Asking for what you want: Model for effective confrontation

Sometimes we have to confront.  I dislike confrontation, perhaps you do too.   I’ve found that when I don’t confront issues, problems or people, I set myself up for discontentment, resentment and bitterness (Yuck!).  Recently, I found some help in the scriptures to deal with this problem.  Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah are five sisters in the scriptures who model the art of effective confrontation.  They are the five daughters of Zelophehad, a descendant of Joseph and Manasseh.  
Their story is told in Numbers 27:1-11 and 36:1-12.  Their Dad, who did not have any sons, was among those who died in the desert.  As the children of Israel approached the Promised Land, Moses gathered the people to discuss plans for allocating land to each tribe.  The custom during that time was that land and property was distributed to sons, not daughters.   When these five courageous women heard about the plans to distribute land to each tribe, they approached Moses and Eleazar in front of the whole assembly to ask for their Father’s share. 

Moses consulted God about the sisters’ request.  God told Moses that the sisters had a right to their father’s share of land.   Because of the five sisters’ bravery request, a new law was established.  God gave further instructions to Moses about allocation of land for those who had no sons. If a man did not have sons, his daughters would get his share, if no daughters, his brother would get his share, if no brother, then his father’s brother’s would get his share and if no father’s brother then the nearest relative will get his share of land.   This became a legal requirement for all Israel.  The five sisters were victorious and could inherit their father’s share of land.
However, later on their tribe members were concerned that if the daughters of Zelophehad married outside of their father’s tribe, their property would be transferred to their husbands.  They worried that this would reduce their tribe’s property. This was a legitimate concern.  To avoid this problem, the Lord commanded that the sisters were to marry from among their father’s tribe. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah agreed to this plan to marry from their father’s tribe. Thus a potential conflict ended in a win-win situation for everyone.  The sisters got their Dad’s inheritance and uncles didn’t have to worry about losing tribal land.
These five women are excellent models for how to confront effectively  
  • These brave sisters did not let tradition and culture hold them back. They were comfortable challenging the status quo.
  •   They were not afraid to approach the appropriate people in charge of decision making. They were     secure and confident to approach Moses and the elders with their request.  In Bible times, women’s rights were very limited compared to today.  They saw a problem and looked for fair solution.  Because their father had no sons, they saw themselves as rightful heirs deserving of his share of the inheritance.
  • The sisters asked for what they wanted.  No secret murmuring, no grumbling or discontent which could lead to resentment and bitterness.
  • The sisters made their request during the planning stages while there was still time to take action. (Proverbs 27:12,The prudent see danger and take refuge,  but the simple keep going and pay the penalty).
  • The sisters were persistent and followed up with the leaders to ensure that the previous plan outlined by Moses was honored during the actual distribution of land (Joshua 17:3-5).
  • The sisters maintained a win-win attitude. They could easily have said, we had an agreement and refuse to marry within their tribe.  However, they were flexible and reasonable and stratifying agreement was reached for all.
 Are you confident to ask for what you want? (seeRomans 8:31, Ps 27:1). These brave women are a great example of how to ask for what you want and not to be afraid. Our Divine Judge does not abandon us.   These lovely sisters teach us how confront with divine wisdom. 

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