Things that no one ever told you about Women in the Bible
Theory vs. Fact
Religious leaders give us a lot of direction concerning the role of women as they see it in scripture. They quote scripture from Paul's letters to back up their theories.
But when we study the real women of the Bible we seldom find any who fit the pattern we are exhorted to emulate. In fact, I don't know if we can even find one meek, submissive, quiet, un-opiniated real woman among those who are memorialized in scripture.
The real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives.
The New Testament begins with a tribute to assertive women. The third verse of the first chapter of Matthew tells about Tamar. Is she a submissive woman putting herself under the subjection of males? I think not. Read her story in Genesis 38 to see her role in bring about the purposes of God. Had she not taken some leadership the lineage of Jesus would have fallen apart.
Then we go down to verse 5 and find another woman highlighted in Jesus genealogy-Rahab. Joshua 2:3 tells her story. She was a harlot and a Canaanite but in Joshua 2:9 - 11 her confession is one of the great statements of faith in the Bible. And she is bold enough to ask the spies to save her family. And she becomes the ancestor of Christ and the one who introduces the "scarlet cord" which is used as a symbol of atonement throughout the Bible. She is mentioned again in Hebrews 11:31.
Also in Matthew 1:5 is Ruth. Go back to the Old Testament and read the book of Ruth to see two women who take action to bring things to pass in the lives of men. Their assertive, aggressive roles also gave them a place in history as being tools of God's intentions from the beginning of time which was the redemption of humankind.
And in Matthew 1:6-"the wife of Uriah" (the Hittite). I will concede that she was submissive to male authority (King David). But later she became a political leader making sure her son, Solomon, took the throne and forming international alliances. She became a leader with her own throne.
Jesus' Aunt Elizabeth was not afraid to speak up. She named her son, John, over objections of those around her. She welcomed Mary and her unborn child recognized the Messiah. She was the first to say "Ave Maria-blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb." She recognized her cousin (or niece?) as "the mother of my Lord."
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a prophet (Luke 1:46-55) Luke 2:48. She was a mediator at the wedding at Cana. She was strong enough to be there at the cross to witness his cruel death. She was courageous, faithful, prophetic, and assertive.
Martha (my personal favorite) was Jesus good friend-he loved her (John 11:5). She served him, argued with him, complained to him and had the truest insight of who he was. Hers is one of the great confessions of the Bible (John 11:27). She understood his mission even better than his disciples.
Mary, the sister of Martha, went beyond role as a woman to sit at the feet of a Rabbi (Jesus), then was brash enough to wash his feet with ointment in front of others.
The Greek Syrophenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 was at first rebuffed by Jesus, but because of her retort he cast the demon out of her daughter.
These are the real women that I look to as examples-not some theoretical abstraction of womanhood defined by a narrow interpretation of a few verses from Paul.
Speaking of Paul, look at the real women Paul chooses to commend. He worshipped in Lydia's home, he was taught by Priscilla, and he worked with Euodias and Syntyche. In Romans 16:1, Paul commends Phoebe "our sister, being διάκονον." Diakonon is the word for deacon which means servant. Phoebe was a female deacon.
Timothy's grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice, were the spiritual leaders in their home.
Phillip had daughters who prophesied (preached).
(And as far as "family values," most of the biblical families are more dysfunctional than those today. In the very first family one brother murders the other. Noah's sons are not very exemplary, and we shouldn't even mention Lot. The mothers of Abraham's children were jealous of each other and the conflict between his sons has lasted even until this day. Isaac's family tricked him, Jacob's sons were jealous and cruel, David's kids were murderers, rapists and practiced incest. And in the New Testament we don't even know about families because the disciples abandoned their families to roam around with Jesus. Jesus family thought he was nuts and he practically disowned them - "Who is my family.?)
Ok - back to the women. We don't know much about Noah's wife and daughter's-in-law except they did get on the boat. Sarah was apparently a very attractive woman that Abraham put in a harem rather than getting himself killed over her. She was assertive at home because she convinced Abram to "obtain children" by Hagar and then sent her away. Lot lost his wife but his daughters took control of the situation and made sure he had descendants. Rebecca was a beauty who was used to hard work and outgoing. She spoke right up to Abe's servant and even watered his camels.
Rebecca orchestrated the events to trick her husband into blessing the son who God had preordained to be blessed.
Rachel told Jacob to "Give me children, or else I die." They argued but she eventually had her way. She even tricked her father.
Tamar knew what was the "right thing" for her father-in-law to do and made sure he did. She is part of Jesus genealogy.
This is just all in Genesis. Then there is Miriam, Zipporah, Rahab (mentioned twice in the New Testament), Deborah, Abigail, the Shunamite woman. Don't forget Ruth and Naomi. All of these women are aggressive, assertive, intelligent and took control. The woman in Proverbs 31 works outside the home, buys and sells land, brings in imported food and her husband's reputation is enhanced by her activities.
Esther is one of the most courageous persons in the entire Bible. She put her life on the line for her people and matched wits with some powerful men. In fact there is a lot of "leadership" shown in these women in a time when women were in a low position.
Again, in summary the real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives, not a hypothetical woman created by male theologians.