individual cases (inheritance without sons, but daughters) and using that opportunity to clarify similar exceptions (no children, but brothers; no children, no brothers, but father’s brothers; etc.)

    Because I see Moses judging with regard to fairness in this instance, I have no problem with it. It’s an vivid contrast to todays fundies who rule against fairness to keep power.

    The biggest problems I have are the weird names, esp. a girl being called Noah – which is to me a guy’s name from the flood story. Doesn’t Ancient Hebrew have a rule which names are female and which are for males?

  • AnonaMiss

    Do keep in mind that ancient Hebrew was written without vowels. They could very well be different names.

  • Carstonio

    Oh, great – the god of the Old Testament endorses the sexist principle behind Salic law. At least the UK is doing away with its own version.

  • EllieMurasaki

    They are different names. ‘Noah’ the male name ends with the H that starts ‘Hanukkah’. ‘Noa’ the female name does not.

    I think that’s how it was explained to me, anyway.

  • Kellandros

     Carstonio- its not that this incident is perfect- but that it represented an improvement for women over the status quo.

    From how they describe it, before this case the daughters would have received nothing period. No money for dowry’s for marriage either. Widows and unmarriable girls were often forced into prostitution.

    Sure, arranged marriages generally aren’t good for individual women- taken from home, sent to a strange place and never again seeing anyone you ever knew- but you can’t pull down a system when there are no better alternatives without making things worse.

    ————–
    The other great fun of this incident, is we have a biblical event  that shows that God can change! Change means improvement- making things better than they were. Change also then pokes another large hole in the idea of God as a universal platonic perfect being- if you do better than you did in the past, doesn’t that imply that the old wasn’t perfect?

  • Carstonio

    The social situation you describe fits many communities in modern-day India where child bridehood is practiced. Yes, it’s hard to condemn individual families for choosing to marry off their very young daughters when the only alternatives are rape or prostitution, and I would say the same for Bronze Age families when it came to arranged marriages.

    The larger problem, as one mother in India described it in National Geographic, is that such societies are man-oriented. All the options available to the women there involve being dominated by men. The societies are based on the artificial premise of women as property and men as entitled. Arranged marriages wouldn’t be the pick of a bad lot of options if those societies had equal status for both sexes.

    I agree that in context the rule represents an improvement. Still, many readers are still likely to assume, as ultra-Orthodox Jewish men seem to do, that it represents more evidence that patriarchy is part of the god’s ideology.

  • Deborah Moore

    Why does the above-the-fold version of this story say Solomon?

  • Makabit

    The biggest problems I have are the weird names, esp. a girl being called Noah – which is to me a guy’s name from the flood story. Doesn’t Ancient Hebrew have a rule which names are female and which are for males?

    Not always–there are a few unisex ones–but the name of the Ark-builder is, in Hebrew, “Noakh”, and the female name is “Noa”. Both are commonly spelled and pronounced “Noah” in English, for boring reasons having to do with Romanization and the KJV crew, but the English pronunciation of the male name is not like the Hebrew.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Doesn’t Ancient Hebrew have a rule which names are female and which are for males?

    As someone who reads novels from the 1920s, I find this slightly hilarious.

    Are you aware that, in English, Meredith, Shirley, Evelyn, Beverley, Jocelyn, Dana, Kimberley, Kelly, Vivian, Laurie, Tiffany, Marion, Hilary, Shannon, and Carol all used to be boys names?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ashley, too.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

     Since the other’s haven’t quite mentioned it – the final “h” in the male version of “Noah” is pronounced the same way as the “ch” in your native German.

  • MikeJ

    Try convincing fundies that Joshua and Jesus are both the same word.  Most simply won’t believe you.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) I was nine or ten before I figured out that the rogue Hebrew prophet they kept talking about in my Yeshiva and the Christian deity I kept hearing about in my nominally secular life were the same character.

  • Marcus

     It’s not quite Salic Law. Salic Law is absolute: no female succession, no succession through the female line. So if the king has no sons, but his daughter has an adult son at the time of his death, daughter and grandson are both excluded – if the king has no brothers either, they’re excluded in favour of his nearest male-line cousin.

    Whereas, Moses / God (and the UK’s historic succession law, for the royal family and noble houses in Scotland – English nobility are subject to Salic Law) here allow for a daughter to succeed where there is no son, even if there is an uncle hanging around saying “Hang on, she’s got the wrong genitalia!” Their sexism lies in the fact that, if the _eldest_ child is a daughter but she has a younger brother, she (and her children, including sons, even if she has a son older than her brother) will be passed over in his favour. (They’ll still be in the line of succession, just lower down than the brother, and unlikely to succeed unless he dies childless.) Disagreement over which system should apply to France caused the Hundred Years’ War.

    Under the new law of royal succession in the UK, the oldest succeeds, regardless of sex. Yay for trimming some of the particularly regressive flourishes off what remains an inherently regressive system, I suppose.

  • Deborah Moore

    I still hear Dana and Kelly sometimes used as male names.

  • Foreigner

    Meredith, Vivian, Laurie and Ashley still are used as men’s names here in UKia. And in Ireland, anybody called Florence is like as not going to be male.

    A famous male Shirley here was Shirley Crabtree, aka the pro wrestler Big Daddy. His son is called Eorl.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    And I used to know a guy called Shannon. He’s Canadian, but living in Ireland.

    I did not know that English and Scottish nobility had different succession laws. Interesting.

    TRiG.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh, great – the god of the Old Testament endorses the sexist principle behind Salic law. At least the UK is doing away with its own version.

    The UK of the 21st century is separated from the writers of the Old Testament by a few thousand years. Are we so stuck on the idea that everything proves how full of shit the bible is in all regards that this comparison seems like a good point?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Shannon still is a (not uncommon) boy’s name. But point taken.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Au contraire–Joshua is a very popular boy’s name amongst fundies I know, for precisely that reason.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Under the new law of royal succession in the UK, the oldest succeeds, regardless of sex. Yay for trimming some of the particularly regressive flourishes off what remains an inherently regressive system, I suppose.

    As a republican technically under the thumb of the British monarchy, I say there should be no half-measures. If you support an anachronistic system that puts accident of birth, class, age, birth order and religion ahead of any positive character attribute, I say go the whole hog. Changing the law to allow the monarch to be a woman with a younger brother or the spouse of a Catholic doesn’t make monarchy any less of a ridiculous system.

  • Carstonio

    My point has very little to do with the Bible. Something is horrifically wrong when it takes a few thousand years for societies to recognize the injustice of treating women unequally. Even though including women as secondary in the succession or inheritance was an improvement over not including them at all, it still preserves the principle of patriarchy. The difference between outright bans on same-sex marriage and the ghettoization of civil union status for gay and lesbian couples.
    And I question the claim that those long-ago societies shouldn’t be judged that way. This isn’t about patting ourselves on the back for being oh-so-enlightened modern creatures. Our own society still falls considerably short when it comes to gender equality. I hope our descendants will wonder why we tolerated the Limbaughs and 
    Dobsons for so long.

  • http://jdm314.livejournal.com/ Mad Latinist

    Writing with no vowels has nothing to do with it here: it’s a question of our transliteration systems rendering both names the same. In Hebrew the male name is נֹחַ, which is in Modern Hebrew pronounced something like NO-akh, whereas the female name is נֹעָה, now no-’AH. In ancient times they would have sounded even more distinct, but if I go into that I’ll likely get boring ;)

  • Münchner Kindl

     No, I wasn’t aware. I do know that since there is no law or rule about names being applied to children indicating their gender clearly, that parents can give boys names to girlas and vice versa.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I just looked in my old revised Luther Bible, and there the female name is given as “Noa” – because of different translation/ transkription traditions. (We also call the guy in the bet between God and Satan Hiob, although scholars call him Ijob).


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