Are Humans Created Equal?

Exodus 30:15, Rich…poor. 

This passage teaches the equality of all believers. In YHVH’s eyes, each redeemed Israelite saints are equal. To the Creator of all things and who owns everything, no one is worth more than a half-shekel, and no one is worth less than a half shekel. The rich aren’t better than the poor and vice versa. This is also the moral of Yeshua’s Parable of Lazurus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19–21). Contrary to what many Christians have been taught, this parable isn’t a doctrinal statement about the state of the dead and the afterlife. To many people, including the rich Scribes and Pharisees of Yeshua’s day, material success denotes superiority and even divine favor. The Bible dispels this false notion. YHVH looks at the heart and character of a person and the righteous fruits of their lives, and not at the outward, physical trappings—the proverbial cover of the book. The Scriptures address this issue in several places:

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt 7:19–20)

But YHVH said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for YHVH seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but YHVH looketh on the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)

Now the Torah and the rest of the Scriptures teach that all the saints are equal. But what about the rest of humanity? Are all humans created equal?

There are many ways to look at this equality issue. But let’s see what the Bible teaches.

The Bible states in several places that all humans are created in the image of Elohim. This implies equality among all humans.

The Bible also states that all humans are sinners, that all deserve death and that none are righteous of themselves. This also implies equality.

The Bible states that Elohim so loved all the world that he sent his Son to die for all humanity. This implies equality among humans.

The Bible also state that Elohim loved us while we were still sinners. This implies equality among all humans.

Elohim desires all humans to be saved. This also implies equality among humans.

The Bible furthermore states that Elohim isn’t a respecter of persons. This implies equality among humans.

The Bible teaches that there is one Torah-law standard of righteousness for all people—Israelites and non-Israelites. This implies equality.

Moreover, the Bible states that Elohim will judge all humans by that law. All humans will come before his judgment seat. Thus all are equal before the law and before the Judge of the universe.

Conversely, there is no question that the Bible teaches that Elohim favors those who love and serve him. He favors them with a special love and enters into a personal relationship with them. He blesses then in a special way (salvation, healing, answered prayers, special protection, guidance, wisdom the Set-Apart Spirit, etc.) and eventually will reward them with eternal life, glorification and inclusion into his eternal kingdom as his adopted children. So in this sense, Elohim starts out loving and treating everyone equally, but those who choose to love and obey him he favors them and extends his grace to them. In this case, not everyone is treated equally. But this is not based on favoritism on YHVH’s part, but upon the choices that humans make with regard to his initial equal treatment of all. In the end, all humans will reap what they sow. If they obey Elohim they will be blessed with immortality. If they disobey him, with eternal death.

Even though all humans are created equal by Elohim and will stand equal before him, the Bible in no way promotes the idea of economic equality among humans as socialism advocates. But this is another discussion for another time.


The Daughters of Zelophehad and Equal Rights for Woman

Numbers 27:1–11, The daughters of Zelophehad. A Torah Commentary For Our Times/ATCFOT (UHAC Press, NY, 1993) has an interesting discussion regarding the incident involving the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1–11) that may answer some questions that contemporary women have regarding the Torah’s view of women. “Modern commentator Jacob Milgrom contrasts ancient Israelite practices of inheritance with those of their neighbors.” He notes that the practice of equality of inheritance between sons and daughters was upheld in Egypt and Mesopotamia one thousand years before the codification of the Torah. Later on the Greeks can be added to this list of countries that practiced “equal rights.” Milgrom then asks, “In face of such ‘equality’ of treatment how then are we to explain the fact that the Bible gives women no inheritance rights except in the case where there are no sons?” Does the Torah seem to discriminate against women regarding the inheritance of land and property from the estates of their parents, he asks? (p. 80).

“Milgrom suggest that in contrast to ancient Israel’s neighbors…where ‘centralized urban societies’ already existed, the early Torah laws of the Israelites reflect a nomadic-clan structure. In such a society ‘the foremost goal of its legal system was the preservation of the clan.’ Equity between members of the tribe or family preserves peaceful relationships and strengthens cooperation between all person.” He goes on to say that this explains the justness of the pleas of the daughters of Zelophehad where the principle of upholding the clan is preserved. The Torah sees that the daughters receive their father’s inheritance and at the same time that the clan and father’s name are preserved. (ibid.)

This solution does not promote equal rights, as we know it today, with sons regarding inheritance. Both the Torah and Talmud teach that in most cases inheritance of property is from father to son and that women share the lot of their husbands and do not inherit from their fathers (Ibid., quoting from JPS Commentary: Numbers, pp. 482–484).

The Jewish sages further note that though the daughters aired their complaints about what they perceived to be an unjust situation, they nonetheless did so in a respectful and organized (not rebellious, loud, boisterous or aggressive) manner. They calmly “drew near” and “stood before Moses,” the high priest and the tribal princes of Israel (verses 1-2) and aired their concerns in neither a threatening nor challenging manner. There was no subversiveness on their part involving other potential disgruntled parties (as was the case when Korah and his group rebelled against Moses’ leadership). According to rabbinic tradition, the daughters in their wisdom chose a suitable place, a proper time and the proper approach to lobby Moses regarding their issues (ibid.; ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Bamidbar, p. 1691–1692). 

Does not such an approach recall several other woman of righteous stature in similar situations that are mentioned in Scripture: Sarah to Abraham, Abigail toward David, Ruth before Boaz and Esther before Ahasuerus and various women before Yeshua?

S. R. Hirsch in his commentary translates verse seven as follows:

Quite right is the speech of the daughters of Zelophehad, thou shalt surely give them male rights of hereditary possession among their father’s brethren and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass over to them. (emphasis added) 

Hirsch notes from the Hebrew grammar in this verse that they spoke with correctness of speech and presentation of fact. “That which the daughters of Zelophehad have said is quite as it ought to be, their speech corresponds to the truth and right (The Pentateuch/Bamidbar, pp. 453–454, Judaica Press).

Note that YHVH is the One stating (to Moses) that they have spoken that which is right, proper and truthful. Rashi in his commentary on this verse states, “Fortunate is the person whose words the Holy One, Blessed is He, confirms.” Rashi goes on to say that these daughters saw or uncovered an aspect of the eternal truth of the Torah that was resident in the heart of YHVH but which had not been revealed to man yet. Their eye Continue reading