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“While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.” —Luke 24:51

Zelophehad’s Daughters

Jung Sook Kim

This theological reflection was prepared for the Pastor Theologian consultation held in October 20-22, 2010, Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Office of Theology and Worship.  This particular consultation invited 13 Korean American pastors representing generations and gender.  The theological engagement focused on the event at the 219th General Assembly held in Minneapolis that led to the defeat of the motion to create another Korean language presbytery.

Jung Sook Kim came to America in 1986.  She graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with MDiv. in 1998.  She pursued her PhD in the Old Testament (current status: ABD) at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA (now Union Presbyterian Seminary).  She is a solo pastor at Korean Presbyterian Church of Tucson, AZ.  She is married and has two adult children. 

Numbers 36: 1-10

(Following is the outline of the sermon I delivered to my church on its Officers’ Installation service.  It focuses on the wisdom and virtue of making mutual compromise for greater satisfaction of both sides.  See the actual sermon

1. Conflict

- Zelophehad’s five daughters demanding their inheritance right in absence of heirs in the family
- conflict with the conventional law that the land should be inherited to sons only
-the practice law amended: Daughters to be granted the inheritance right

2. New Conflict

- the daughters reaching the age of marriage
- with their marriage, the land they have inherited will be transferred out of the family, which is against the law of the land should be inherited within the family
- divine resolution for the new conflict : the daughters are to marry only those within the family

3.  The lesson

- the virtue of making compromise
: the daughters: consent to limit their right in marriage
: the elders: consent to be satisfied as long as the land is kept within the family
- the sum total of satisfaction for both parties is greater than what any party can have from all-nothing stance

4.  The application

: the principle of reforming church is to be sustained with the willingness to make compromise for the greater benefit of the communal life


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