Tirzah (Hebrew: תרצה) is a Hebrew word meaning "she is my delight." In the Bible it is the name of a town in Israel and of a woman.
Tirzah, as a town, is first mentioned in the Bible in Deuteronomy, Joshua,( ) as having had a king whom the Israelites smote; it is not mentioned again until after the period of the United Monarchy. Tirzah is also mentioned in Song of Songs (6.4). Nevertheless, Tell el-Farah was an important town in the early Iron Age; it was the center of what seems to be a network of villages, one of five such networks that make up the Israelite settlement, starting around 1200 B.C., in the highlands between Jerusalem and the Jezreel Valley.
Tirzah is first mentioned in the Torah (Numbers 26:33) as one of the five daughters of Zelophehad. After the death of their father, the five sisters went to Moses and asked him for hereditary rights (Numbers 27:1-11). Moses brought their plea to God, and it was granted. To this day, women in Judaism have the right to inherit property.
Tirzah (pleasantness) was one of those five daughters of Zelophehad, whose heiresship occupies two chapters of the Book of Numbers. She probably was the origin of Thirza, the name of Abel's wife in Gessner's idyll of the Death of Abel, a great favourite among the lower classes in England, whence Thyrza has become rather a favourite in English cottages.—Yonge, 1878
Tirzah in literature
Tirzah is a figure in William Blake's mythology, notably in his poem To Tirzah from Songs of Experience. According to Northrop Frye, Blake identified both the city and daughter of Zelophehad with worldiness and materialism, as opposed to the spiritual realm of Jerusalem in Judah. The name Tirzah has a similar symbolism in Lew Wallace's novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, in which it is given to the leprosy afflicted sister of Judah Ben-Hur, who is eventually cleansed by Jesus. The character of Tirzah appears in William Wyler's 1959 Academy Award winning Best Picture Ben-Hur. Tirzah is also the main character in Sara Douglass's novel Threshold.