Women of the Old Testament

Women of the Old Testament

The Old Testament records events in the lives of a number of women to tell the story of God and people. Some women are viewed in a positive light, others in a negative light. Some are treated in a negative way, others are honored. In reading all the stories of women or men in the Old Testament, it is important to remember that because a woman or man is treated in a certain way, the treatment may not necessarily be condoned. That being said, here is some information about just a few of the outstanding women of the Old Testament.

Prophet Exodus 15:20
Sang praises Exodus 15:1, 21
Exodus leader Micah 6:4
Spoke for God Numbers 12:1-2
Key verse: “I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam” (Micah 6:4).

Prophet Judges 4:4
Judge Judges 4:4-5
Mother in Israel Judges 5:7
Commanded  Judges 4:6-7
Led in battle  Judges 4:8-10
Praised God Judges 5
Key verse: “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4).

Prophet 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22
Consulted 2 Kings 22:12-20
Respected 2 Kings 23
Key verse: “Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter” (2 Kings 22:14).|
Note: She was the prophet consulted even though Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah were serving as prophets during this time. Her teaching was the impetus  for Josiah’s reforms in 2 Kings 23.

The Proverbs 31 Woman
If you think God’s ideal woman is June Cleaver, you might want to read Proverbs 31:10-31. Whether this is based on a particular woman or is the personification of wisdom, the picture of womanhood is overwhelming. Industrious. Courageous. Strong. Kind. Generous. Business minded. Family oriented. Wise.Praise worthy. Provider. Instructive. On and on the list goes.

If I had more time, Esther, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah and so many others could be mentioned, too.

God and Women

Joran Van der Sloot.

First he became infamous as the prime suspect in the disappearance of an American schoolgirl who disappeared while celebrating with her classmates in Aruba. Just when you think he will never be heard from again, reports surface that the FBI set up a sting operation to trick him into revealing where the missing girl was buried. And to top it all off, he’s back in the news as the lone suspect in the murder of a second woman, this time in Peru.

News outlets have reported in some detail the results of the psychological profile done on this man. Among the findings: He has “no respect for women.” Surprised? I doubt anyone is surprised, especially those who presume his guilt. It would be hard to have totally missed Joran’s story and psychological profile, after all, they have been and continue to be all over the television, internet, and newspapers.

No respect for women. You may have missed another verse of this same song that has recently been in the news. In the June 8 New York Times Maureen Dowd has written an Op Ed piece entitles Their Dangerous Swagger. In it Dowd tells the story of  a group of freshman boys at an elite private school setting up a fantasy draft, complete with statistics. However, they were not playing fantasy baseball or football. Instead they were drafting local girls. If you want the sordid details, be my guest and read the article.

I will just tell you — they had no respect for women.

I am a churchman. So when I read these articles and hear this news I begin thinking about my world, the world of the church.

Do we have respect for women?

I know when you ask that question debates often ensue about what a woman can and cannot do during the hour a church is assembled. If we think a discussion about the respect for woman should begin with those questions, we have missed the boat. Those questions need to be addressed, but they are not at all where the discussion begins. Perhaps the reason we have so much trouble dealing with those questions is because we have not taken the time to address the broader issue.

Do we have respect for women?

Maybe we need to spend some time reflecting on scriptures that can provide some basic information about God and women.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 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. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:1-5

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

To summarize: both men and woman are created in the image of God; both men and women are recognized as having marital rights (a radical teaching in that day), and all are one in Christ Jesus.

Respect for women may color the discussion on what happens in the weekly hour, but much more, it should determine how women are treated 24/7/365.

Do we have respect for women?

Men and Women in the Church

I have heard some wonderful endorsements of Sarah Sumner’s book, Men and Women in the Church. I am eagerly anticipating starting the read in a couple of weeks (there are several must-finishes and a couple of more must-reads before I can begin). I did take a few minutes to read the foreword by Phillip E. Johnson and it really got me excited about getting started. Consider these words from the foreword:

“Not everyone will agree with all of Dr. Sumner’s answers, but I think it more important that impartial readers will agree that she raises the right questions. I remember a distinguished scholar who, informed that I was supporting Sarah’s project, assumed that it must be primarily about which church offices should be open to women. That is precisely the wrong question to start with, akin to the wrangling for position that characterized the disciples at their worst. Sarah starts with a much better question. How should men and women regard and treat each other if they are both truly faithful to the gospel of Christ and value truth more than personal power.”

How often I have started with the wrong questions! I have no idea what the book will be like, but I can hardly wait to find out!