Questions about Women and their treatment in the BIBLE:

What’s the deal ?

“Does Christianity oppress women AS ISLAM DOES, by making them submit to their husbands!”

The Bible does say,

(Ephesians 5:22,25).

“Wives, submit ( To yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another; with the reciprocal pronoun.) yourselves to your own husbands (NOT TO SOMEONE ELSE’S HUSBAND ), as to ( As you would to God himself) the Lord,”

but it also instructs,

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it”.

The love of God is the first duty of man, and this springs from just views of his attributes or excellencies of character, which afford the highest delight to the sanctified heart.

Esteem and reverence constitute ingredients in this affection, and a fear of offending him is its inseparable effect.

A man who under-stands that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life’s blood for the Church will likewise in the same way love his wife sacrificially and passionately.

He will honor her, respect her, protect, love, and cherish her as much as he does his own body, as he is instructed to do (Ephesians 5:28).

He will never say or do anything to harm or demean her. It is in this atmosphere of love and security that a godly wife willingly submits herself to the protective arms of her husband. She does this not because he is better than she is, but simply because this is God’s order for His creation.

A godless world rejects the God-given formula to make marriage work.

The world view thinks it knows best, and suffers the heartbreaking consequences of destroyed marriages and ruined lives,and for WHAT ?

The pride of knowing “I did it my way; hear me roar” while your life goes to pot.

The Christian ideal of marriage is not one of an authoritarian and chauvinistic male holding his cringing wife in submission like an obedient dog.

It’s the very opposite.

While most of the great religions treat women as inferior to men, LIKE IN THE KORAN, the Bible gives them a place of dignity, honor, and unspeakable worth, expressed so evidently in Proverbs 31.


Genesis 2:18

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”




She was NOT to be his stepping stone,

nor his SLAVE;






Genesis 2:21-25

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked (HAD NOTHING TO HIDE FROM EACH OTHER OR GOD ), the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. “

In this modern day, where the women’s liberation movement has won the hearts of many, women have taken on responsibilities and duties that go beyond what Yahweh ever intended.

Yahweh created men and women, each to fulfill a distinct purpose and role in life.

We see that Yahweh concluded it was not good for man to be alone. Therefore, we could conclude that one of the purposes for creating woman was to be a companion.

Secondly, we learn that Yahweh desired to make a suitable helper for Adam. Therefore, being a helper for Adam is one of the purposes Yahweh had for creating her.

So woman was created and brought to Adam.

In one moment, she did not exist.

In the next moment, she was alive and was brought to Adam to be a help to him.

Do you think that she had any problem getting in her place?

But many women today have totally lost this concept,THEY HAVE BEEN LIED TO BY “The Spirit of Jezebel” who RULED OVER HER HUSBAND.

Many women have rebelled against the very thing they were created to do,not out of ignorance BUT out of a FALSE PRIDE.

Remember the women “MIRRORS” what men show forth,so if men show forth a FALSE PRIDE in themselves; women also “REFLECT A FALSE PRIDE” so if you don’t like what you see in a women:


Thus rather than being a ‘helper’ for their husbands, they are often an opponent and stumbling block to THEIR success in God’s will for them BOTH.

It is the husbands responsibility to SURROUND HIS FAMILY WITH THE “Hedge of God’s protection” and to LEAD the family in the Worship of God,which in turn BRINGS STABILITY TO THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE!

What needs to happen is a change in perspective. A completely different outlook. One that sets aside the way we are raised, the way society says things should be, REMEMBER SLAVERY WAS THE IN THING AT ONE TIME; SO “SOCIETY”is not what women should learn from,they should look solely to Yahweh and His word for instruction on the right perspective.

we need to have understanding of the will of Yahweh for wives and how they relate to their husbands.

“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)



( To regard; to have regard to in design or purpose.

To view or consider with some degree of reverence; to esteem as possessed of real worth.)



1. Legal power,

or a right to command or to act; as the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children. Power; rule; sway.

2. The power derived from opinion,

respect or esteem; influence of character or office; credit; as the authority of age or example, which is submitted to or respected, in some measure, as a law, or rule of action. That which is claimed in justification or support of opinions and measures.

3. Testimony;

witness; or the person who testifies; as, the Gospels or the evangelists are our authorities for the miracles of Christ.

Marriage REGARDLESS OF WHAT SOCIETY BELIEVES is the foundation of all society, and so this topic is very important.

Explaining marital duties to you is much easier than persuading you to do them. Conform your will to Scripture, not vice versa.

Take Ephesians 5:33 ABOVE to heart.

The Dimensions of a Godly Husband’s Love. The love of a husband to his wife is peculiar to this relation. It is distinct from parental love and from animal lust.

A. The ground of it.

Your are married to her and God commands husbands to love their wives. This alone will last forever, since she may become less attractive in many ways.

B. The extent of it.

You must love both her body and soul. Therefore you should choose a wife that is physically and personality/spiritually attractive to you, or you do her disservice.

C. The degree of it.

Above his love for all others, including his parents and children, and certainly above any person outside the family. “Always be enraptured with her love” (Prov. 5:19).

D. The duration of it.

“Always” (Prov. 5:19 quoted above), not only in public but in private, not for a week or month or year, but until death.

Your love should daily increase through old age.

You had her beauty and strength, so why not her wrinkles and illnesses?

Inner loveliness usually increases as outer loveliness decreases.

There are many biblical reasons for a husband’s perpetual love.

Jesus’ love was genuine, without hypocrisy,UNLIKE SOME HUSBANDS TODAY .

His love was so real and intense that He died for the church,THIS IS THE EXACT WAY YOU ARE TO LOVE YOUR WIFE.

YOUR love for her is to be Free, without conditions before or expectations after.

He gave Himself to cleanse His church, implying she was no beauty beforehand. The husband must draw love from her by his own love.

True love is more about bettering the object loved than enriching the subject.

A husband is to LOVE Holy, without impurity.

Christ loved the church “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (5:26).

This teaches the husband to labor diligently to further the sanctification : The act of consecrating or of setting apart for a sacred purpose to God; consecration.

of his wife.

It is to be Great, without comparison, Constant, without change.

Many times has Christ been REJECTED by US, and yet He continues to love US.

Husbands should copy His example. No bad behavior on her part is grounds to stop loving her.

He is to have an Active love, without neglect and he must do his utmost to supply all her needs,BOTH SPIRITUAL & PHYSICAL; whether for support, or constant friendship, or be a nurse for her illnesses.

He is to be tender toward his wife. Men handle their own sores and griefs more tenderly than anyone else’s. “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (5:29).

Wives are like crystal glasses, easily broken if not tenderly handled.


No man is so ready to help a man as himself. Best friends sometimes fail you but you help yourself. So be ready to help your wife.

If a cloud arises between you, dissipate it by your love. You will not stay angry with yourself very long,AFTER ALL YOU ARE ONE FLESH (As one person).

No mediator should ever be needed as she is PART OF YOUR VERY SOUL.

Job 36:24 (Amp Bible)

“Remember that [by submission] you magnify God’s work, of which men have sung.” Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in Honor preferring one another;”

Ephesians 5:20-21

” Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Now look at this:

“Submitting to EACH OTHER”

Marriage is to be a MUTUAL SUBMISSION,it’s NEVER been a 50-50 Split , IT’S 100% FROM BOTH PARTNERS!





Was it it wrong?




First let’s go to the New Testament and look at how “sex”was dealt with there and then go to the Old testament and see the parallels that are ONLY OBVIOUS AFTER SEEING PAUL’S VIEW OF SEXUAL MATTERS!

The late Jewish scholar Robert Gordis, who had a very ecumenical view of Christianity in general, had a great distaste for Paul.

He felt that Paul’s disproportionate criticism of sexual sin betrayed a misunderstanding of Judaic teaching and was directly responsible for tendency of the medieval Catholic church to regard virtually all sex as “dirty” and allowable only as a vehicle for procreation.

In fact, Gordis regarded the attitude of the medieval church as the very sociological root from which many of the problems in modern society (divorce, remarriage, abortion, etc.) could be traced and I agree with that assessment.

But I feel that both he and the medieval church {The Catholic church} greatly misunderstood Paul because they misunderstood “JAH’S” ATTITUDE TOWARD SEX IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The more liberal Christian churches appear to have accepted Gordis’ thesis completely, as one of the most obvious tendencies within that group is to regard the Pauline writings as having no authority because of its perceived “politically incorrect” views in a number of areas, including its strict condemnation of sexual sin.

This challenge to Paul demands an answer–

why did Paul single out this one category of human disobedience to God and make such a big issue out of it?

After all, Christians can be equally accused of a great array of other sins.

Surely God’s grace is just as ample in one sin category as it is in any another.

So, to put it simply,

“What’s the big deal?”

Why should we listen to Paul’s advice on sexual sin?

The Greek New Testament had one word that covered all the bases of sexual sin, pornaia, from which the English word “pornographic” can trace its roots.

The many references to “fornication” in the King James New Testament are indicators of pornaia in the original text.

The Arndt/Gingrich Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament defines pornaia as “prostitution, unchastity, fornication, of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.”

Paul used the word in 1 Cor. 5:1, 1 Cor. 6:13, 1 Cor. 6:18, 1 Cor. 10:8, 2 Cor. 12:21, Gal. 5:19, Eph. 5:3, Col. 3:5, and 1 Thess. 4:3.

Pornaia is one of the Judaic sins specifically carried into the Christian sin catalogue in Acts 15:20 and 29.

The word was used by Jesus in Mt. 15:19 (“For out of the heart come evil thoughts …”) and Mt. 5:32 and Mt. 19:9.

In Revelation, pornaia is often used, as it was in the Old Testament, as a symbol of idol worship because the church that seeks other gods is behaving just like a wife or husband that seeks other sexual partners (see Ezek. 16, Hos. 1-3).


Who was Moses Wife?

Many people teach that Moses had two wives. The teach that his first wife Zipporah, of whom bare his sons and they say that he later had another wife, an Ethiopian wife of which Miriam and Aaron spoke against.

Now this may seem like a topic that really has no bearing on salvation issues, but the truth of the matter is, any lie told about the Creator’s Words is an attempt to discredit His Truth.

One reason why this topic is worthy of attention is because the Gentile world also uses this story to forward the notion that Moses had to be white (Goat) because Miriam and Aaron spoke against his wife because she was black (Sheep).

The use of the Greek word “Ethiopian” is utilized and distorted by the false interpretations of the world’s scholars that publish the bible dictionaries, commentaries, encyclopedias, and various other so-called “bible tools.”

Do you remember how Jethro testified of the EVER LIVING JAH, and how they ALL ate before JAH?

Let’s bear in mind that Jethro is the Priest of Midian and we can see him praising Jah and offering sacrifices to Jah of which JAH accepted.

Jethro is not an Israelite.

This lets me know that Jethro knows and knew of and about the Almighty Jah and his people. So the question comes to mind,

“How did Jethro who is a priest of Midian know about the Almighty Jah and the burnt offerings that would be acceptable to JAH other than from Mosheah?”

Well first and foremost, to answer that question we have to know exactly what and who is Midian?

Midian is a land and it is named after the man named “Midian”, the descendants of Midian are called the “Midianites”.

So who exactly was “Midian?”

Believe it or not, Midian is a son of Abraham and Keturah.

Remember that although Isaac was the chosen seed and the covenant was established in him, Abraham still taught all his sons about the Most High just as JAH commanded him to do and his children in return taught the ways of JAH to their children.

Without a doubt we can be sure that Abraham’s sons: Ishmael, Zimarn, Joktan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah all knew of the Great and Holy One of Abraham because he taught them.

Of Abraham the Most High gives this testimony…

Genesis 28:19 – For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of JAH to do justice and judgment; that JAH may bring upon Abraham that which he hat spoken of him.

I repeat, Midian was a son of Abraham of which Jethro, (Reul, Reguel) the Priest of MIDIAN, was a descendant.

Genesis 25:1-6

“Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan.

And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.”

We can see from the previous verses where Midian comes from and that the Midianites lived in the East country. So even though Isaac was separated from the rest of Abraham’s sons, Abraham still taught them the ways of JAH, how long they kept those ways is another story.

What is very vital is that Midian is the son of Abraham the Shemite.

In other words, the Midianites are Shemites as well; We can’t say for sure what Keturah’s nationality was but one possibility is likely that the Keturah was a Canaanite although the Scriptures are not clear, I say this because Abraham lived in Canaan, but I also see that he didn’t want his son to take a daughter of the Canaanites.

So it’s possible that Keturah was a Shemite, but again, the Scriptures aren’t very clear on that. At any rate, the point is that the Midianites are not Cushites from Noah’s Son Ham, and you will soon see why I’m making this point.

But let’s get back to the meeting of Jethro.


After Jethro gives Mosheah advice how to judge the people he goes back to his land, leaving Zipporah and children with Mosheah.

Exodus 18:27

“And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.”

Now it is at this point, upon meeting Zipporah and company that Miriam and Aaron speak against Mosheah because of his wife, because she was not an Israelite.

Many people assume that Moses is white because of this verse showing that Zipporah was an Ethiopian, and that this contention of Miriam and Aaraon was because she was black…not true at all, because Moses was black also,from another people group, BUT from the same area considered “Ethiopian”at that time,as were all Arabs; so the problem was in the fact that Zipporah was not an Israelite, not that she was black…

Numbers 12:1 –

“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married:

for he had married an Ethiopian woman.”

Now did the translators of the Scriptures intend to mislead us with this translation to make it look like Moses had two wives, because Zipporah is identified as a Midianite earlier on and now there is seemingly another wife who was an Ethiopian.

Or should we JUST LEARN to “DIG” a little deeper for truth?

Mosheah had one wife, Zipporah the Ethiopian-Midianite or Black Midianite.

The world’s scholars and their books try to say that the Greek word “Ethiopian” means “Cush” in Hebrew, which means Black.

But this isn’t the case when you look up all the times the word “Ethiopian” appears in the Scriptures.

As we know, the man Cush comes from Ham.

So why use the word “Ethiopian” if Zipporah wasn’t from the family of Cush?

Is it a reason to mislead us?

You decide!

We know that the Gentile world {The Arian Brotherhood of BIGOTS } says that Mosheah is white or Caucasian and they try to say that Miriam spoke against Mosheah because he married a black woman, in particular an Ethiopian.

But as earlier said, that is also false.

Moses is Black and Zipporah was Black and as said before, Miriam and Aaron never liked the fact that Zipporah wasn’t an Israelite, and this would mean that Mosheah’s children, who are not 100% Israelite, might take over the leadership when Mosheah dies, and this indeed wasn’t acceptable to Miriam and Aaron.

Keep in mind that Zipporah is also a daughter of a Priest so she is a believer in JAH as well and she must have been knowledgeable with spiritual understanding and that could have been a threat to Miriam, for Miriam was a prophetess as well.

So why use the term Ethiopia to describe Zipporah?

The reason is this.

The Greek word Ethiopia or Ethiopian in the Scriptures shouldn’t be translated back to Hebrew word Cush at all because this Greek word “Ethiopia” is a NOUN that was initially used by the Greek world ruling Gentiles to cover or describe ALL black people.

In other words, Ethiopia and ethiopian are not Hebrew words nor did they come from any Hebrew word!

Without a doubt those who engage in Hebraic translations will scoff at the notion that the word Ethiopia doesn’t translate to the Hebrew to be “Cush”.

You see, indeed the Hebrew language is older and precedes the Greek language, in particular as it pertains to the translations of the Scriptures but the point I’m making is that there are many instances were there are Greek words of which were originated by the Greeks and even though Hebrew is older, it isn’t the origin of the Greek word “Ethiopia”, only that the word Ethiopia in Greek means “Black People” or “Black faced”.



But when you try to find the Hebrew equivalent, the word “Cush” which in Hebrew means “black” or “burnt,” is used as the translation but it doesn’t fit correctly at all because the way the word “Ethiopia(n” is used in Scriptures is clearly not used to refer to one tribe or nation, in particular the tribe or family of the Cushites…that is completely against the Scriptural use of the word Ethiopian.

The Ethiopians that you read of in Scriptures have different nationalities, and don’t even apply to the family of Cush…

If you try to translate Ethiopia back to the Hebrew to be Cush, then you are inaccurately limiting this Greek word to refer to one tribe of black people or one particular country, which was and is truly called Abyssinia (Abasha) and is wrongly called Ethiopia in these modern times of which was never to be applied to that one Country.

Why do I say this?



The black man Cush is just one son of the Black man Ham.

What I’m try to say is that all of Ham’s sons were black not just Cush and Cush’s brother’s aren’t Cushites yet they were black or can be called “Ethiopian” or “Aithiops”, of which this Greek word was used primarily to cover all types of Black or Dark skinned people groups in the WHOLE AREA.

The same with Shem’s descendants, they’re Black too, yet we would never call them Cushites but you can say that Shemites are an “Ethiopian” people, meaning the Shemites are Black.

Yes Cush means “Black” but so do many other words in the Hebrew. When the world speaks of the Cushite Nimrod and his Ethiopian Empire the term Ethiopian Empire simply means the Black Empire, and because Cush means Black they try to trick you to think this Ethiopian Empire has a specific lineage and trace back to the Cushite family.

The first world ruling empire after the flood was that of Babel of which Nimrod was the King of which was a Black World ruling Empire or we can say it was the first Ethiopian World Ruling empire….Black person and Ethiopian are the same thing.

Egypt was an ETHIOPIAN (Black) empire, so was Assyria, Babylon, Medes and Persians and of course the nation of Israel, of which we can say is the Ethiopian Israelite Empire that ruled the world in Solomon’s times.

All these nations are described by the Greeks as being Ethiopian or Black. Simple as that.

Therefore the Greek word Ethiopia is a SCRIPTURALLY sanctified name for the Black man’s Land and the word Ethiopian can be used to cover ALL BLACK PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

The word “Ethiopia” shouldn’t be used to refer to one particular family of black people, namely the Cushites.

I repeat:

The word Ethiopia or Ethiopian are Greek terms that were used by the Greeks to refer to ANYONE who was Black OR DARK SKINNED.

And remember, the whole land of Africa and the Mid-East was termed Ethiopia in ancient times…

Scripturally speaking, the Israelites were likened to and called Ethiopian, Egyptians were called Ethiopian, Canaanites were called Ethiopian, Cushites were called Ethiopian, Philistines were called Ethiopian and the Sabaens or those of Sheba were also called Ethiopians by the Greeks…

When you look at the translation of this word Ethiopian in Numbers 12, you will see that they WRONGLY translate it to be “Cush”.

Remember that Cush is a Hamite, and Zipporah was not a Cushite she was a Midianite, of whom are Shemites.

Upon further investigation, you will notice in the Scriptures that there is a word “Cushan” which is used only once.

This Scriptural word “Cushan” isn’t referring to the Cushites.


What is Cushan?

Well when you look up this word “Cushan” in a concordance we see that it appears only one time in the Scriptures. So the information is limited, however, the information in this one verse where “Cushan” is used shows us that Cushan is a word associated with Midian and doesn’t have anything to do with the Cushites from Ham. Take note:

Habakkuk 3:7

“I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.”

From the previous verse, we can see that “Cushan” is ALSO the “land of Midian.” The word “tents” means “families, people, clan, tribe etc.”. The word “Curtains” also means the same: families, people, clan, tribe etc.

So the tents of Cushan mean the “families of Cushan” and these families dwelt in the land of Midian and this is why the translators try to use the word Ethiopian to refer to Zipporah, because they either mistakenly or purposely used the word Ethiopian in a cunning fashion to distort this PLAIN truth.

But we can turn a lemon into lemonade by understanding that the word Ethiopian can apply to a person of any black nation, and that the word obviously shouldn’t be used to refer to one family of black people.

Cush, as said earlier, is a Hamite and not a Shemite.

The Midianites are a Shemite people and are definitely not Hamites although they mixed and mingled with them for hundreds of years.

So you can see that the use of the word Ethiopian in regards to Mosheah’s wife has nothing to do with the family of Ham or in particular with Cush….

This is another reason why I say that the Greek word “Ethiopian” can be used for both Hamites and Shemites, because it means “Black People”.

It is a serious error to say that the Greek word Ethiopia translates to Cush/Kuwsh.And remember:

There were no blond hair, blue eyed or of fair skinned people in the middle east until the invasion of the Europeans so we can’t go by todays standards.

Questions about Sexual behavior in the Bible!

Is bigamy,The crime of having two or more wives at once wrong?

The term is ordinarily used as synonymous with Polygamy, and may be more justly defined, the crime of having a plurality of wives.

In the canon law, bigamy was the marrying a second wife after the death of the first, or once marrying a widow.

(This disqualified a man for orders,and holding ecclesiastical offices.}

If it is sinful, why did King Solomon have so many wives?Remember that it was NEVER GOD’S WILL FOR THIS TO TAKE PLACE,so we cannot hang this at God’s door as a contradiction of his nature!

This was Solomon’s personal choice!

1 Kings 11:1-6 (KJV)

” But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you:

for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods:Solomon clave{Soul Ties} unto these in love.

And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods:

and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.”

First Kings 11:1-3 indicates that King Solomon had 700 hundred wives and 300 hundred concubines, many from lands of which God had previously instructed the Israelites to avoid intermarrying.

God knew that such intermarrying would lead to the worship of false gods.

Why, then, did Solomon do this?

History reveals that Solomon was very aggressive in his foreign policy.

In sealing treaties in ancient days, it was customary for a lesser king to give his daughter in marriage to the greater king (in this case, Solomon).

Every time a new treaty was sealed, Solomon ended up with yet another wife.

These wives were considered tokens of friendship and “sealed” the relationship between the two kings.

In the process of doing all this, Solomon was utterly disobedient to the Lord.

He was apparently so obsessed with power and wealth that it overshadowed his spiritual life and he ended up falling into apostasy.

He worshiped some of the false gods of the women who became married to him.

Moreover, in marrying more than one woman, Solomon was going against God’s revealed will regarding monogamy

{The marriage of one wife only, or the state of such as are restrained to a single wife.}

From the very beginning God created one woman for one man

(see Genesis 1:27; 2:21-25).

Deuteronomy 17:17

“Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”

Moses’ law did not ignore this issue as some skeptics proclaim but


… Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold”

So Solomon sinned in various ways—

(1) he engaged in polygamy,

(2) he violated God’s commandment against marrying pagans, which ultimately led to his own apostasy,

(3) he collected huge numbers of horses (a large chariot army), and

(4) he gathered vast amounts of gold and silver.


Solomon’s tolerance of his wives pagan religions led to terrible sins against God.

1 Kings 11:4-9 states,

“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth {The chief goddess of the Phoenicians, as Baal was the male. By the plural (ASHTAROTH, Baalim: Jdg_10:6; 1Sa_7:4) different phases of the same deity, according to the different places of worship, are indicated.

Always plural until under Solomon Ashtoreth or Astarte of Zidon was introduced (1Ki_11:5; 1Ki_11:3). She appears among the Philistines as the idol in whose temple they hung up Saul’s armor (1Sa_31:10).

She is identified as Ishtar or Nana, the planetary Venus among the Assyrian gods in inscriptions.

Her name appears also in Cyprian and Carthaginian monuments; and on the sarcophagus of a king Esmunazar, who restored her temple at Zidon, along with his mother her priestess, Am-ashtoreth.

She partly represents the planet Venus, partly the moon, “the queen of heaven” (Jer_7:18; Jer_44:17-18).

Our “star,” Greek ” aster,” Latin stella, is akin. Her worship was most licentious and abominable; closely connected with that of.

Ashtoreh is the goddess, asherah “the grove,” the image or the symbol of the goddess, of wood; asher, yashar, “to be straight,” a straight stem of a tree living, or fixed upright (1Ki_18:19; 2Ki_21:7; 2Ki_23:6; 2Ki_23:13-14; 2Ki_23:15; Jdg_6:25; Jdg_6:30).

The “bringing out the asherah from the house of the Lord,” and the “cutting down,” suit such a symbol, not a grace in our sense.

The active and passive powers of nature, generative and receptive, suggested the male and female deities, Baal and Ashtoreh. The ewes of a flock were called Ashteroth on this principle, propagating the flock (Deu_7:13).

The earliest worship of apostasy was that of the sun, moon, etc. This naturally was grafted on idol worship, Baal sometimes being the sun god, sometimes distinct (2Ki_23:5). So Ashtoreh and the moon.

The stone pillar was the symbol of Baal, as the sacred tree was the symbol of Ashtoreh; stone marking his strength as the male, the tree her fruitfulness (Deu_16:21). The sacred tree constantly accompanies the gods in the Assyrian monuments.

In the Moabite Dibon stone the male form Astar is prefixed to Chamos or Chemosh, answering to the female Astarte. Identical with Athtar or Athtor of the Himyeritic inscriptions, and Estar of the Ninevite inscriptions; the Canaanite form of the male Aphroditos answering to the female Aphrodite.} the goddess of the Zidonians { The inhabitants of Zidon.

They were among the nations of Canaan; left to give the Israelites practice in the art of war, Jdg_3:3, and colonies of them appear to have spread up into the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephothmaim, Jos_13:4; Jos_13:6, whence, in later times, they hewed cedar trees for David and Solomon. 1Ch_22:4.

They oppressed the Israelites on their first entrance into the country, Jdg_10:12, and appear to have lived a luxurious, reckless life. Jdg_18:7.

They were skillful in hewing timber, 1Ki_5:8, and were employed for this purpose by Solomon.

They were idolaters, and worshipped Ashtoreth as their tutelary goddess, 1Ki_11:5; 1Ki_11:33; 2Ki_23:13, as well as the sun-god Baal, from whom their king was named. 1Ki_16:31.}

, and after Milcom {The fire-god, Molech, was the tutelary deity of the children of Ammon, and essentially, identical with the Moabitish Chemosh.

Fire-gods appear to have been common to all the Canaanite, Syrian and Arab tribes, who worshipped the destructive element under an outward symbol, with the most inhuman rites.

According to Jewish tradition, the image of Molech was of brass, hollow within, and was situated without Jerusalem.

“His face was (that) of a calf, and his hands stretched forth like a man who opens his hands to receive (something) of his neighbor.

And they kindled it with fire, and the priests took the babe and put it into the hands of Molech, and the babe gave up the ghost.”

Many instances of human sacrifices are found in ancient writers, which may be compared with the description of the Old Testament of the manner in which Molech was worshipped.

Molech was the lord and master of the Ammonites; their country was his possession, Jer_49:1, as Moab was the heritage of Chemosh; the princes of the land were the princes of Malcham. Jer_49:3; Amo_1:15.

His priests were men of rank, Jer_49:3, taking precedence of the princes. The priests of Molech, like those of other idols, were called Chemarim. 2Ki_23:5; Hos_10:5; Zep_1:4.} the abomination of theAmmorites {The usual name of the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot (Gen_19:38).

From the very beginning (Deu_2:16-20) of their history till they are lost sight of (Jdg_5:2), this tribe is closely associated with the Moabites (Jdg_10:11; 2Ch_20:1; Zep_2:8).

Both of these tribes hired Balaam to curse Israel (Deu_23:4). The Ammonites were probably more of a predatory tribe, moving from place to place, while the Moabites were more settled.

They inhabited the country east of the Jordan and north of Moab and the Dead Sea, from which they had expelled the Zamzummims or Zuzims (Deu_2:20; Gen_14:5).

They are known as the Beni-ammi (Gen_19:38), Ammi or Ammon being worshipped as their chief god.

They were of Semitic origin, and closely related to the Hebrews in blood and language. They showed no kindness to the Israelites when passing through their territory, and therefore they were prohibited from “entering the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation” (Deu_23:3).

They afterwards became hostile to Israel (Jdg_3:13). Jephthah waged war against them, and “took twenty cities with a very great slaughter” (Jdg_11:33).

They were again signally defeated by Saul (1Sa_11:11). David also defeated them and their allies the Syrians (2Sa_10:6-14), and took their chief city, Rabbah, with much spoil (2Sa_10:14; 2Sa_12:26-31).

The subsequent events of their history are noted in 2Ch_20:25; 2Ch_26:8; Jer_49:1; Eze_25:3, Eze_25:6. One of Solomon’s wives was Naamah, an Ammonite. She was the mother of Rehoboam (1Ki_14:31; 2Ch_12:13).

The prophets predicted fearful judgments against the Ammonites because of their hostility to Israel (Zep_2:8; Jer_49:1-6; Eze_25:1-5, Eze_25:10; Amo_1:13-15).

The national idol worshipped by this people was Molech or Milcom, at whose altar they offered human sacrifices (1Ki_11:5, 1Ki_11:7).

The high places built for this idol by Solomon, at the instigation of his Ammonitish wives, were not destroyed till the time of Josiah (2Ki_23:13).}

Why did God let Solomon and his Father David seemingly get away with so much adultery?

The better Question would be:

Did God really let them get away with it or were they held up as examples to us of men who DID NOT GET AWAY WITH SIN BECAUSE OF THEIR WEALTH AND INFLUENCE?



It’s the same reason God let’s you SEEMINGLY “get away” with disobeying Him when you exceed the speed limit or some other SIN, every day.

God is full of mercy and love, and He keeps giving us another chance to get it right in this world,YOU WILL PAY A HIGH PRICE FOR THE PERSONAL DECISION TO DISOBEY GOD.

Num 32:23

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”


Women ARE in the Heart of God :

HISTORICAL Data From the Pre-Monarchy Literature PROVES IT!

Most of the questions made about the Bible and it’s treatment of women are made with NO INTENTION of receiving a valid answer to the question!


I on the other hand, will answer these objections DIRECTLY & COMPLETELY WITHOUT BACKING DOWN FROM TRUTH!

Let’s look at the History of the Bible!

In this period, we have THREE sources of primary data: In this section, I will focus on the HISTORICAL data.
Passages in which God is an agent

Gen 1.26-28:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”


Woman was part of the original creation (and therefore “good”), was a bearer of the image of God, was co-ruler over the creation, was distinct/different from the ‘male’, was blessed by God, was given joint-responsibility by God (increase, fill, rule), was absolutely essential to the “fruitful and increase” command(!), was commanded to co-subdue the earth.

Gen 2.18-24

The LORD God said,

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”


Woman was needed to make the situation “good”. She was designed specifically to be a co-worker for the man (‘helper suitable’), and a complementary worker at that (“suitable”).

The method of making Eve involved a complete sharing of the nature–she was made out of the same ‘stuff’ (numerically and essentially) as Adam, as he obviously recognized in his quote.

The marriage relationship was also relegated to a higher importance than parent/child relationships.

Gen 12.17:

But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, `She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”

Observations: God valued Sarai, and judged Pharaoh “because of” Sarai. (NOT because of Abraham or because of ‘the Law’!).

Gen 16.7 :

The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.

8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”

10 The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.

12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”


The Angel of YHWH addresses a women directly, by name, gives her a direct command, and issues a promise of blessing of the same magnitude as that to Abraham(cf. 13.16)!

The descendants are called ‘her’ descendants. The Angel specifically says that the LORD had heard of her misery–He paid attention to the plight of this woman. Hagar even gave a name to the Angel, and had the insight to recognize the Angel as being God.

This is the FIRST of the appearances of the Angel of YHWH in scripture–and He is sent to help a foreign servant woman.

Gen 17.15:

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.

16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”


God not only changed Abram’s name–He also changed Sarai’s!

He promises to bless Sarah (twice), and uses the same blessing format (“mother of nations, kings of people”) as He had used with Abe in verses 5-6!

She indeed is co-covenanter with YHWH–not left out or lesser in any way.

Gen 18.9:

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said.

10 Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.

11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.

12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, `Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’

14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”


The three-fold theophany of the Lord specifically asked about Sarah, and made the promise in her hearing. They were obviously paying attention to Sarah, for they brought the matter up with Abe. When she denied it, they addressed her DIRECTLY.

Gne 19.12:

The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here — sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here,

13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”


In spite of Lot’s gross heartlessness (willing to have his daughters brutalized), the Angels were concerned about their well-being and rescue, as indicated by their focus on both sons and daughters.

Gen 20.1-6:

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,

2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?

5 Did he not say to me, `She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, `He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die.”


God protects Sarah once again (in spite of Abe!), and sinning against Sarah was sinning AGAINST GOD (vs.6)!

Gen 21.1:

Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.

2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.

3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.


Notice how prominent Sarah is in this passage!

She is mentioned BEFORE Abe, the grace was extended to HER, and the first promise mentioned in the passage is to HER.

Gen 21.12:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.


God specifically tells the patriarch Abe to ‘obey his wife’–WHATEVER she says(!).

Gen 21.17-19:

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.

18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.


God interacted with the woman Hagar again, speaking to her directly, calming her, and promising her prosperity for her son.

He then ‘opens her eyes’ and meets their need.

Gen 25.21ff:

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.

23 The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”


Rebekah had access to the Lord (via the standard ‘inquiry method’–cf.

I Sam 9.9; Ex 33.7; Josh 9.14; Jdgs 20.18 et. al.), was the FIRST in scripture to so ‘inquire’ (requiring righteousness–cf. Ezek 20.31!), the Lord answered her, and delivered a prophecy to her.

Gen 29.31:

When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb

Observations: the Lord had mercy on Leah–because she was not loved by her husband!

Gen 29.32ff:

Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah.


Leah attributes most of these births directly to the Lord, feeling that she is the recipient of God’s mercy. She understands God’s goodness to be addressed specifically to HER need–and this results in the praise of YHWH at the birth of Judah.

Gen 30.17:

God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.


God listened to Leah.

Gen 30.18:

Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.

19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.

20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. …

22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb.

23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”

24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.”


This passage has similar motifs as the earlier passage. Both Leah and Rachel attribute their conceptions to God–the gift-giving One and the disgrace-removing God.

They understand God to be good to THEM individually (and not just as a member of a family).

Gen 38.8:

Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.”

9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother.

10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.


The responsibility of a brother to raise up children for a deceased brother (by marrying the widow) was call the Levirite marriage law. It was an important part of protection of widows’ inheritance rights, and to violate it (as did Onan in this passage) was very displeasing to God.

God cared for this woman and correspondingly put Onan to death for failing to meet her legal need.

Exodus 4.22:

“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.

22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”


On the Passover night, it was not just a ceremony involving males(!), but the women had a wonderful, wonderful job to do as well! For slaves to dress their sons and daughters in the riches of Egypt must have been quite a delight for the moms of Israel–and a delight that God designed for them to enjoy.

Exodus 1.20-21:

So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.

21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.


Notice that God felt affection (“kindness”) for these women, and blessed them directly with families.

Num 27.1:

The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph.

The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.

They approached

2 the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said,

3 “Our father died in the desert.He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin and left no sons.

4 Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

5 So Moses brought their case before the LORD

6 and the LORD said to him,

7 “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.


This passage is important for a number of reasons, but I only want to point out that the Lord SPECIFICALLY said that what these daughters argued was “RIGHT”.

God sided with the daughters, so that, instead of becoming ‘fatherless’, they became ‘head of households’.

God supported these women in setting a precedent that would be mentioned THREE TIMES in scripture!

(here; Num 36.1-12; Josh 17.3-6).

Judges 4.4:

Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.

5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.

6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: `Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor.

7 I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'”

8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

9 “Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.”


This passage will also come up a number of times, but the main point here is that God would grant the victory to a woman instead of to ANOTHER MALE.

The Lord, in teaching Barak his lesson, could just as easily have given it to another male rival of his, but rather, He chose to give the honor to a woman–whose deed was immortalized in the Song of Deborah (chapter 5).

Judges 13.2:

A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless.

3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.

4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean,

5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name.

7 But he said to me, `You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.'”

8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” 9 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her.


The angel of the Lord appears ONLY to the unnamed wife (TWICE), dialogues with her, gives her explicit instructions to follow, has her follow part of the Nazarite vow herself, and she repeats the message accurately to her husband Manoah. ALL of the revelatory content comes directly to the woman.

I Sam 1.27:

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.


Hannah understood that her prayers were heard by God, and that God responded to her specifically.

Passages in which Women participate in the religious life/cult In Gen 25 (above), Rebekah ‘inquired of the LORD’–a specifically cultic procedure, usually done at some worship site (“went” in verse 22).

Joshua 8.34-35:

Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law — the blessings and the curses — just as it is written in the Book of the Law.

35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.


Joshua included the women in the public ceremony.

Judges 17.3:

When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol.

I will give it back to you.”


Although this making of the idol was explicitly against the Law of God (and in keeping with the general moral decline of the time!), it does show that women were personally involved in forms of worship and offering.

I Sam 1:9

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple.

10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”


Hannah (wife of Elkanah) apparently had access to the sanctuary around the Tent of Meeting.

(The word ‘temple’ in this passage indicates that by this time the Tabernacle was somewhat stationary and was housed in a larger compound. This is not to be confused with the ‘real’ Solomonic temple later.)

She is able to pray in the sanctuary and to make vows to YHWH–about a child WITHOUT her husband’s consent!

I Sam 2.22:

Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.


Even at this morbid time of Israel’s history, there were still women serving the Lord at the entrance to the Tent–cf.Ex 38.8.

There are two women who are specifically called ‘prophetesses’ in this time period: Miriam (Ex 15.20) and Deborah (Jdgs 4.4). In the period under discussion, these two female prophets are mentioned among only 5 male prophets:

Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Samuel, and an unnamed prophet in Judges 6.8. (There will be many more cultic roles played by women, documented in the section on the Law.)

Passages in which Women participate in favorable or equal social/legal transactions “Naming” was sometimes understood as a legal right. We have several women who named their children themselves, without any mention of husbands.

Eve names Seth (Gen 4.25) Leah and Rachel name their children (Gen 29,30) Rachel names Benjamin as she dies (Gen 35.19 Hannah names Samuel (I Sam 1) They show up in genealogical records and in descriptions of families.

In Gen 5, the geneo starts with ‘male and female’ and contains numerous references to “sons and daughters”

Gen 46.5:

Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him.

6 They also took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt.

7 He took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters — all his offspring.

Gen 46.15:

These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.

Gen 46.17:

The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah.

Num 26.33:

(Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons; he had only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.)

34 These were the clans of Manasseh; those numbered were 52,700.

Num 26.46:

(Asher had a daughter named Serah.)

47 These were the clans of Asher; those numbered were 53,400. (There are numerous references to sisters and daughters in the genealogies in I Chron.) They show up in equal/favored status in legal situations involving males.

Gen 20.14ff:

Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.

15 And Abimelech said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”

16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”


The offense was ALSO against Sarah–SHE had rights which were recognized by a royal male(!), who also made a legal pronouncement that she was completely “vindicated”.

Gen 24.6ff:

“Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said.

7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, `To your offspring I will give this land’ — he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Observations: Abraham required the woman HERSELF (not her father, or her brother, or any other guardian) to be WILLING to move.

Gen 24.57:

But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

57 Then they said, “Let’s call the girl and ask her about it.”

58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. Observations: Along the lines of Abe’s thought above, the household ‘ruler’ (Laban) still ASKED Rebekah (not commanded her!) about her willingness to go.

Gen 26.11:

So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”


In the country of Abimelech, the man AND the wife (abe and sarah) had equal legal protective status.

Gen 26.34-35:

When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.

35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.


I Sam 14:

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman.

2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”

3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”

(His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)

4 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. Observations: In both these cases, the mother and father appear to act jointly. In the case of Samson, there are references to them as a couple!

In Gen 27 (The “treachery of Rebekah and Jacob”), the adult Jacob obeyed his mother in every step of her commands to him–IN SPITE OF what he KNEW his father would say/do/feel.

Gen 28.7:

and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Observation: The adult Jacob still obeyed his mother in the SAME way he obeyed his father.

Gen 29.24, 29:

24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. and Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. Observation:

Laban apparently ‘wills’ or passes ‘ownership’ of the maidservants to the newly married sisters. To the extent maidservants could be ‘owned’, to that same extent females ‘owned’ them.

Gen 31.16:

Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”


Rachel and Leah assert that Jacob’s property “belonged to them” TOGETHER (sorta like a community-property state in the U.S.A.?)–NOT just to the male Jacob.

Gen 37.9-10:

Then he (i.e. Joseph) had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”


Notice that Jacob finds it incredible that he AND HIS WIFE would submit to the son. In other words, the wife/mother was as authoritative over Joseph as the husband/father.

Gen 38.8:

Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.”


Onan had a “duty to her”, implying legal status, rights, and claims upon a male (from the female).

Gen 38.26:

Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.”


Judah had originally made a summary trial and execution of Tamar, but now he not only clears her name, but also points out that legally, she is MORE in the right than he, the judge!

Num 27.5:

So Moses brought their case before the LORD

6 and the LORD said to him,

7 “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.


These daughters won a legal appeal, and had both property and inheritance rights deeded them. (cf. also Josh 17.3)

Ruth 4.9:

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon. Observation: Childless widows could own and sell property.

There are passages that describe the often favorable treatment/love/care women received in that society.

Gen 23.2:

She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

Gen 24.59:

So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.

60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.”

Gen 25.21;:

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

Gen 29.19:

So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

Gen 31.4f:

So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were.

5 He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.

6 You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,

7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me.

8 If he said, `The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, `The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young.

9 So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.

11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, `Jacob.’ I answered, `Here I am.’

12 And he said, `Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.

13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'”

14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate?

15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us.

16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”


Notice that Jacob goes to great pains to explain his rationale for his actions to his wives!

And that the wives voice judgment and rational approval.

Gen 31.48ff:

Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” That is why it was called Galeed.

49 It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.

50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.”

Gen 31.55:

Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them.

Gen 34:7,31:

Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened.

They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with [i.e. the rape of their sister Tamar] Jacob’s daughter — a thing that should not be done. and 31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”

Gen 48.7:

As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

Ruth 3.10:

“The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied.

“This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.

Passages in which Women manifest social, familial, and cultural power. There are three specific types of texts that show this dimension of women’s experience in the OT:

the interactions of the wife with the husband, the exhibition of Sage-like behaviors in historically important events, and the appearance of hero-type figures in the narratives.

First, the interactions between husband and wife in the pre-monarchy period could scarcely be called that of “master and slave” or “master and cowering subordinate”!

Indeed, the tone of voice and style of comments/questions of the wives is actually characterized by that colorful word “uppity” in the academic literature!

Gen 16.1f:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar;

2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.”


She simply orders Abe around!

Gen 16.5:

Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”

Gen 27.46:

Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”

1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman.

Gen 30.1:

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”

2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.”

Gen 30.16:

So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”

So he slept with her that night. Observation: Notice that the Jacob seemed to have NO SAY in the matter–the wives somehow had connubial rights that were very strong.

Ex 4.24:

At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him.

25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it.

“Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. Frymer-Kensky makes some interesting observations about these passages There is a particular tone to these petitions by the matriarchs.

They do not plead, and do not address their husbands in the language of obedience or submission.

On the contrary, they are uppity women who use a characteristic form of biblical rhetoric, the guilt-producing opening attack…This guilt-producing rhetoric is not simply characteristic of the “Jewish mother”!

In fact, it is an essential method of biblical argumentation, one used by women other than mothers, and by such great male authority figures as Moses and Samuel.

But it is significant that there are not two separate ways of discourse for men and women, and that women do not have to adopt a subordinate posture in their speech.” Secondly, the women in the pre-monarchy period consistently manifest sage-like behavior.

The sage was one of the two un-official roles of power in Israel (the official roles being king and priest, and the other un-official one being prophet).

The Sage was the wise man (e.g. I Chr 26.14; Prov 1.6; Jer 18.18) or wise woman (2 Sam 20.14ff; 14.2), who exerted what today would be called ‘expert power.’

It was not a paid-position (like priest or king), nor was it a full-time job (like prophet often was).

In the Pentateuch, such a role is usually filled by women, notably by Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel….like women, male sages have an ancillary position to the holder of direct power. They do not have the power to determine events directly, but rather influence the direction of events through their intelligence and persuasive power.

The power of the sage could be used for either good or evil–as “power” it was ethically neutral. It manifested itself typically in dialogues with ‘decision makers’ or in independent actions of consequence to history.

“Official” Sages were often called ‘counselors’ in the court (2 Sam 15:30ff).We have already noted above the passages in which the matriarchs use the “open guilt” technique, used by sages elsewhere in the OT.

Gen 21.11:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, Observations: God specifically told Abe to pay attention to her as a counselor–the sage.

Gen 27–the “trickery of Rebekah”. This familiar passage, in which Rebekah has Jacob disguise himself as Esau, to receive the blessing of the first born, is often seen as an evil act on the part of Rebekah–almost a manipulative and scheming power-play. But it seems to me that the situation is altogether different than that. Consider:

In Gen 25.

22, Rebekah had been told by YHWH directly that Jacob was to have authority over Esau–a formula that normally meant the firstborn blessing was his (cf. Gen 48.17).

This message from YHWH was no doubt known to Isaac, due to its importance and probable recording in the family archives.

In Gen 25.29, Esau sells his birthright as the firstborn to Jacob.

This would have also been recorded in the family archives. What this means is that Isaac should NOT have intended to give the blessing to Esau at all!

Isaac was in the wrong, and the prophetic word of YHWH was about to be compromised (as well as the legally binding oath of Esau earlier)–27.

29 was INTENDED for Esau!

Rebekah, seeing that independent action was required, acted the sage–and did “whatever it took” to see that God’s will was done.

[That it was NOT an issue of her being concerned about her sustenance after her husband’s death, is obvious from the fact that BOTH Esau and Jacob were her sons and would have had responsibility for her–as indeed Esau fulfilled after Jacob went away.]

This ‘trickery’ or ‘deceit’ was a VERY ACCEPTABLE way of dealing with authority figures that were attempting to thwart God.

When the Pharaoh tried to kill all the male babies of the Israelites in Egypt, the midwives lied to Pharaoh and God blessed them (Ex 1).

When the Israelites were about to attack Jericho, Rahab deceived the rulers of the city by hiding the spies and telling a lie, and was listed in the heroes of faith for this (Heb 11). When Judah failed to keep up the levirite law, Tamar disguised herself and was declared ‘more righteous than’ him.

So, Rebekah’s deception was in perfect line with acceptable practice in such a difficult situation. The narrative in no way censures Rebekah for this (nor does any other passage), and even has Isaac using the basic word choices of the birth-promises about Jacob in his secondary blessing to Esau (“you will serve your brother”–27:40 with 25.23.)

I have to conclude that Rebekah here is the hero of the story, playing the wise sage and resourceful agent, and ‘saves the day’.

We see a similar ‘deception’ occur in the story of Judah and Tamar in Gen 38. Judah is supposed to provide a husband (and inheritance) for Tamar but fails to do so–deliberately (38.11).

Tamar does this elaborate disguise-play and ‘sagely’ gets Judah to fulfill his duty (unintentionally). And Judah admits that she was ‘more righteous’ than he (38.26).

In Gen 31, Jacob explains in detail his reasoning to his wives, seemingly asking for their counsel, and receives a sage-like analytical response from them. The Hebrew Midwives in Exodus 1 are another example of sage-like behavior.

They acted wisely and were critical to the rapid growth and strength of Israel at the Exodus Moses’ life was TWICE saved by wise women!

First, his mother developed a clever scheme to preserve his life (Ex 2).

Second, his wife Zipporah saved him from being killed by the Lord, when he failed to circumcise his kids. [Ex 4.24: 24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him.

25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said.

26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.) ]

Num 27.3:

“Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the LORD, but he died for his own sin and left no sons.

4 Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

5 So Moses brought their case before the LORD

6 and the LORD said to him,

7 “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.


Notice that the argument of these women is well thought out–distancing from Korah, and appealing to the importance of family names; a sage-type argument (although probably somewhat condensed).

Judges 4.17:

Sisera, however, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite.

18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him.

19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, `Is anyone here?’ say `No.'”

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

22 Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple — dead.


Here is another case of deception in a difficult authority context. Jael is often faulted for violating the trust of Sisera (in the context of the friendly political relations between the two peoples), but this alliance was itself a breach of faith.

Most of the Kenites (kin to Moses) were living in the south and allied with Israel. Heber had made a breach of faith with them (and with Israel) and moved north to support Jabin AGAINST Israel.

His wife was obviously still loyal to Israel and YHWH and saved Israel by her cunning and independent action. (She was immortalized in the Song of Deborah in chapter 5.) Sages (“the wise”) generally congregated around the “gates” of the community. There legal decisions were made, community issues discussed, and worldviews explored (e.g. Prov 24.7; 31.23).

We have one passage in which a woman participated WITHIN that assembly–Deborah, the Judge.

In recounting a victory in the Song of Deborah (5.11f), we read: “Then the people of the LORD went down to the city gates.

12 `Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song!

The most natural reading of this places Deborah at the city gates, doing her judging tasks. This judging task was a mixture of legal and wisdom skills/authority, both of which found locus at the assembly of the gates.

Third, the appearance of female hero-type figures in the narratives demonstrate both the actuality of female leadership/influence/role models in that time.

The matriarchs are obviously leaders in their communities. Sarah herself receives covenant promises and blessings and Rebekah’s beautiful character is highlighted (Gen 24.17ff) as is her wisdom (Gen 27-28).

Rachel was a shepherdess (Gen 29.9), a non-trivial job (cf. David’s having to defend the flock from a lion and bear–I Sam 17.34ff)!

One of the more powerful, yet almost invisible, figures is Sherah, daughter of Ephraim. In I Chr 7.24 we read: His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah. . This daughter was said to have built three towns(!), one of which was named after herself.

A glance at the names of the only other city-builders mentioned in Scripture yields:

Nimrod (Gen 10.11), Pharaoh (Ex 1.11), Joshua (Jos 19.50), one unnamed survivor of Luz (Judg 1.23), and the kings of Israel and Judah (e.g. David, Solomon, Asa).

City-building is listed as an important royal feat in I Kings 15.23 (As for all the other events of Asa’s reign, all his achievements, all he did and the cities he built, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? ).

This would indicate a particularly powerful and effective woman leader in this period, and one whose exploits were recorded in the official genealogies and archives of Israel The Hebrew midwives’ bravery and sage-actions would have been widely known and admired in that day (Exod 1).

Miriam was Moses’ older sister, a sister of Aaron, a prophetess, a leader of congregational worship/singing, and one of the “BIG THREE” of exodus Israel. Her role in leading Israel cannot be underestimated.

The daughters of Zelophehad were clearly (being mentioned thrice) an important example for women to speak up in legal settings.Rahab the harlot (Jos 2) is a model of faith and action in the NT (cf. Heb 11; Jas 2), and even is part of the genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1.5).

She lived among the Israelites and was a constant witness to their identity as the covenant people (cf. Joshua 6.25).

Deborah (Judges 4) was a prophetess, a ‘judge’ (highest political office prior to the monarchy–Deut 17.9), a wife/mother, and a composer (wrote the “Song of Deborah” in Judges 5).

She did legal dispute-resolution (in the same vein as Moses–Ex 18:13–and Solomon.)

The entire book of Ruth is the story of a foreign women who shows loyalty, resourcefulness, and tenacity in her commitment to her mother-in-law.

The book ends with her being acknowledged as “better that seven sons” (4.15). Ruth, the Moabitess, is the only descendant of Moab known to have entered the assembly of Israel–IN SPITE OF GOD’s general injunction to the contrary in Dt 23.3!

Ruth becomes a progenitor, thereby, of King David and the Lord Jesus.Hannah, mother of Samuel, is featured in I Sam 1-2 as the model of spiritual grace and theology. (However, it is doubtful that her story would have been widely known until the monarchy.) So, the narrative data indicates a rather wide range of role models, heroes, community agents, and influence-wielders among the women population of the time. Summary:

If we simply list some of the above observations, we get a surprisingly robust picture of Israelite women!

Womens contributions to the history of the chosen people (apart from giving birth to all of the participants!) were substantial and critical to the success of biblical history: Rebekah saved the birthright line by the deception of Isaac.

The midwives saved the majority of Israelite men (from infanticide in Egypt They save the life of Moses TWICE before he leads Israel out of Egypt! Rahab is a key to success for the overthrow of the major border town Jericho–the gateway to the land of Israel.

(Jos 2] Deborah and Jael were deliverers of Israel for the extremely disruptive/destructive oppression of King Jabin (cf. Judg 5.7–“village life had ceased”) The spiritual life of Hannah produced the major positive figure in post-conquest Israel–Samuel.

Men leaders officially declare women as vindicated or ethically superior. (Gen 38.26; 20.14ff)

The only known exception to God’s exclusion of Moabites from His assembly (Dt 23.3) is for a female–Ruth, who also becomes an ancestor of David and Jesus (cf. Ruth 4.21 and Matt 1.5).

Several women heroes show up in the narrative (the Matriarchs, Sherah, the midwives, Miriam, daughters of Zelophehad, Rahab, Deborah, Hannah(?), Ruth)

One woman actually ‘sat’ in the assembly of the elders in the ‘gate’ (Jud 5.11f).

These role models came from every strata of society–leadership, wealthy families, foreigners, ordinary folk, prostitutes.

One woman held the highest political office of the day.

The historical data reveals a rather important level of influence of women on the historical unfolding of Israel, as well as indications of special care from the heart of God for His daughters.

Women have moved History along, sometimes SILENTLY, MOST TIMES LOUDLY!


Did the Old Testament Law TREAT WOMEN BADLY?

The Legal Data from the Pre-monarchy period PROVES WOMEN WERE TREATED EQUALY AND FAIRLY.

The previous section on historical data had frequent illustrations of legal situations and transactions involving women, but the Law of Moses has a wealth of information that directly reveals God’s heart for His daughters. In this section we will look at:

Passages which address women as to Religious responsibilities, offerings, and equal liability before God;

Passages which show equal value, treatment, punishment, and honor for women;

Passages which focus on women’s legal rights, property codes, and relationship with the broader legal community; and

Passages which show either stricter requirements/penalties on men, and/or preferential treatment/special protection for women.

Passages which address women as to cultic responsibilities, offerings, and equal liability before God with men.

Ex 20.10:

but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.


This command from the Decalogue mentions all the household members EXCEPT the wife, implying that she is listed in the “you” under address.

Ex 35.22:

All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD.


Women were equally involved in offering expensive gifts to the LORD as a WAVE offering.

Ex 35.29:

All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do. Observations: Women were equally involved in offering FREEWILL offerings.

Ex 38.3:

They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.


Women had some kind of tabernacle service AT the tabernacle. This is where all the sacrifices were offered (Ex 29.10-11).

Lev 10.14:

But you and your sons and your daughters may eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. Eat them in a ceremonially clean place; they have been given to you and your children as your share of the Israelites’ fellowship offerings. Observations: The daughters of the high priest could eat the sacrificial food.

Num 6.2:

The LORD said to Moses,

2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite,

3 he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.

4 As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.

5 “`During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long. 6 Throughout the period of his separation to the LORD he must not go near a dead body.

7 Even if his own father or mother or brother or sister dies, he must not make himself ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of his separation to God is on his head.

8 Throughout the period of his separation he is consecrated to the LORD.

9 “`If someone dies suddenly in his presence, thus defiling the hair he has dedicated, he must shave his head on the day of his cleansing — the seventh day.

10 Then on the eighth day he must bring two doves or two young pigeons to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

11 The priest is to offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to make atonement for him because he sinned by being in the presence of the dead body. That same day he is to consecrate his head.

12 He must dedicate himself to the LORD for the period of his separation and must bring a year-old male lamb as a guilt offering. The previous days do not count, because he became defiled during his separation.

13 “`Now this is the law for the Nazirite when the period of his separation is over. He is to be brought to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

14 There he is to present his offerings to the LORD: a year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a year-old ewe lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a fellowship offering,

15 together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and a basket of bread made without yeast — cakes made of fine flour mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil.

16 “`The priest is to present them before the LORD and make the sin offering and the burnt offering.

17 He is to present the basket of unleavened bread and is to sacrifice the ram as a fellowship offering to the LORD, together with its grain offering and drink offering.

18 “`Then at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that he dedicated. He is to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.


This is the Nazarite vow–probably the highest form of dedication to the LORD in the OT. It was obviously for both men and women (v.2), with no apparent differences between their commitments–the offerings are the same, the regulations the same, the treatment the same.

If the Nazarite were female, notice that she cannot defile herself EVEN FOR HER FATHER or BROTHER (c. 7).

At the end of the process, she is required to make the hair-sacrifice HERSELF–not the priest (v.18). This procedure all takes place at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (v.18).

Evans (citing Vos) points out how high this level of consecration was: Vos points out that if we compare the elements involved with a vow, such as cleansing regulations, then ‘the Nazirite vow…brought one in some respects to the level of consecration of a high priest.’ [WS:WIB:29]

Num 30:

The first part of this chapter deals with religious vows. It starts out with a strong admonition to men to fulfill whatever they commit to, but then goes on to discuss various aspects of female vows. Although we will deal with this passage under a later category, it should be noted that there were no restrictions on vows by ‘head of household’ women–widows and divorcees (v. 9), nor on vows by OLDER daughters in households (v. 3). And it should also be noted, that under the conditions of vs 3-5, even YOUNG GIRLS could make vows to the LORD!

He was always open to building relationships with them. From the inclusive ‘you’ (and description of the other family members as ‘sons and daughters’), it is clear that God commanded BOTH husband and wife to travel and celebrate the cultic feasts.

Cf. Deut 12.12, 18; 16.11,14:

And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own…Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose — you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns — and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to…And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name — you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you. ..Be joyful at your Feast — you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns…

Deut 29.9ff:

Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.

10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God — your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel,

11 together with your children and your wives, and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water.

12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath,

13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you

15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today. Observations: Notice that the wives were specifically addressed as covenant parties.

Deut 31.1:

Then Moses commanded them:

“At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles,

11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.

12 Assemble the people — men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns — so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.


the women were specially included in the public reading of the Law.

Deut 32.19:

The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters.


This verse in the Song of Moses pre-rehearses the fortunes of Israel. The mention of the word “daughters” illustrates that YHWH’s relationship to His covenant people was not just with or through “the sons”!

Passages which show equal value, treatment, punishment, and honor for women

Ex 20.12:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Observations: Mother was to be honored at the same level as Father–no distinction in honor. (also Lev 19.3)

Ex 21:15, 17:

“Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death. ….. “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.


“Ancient Israel raised the role and authority of the mother to a new level when compared to her ancient Near Eastern neighbors, as exemplified in law codes where offenses against the mother were judged as seriously as those against the father.” (Fontaine, in SAIANE:161) [see also Lev 20.9; Deut 27.16]

Ex 21.26ff:

“If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye.

27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.

28 “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible.

29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.

30 However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded.

31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter.

32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned. Observations: In each of these cases, the male and female are valued EQUALLY.

Lev 12.6:

“`When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.

7 He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. Observation: The offering was IDENTICAL for male or female babies. Lev 13: This chapter deals with various types of skin disorders, and it applied to men and women alike (cf. vs.29, 38).

Lev 15: 18

–sexual contact rendered BOTH parties unclean for the same length of time–no distinction.

Lev 20.10-12:

“`If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife — with the wife of his neighbor — both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

11 “`If a man sleeps with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 “`If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. Observations: Both parties in adultery were EQUALLY guilty and EQUALLY punished.

(The man was not somehow ‘less responsible’ or under a ‘looser standard’!)

[see also Deut 22.22,23]

Curiously, this equal punishment is a step forward for women of the time! So Carmody in WS:WWR:191: “…the provision in Deuteronomy 22.22 that imposes the death penalty on an adulterous couple.

This is a landmark insofar as it treats the woman as equal to the men. By contrast, the law of adultery in many other cultures evolved in a way that never granted the woman fully human status. For example, ancient Greece placed the erring wife in the hands of her master, who was usually her husband or father. “

Lev 20.27:

“`A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.'” Observations: Male and Female bore equal punishment.

Lev 21.1:

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: `A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die,

2 except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother,

3 or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband — for her he may make himself unclean. Observations: Females were important enough for a priest to become unclean for!

Num 5.1-3:

The LORD said to Moses,

2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has an infectious skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.

3 Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.” Observation: Equal treatment for female and male.

Num 5.6: “Say to the Israelites: `When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the LORD, that person is guilty

7 and must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the person he has wronged. Observation: Either party is equally guilty, and equally expected to get the resources necessary for restitution.

Num 18.11,19:

“This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it………Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share.


The high priest could share the dedicated offerings of the Lord with his daughters.

Deut 13.6ff; 17.2ff; 29.18:

6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other),

8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death………..If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant,

3 and contrary to my command has worshipped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky,

4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,

5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death………Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.


The punishment for idolatry and covenant treason were equal for men and women. Both had the power to influence the community and introduce such ‘bitter poison’ into the nation.

Deut 15.12:

If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free. Observation: Both women and men could sell themselves, and both were to go free under the same conditions–no inequality.

Deut 20.10:

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace.

11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city.

13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it.

14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.


This passage deals with nations at a distance from Israel (v. 15). Both the men and the women could be made into semi-slave labor or “plunder” (if the men were co-operative). If the men were not, only the women would survive for that. It is important to note that the captive women AND men (if they survived) were BOTH treated as ‘plunder’–NOT JUST the women!

Deut 23.17-18: 17

No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. 18 You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both. Observation: Both sexes are equally prohibited from religious prostitution.

Passages which focus on women’s legal rights, property codes, and relationship with the broader legal community.

Ex 21.2-4:

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years.

But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.


The exact nature of Hebrew ‘slavery’ is somewhat obscure.

Practically, it looks more like a 6-year contracted labor agreement with room and board included.

In the passage above, we want to notice that when a man sold himself as a servant, ALL that ‘belonged’ to the master was HIM–NOT HIS WIFE.

She was not some kind of property that ‘transferred’ wherever the man went.

And, in the case when the master gave the servant a wife (presumably from among his maidservants), it is no wonder she still ‘belonged’ to his household–no brideprice was paid.

When the servant went free, he theoretically could accumulate the necessary capital (or negotiate with the master) to marry the maidservant.

It is sufficient for our purposes here simply to note that the wife was not simply a ‘automatically transferred asset’ upon selling oneself into servanthood. We have noted before that property passed to the daughters of Zelophehad via inheritance (Num 27.1-7).

Num 27.8-9:

“Say to the Israelites, `If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter. 9 If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers.


A daughter had HIGHER priority than her father’s own brothers!

ANE Context. In the Laws of Lipit-Ishtar (ruler of the city-state of Isin in Sumer, after the Third Dynasty of Ur, 1934-1924bc), this was also the case (Law b): “If a man dies without male offspring, an unmarried daughter shall be his heir” (LCMAM:26)

Deut 21.18:

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him,

19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.

20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard. “Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.


This passage is VERY interesting. Not only do BOTH parents appear and BOTH speak to the elders at the Gate, but the capital punishment law requiring TWO WITNESSES (Deut 17.6–On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. ), implies that the WIFE counted as a witness before the elders at the gates.

Deut 22.15:

then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate.

16 The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her.

17 Now he has slandered her and said, `I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town,


Similar to the above–both father AND mother appear at the gates and produce arguments and evidence.

Deut 25.5ff:

If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

6 The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

7 However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.”

8 Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,”

9 his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.”

10 That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. Observations: The removal of the sandal signified the transfer of inheritance rights to someone else (cf. Ruth 4.7-8).

The expected future for a widow was to marry the brother (under Levirite law) and have a kid to pass the inheritance on to. In the case of a non-compliant brother (as in the case above), the widow BECAME the owner of the inheritance (like Naomi).

This transfer of property was done at the city gates, indicating that a widow was a full legal agent in these types of transactions, and could ‘force the issue’ at will.

[We have already noted the passage in Judges 5.11ff, in which it showed that the woman Deborah ‘sat at the gates,’ judging with the elders (and probably, judging them as well!).]

Passages which show either stricter requirements/penalties on men, and/or preferential treatment/special protection for women.

Although the above texts indicated that women were at least EQUAL TO men in most respects before God, there is a surprising number of passages which indicate either stricter standards for men, or preferential treatment by God for His daughters.

Passages in which the men are held to stricter standards (or are singled out to make sure they understand!).

Ex 20.17b:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, .

Notice that the man is OBVIOUSLY singled out in the Ten Commandments by the reference to the neighbors “wife”!

Ex 22.16:

“If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.

17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

Notice: the man had to make it good–NOT the female!

The string of sharp commands for sexual purity in Leviticus 18 and Deut 27 is addressed to the male ONLY (the one exception out of 23 verses is vs.23).

The male is constantly reminded of the culpability of infidelity and inappropriate sexual behavior. The female is almost ASSUMED everywhere to be ‘more righteous’.

Lev 19.20-22:

“`If a man sleeps with a woman who is a slave girl promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed.

21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD.

22 With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the LORD for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.


ONLY the man has to bring a sacrifice. ANE Context: This was apparently a common situation in the ANE, with similar laws showing up in the Law codes of Ur-Namma (ca. 2100 bc, city of Ur) and of Eshunna (ca. 1770 bc, city of Eshnunna in Sumer).

However, in both these codes (LU 8; LE 64–see LCMAM:18,84), the offender merely pays money to the owner of the slave–there is no real moral guilt involved. In the biblical law, the man must answer to YHWH. Passages which provide special (favorable) protection, treatment, or privilege for women.

Ex 21.7-11:

“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do.

8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her.

9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter.

10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights.

11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.


A man could sell either his sons or daughters (or himself) into the 6-year ‘slavery’ contracts But in the case of selling the daughter, there were the above constraints on him. One can see the protective nature of this passage, involving marital rights, familial rights, and/or gratuitous freedom. In all cases, the female is cared for and provided for!

God build safeguards into the law to avoid exploitation of His daughters.

Ex 22.16:

“If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.

17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.


In this case, notice that the violated virgin is still protected. She either gets a home, or, if the father deems it NOT a good idea, she doesn’t have to marry the guy!

Lev 12.1ff:

The LORD said to Moses,

2 “Say to the Israelites: `A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.

3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.

4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.

5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.

6 “`When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.

7 He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. . Observations. This is a fascinating passage.

In verse 6, we see that the actual atonement ‘price’ for a boy or a girl baby was the same (=>equal value), but the amount of time the mother was ceremonially “unclean” was double for a girl than for a boy.

Why the difference, given that the atonement value was the same?

I think the answer might be found in the social understanding of ritual uncleanness. Ritual uncleaness was not a specifically moral notion–e.g. houses could be ‘unclean’

(Lev 14.36:

The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mildew, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean. ).

If you look at the general restrictions on someone’s behavior while unclean (esp. in Lev 15), you can see that they were not permitted to participate in religious ceremonies, they must avoid touching other community members (e.g. at the market), they must not handle items handled by others, they could not touch beds other than their own, they could not touch clay pots or wooden cooking utensils. In practical terms, they could do NOTHING but stay at home.

They could do no housework or cooking, no shopping or cleaning. ALL THEY COULD DO is stay at home and “play with the kids”!

What the above passage means, given this understanding of the practical dimensions of ‘uncleanness’ is that God was simply giving mothers more “time off” for having a girl than for having a boy!

Whether this was for the mother’s simple enjoyment of the mother-daughter experience, or for the additional bonding, or for additional communication of nurturing warmth (or all of the above), we will not be able to determine from the text. But the fact remains–the mother got to play with her girl babies twice as long as her boy babies before she had to ‘go back to work’!

Lev 15:19ff

“`When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.


This section describes the restrictions on the woman’s activities during her period.

In general, they mean exemption from required activities (including ‘church’), from potentially uncomfortable sexual activities (cf. 15.24) and from many of the household duties (presumably handled by maidservants, children, relatives, or husband)–amounting to a great deal of flexibility.

Lev 19.29:

“`Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute Notice: A rather clear case of protection

Lev 22.12:

If a priest’s daughter marries anyone other than a priest, she may not eat any of the sacred contributions.

13 But if a priest’s daughter becomes a widow or is divorced, yet has no children, and she returns to live in her father’s house as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food.


God made special provision for the dis-married daughters of priests.

Lev 27.1ff:

The LORD said to Moses,

2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate persons to the LORD by giving equivalent values,

3 set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel;

4 and if it is a female, set her value at thirty shekels………….

8 If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, he is to present the person to the priest, who will set the value for him according to what the man making the vow can afford.


This passages concerns ‘temporary slave-servants’ of YHWH. A male or female could dedicate himself/herself to the LORD’s service, and typically would buy themselves back.

If they did NOT pay the redemption price, they were actual servants for life, dedicated to cult-related work (including servants to the priests). Thus, such a vow/dedication amounted to semi-slavery.

What is interesting about this passage is that the redemption value for women is LOWER than that for men.

What this CANNOT mean, however, is that the value of female slaves is LESS THAN the value of male slaves, because the law concerning the murder/manslaughter of these indicated IDENTICAL values (cf. Ex 21.20-32 placed the exact same monetary values on both sexes).

What this passage nets out at, then, is that the Law simply made it easier for women to buy their freedom than for men (or to have someone else buy it for them)!

Perhaps this is a simple recognition of the lower earning power of female slaves(?), but in any case, God made provision for His daughters to have a better shot at buying their freedom than His sons!

Num 5.12–the trial of bitter waters (Sotah) is a an amazing provision by God for a woman to publicly clear her name (and indict a dysfunctional husband in the process).

This is the procedure invoked by a jealous and/or paranoid husband who suspected his wife of infidelity.

God gave this law to protect the woman from physical and economic abuse from a capricious and petty husband. In many of the cultures of that day, men had absolute dictatorial rights over their wives.

If they suspected adultery, they were allowed to kill the woman without any appeal on her part. There was not a process of justice, or process where they BOTH had to appear before a higher authority.

In fact, in the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1720 BC.), CH 132, women who were suspected of this type of infidelity were required to throw themselves into the Euphrates river–if they drown, they were guilty; if not, they were innocent!

(Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 171).

God would instead provide a public vindication process, before His leaders, his people, and the couple. If the woman was vindicated, the man would bear the stigma of unfounded and paranoid jealousy, and slanderous accusation before his friends/family (with possible legal consequences).

Her rights were protected by this very ceremony. This was a very, very advanced pro-women procedure for those times. By comparison, in the other law codes of that time, ANYONE could accuse her and force her to undergo the River Ordeal(!). So, the Laws of Ur-Nammu, 14 [ca. 2100bc, Ur in Sumer]:

“If a man accuses the wife of a young man of promiscuity but the River Ordeal clears her…” (LCMAM:18).

Lev 21.1-3:

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them:

`A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die, 2 except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother,

3 or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband Notice that the priest is told to provide for his unmarried sisters. God provided for her needs. Num 30.3ff: “When a young woman still living in her father’s house makes a vow to the LORD or obligates herself by a pledge

4 and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand.

5 But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her.

6 “If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself

7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.

8 But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the LORD will release her.


These passages are sometimes understood as being restrictive of women, when in actuality they are protective of YOUNG women. In both the first case (the young girl in her father’s house) and the second case (a rash promise made by a newlywed), the husband can either let her vow stand (and she gets ‘credit’ from the Lord) or he can nullify it (and get her out of a difficult spot). This is an incredibly flexible and workable situation for the young.

Num 30.10:

“If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath 11 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.

12 But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the LORD will release her.

13 Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.

14 But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them.

15 If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he is responsible for her guilt.”


This situation is a bit more complex than the last, for at first blush it looks like the woman has NO independence at all in this matter. But a closer look reveals some interesting qualification to such a conclusion.

First of all, we have cases of women making vows without any record of husband-consent (e.g. I Sam 1-2). So, we have to look at the text and context to see if there are any clues that might restrict the RANGE of application of this husband-approval requirement.

There are two such considerations. First, the qualifying phrase at the end of verse 13–“to deny herself” is ALWAYS associated in the OT with ‘no work’ (cf. Lev 16.29; 16.31; 23.27-32; Num 29.7).

In this context, this would amount to a vow to stop working at home, in the field, in the market–wherever.

This might have disastrous consequences for the well-being of the family and/or community, and might be a decision that warranted a ‘second opinion’ (like the ‘two witness’ motif). Second, the nature of most vow-fulfillments entailed economic resources (e.g. sacrificing sheep or redeeming oneself as a temple-slave (Lev 27 above)).

As such, it really required having solitary control over the finances–a situation that widows and divorcees had (cf. 30.9)–but not one of the average Israelite housewife.

The person responsible for the ‘debt’ (so to speak) was protected in this case, from being over-committed by his wife.

This over-commitment, in the typical case of the one-income family, would have also had possible adverse effects on the wife. So, a ‘second opinion’ in matters relating to finances was probably a protection for BOTH the man and the wife.

Deut 21.11:

11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife.

12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails

13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.

14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.


Fontaine (SAIANE:157) refers to this as one of “Israel’s more humanitarian values extending even to the treatment of female salves, the ‘disposable’ persons of the Ancient Near East.” One can scarcely read the passage above (with its commands on male restraint!) without sensing God’s concern for the protection of this captive female.

Deut 22.13-19:

13 If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her

14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,”

15 then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate.

16 The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her.

17 Now he has slandered her and said, `I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town,

18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him.

19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.


In this passage, the reputation of the women, and the lifelong provision for her needs are focused on. God architects this situation to protect the woman against capricious men. ANE Context: In a similar case in the Laws of Lipit-Istar (ca. 1930bc), 33, anyone can accuse a woman of promiscuity, and the penalty for slander is only TEN shekels. [LCMAM:33]

Deut 22.25-27:

But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.

26 Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor,

27 for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.


God ASSUMES that the woman would have been righteous and ‘cried out’!

He builds this ‘benefit of doubt’ INTO the Law. The man dies; the woman is free. ANE Context: The Hittite Law in this regard is much harsher

(p197, LCMAM:237):

“If a man seizes a woman in the mountains (and rapes her), it is the man’s offense, but if he seizes her in her house, it is the woman’s offense; the woman shall die.” In the biblical version of the ‘in-town’ rape, BOTH parties are equally guilty—the man is NEVER absolved from responsibility in ANY situations in biblical law (Deut 22.23-24).

Deut 24.1:

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,

2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,

3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,

4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled.


This restriction on remarriage to the same party SEEMS to be aimed at the convenient “Vegas-style” divorce/weekend marriage/re-marriage.

In this scenario, the primary wife (and hence the oldest) is temporarily divorced, the man marries some ‘little young thing’ for a short time, divorces the younger one when it is time to ‘get back to life’, and re-marries the older, proven, faithful, successful first wife. This type of mistreatment of the wife of ‘his youth’ (Prov 5.18; Mal 2.14-15) is precluded in some cases by this law.

Deut 24.5:

If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.


The Lord exempts a man from military service–not for the man’s happiness, but for the happiness of the wife! God must be concerned about the happiness of those who do the special work of being a wife. On of the more important protections is something NOT in the law. In the famous Law of Hammurabi, for example, if a father killed a woman of the upper class, his DAUGHTER would be killed in punishment(!)-

-[P209-210 (LWMAM:122)], and if a builder build a structure that collapsed, killing a tenant’s son, then the builder’s SON would die in return [P230, (LWMAM:125)]. In biblical law, each person dies for their own crime

(Dt 24.16:

Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin. ). Of special concern to God was the care for a special class of women–the widow.

A few passages and observations will illustrate this.The OT law of Levirite marriage (Dt 25.5, et. al.) was obviously meant for the protection/care of widows. In the ANE context, the Hittite laws (P193, LCMAM:236)

mirrored this:

“If a man has a wife, and the man dies, his brother shall take his widow as wife. (If the brother dies,), his father shall take her…” This is, of course, why Tamar disguises herself as a shrine prostitute in Gen 38 to ‘seduce’ Judah, her father-in-law, who has NOT fulfilled this obligation to date. Deut 10.17: For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.

Deut 14.28:

” At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns,

29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

Notice that the tithes of every third year were designated for relief work that included needy widows.

(cf. Dt 26.12

Deut 16.9

“Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.

10 Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name — you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you.”

Notice that the Feast of Weeks had a special emphasis on helping the widows to rejoice.

Deut 24.17:

” Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there.

That is why I command you to do this. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.”


God made very explicit allowances and provisions for widows, and these regulations were instrumental in the case of the widow Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth (Ruth 2.16ff).

Deut 27.19:

“Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.”

Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

Notice that this issue was one rehearsed in the public reading of the Covenant law, and in the strongest possible “curse” terms.

we see an almost painstaking attention to detail in God’s law, to protect the woman in society, to encourage her religious life, and to facilitate her contribution to biblical history.

God seeks His daughters to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Women in the Life and Ministry of Jesus!

Sense Jesus is our example in how to treat women,we should find out just how he delt with women in his life on earth!

This period of time stretches from the birth of Jesus until the close of the NT revelation (probably Revelation).

The data of this period comes from the words and deeds of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, 1st chapter of Acts, and any subsequent post-resurrection appearances or disclosures.

There is a great deal of overlapping material from the Synoptic gospels, so I intend to treat the incidents as they occur in the standard NT arrangement (i.e. Mt, Mrk, Lk, and then John).

Any differences between the parallel accounts, that might indicate special emphasis on aspects of our subject, will be noted in the section on the literary data.

We can arrange this material under the following categories:

The Roles women played in the ministry and teachings of Jesus.

Their equal Responsibilities before God.

His ministry to women.

Then we will briefly examine the question of how revolutionary this might have been in the context of first-century Judaism.

The Roles women played in the ministry and teachings of Jesus. He consistently used them as examples, and used illustrations from women’s lives.

Mt 13.33: He told them still another parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Mt 15.21:

Jesus only commended two people before His resurrection for their faith–a Centurian, and the Canaanite woman: Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”

Mt 24.40:

That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Mt 25–

the Parable of the Virgins–sex did not matter; wisdom DID!: “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. … Jesus holds up the The Forever-Remembered Anointing as a model of something ‘beautiful’–

Mt 26.6:

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper,

7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.

9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.

12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.

13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Notice that

(1) this is the ONLY physical anointing of Jesus noted in the gospels;

(2) Jesus defends this woman;

(3) Jesus applauds her act as ‘beautiful’; and

(4) He sets up an everlasting memorial in her honor! In the Lukan parallel, her act is described as being the result of ‘loving much’ and being ‘forgiven much’.

(7.36-50) The story of the Widow’s Mite is commonly understood as an example of sacrificial giving (although it is understood by others as an example of the oppressive hegemony)–

Mark 12.41:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.

42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.”

In Luke 13.16,

the healed woman is called a “daughter of Abraham”–an exemplary term denoting Abraham-like faith: Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

In Luke 15.8, Jesus uses an illustration from a woman’s life: “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.

In Luke 18.1, the disciples are instructed to pray like the Persistent Widow did–Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

2 He said:

“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.

3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, `Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,

5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.

7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. They functioned as “patrons” of His ministry, traveling with the group and supporting them financially.

Luke 8.1-3:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,

2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;

3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Mt 27.55:

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Mark 15.40-41:

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

They were active in evangelism! Anna, a prophetess was the first “Jesus” evangelist!

(Luke 2.36ff):

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

They were the first witnesses to the resurrection!

Luke 24.9-11:

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. The Samaritan woman was a very effective witness for Christ–

John 4.28-30, 39-42 :

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,

29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him…..Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Even Pilate’s wife “witnessed” to her husband, of Jesus uniqueness and innocence (Mt 27.19):

While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message:

“Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal because of him.” Women are involved throughout the life of Jesus.

Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna are key figures in the infancy narratives. Jesus’ single pre-ministry incident that is recorded in scripture involves BOTH his mother and father, with more emphasis on His mother.

Of the 30-plus recorded miracles, over 10 had major focus on women participants. They travel with Him (above)–even out into the wildernesses (cf. Origen, Adv. Cel. 3.10), and would have thereby participated in most of the events of the ministry.

They were present at the Cross (Mt 27.55-56) and first to the tomb (Mt 28.1) They were spoken to by the angels at the tomb (Mt 28.5) Jesus actually used a woman as an example of God the Father!

In Luke 15.1-10,

two parables are used to symbolize God in His redemptive ‘search and rescue’ mission–a shepherd (1-7) and a woman (8-10). Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him.

2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’

10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Their equal Responsibilities before God. They were obviously expected to be “aggressive” disciples of the Lord.

( 35 For I have come to turn “`a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —

36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Mt 10.34ff)

“Jesus never stereotyped women. A woman’s value is not determined by her domestic, maternal, or sexual functions, but by her relationship to God.

On one occasion as Jesus was going through a crowd a woman shouted out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’

(Lk. 11.27-28). Jesus refused to sentimentalize motherhood. The most important fact about any woman is her response to the gospel.”

Notice that in

Mark 10.10

, Jesus assumes that a woman could initiate divorce–and was equally guilty when done without the ‘exception clause’–When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.

11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

The Samaritan woman in John 4 was obviously held responsible for her response to Jesus, as are Mary/Martha in John 11.

Women are given instructions by the angels at the tomb, and expected to obey.

(Mt 28:5ff):

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.

6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: `He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” The vast majority of Jesus’ teachings would have been to mixed-sex crowds

(e.g. Mt 14.21:

The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children., also 15.38), or the mixed-sex group of the disciples (above).

This would have made most of His teachings equally binding on the women. His ministry to women.

There were a number of situations in which He cared for women.

In Mt 9, he heals both a woman and a daughter.

Notice Jesus’ word choice in 9.20-22:

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.

21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.–He calls the woman “daughter”!

He only uses such a term of related-endearment one other time–He calls the paralytic “son” in Mt 9:2 and Mk 2.5.

In Mark 1, He heals Peter’s mother-in-law. We have already seen the healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter (Mt 15.22ff).

He healed the Widow of Nain’s son (Lk 7.11f) He healed the “daughter of Abraham” (Lk 13.16) His frequent use of illustrations from women’s lives (noted above) indicate that women were in His ‘target audience’.

He consistently treats women as significant theology dialogue partners.

The exchange with the woman of Samaria, resulting in many confessions of faith in the town, is one of the longer dialogues in all the NT. (John 4) The exchange with the Canaanite woman (in Mt 15.22f), resulting in His praise for her faith, is also a very detailed account.

His exchange with Martha of Bethany (Luke 10.38ff) not only is significant, but his approval of the ‘choice’ of Mary as a student of His borders on being ground-breaking in Israel of the time.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,

42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

He later has another significant dialogue with Martha in John 11.17-27, culminating in Martha’s confession of faith in verse 27:

“Yes, Lord,” she told him,

“I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”. This is one of the clearest expressions of faith in the NT, on a par with Peter’s confession in Mt 16:16 (Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”).

Closely related to the above is the fact that Jesus accepted women as disciples/students (after the rabbinical model) As we have noted above, women traveled with the group, were the recipients of teaching from Jesus, and freely moved about among the disciples (after the rabbinical model).

In Luke 10:39, we have a woman “sitting at Jesus feet”–the traditional description of rabbinic students (cf. Act 22.3: 3 I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, (ASV))

In John 20.16, Mary calls the Risen Lord “Teacher” (Rabboni). Although this does not necessarily mean that she was a ‘student’ of His after the rabbinical model, it may be significant that, with the exception of Mary/Martha, only men call Jesus “rabbi” or “teacher” in the Gospels.

Women call Him “Lord” or “Son of David” or “sir”. This MAY indicate an awareness of a more ‘formal’ relationship between Jesus and Mary–that of the student role, illustrated in Luke 10.39 (above).

It should also be noted in this connection, that the amount of disclosure given to the women dialogue partners, as well as the style of the interaction, approximates the rabbinical teaching methods of the day


How revolutionary was this in first-century Judaism?

Many of the more evangelical works on the subject of Jesus’ treatment of women (e.g. WS:ATW, WS:WIB), describe His actions and attitudes as ‘revolutionary’ and posit so based upon a certain view of first-century Judaism.

That is, IF we posit that the Rabbinic Judaism of the Talmud/Mishnah/etc. was the ‘prevailing’ Judaism that Jesus encountered, THEN His treatment of women WOULD HAVE BEEN appropriately labeled as ‘revolutionary’.

If, on the other hand, the later Rabbinic Judaism was only ONE SEGMENT of Judaism (to use Neusner’s terms “formative” rather than “normative”), then His actions may have been less counter-culture than is often claimed.

He was simply doing as he said,”What the Father tells me to do”In other words the


We will assume in our discussion below that some proto-Rabbinic Judaism was present and probably dominant among at least the adversaries that Jesus developed during the course of His earthly ministry. [For a dissenting view of this, see Allan Black’s chapter in WS:EWEC].

The presence of factions of Jewry, such as Essenes, Pharisees, etc., however, does NOT imply that there was a wide range of attitudes towards females.

We know, for example, that women were generally isolated from the rituals in the Qumran community:

“Nevertheless, we do have clear evidence, both in the case of the Essenes and those at Qumran, that they were sects whose views of the position of women were even more rigid than that of Judaism in general.”

So, what did Jesus do re: women that was ‘revolutionary’ in His day and setting? He disagreed with the Rabbi’s that association with women led inevitably to lust.

The logic that led to segregation within Rabbinix found no place in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus does not warn his followers against looking at women, but rather against doing so in lust. Women’s association and traveling with the apostolic band was NOT to be restricted due to the “natural desires of men”!

Jesus asserted that a woman could divorce her husband; the Rabbi’s said only a MAN could initiate divorce

“Thus far it should be clear that divorce was always the right and responsibility of the husband to initiate. Jewish law was asymmetrical in this respect, as opposed to Roman law, which grants the wife the right to divorce her husband.”

Jesus touched “unclean women” (e.g. the woman with the flow of blood in Mt 9.18ff); Rabbi’s would not do so.

“Jesus not only spoke freely with women, healed them, allowed them to touch him and to bring their children to see him, he also allowed them to serve him.

This was not, of course, unusual in a family situation, but it was unusual for a Rabbi, as the Rabbis strongly disapproved of women even serving them at tables.”

“Rabbinic parables pointedly avoided mentioning women, but Jesus often told stories relating to the life of women.”

Jesus often spoke to women in public; Jewish men shunned this (Aboth 1:5) Jesus conversed at length with the Samaritan woman (surprising even his disciples!); Rabbi’s would not do so–Samaritan women were considered “perpetual menstuants”! (Niddah 4.1).

Women were used as witnesses in the resurrection accounts; they were not allowed as witnesses (generally) under Rabbinic law.

He allowed women to follow Him in His travels and ministry.

“Jesus, too, knowingly overthrew custom when he allowed women to follow him.”

Jesus taught women freely, and sometimes in standard Rabbinical “style” (e.g. Luke 10.38-42).

Brown summarizes this contrast well: Jesus’ attitude contrasts with the sentiments of the rabbis.

In the Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer declared, ‘There is no wisdom in a woman except with the distaff.’ One version adds, ‘It is better that the words of the Law should be burned, than that they should be given to a women.’

In the Mishnah the same rabbi made a similarly strong statement when he said ‘If a man gives his daughter a knowledge of the Law it is as though he taught her lechery.’

Jesus broke with rabbinical tradition when he taught women and included them among his follower. “He never used women as negative examples, as was so common in rabbinical teaching.

He referred to women positively and used illustrations from their everyday lives to teach spiritual truths.”

Jesus accepted and valued women highly; the famous prayer of Rabbi Judah would not have been found on His lips: “Blessed be Thou for not having made me a Gentile, a woman, or an ignoramus.” (Tosephta Berakoth 7, 18.)

It must be remembered that what Jesus is being contrasted with here is the inter-testamental social structure and not that of the Old Testament.

There was a decided degeneration of OT ideals throughout this period, and Evans summarizes this: As far as first century Judaism in general is concerned there is no doubt at all that the place of the woman was not equal to that of the man.

Women were subordinate and inferior to men in religion, in the society in general and also in the home and family. There were exceptions, the practice did not always follow the theory, the country was rather more free than the town and the lot of women in Judaism was still somewhat happier than that of women elsewhere in the Orient.

But, nevertheless, it is possible to see a dramatic decline in the position and status of women in every sphere as compared to the situation as described in the Old Testament.

The rabbinical standards, as expounded in their documents, are decidedly non-Jesus-like There are occasions where women are described as hardworking, compassionate or intelligent, but they are more often seen as lazy, stupid, garrulous, vain, having a tendency to the occult, and in many ways, frivolous and unteachable.

Jeremias points out that disdainful opinions far outweigh those of high esteem, and the picture is well summed up by Josephus, when he says, ‘The woman…is in all things inferior to a man.’

These contrasts are between Jesus and the later Rabbinical writings, but as mentioned above would only be relevant IF the situation in which Jesus ministered was similar/identical to the attitudes expressed in those writings.

One can scarcely review this data and not notice how radical was Jesus’ approach to the women He encountered. He neither romanticized them nor denigrated them. He neither doted on them, nor ignored them.

Rather, He accepted them as ‘real people’ with real needs, and real talents/resources of use to His ministry. His attitudes of full acceptance of women as useful and responsible disciples was in marked contrast to those of the rabbis of His (or a later) day.

He did not make sex an issue, or allow it as an excuse–He focused on obedience, honesty, and loyalty to the covenant of God. He expected His daughters to shoulder His “easy yoke” as well, and in so doing, to find the rest their hearts sought (Mt 11.28-30).

What about the Apostle Paul…did he down grade Women?

How Paul viewed Women!


Paul compared to the practice of Jesus !

Jesus vs. The Rabbi’s–with a Look at Paul’s VIEW!

Jesus disagreed with the Rabbi’s that association with women led inevitably to lust. The logic that led to segregation within Rabbinix found no place in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus does not warn his followers against looking at women, but rather against doing so in lust.

Women’s association and traveling with the apostolic band was NOT to be restricted due to the “natural desires of men”!

Paul never segregated women at all. He actively sought them out and set up operations in their homes (Lydia, Acts 16). Women and men were supposed to worship together (I Cor 11-14), and women were to pray and prophesy in church (e.g. I Cor 11.4). He actually warns the young church against ‘forced celibacy’ in I Tim 4.3!]

Jesus asserted that a woman could divorce her husband; the Rabbi’s said only a MAN could initiate divorce “Thus far it should be clear that divorce was always the right and responsibility of the husband to initiate.

Jewish law was asymmetrical in this respect, as opposed to Roman law, which grants the wife the right to divorce her husband.”) Paul apparently asserts the same standard in

I Cor 7.13:

“And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him..] Jesus touched “unclean women” (e.g. the woman with the flow of blood in Mt 9.18ff); Rabbi’s would not do so.

Actually, we don’t have a similar situation in the historical narrative. We simply don’t have any data on this one.

Although, given Paul’s general position and practice toward the ritual of the Law, I would expect this to be a non-issue for him, as per

Romans 14:1-18

” Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up:

for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother?

or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?

for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.

Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” Jesus not only spoke freely with women, healed them, allowed them to touch him and to bring their children to see him, he also allowed them to serve him.

This was not, of course, unusual in a family situation, but it was unusual for a Rabbi, as the Rabbis strongly disapproved of women even serving them at tables.

Paul consistently let women help him! He refers often to women as ‘fellow-laborers’ and helpers. Phil 4.3; Rom 16.1-2, 6, 12,

Phoebe in Rom 16.1-2 is specially called a “deaconess”–a server, and he obviously stayed at Lydia’s home (Acts 16).] “Rabbinic parables pointedly avoided mentioning women, but Jesus often told stories relating to the life of women.”

Although Paul doesn’t use a lot of stories, he doesn’t shy away from stories or comparisons centered around women!

The comparison of Sarah and Hagar in Gal 4.21ff , or of HIMSELF and a mother–I Thess 2.7. He uses the same household ‘yeast’ metaphors as Jesus–I Cor 5; Gal 5. ] Jesus often spoke to women in public; Jewish men shunned this (Aboth 1:5)

This is fairly obvious, for Paul preaches to women in public consistently, speaks directly to them in Religious settings (Lydia), works with them in private homes (Priscilla), addresses them in his correspondence (Phil 4.2; Philemon 2).

There seems to be no setting in which Paul does NOT address a woman!] Jesus conversed at length with the Samaritan woman (surprising even his disciples!); Rabbi’s would not do so–Samaritan women were considered “perpetual menstuants”!

(Niddah 4.1] Although Paul obviously traveled THROUGH Samaria (Acts 15.3), it does not give us any data one way or another on this matter.]Women were used as witnesses in the resurrection accounts; they were not allowed as witnesses (generally) under Rabbinic law.

The closest data we have to this type of situation is two-fold:

(1) that Paul entrusted the ‘official’ letter-carrying task to a women (Phoebe, Rom 16.1-2; cf. The ‘official’ status of this role in Acts 15.22f ); and

(2) the fact that he admitted women prophets! (I Cor 11.4).

They were also called his ‘co-workers’ They assisted in composing letters (Rom 16:22; I Thess 1:1), carried apostolic messages to local churches (1 Cor 4.17; 16:10-11), sought to encourage the believers on Paul’s behalf (1 Thess 3:2), reported to Paul the status of congregations under his care (1 Thess 3:6) and even occasionally hosted house churches (1 Cor 16:19)

…In view of this wide range of ministry, it would be ludicrous to deny that Paul’s coworkers possessed authority in the churches (1 Cor 16:17-18)…a role which included the task of admonition (1 Thess 5:12)…Paul spoke readily of women, as well as men, as his coworkers.

He allowed women to follow Him in His travels and ministry. “Jesus, too, knowingly overthrew custom when he allowed women to follow him.”

We don’t know a lot about Paul’s traveling companions, but we do know that Priscilla and Aquilla accompanied him on at least one journey, and that he recognized that he could have taken a wife along with him (I Cor 9.5).

Obviously Phoebe was with Paul when he dispatched her to Rome (Rom 16.1-2).]Jesus taught women freely, and sometimes in standard Rabbinical “style” (e.g. Luke 10.38-42). Brown summarizes this contrast well: Jesus’ attitude contrasts with the sentiments of the rabbis.

In the Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer declared, ‘There is no wisdom in a woman except with the distaff.’ One version adds, ‘It is better that the words of the Law should be burned, than that they should be given to a women.’

In the Mishnah the same rabbi made a similarly strong statement when he said ‘If a man gives his daughter a knowledge of the Law it is as though he taught her lechery.’

Jesus broke with rabbinical tradition when he taught women and included them among his followers. It is clear that teaching women was NOT a problem to Paul. The account in Acts 16 shows that he publicly taught women and baptized them.]

“He never used women as negative examples, as was so common in rabbinical teaching. He referred to women positively and used illustrations from their everyday lives to teach spiritual truths.”

The women Paul uses as examples are his co-workers; all highly favorable! E.g. Euodia & Syntche –“fought by his side” (Phil 4.3); Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom 16.12).

What negative examples he DOES have are exactly paired with men–Rom 1.]Jesus accepted and valued women highly; the famous prayer of Rabbi Judah would not have been found on His lips:

“Blessed be Thou for not having made me a Gentile, a woman, or an ignoramus.” (Tosephta Berakoth 7, 18.) Paul shatters the Rabbinic distinction in Gal 3.28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus..

“Paul’s statement in Galatians 3.28 is extraordinary for an ex-rabbi; it is very radical. The sexes are equal in salvation. Women have the same spiritual status before God as men. They are one in Christ.” This quick overview sets up an expectation that we will still see the positive values of Jesus toward women, reflected in the actions and attitudes of Paul.

A Recent feminist assessment of Paul

Let me quote from Rosemary Reuther (a very outspoken feminist theologian) who is drawing upon Elizabeth Fiorenza (a very outspoken feminist theologian). Neither of these could REMOTELY be called ‘apologetically inclined’ toward Paul(!):

“It is generally assumed that Paul is the author of a Christianity of female subordination. But more recent studies have shown that the historical Paul in fact continued most of the assumptions and practices of early charismatic, inclusive Christianity. Indeed, most of the New Testament evidence that women functioned as local leaders, as well as traveling evangelists, is to be found in the Pauline letters.

Paul addresses almost an equal number of women along with men (sixteen women and eighteen men) in his greetings to Church leaders in Romans 16.

He mentions two women, Euodia and Syntche, as having preached the gospel “with Barnabas and me” in Philippians 4:2-3.

He addresses a woman name Junia by the title of “apostle,” and constantly refers to the husband and wife team, Priscilla and Aquila, as “Church leaders,” usually naming Priscilla first. He also speaks of the prominent woman Phoebe by the title of both “deacon” and “prostasis” or leader, of her community.

Paul received from the early Church both a practice of thus including women in the ministries of catechesis, prophecy, local Church leadership, and traveling evangelism (the role Paul calls that of “apostle”), and also a baptismal theology of male-female equivalence in Christ as reflected in the Galatians 3:28 reference.

This formula was not original with Paul; he cites it from early Christian tradition.

The Galatians baptismal text expresses the early Christian vision of the new humanity in Christ.

It was consciously moulded to contrast with the traditions of rabbinic piety, adapted from Hellenistic philosophy, in which the Jewish male thanks God for having been born male and not female, free and not slave, and Jew rather than Gentile.

By declaring that in Christ these divisions had been overcome and all these groups made “one,” the early Christian stated the essence of his or her new identity as one where the equivalence of all humans in the image of God had been restored.”


Paul’s working relationships with women in the Church

Paul consistently utilized women as leaders in the early church, and called them by ‘authoritative names’ such as apostle, deacon, co-laborer, patron, ‘hard worker’.

We did NOT examine I Tim 3.11, but, depending on how one understands the word there for women, Paul COULD be talking about female elders.

If the term is understood as ‘wives’, then the passage is silent on the issue; if the term is understood as ‘women’, then Paul is indicating women elders.

(Note: the ‘husband of one wife’ text is NOT an issue, since standard writing usage for brevity allows that to count for BOTH wife/husband cases…Similar to how we say “brothers” instead of “brothers and sisters” every time.) Likewise, Titus 2.2-3 is sometimes understood as the qualifications for male/female elders (so RSV).

We also saw that congregations were told to “submit” to such as these (I Cor 16.16)–indicating positions with significant authority.

We also saw that he used Priscilla to play a major role in discipling/teaching the gifted Apollos.

In short, we have plenty of historical data that demonstrates his rather ‘unrestricted’ official usage of women as partners in the early church; we have NO narrative or historical data that even slightly suggests that he refused to ‘allow’ women to serve in ANY capacity.

We will need to keep this in mind when we look at the controversial passages.

Controversial Pauline Passages

There are three main passages that we need to examine here: I Cor 11.3-16, I Cor 14.33-40, and I Tim 2.11-15.

And, although many, many books have been written about each of these–and the subject–they still remain three of the most obscure and disputed passages in the Pauline corpus.

I will not be able to resolve these passages to all satisfaction,because some only wish to DISPUTE, but I can at least give the evidence that leads me to believe that they do NOT constitute a contradiction between Paul’s approval of women teachers/leaders in practice, and his teaching about women in such roles in these passages.

[There is another string of passages that are sometimes used to support a view that Paul restricted women from church leadership–the ‘submit to your husband’ verses WHICH I HAVE BLOGGED AN ANSWER TOO HERE:

[What about Submission! ] (Eph 5.22; Col 3.18; Tit 2.). This is not a strictly Pauline injunction, of course, since it is also repeated by Peter in I Peter 3.1-6.

Since it is sometimes understood/appealed to in support of the broader view that women should not have authority over men IN ANY SPHERE, I want to make some summary observations about this issue, and why it cannot be applied to church leadership positions.

First, it obviously applies ONLY to married women–not widows, not the unmarried, not divorces, not celibate. And correspondingly, any authority it imputes to males is ONLY TO MARRIED MEN.

We have no reason to believe that marriage (and the survival of the spouse!) were qualifications of teaching positions (!!!!). We DO have POSITIVE evidence that it was NOT required–Paul, Timothy, Lydia, etc.

Second, the word for ‘submission’ in those passages is VERY different from the words used for slaves and children. They are told specifically to ‘obey’–the wife is told to ‘be submissive to’. This is a subtle but real difference. For example, when Paul says in

Ephesians 5.22

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord”

and then RE-STATES it in 5.33

as “the wife must respect her husband.”

, the meaning seems clear–the issue is respect and civility. [You must remember that the liberating effect of the Christian freedom in Christ–

Gal 3.28–occasionally created ‘hyper-liberated’ women who showed public contempt and mistreatment of their husbands.]

Third, the Ephesians and Col. Passages are in the literary form of a “household code”, but with a twist “Paul borrows this form of discussion straight from Greco-Roman moral writing.

But unlike most ancient writers, Paul undermines the basic premise of these codes: the absolute authority of the male head of the house.”

And, at the summary verse .33, BBC adds “Although ancient moralists expected wives to respect their husbands (and Jewish teachers also expected the reverse), moralists usually also emphasized the wife’s ‘obedience’; Paul’s exhortation to wives here would thus strike most ancient readers as quite weak.”

Fourth, the “household code” is turned on its head by the intro in verse 21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

BBC notes:

“But although it was customary to call on wives, children and slaves to submit in various ways, to call all members of a group (including the paterfamilias, the male head of the household) to submit to one another was unheard-of.”

Verse 2–the call to MUTUAL submission–(the verb is ‘shared’ between 21 and 22, so there is no difference in quality) radically changes the nature of the household code.

Fifth, the submission of wives to husbands was not on the basis of some gender-based authority; rather, it was a covenant-based relationship.”

As to the Lord’ differs slightly from ‘as is fitting in the Lord’ in Colossians 3.18. In obeying her husband, the Christian wife is obeying the Lord who has sanctioned the marriage contract…The subjection, moreover, is voluntary, not forced.

The Christian wife who promises to obey does so because her vow is ‘as to the Lord’.”

Most marriage contracts had ‘obedience’ or ‘submission’ clauses in them, so in the context of a Christian marriage it was contract-based authority (i.e. the Lord) rather than gender-based authority that mattered.

Sixth, the general tone of ‘submission’ verses for women is geared toward practical matters (and not more fundamental theological-authority issues).

So, Titus 2.5:

to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

and I Peter 3.1:

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,. In such a way, they appeal to more culturally-oriented values of the non-Christians around the church.

So, just as Paul would suppress personal ‘rights’ out of desire to further the work of Christ (e.g. I Cor 9.1ff; I Cor 9.22f), so too we should ‘subject ourselves’ to each other, to move the Kingdom farther.

You must remember that submission and servant hood go hand-in-hand. Christ said that He came “not to be served, but to serve.”

His submission to the needs of others was CERTAINLY not based on some ‘superiority’ or ‘authority’ they had over Him(!), but a submission based on love and other-centered behavior.

The NT is replete with such passages that enjoin us to such mutual submission (e.g. Rom 12.10b; I Peter 5.5b; Phil 2.3; Gal 5.13).

Seventh, there are a couple of passages in which wives are either charged with authority over themselves, or men are explicitly stated as being in some form of subjection to wives. So, in

I Cor 11.10,

the Greek says “the woman ought to have authority over her own head.”

(The English versions add the Jesuit corruption ‘a sign of’ to this, without the slightest evidence!) and in

I Cor 7.4f:

The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.

In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time,. This is rather clear–the wife has ‘authority’ over the husband’s body–mutually. Eighth, in

I Cor 6.3,

Paul states that the “saints” will judge the world AND the angels! He makes no distinction between male and female in a FUTURE situation of overt authority. (NB: the word sometimes rendered ‘men of little account’ in verse.

4 is simply a participle–not a clause with the word ‘men’ in it. As a participle it has to have linguistic “gender”, and is “masculine” in accordance with standard praxis of the day.

If an author wanted to draw attention to men, he would not ‘hide it’ in a humble participial ending, but rather he would use the deliberate words for “men”, “husband”, etc.) Finally, ‘submission within marriage’ CANNOT be relevant to matters of church leadership, simply because

(1) we KNOW of a husband-wife pair in which the woman was the dominant teacher (Priscilla); and

(2) entire congregations were told to ‘submit’ to women leaders in I Cor 16.16: “submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work (synergounti), and labors (kopionti) at it.”

We have already seen that Paul refers to numerous women by these titles. In this latter case we have men OBVIOUSLY ‘submitting’ to women (not necessarily their wives).

So whatever “submission” means (and it DOES imply obedience-under-God in certain passages–Rom 13. 5), it is mutual enough to apply in several different directions.

It must also be noted that Paul was very familiar with OT history, and accordingly he would have known that many of the main women leaders there were married (e.g. Deborah the Judge, Huldah the prophetess So, I personally have to conclude that although submission is a very, very real command to a wife, it would be false to restrict it to her or to impute the ‘traditional’ notions of ‘obedience’ or ‘obey your husband, right or wrong’ to that word.

The very mutuality and grounding of the notion in the person of Christ, indicates that it is concerned with respect, putting other’s needs first (cf. I cor 10.24: Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.), and generally ‘fitting in’ ENOUGH within the cultural context as to not hinder the work of Christ.] Now, on to the controversial passages…

Remember, we are examining these passages to see how they relate SPECIFICALLY to church roles–especially LEADERSHIP/TEACHING roles… First up is I Cor 11.3-13:

“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.

5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is just as though her head were shaved.

6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;

9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? “

Observations: Women were obviously allowed to prophesy in church Women were obviously allowed to pray audibly in church “Prophet” was an official position and was “2nd in rank” in the church, behind apostles and before teachers (I cor 12.28-29) The issue in the passage is some obscure point about head-coverings–

NOT about women speaking in the church–

and about people being contentious about it (v.16).

We have already noted above that v.10 says a women should have (exercise?) authority over her own head.

[“Paul means that she should exercise wisely her right to decide whether to cover her head in a way that will honor her husband” Now, even though the passage SUPPORTS women’s speaking roles and ‘authoritative speaking’ roles, some have seen in the reference to ‘headship’ a basic male-over-female hierarchical subordination structure, as being ordained of God.

Let me be quick to point out that EVEN IF THIS WERE SO, it would IN NO WAY negate the obvious fact that women were allowed (indeed, encouraged, when done in proper fashion) to function in worship. That fact remains unchanged in our text. But what about the ‘head’ thing?

Perhaps another digression is warranted, given the controversy surrounding it. Some of the basic points first:

“head” does NOT mean the same thing we mean by it in Western culture. From the standpoint of anatomical function, in Paul’s day it was the ‘heart’ that made the decisions, guided life, etc.

“Head” was much more the ‘adornment department’ of the body! In other words, when people wanted to make decisions, they used their heart; when they wanted to get all “gussied up” [“dressed up”], they used their head (e.g. hair, makeup, jewelry). So, in the literature, the word translated ‘head’ here often shows up as ‘crown’ or ‘excellence’. [Hence, its usefulness in the passage of I Cor 11.]

The root notion was that of ‘source’, and from this usage it was applied to people–Zeus, Pharoah, the progenitors of the Twelve Tribes, Christ-with reference to the Church, man (Adam)–with reference to woman (Eve).

If an author wanted to make a point about AUTHORITY, he would use two specific words–exousia (“authority”; Matt 28.18, Rom 13.1-3) and/or archon (“ruler”; Rom 13.3).

He only used ‘head’ when dealing with issues of origination, completion, consummation. In the passage under discussion, the only mention of the word ‘authority’ is in verse 10–and it is the women who possesses it!

NONE of the SCORES of published lexicographers of ancient Greek even LIST “authority, ruler” as a meaning for this word It only begins to show up with those minor usages after Constantine!


Recent attempts to argue that the “source”-meanings PRESUPPOSE the “authority” meaning (a la Grundem) by restricting the locus of study to SPECIFIC persons, literally “exempt” this passage from the force of their arguments!

For example, when it is argued that in thousands of cases in Greek literature, when ‘head’ is applied to a person (as opposed to river or something inanimate), it is only applied to a ruler; then I Cor 11 disappears from consideration–because the term in question is the generic noun ‘man’–NOT a specific man!

(And, if we agree that the man is Adam–agreeing for sake of argument that he had some authority over Eve–then the passage ONLY extends to the First Couple, and becomes only an illustration for Paul).

A second problem is that, strictly speaking, it CANNOT mean ‘authority’ when applied to God and Christ in the passage–at the time Paul writes this.

While that COULD have been a meaning during the Pre-Cross Incarnation, after the Exaltation Paul is clear that Christ has been given all authority, and that He will sometime in the future , ‘give it back’ to the Father (I Cor 15.24-28):

Then the end will come, when he (Christ) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.

28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. [Also, it is not clear from the I Cor 11 passage that God the Father is in view–the more inclusive term ‘God’ may indicate that a source relationship is VERY intentional here.

In other words, a ‘source’ motif–similar to adam-eve–would be more correct if it ran like this:

“Godhead was the source of an enfleshed-Godperson”.] Needless to say, the relationship between the Father’s authority and the Son’s authority is exceedingly complex(!), but we MUST proceed on the basis on the force of these passages. Additionally, it should be noted that, linguistically, one simply cannot move from an author’s intention (e.g. using a word with a central meaning of ‘source of origin, source of completion’ AS OPPOSED TO a word with a central meaning of ‘authority, ruler’), to some theoretical ‘conclusion’ that the author was consciously intending BOTH MEANINGS at the same time.

This is certainly counter-intuitive (without an indication of a play on meanings–like physical-head and source-head in I Cor 11), and one that would require a large number of passages that made that linkage of concepts EXPLICIT and PART OF THE SEMANTIC substructure of the language.

That the majority of cases in which a author used ‘source’ to describe a person who ALSO had ‘authority’ is oblique at best and irrelevant at worst, to the issue.

What must be shown is that the preponderance of authors used the word ‘head’ without using the word ‘authority, ruler’ and DREW DIRECT IMPLICATIONS in the ‘authority’ sphere–NOT the spheres of honor, respect, similarity, continuity, homage, etc (spheres that would be implications of ‘source or origin’).

And, when you have a semantic distance as great as between “source” and “authority” you MUST show how the literal meaning ‘stretches’ to the metaphorical meaning. “Fork in the road” can be derived from a physical fork, as can most other metaphorical extensions.

In some cases, we know we can ‘lose’ the literal in favor of the metaphorical, but in this case BOTH USAGES co-exist in the literary data. It is incumbent, then, for someone to show how ‘authority’ can be an extension (in such a vast array of situations!) of “source” or “one who completes”.

It is not enough to cite statistical correlation. And finally, from a methodological standpoint, we could see this from the ‘headship’ passage in Ephesians.

In linguistic studies, when you have a word which you do NOT know the meaning of, you try to decide from the invariable redundancy clues in the passage.

If we didn’t know what ‘head’ meant in Ephesians 5, and tried to figure out from the clues, we would decide that it meant something like ‘servant’–one who saves, grooms, cleans, dresses, completes, protects, etc.

We would NEVER come up with ‘authority’ from the actions and attributes of Christ in THAT passage! (He obviously has authority over His Bride, but it is not remotely in view in that passage.) But the literal notion of “that which completes” or “a major source of change” (i.e. “head”!) makes quite a lot of sense here.

Simple inductive Bible study–without starting with a loaded meaning of ‘head’–would yield something much more akin to ‘active change agent’ than ‘ordained authority’ Thus, I have to conclude that ‘head’ does NOT entail authority, but rather is used to focus on organic union (e.g. Christ/Church, Husband/Wife) and source/completion (e.g Christ/New Creation) motifs.

The lexical data is simply too overwhelming at this point AGAINST the equation of the two. I can tell from the passage what it does NOT mean! Women were obviously allowed to pray and prophesy in church, and were not commanded to ‘be silent’ at all.

There is absolutely no restriction on women’s roles (in worship at least) in this passage Now, let’s consider

I Cor 14.33-36:

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints,

34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

36 Did the word of God originate with you?

On the surface this looks really, really clear–this is a ‘sit down and shut up’ passage if there ever was one!

“Silent in the churches”–what could be clearer than that?But let’s look at this at little closer.

The first thing we notice is that verse 33b (“as in all the congregations of the saints”) probably goes with 33a, and NOT with 34 (so rendered in the NAS).

The only other time this kind of argument occurs in Paul is in I Cor 11.16, where it is a CLOSING argument–there too about propriety in worship.

Unless Paul changes the subject of this paragraph THREE TIMES(!)–from universal silence, to asking questions at home, and then back to universal silence–then the ‘universal silence’ clauses are rather severely restricted in scope, to that of simply disruptive questions by early-learners!

If the passage DOES order universal silence of women in the church, then the verse simply PROVES TOO MUCH! Notice that there is no restriction on the scope of silence in the passage to ‘authoritative teaching’ or ‘leadership pronouncements’!

This verse at face value would argue that women could not teach, sing, exhort, prophesy, pray audibly, greet people, say ‘amen’ at the giving of thanks, or encourage one another in church.

This would mean that ALL of the instructions for worship that Paul has given in chapters 11-14 (including the passage about women praying and prophesying!) would be only to the MALES–since ALL of the instructions were about ‘audible’ activities (e.g. prophesy, tongues, interpretation).

This would be bizarre in the extreme–bordering on the non-sensical. This would mean that

I Cor 14.26:

“When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation” and

I Cor 14.31:

“For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged” and

Col 3.16:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” and Eph 5.19: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” would ONLY be addressed to men(!)–when there is not the slightest reason to do so, and indeed we have TONS of data that documents that women DID these things in churches (even 11.5!).

It should also be noted that Paul does NOT have separate ‘spiritual gift lists’ for men and women!

There seems to be no restriction by gender on the Spirit’s sovereign distribution (I Cor 12.11) of gifts (chuckle) So, logically–so far–we have two choices:

(1) take a universal silence interpretation–and contradict the vast majority of Paul’s other teachings–even in the same epistle(!); or

(2) take a ‘disruptive silence due to inappropriate questioning practices’ view (based on 14.35) and simply be a little confused about the historical circumstances…how complicated a choice is that, eh? But the reference to the Law in vs. 34 is “odd” as well.

The “Law” never actually says that women are to be ‘submissive’–it predicts in Gen 3-4 that they will be bludgeoned into submission by men over the course of history(!), but it certainly doesn’t issue ANY imperative or order to women in that verse!

Paul knows the Law better than that, and actually quotes it in the epistle twice (9.9; 14.21), but he doesn’t argue this ambiguously from the Law ever.

What’s going on?

Is it possible that vss. 34-35 are not Paul’s words AT ALL, but maybe a mistaken position of some of the Corinthians, and is here in the text as a quote BY Paul of a false position in the church?

Does Paul ever do this? There are four lines of evidence/argument that supports the view that Paul is quoting mistaken opponents here:

We do know that I Corinthians has this literary device in it.

In I Cor 6, for example, Paul quotes his ‘opponents’ in verses 12 and 13, immediately followed by a qualification or refutation. (There are no quote marks in Greek, by the way.) He does this in many places in the epistles, actually.

In exegesis, one must pay attention to ALL the details in the text–and this text affords an excellent example of why this is important.

There is a tiny little particle in the Greek text–not even translated in the NIV and NAS! [ Big Suprise! ]–that provides some interesting evidence in favor of this view.

Immediately after verse 35, the first word in verse 36 is a single letter particle that is translated “What?!”

in the KJV and ASV. This word in most contexts is translated as ‘or’ or ‘rather’, but these are always in series, like “either…or” or “this or that or that”.

But in this case, it is

(1) in the front of the sentence;

(2) introduces a completely different subject; and

(3) has a complete change of tone–to that of irony and rebuke.

Where else does this type of construction occur in Paul?

Rom 2.3-4:

So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Notice that in verse 3, Paul has stated a view (pernicious and/or erroneous).

He uses the particle “What?!” (perhaps best translated at “NOT!” in the slang of today!) and issues a harsh rebuke of the position’s content and tone.

Rom 9.20-21:

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, `Why did you make me like this?'”

21 (particle is here, but untranslated in the NIV) Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? Notice that in verse 20, Paul has stated a view (pernicious and erroneous). He uses the particle “WHAT?!”

(remember, “NOT!”) and issues a harsh response to the arrogance of the position.

I Cor 6.8-9:

Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

9 (particle is here, but untranslated in the NIV) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Notice that in verse

8, Paul has stated an erroneous practice.

He uses the particle “WHAT?!” and issues a strong response to the assumptions of the position.What this amounts to is that the tiny particle (in this type of construction and flow) indicates VIOLENT DISAGREEMENT with the preceding verses. (See similar usage in Rom 6.3; 7.1; 11.2; I Cor 6.9, 16, 19; I Cor 10.22; 2 Cor 13.5.)

The older commentator Findlay, in the Expositor’s Greek Testament, used the phrase “indignant protest” to describe Paul’s intent with the particle.Finally, Paul consistently uses irony (e.g. I Cor 4.8) and statement/refutation (e.g. I Cor 6.12-13; 10.23) in this epistle to correct mistaken notions.

Notice the semantic clues that this is occurring in the text: Paul uses a gentle, instructional, nurturing tone in 14.26-33, with VERY ‘universal speaking’ words–“everyone has a hymn, teaching, revelation, tongue, interpretation” (26), “if anyone speaks…” (vs. 27), “for you can ALL prophesy in turn…” (vs. 31).

He switches to a legalistic, rabbinical-style, “disgrace”-oriented passage in 14.34-35, with ‘universal silence’ and ‘universal restriction’ words.

He then switches to a rebuking, ironic tone to demolish SOME false teaching in the immediate context!

(vss. 36-38). [Notice that the only “teaching” that COULD BE the target of the rebuke in the near context is in verses 14.34-35.

This is an important clue.]He then switches BACK to the gentle, instructional, nurturing tone in verse 14.39-40.

This flow of argument ALONE would indicate that Paul was rebuking the position in 34-35.

But there is an obvious question here: if the women WERE already speaking in church (11.5)–indicating a ‘non-rabbinical’ church–WHY would this rabbinical-type argument show up as a view of someone in that church?

There is a fairly obvious answer–some of the members of the church, concerned about the “chaos” of the worship service, probably were seeking to ‘return to the good old Intertestamental days’.

In other words, THEIR answer to the problem of church order was to cut the church in half! But Paul, on the other hand, explains that in every church (vs. 33) God ordains order WITHOUT restricting who does the speaking. This is affirmed both BEFORE the passage in question (vs. 31-33) and AFTER the passage in question (vs. 39-40).

[That there would have been “rabbinic-leaning” contingents there that could have advanced this position is suggested from clues such as the “party of Cephas” (1.12), the dual reference to Jews/Gentiles in 1.23ff, and the Pauline Accommodation passage in 9.19-23. We KNOW there was a large Jewish population in the city–see historical background below.]

Finally, the actual nature of the rebuke in vs. 36-38 indicates that the position is that of some Corinthians, and not that of Paul.This can be seen from the textual flow in the passage:

Vss 26-32: Paul’s solutions for orderly worship, with ‘universal speaking’ allowed.

Vs 33: Concluding argument: God seeks order, and seeks it THIS way in ALL the churches (accepting the NAS rendering of the final clause).

34-35: Someone ELSE’s “solution” for orderly worship, with ‘shut the women up’ enjoined.

Vss 36-38: Paul’s argument: Why do you think you are SO MUCH MORE ‘spiritual’ than the other churches, to the extent that you can set up a DIFFERENT solution to the problem of orderly worship.

This contrast between ‘what the OTHER churches do’ and ‘what the Corintian church wants to do’ is made in the context of orderly worship and universal speaking.

In other words, the rebuke makes the most sense IF the text in 34-35 is THEIRS ‘alone’–in distinction from the other churches’ position.

So, where does this net out?

My personal conviction is that Paul is quoting/refuting a mistaken position. The language, tone, style, textual context, historical context, and known facts about Corinth and Paul’s practice indicates this to me.

But even if I am mistaken, the most likely OTHER alternative is that of “we do not have a clue what he meant”…It CANNOT mean ‘universal silence in the churches’–for that contradicts MOST of the rest of the passage and the rest of the epistle (not to mention, known Pauline and early church practice).

To turn it into a restriction on women from making any audible, articulate sounds in church is so against EVERY SCRAP of data we have–with the “exception” of I Tim 2, which we look at next(!).

Exegetically, I just cannot see a strong and textually consistent case for ‘universal silence’ from this passage.

Interestingly enough, if it is a Pauline REFUTATION of ‘universal silence’ then it ALSO will function as strong data we can use in our analysis of I Tim 2(!)…In other words, our understanding of I Tim 2 will need to take into consideration that Paul probably DISAGREES with the position of women’s silence–even from teaching and prophesying (e.g 14.26 and 11.5)–in the church!

Paul’s views on Women in the Church!

Now, let’s consider

I Timothy 2.11-14:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. “

Again, when we encounter this in English and with 20th-century Western-civi eyes, this looks relatively clear–but surely we have learned by now to pay attention to the textual and contextual details…

So, what facts do we have to note first ?

Verse 11 is a non-issue, and actually provides limited evidence for preparation for a teaching ministry.

The women are to “learn in silence.” Despite the negative connotations this phrase brings to our ears, in the first century “silence” (hesychia) was a positive attribute.

It did not necessarily entail “not speaking,” as is evident in Paul’s use of the word earlier in the chapter (I Tim 2.2; compare 2 Thess 3.12).

Rather, it implied respect or lack of disagreement (as in Acts 11.18; 21.14). As a result, the rabbis and the early church fathers deemed quietness appropriate for rabbinical students, wise persons and even leaders.”

The phrase “in submission” is closely related to this notion, and together the two images call up the memory of Mary, “sitting at the feet of Jesus” in rabbinical student style (cf. Luke 10.39).

The interesting thing about this is that this was used of “future or current teachers”! Rabbincal students were generally preparing for a teaching ministry, ‘wise men’ and ‘leaders’

ALREADY were in teaching/authority roles. So, the very cast that this imperative is set in suggests a FUTURE teaching ministry for those women who learned in the proper fashion of students.

The “learning/teach others” cycle is ‘standard’ in Paul: And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who (nb: generic ‘anthropos’) will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Tim 2.2).

This becomes a bit more obvious when we compare the ‘life-style’ teaching given women in more traditional roles (Titus 2.4-5: Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.).

There seems to be a sort of ‘teacher-track’ in view in I Tim 2, and a ‘lay person’ track in the Titus passage.When we look at verse 12, we run into a MAJOR exegetical uncertainty:

The verb translated as “exercise authority over” (authenteo) is only used here in the NT, and its meaning is HOTLY contested.

TWO things that ARE sure about its meaning–it is NOT the normal word for “authority” (exousia), “exercising authority” (exousiazo), or “power” (kyrieuo); and it is NOT a ‘good’ thing (suitable for ANYONE to do–even males!)

Another factor basic to the interpretation of 2.11-12 concerns Paul’s use of the unusual word authentein (translated “to have authority over” RSV) in the second injunction (2:12).

This is the only occurrence of this word in Paul’s writings and, indeed, in the entire New Testament.

The word is not frequently used in ancient Greek literature. The precise meaning of authentein and its use in 2:12 cannot be completely resolved at this time; scholars are currently in an extended debate on the issue.

Traditionally, authentein has been understood to connote a sense of “domineer” or “to usurp authority” and the term is even associated with murder.

Although not all of the evidence and arguments have been fully assessed, two points seem relatively certain. First, the term is unusual.

If Paul were referring to the normal exercise of authority, his otherwise constant exousia/exousiazo (“authority/to exercise authority”) vocabulary would most likely have been used.

The choice of such an unusual term itself indicates that Paul intended a different nuance or meaning. Second,…many uses of the term seem rather clearly to carry the negative sense of “domineer” or “usurp authority.”

Thus I see the injunctions of 2:11-12 as directed against women involved in false teaching who have abused proper exercise of authority in the church (not denied by Paul elsewhere to women) by usurpation and domination of the male leaders and teachers in the church at Ephesus.

It is VERY important to point out here that it is PURE FOLLY to base an entire doctrine affecting half the human race (!)–“women should not have authority over men”–on the basis of ONE SINGLE VERSE, and even worse–a single verse where the most important verb is

(1) unusual;

(2) negative; and

(3) not even understood clearly!

Strictly speaking, given this cautionary note, we SHOULD BE able to rest the matter here, but I would like to at least probe a bit further to discover other dynamics in the passage that will either

(1) illumine the argumentation somewhat or

(2) circumscribe the application of the passage in keeping with the historical context. The word ‘teach’ in the verse (“neither teach nor authentein a man”) has a major issue associated with it, as well… The verb is TOO ‘big” to NOT be radically restricted in scope by whatever authentein means.

The situation is this. “Teach” takes an object in the accusative case and authentein takes an object in the genitive case. “Man” is in the genitive case, and is therefore the object of authentein.

That means that ‘teach’ (unless it is ‘connected’ tightly to authentein) is UNRESTRICTED in scope.

Paul would be prohibiting women from teaching anybody at any time–in direct contradiction to his plentiful commands for believers to teach/instruct/train each other (e.g. Tit 2.4; 1 Cor 14.26; Col 3.16). So the scope of the application must be limited somewhat in the context.We have two streams of data that indicate ‘qualification’ on this verb:

(1) the “pairings” in I Timothy and (2) the conjunctions used.

(1) The “pairings” data concerns the fact that the verb ‘teach’ is ALWAYS matched with another verb in I Timothy, which qualifies, hones, circumscribes its range. The cases are in 1.3-4; 4.11; 6.2b. This would mean that the ‘teach’ is somehow narrowed to ‘revolutionary’ or ‘out-of-order’ or ‘disruptive’ or ‘destructive’ teaching.

(2) The “conjunction” data concerns the fact that there is a ‘but’ between verse 11 and 12. So, we have Paul saying something like “Let the women study/learn as proper students…BUT I am not (currently) letting them (the students, having been under the influence of the false teachers–cf. 1.4-7; 5.13; 2 Tim 3.6) teach nor letting them ‘overthrow’ their teachers (until they are ready–cf. 2 Tim 2.2)”.

[The fact that ‘teach’ is present, active, indicative is indecisive as to whether it is a short-term or long-term command–the data is very divided in the extant literature.] We also have the conjunction oude (“nor”) connecting ‘teach’ and authentein. This conjunction often connects ‘pairs’ that mutually qualify one another.

In this case, Kroeger gives an illustration of how this would look: “I forbid a woman to teach or discuss differential calculus with a man”–the SUBJECT MATTER radically orients the range/scope of the ‘teach’ word.

Now, if we are dependent on authentein to clarify the meaning/scope of ‘teach’, and if we do not know what authentein means, then we sort of ‘stuck’.

The historical context suggests some limits, and the disruptive/destructive nature of authentein suggests some limits, but we need to keep looking for clues.

The word “man” in the authentein clause seems suggestive in context.This appears to be a very gender-specific word (andros), suggesting that authentein was ONLY DIRECTED (whatever it was) at MEN–not at WOMEN.

And, since the passage is apparently ABOUT women, we have women authentein-ing MEN only.

Since there had been or were godly women teachers already in Ephesus (e.g. Priscilla and the deaconesses of 3.11),

this would make a case that the immodest (3.9),

gaudy (3.9),

self-righteous (3.10b),

unlearned (3.11), and


women under discussion in 2.9-15 (no doubt a subset of the women in Ephesus, 3.11; 5.2-9) were SPECIFICALLY teaching something about MEN that led them to seek to authentein them.

When we look at the passage in a bigger context, do we have anything in the text/context/historical setting that might give us a clue as to either WHAT the anti-male teaching was, or WHY there was anti-male teaching/activity?


textual clues:

First, the identical phrase “in quietness” BRACKETS the section on learning/teaching/authentein. This creates a ‘packet’ that stands alone.

This suggests that the following data in verses 13-15 is not a critical support for the argument inside the bracket, but might be illustrative.

If authentein is an obviously negative term, and if disruptive or out-of-order learning is commonly disapproved of as well, then Paul NEEDS NO SUPPORT for the ‘packet’–his readership does not NEED any evidence or argument–they would ALREADY agree with him.

What they MIGHT need is some clarification of what SPECIFIC items of the teaching of these women would be objectionable to the Apostle Paul.

And hence, perhaps 13-15 is an illustration of the false, anti-male teachings of these females who ‘professed themselves to be godly’.Second, the conjunction connecting vs. 13 and vs. 12 is a ‘weak’ one–gar.

This conjunction CAN mean ‘because’ (as the traditional interpretation of the verse understands it), but that is a less pervasive translation than the softer “for”.

(The ‘normal’ word for ‘because’–in the sense of supporting argument–is hoti). Gar can easily be understood as illustrative or explanatory–cf. Rom 7.2, “for example”=gar.) In this case, it could either be an example of (1) the teaching and the authentein-ing; or

(2) of the consequences of women NOT BEING TAUGHT, and therefore, vulnerable to the false teaching of evil men.

And, since only the “middle” part–about the deception of Eve–makes sense relative to(2), I think (1) makes considerably more sense in the context.

This would allow us to understand the contents of 13-15 as semi-rebuttals of the false teaching.

Paul’s points in verses 13-15 look something like this: Adam was created before Eve It was NOT Adam who was deceived, but Eve. Childbearing is important and good.

IF, therefore, these are the rebuttals, what would the false teaching look like?

Eve was created before Adam (or at the same time?) Adam was deceived; Eve was not. Childbearing is ‘bad’ Another clue that Paul is only using the material in 13 as ILLUSTRATIVE rather than DOCTRINALLY NORMATIVE comes from his use of the “Eve/Deception” motif.

That Paul is selective in his use of Eve in 1 Timothy 2:14 seems clear from at least three other Pauline texts.

In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Eve’s deception is a negative model, warning all Corinthian believers–men and women–against false teaching. This shows that Paul did not limit Eve’s deceivability to women.

In both Romans 5:12-14 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, the apostle attributes sin and death to Adam, not EveWhat is curious about this text, however, is that Paul does not draw any implication/message from it–he doesn’t issue a command. It is like he is only stating the proposition ITSELF (as if the content itself is the issue).

contextual clues:

Our approach here is to find statements and descriptives about the false teaching that was apparently being taught by men, and held to/taught by certain women.

“It seems certain from 2:9-15, 5:11-15, and 2 Timothy 3:6-7 that these [false teachers] have had considerable influence among some women, especially some younger widows,

who according to

2 Timothy 3:6-7

have opened their homes to these teachings, and according to

1 Timothy 5:13

have themselves become propagators of the new teachings” it involved speaking nonsense or babbling (5.13) perhaps magic (translated as ‘busybodies’ in the text)

I Tim 4.7 uses the phrases “myths” and “old women” as purveyors of them.

I Tim 1.4 uses the phrase “myth” and “endless genealogies” I Tim 1.7 associates it with a strange view of the ‘law’

I Tim 4.3 show that they were anti-marriage and 4.4 that they were anti-creation.

I Tim 5.14 suggests that the false teachers were both anti-marriage and anti-childbearing. I Tim 2.5 points out that there is “ONE mediator between God and Man”It also points out that there is only ONE God!

Knight (NIGTC, p. 11) summarizes the false teaching in the Pastorals:

The false teachers are characterized by an interest in myths (I Tim 1:4; 4:7; Tit. 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:4)

and genealogies (I Tim. 1:4; Tit. 3:9),

a concern with the law or a Jewish orientation (I Tim. 1:7; Tit. 1:10, 14; 3:9),

an interest in “antitheses” that they identify as “knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20),

a tendency toward controversy, argumentation, and speculation (1 Tim. 1:4, 6: 6:4, 20; Tit. 1:10; 3:9; 2 Tim. 2:14, 16,23),

deceptiveness (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Tit. 1:10-13: 2 Tim 3:6ff., especially v.13),

immorality ( 1 Tim. 1:19, 20; Tit. 1:15, 16; 2 Ti. 2:16, 19; ch. 3),

and desire to get material gain by means of their teaching (1 Tim. 6:5; Tit. 1:11; 2 Tim. 3:2, 4).

The historical setting: Ephesus was legended to have been founded by the Amazons in the 12-13 centuries BC, and maintained one of the strongest goddess worship centers in history.

This was worship of the Great Mother or maternal principle, who allegedly gave birth to both humans and the gods.”

By the mid-third century B.C.E. Ephesus and surrounding parts of Ionia were already inhabited by Jews; and in the first century BCE, a vigorous Jewish community was able to contend successfully for its civil rights.

The Jewish population may have numbered as many as seventy-five thousand persons. Many lamps bearing an inscribed menorah have been recovered, and there is evidence of the involvement of Ephesisan Jews in magic.

The Jews of Asia Minor, especially those Phyrgia, had assimilated much of the culture of their surroundings, so that there was a saying, “the baths and wines of Phrygia separated the Ten Tribes from their brethren.”

Certain elements of Judaism, especially the biblical stories, were adopted by the larger society. At Apameia, coins minted in the reigns of three successive rulers showed Noah’s ark.

The legend above the box-like ark says “Noah”; but the two persons standing outside the ark indicate that the biblical account has been embellished, perhaps from the Greek flood story of Deucalion and Pyrrha.”

“From the earliest times in Anatolia, female religious officials known as ‘old women’ kept alive the ancient myths.”

“These Jewish myths or stories cannot be the traditional biblical sotires, for again and again the writer maintains that wrong teaching must be combatted with the use of Scripture…

Ancient writers attest that distorted stories, including perversions of the Adam and Eve saga, were already circulating in the first century of the common era.

Recent scholarship suggests that Gnostic-like myths opposed to traditional biblical values may have been afloat in Alexandria as early as the second or first century before Christ.

Philo, who died in CE 45, utilizes the very theme which was to draw rebuttal by Paul; namely, mythologizing Eve as the one who brings knowledge and meaningful life to Adam” Full-blown Gnosticism will not emerge for another two centuries, but that a proto-Gnosticism, pre-Christian, perhaps Jewish in basis, circulated in the 1st century AD seems almost certain–

the evidence we have “points not to the great Gnostic systems, but rather to a kind of Judaizing Gnosticism…as is found elsewhere”

(Dibelius-Conzelmann, cited in NIGTC:28) and “there is no need…to look outside the first century, or indeed the span of Paul’s life, for such an amalgam of Jewish and Gnostic traits in the Levant” (Hanson, cited in NIGTC:28).

The type of reverse-Bible story we have in the passage (that Eve was created first; and that Adam was the one deceived) is obviously a distortion of an OT teaching, in keeping with pre-Christian expansions/reversal stories of the time.

Expansions, embellishments, and even ‘corrections’ to the Biblical stories show up often in the Intertestamental literature–

most notably the Pseudepigrapha.

These do not necessarily represent “Gnostic-type” currents of thought, but they do demonstrate that people in various situations would ‘change the biblical stories’ for their purposes.

The cult of Artemis, the main revenue-generator and “claim to fame” for the city, was particularly woman-centered and immoral: When the son of Codrus, last king of Athens, founded the city, he placed his colonists near the shrine of an ancient Anatolian goddess whom the Greeks, following the religious syncretism common in the ancient worlds, called after their own goddess Artemis.

This was perhaps in the 10th, 11th, or 12th cent. B.C., so uncertain are dates in this borderland of legend and history.

The cult thus recognized was that of a nature-goddess, associated with carnal fertility rituals, orgiastic rites, and religious prostitution.

The success of Paul’s ministry at Ephesus would no doubt have included some of the priestesses of Artemis (cf. the story of the burning of incantation scrolls by cult practitioners in Acts 19.19).

Mickelsen (cited in WS: WIC: 126) shows how these might be in view in a number of the textual situations: In Ephesus with its huge temple to the goddess Artemis were hundreds of sacred priestesses who probably also served as sacred prostitutes.

There were also hundreds of hetaerae, the most educated of Greek women who were the regular companions and often the extramarital sexual partners of upper-class Greek men. Possibly some of these women had been converted and were wearing their suggestive and expensive clothing to church.

Since hetaerae were often respected teachers of men in Greece (many are named in Greek literature), they would be more likely to become teachers after they became part of the church. Paul, of course, had lectured in a Greek secular school for two years there (Acts 19.9), and if the pattern was anything like that in Athens (Acts 17.34), educated women were probably there and were converted under his teaching.

The earliest strands of proto-gnostic and proto-mystery religions we know of had the characteristics of the false teaching in the Pastorals:

nonsense syllables, ritual immorality, belief that the woman (variously Eve or other primal female figures) was the source of /origination of the man, belief that this primal Woman was NOT deceived but rather ‘enlightened’ by the Serpent–and subsequently ‘enlightened’ the deceived male; obsession with spiritual genealogies, and prohibition against marriage and childbirth.

[Cf. the childbearing issue, held up as ‘good’ in 1 tim 2.15 and elsewhere :

“If the passage is a reaction to a proto-Gnostic type of teaching, verse 15 becomes more comprehensible.

Childbearing and marriage were forbidden by certain Gnostic groups because they pulled the soul-atoms back into material bodies instead of liberating them to ascend to their ultimate source.”] Okay, so it LOOKS LIKE Paul is trying to stop a dangerous heresy, by

(1) forbidding women from teaching/authentein-ing “proto-something’s” counter-biblical views relative to adam/eve/marriage/etc., and by

(2) aggressive instruction for women, who could at some point help deal with the issue–esp. among the younger widows.

Now, given this overall pattern in the verse, do we have ANY LEXICAL DATA about authentein that would make sense in this context?

Apparently so.

although complex, one important strand of meaning as being “to proclaim as the originator or source of something” (op.cit.).

Liefeld summarizes Kroeger “If Kroeger’s understanding of authenteo is correct, the most straightforward translation of the verse would be, ‘I do not permit a women to teach or to declare herself the originator of man.'” WS:ISNW:103 states it thus:

“If we were to read 1 Timothy 2:12 as ‘I do not allow a women to teach nor to proclaim herself author of man,’ we can understand the content of the forbidden teaching as being the notion that woman was somehow responsible for the creation of man.”

And elsewhere:

“I do not permit woman to teach nor to represent herself as originator of man but she is to be in [peaceful] conformity [ with the Scriptures, as a respectful student].

For Adam was first formed, then Eve…

“This claim to origination was not just some genealogical quibble–the gnostics claimed that their origination gave them access to a ‘purer’ stream of revelation, truth, and ‘knowledge’ than the apostolic circles.

This was not a trivial matter–but an issue that would radically affect how the church approached the issue of community truth.

Now, if we try to peace this together, certain things seem to emerge:

There were false teachers, at least one of whom must have been a woman, that taught a reverse-bible story about adam/eve. These teachers argued for their position that women preceded men, and also did not suffer from ‘deception’.

They therefore would have claimed to be a source of ‘purer’ revelation than the apostolic circle and the OT scripture (a standard “Gnostic” claim). Paul deals with this situation

(1) defensively first–TEACH the women the Word; and

(2) offensively–Forbid these false women teachers (also characterized by immodesty, pomp, and bragging of godliness) to teach/proclaim this doctrine, and make sure they take their place in the ‘classroom’ with the other people being discipled according to the Word.

What this would mean for our study, is that this passage does NOT restrict women

‘s role in the early church, but we have no reason to assume that.).

[Now, in case I am wrong about this, the NEXT MOST LIKELY understanding of this verse keys off of another translation of authenteo, namely, “to domineer” or to “violently wrest authority from”.

Under this alternative interpretation, the error was not the ‘having authority’ (remember, that would have normally used Paul’s “standard” authority words) but for “overthrow” or creating imbalance.

Men and women were supposed to be ‘co-rulers’; to “push the man off the platform and take it alone” is just as bad an error as “not getting up there” when you should be there!

It is much more difficult to make sense of the adam/eve verses that follow that instruction, in my opinion, and it would make the childbearing verse extremely difficult to understand !

Paul is known as “the Apostle of Liberty.”

He was converted overnight from a legalistic, persecuting, pharisaic rabbi to a preacher of freedom in Christ, equality within the Body, of universal giftedness of the Spirit, to mutual submission after the model of the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.”

His actions showed that his understanding of male and female alike was informed by the radical position we have in Christ. His practice and his words alike encourage ALL to accept the ‘yoke’ of service to the Master Servant of All…

He consistently ‘stays after women’ to learn and grow and use their gifts for their precious Lord…He instructs his disciples to make sure that they are taught and utilized in the Body…He praises them in his letters for their faithfulness and hard work and ‘co-laboring’ with him…

But Paul’s vision of women was re-created by the grace of God…would that we see what he saw, and live as consistently as he did!

Women are a major part of God’s plan to renew the world into the Image & likeness of his body,the body of Christ [ The Anointed One of God ]




3 thoughts on “Questions about Women and their treatment in the BIBLE:”

Leave a Reply or a Testimony

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.