When I was in Israel in 2011 it seemed like every waitress I had was named either Tirza or Noa. One day I asked a young lady, named Noa, to explain why her name was so incredibly popular. I explained that in Canada, generally speaking, only boys were named Noa(h).
She explained to me that there is a story in the Bible about the daughters of Zelophehad. Their father did not have a son so the daughters (Noah, Tirzah, Mahlah, Hoglah and Milcah) went to Moses and asked for the legal right to inherit their father’s property. Moses agreed and they became the first women in the ancient world to have legal rights to property ownership, apart from their fathers or husbands.
The story is celebrated as a landmark in the progress of female standing in society and is cherished by the Jewish people as an indication of how much the Bible has done to promote the dignity and equality of women across the ages.
I went on to ask why she spelled her name “Noa” instead of “Noah” as it appeared in the Bible and as is usually the case with boys. She said that in modern Hebrew the “h” is left off the end of female names to soften them.
My wife happened to be pregnant at the time with our youngest daughter, so when she was born a few months later, guess what we named her?
We named her Noa so that she would always have a story to tell about her name that would cause people to glorify and honour the God of the Bible.
Praise the Lord!
Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of Manasseh the son of Joseph. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 2 And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, 3 “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. 4 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.”
5 Moses brought their case before the LORD. 6 And the LORD said to Moses, 7 “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” (Numbers 27:1–7 ESV)
The daughters of Zelophehad were right. And there are a great many people in our world who need to know that – thanks be to God!
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to the most recent episodes of Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. To access the entire library of available episodes see here. You can also download the Into The Word app on iTunes or Google Play.