Monday Musing for September 21, 2020


Dear Friends,

Numbers is not the most exciting book in the Bible.  Countless people who have resolved to read the Bible cover to cover, have given up somewhere in Numbers.  (If they managed to get through Leviticus.)  Our scripture yesterday was from Numbers.  I just did a quick search of my 1,421 sermons. Yesterday was the 6th time I have preached from that book.  I’m surprised it’s that many.

Numbers gets its name from the census God ordered Moses to take in the second verse of the book.  Yes, census data makes fascinating reading!  But there is an obscure part of this book that really is fascinating.  Women are not listed in the census until we get to Numbers 26:33.

Now Zelophehad son of Heber had no sons, but daughters, and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

These five women had no father (Zelophehad had died in the wilderness), no brothers, and no husbands.  Therefore, they had no legal claim to any land.  But this did not seem right to them, so they appealed their case to Moses.

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.” (Numbers 27:5-7)

When I read these words, I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She was a champion for the rights of women.  She knew this part of the Bible.  She knew women were still being treated unfairly.  She was.  And when she had the opportunity to do something about it, she did.  Such a small woman, but such a big impact.  “Notorious RBG.”

Of course we all know the process to replace her will be ugly.  It already is. The battle lines have been drawn.  But every bit as fascinating to me as that obscure scripture in Numbers is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s friendship with Antonin Scalia. They were polar opposites in their understanding of the law.  They disagreed about practically everything.  But they were best friends.  How could that be?

A friend just sent me what she wrote in the forward to a book called Scalia Speaks.

If our friendship encouraged others to appreciate that some very good people have ideas with which we disagree, and that, despite differences, people of good will can pull together for the well-being of the institutions we serve and our country, I will be overjoyed, as I am confident Justice Scalia would be.


In Christ,