My name is Mahlah bat Zelophehad. I am the oldest daughter of Zelophehad ben Hepher and right now I would trade my birthright to be a carefree younger sister, except at this moment, my sisters and I are all shaking inside and out. I know this because I am holding the hand of Noah, the boldest girl I know and the sister closest to my age. Her hand is an ocean of warmth and sweat. Noah can stare down ornery bull calves, but now she is stiff and staring straight ahead toward Moses, Joshua, and a crowd of men snarling at our attendance at an assembly.
Why am I here in a crowd of Israelite elders? I am asking myself that same question. I lick my lips to whisper to my other sisters: Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. My tongue has become a rag. One dried in the desert sun.
We are here to ask Moses for something never before given to girls. The request would not be spoken if my father had lived. He is gone as well as my mother, and now what are my sisters and I to do as our people travel towards God’s promised land. What will become of five orphans who do not have a father to speak on their behalf?
I remember our true Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He cares for the orphan and the widow. I have heard Moses read these words from the law. No one should be surprised that I am asking for my father’s land. My sisters are as courageous and law abiding as any son. If I don’t ask now, before my people cross the Jordan River, battles will begin for Jericho and Canaan, and the daughters of a good man will be forgotten in the conquests.
My sisters and I bow before Moses. “We are orphans,” I say, eyes downcast from the man who rescued my ancestors from Egypt. “My father is dead, but he was not one of Korah’s wicked followers. Though he left us alone and now all I can ask for as an orphan is his land.”
Men scoff at my words. I pray my plea met Moses’s ears for I can barely hear the sounds my mouth is making through the drum of my heart. Moses scans the line of my sisters.
“We would like to inherit land,” my sister Tirzah says. Who can resist her dimples and the smile she bestows as the youngest sister? The youngest who has had to rely on my hugs and counsel instead of a mother’s.
Moses calms the crowd and tells everyone he must seek God. I hug my sisters and wait for Moses to inquire of our God. How long will it take? I hope not long for my feet are trembling.
A shout comes from our commander, Joshua, as Moses returns to the assembly.
Raising his hands high, Moses says, “The Lord has spoken.”
Silence. Except for the hum in my ear.
“If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughters.”
A tall elder gasps at Moses’s decree.
Moses casts a stern warning with his wrinkled brow. “Do not challenge God’s words or the inheritance given to these orphans from your tribe of Manasseh.”
A tear streams down my cheek. I notice my sisters are crying, but they are rejoicing too, as am I. We will get to go forth into God’s promised land together with an inheritance of land.
Hopefully, we won’t have to gather in another assembly like this one.
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My Story Title: Lioness
My Story Genre: Biblical Fiction
My Story Releases: October 18, 2019
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The Author of My Story: Barbara Britton
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. Look for Barb to venture into Christian Historical fiction in 2020 with “Until June.” She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.
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You can find Barb on:
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WHERE can the book be purchased?
Your library can order “Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey” too.