.. not by the wife because the male held all the power in the relationship. Another example of degrading women was during the Second Temple period, when women were not allowed to testify in court trials. They could not go out in public, or talk to strangers. When outside of their homes, they were to be doubly veiled.
They had become second-class Jews, excluded from the worship and teaching of God, with status scarcely above that of slaves (Callaway 201). Another way in which women were portrayed in the Old Testament was as sexual predators. In Genesis 19:30-36 Lot’s two daughters made their father drunk with wine on two successive nights. Each daughter committed incest with her father, and became pregnant. Their two sons, Moab and Ben-Ammi became the patriarchs of the Moabite and Ammonite people, who were two of Israel’s most serious foes.
This instance portrayed women as sexual aggressors and made them look very distasteful and worthy of no respect. Another example of how women were looked upon as sexual predators was in Judges 16 where Delilah seduced Samson in order to find out the secret of his great strength. This ultimately led to Samson’s death. This passage allowed the women to be thought of as deceitful and knifing and made it look as though all women would be willing to use themselves to obtain what they wanted. It basically was telling the reader to be very cautious of females for they were worthy of deceit. In 1 Kings 11 it once again described women as sexual predators.
It talked about how Solomon’s many foreign wives and concubines convinced him to worship other gods and build Pagan temples. This led to his downfall. This chapter puts all the blame onto the woman saying that they are bad influences. Along with being inferior to men and sexual predators a girl, in the Old Testament, was considered the property of her father. At marriage, her ownership was transferred to her new husband.
The women were just pieces of property that the man owned. In Exodus 21:4 a slaveowner was permitted to give a woman to his male slave as a wife. There was no indication that women were consulted during this type of transaction. In Exodus 21:7 a father could sell his daughter as a slave. Also, in Exodus 21:7, a male slave was given his freedom after 6 years; but a female slave remained a slave forever.
Going along with the concept of a woman being a piece of property, Exodus 22:1-17 deals with restitution in case of stealing or damage to a person’s property. The final verses deal with the case of a man who seduces a virgin. This was seen as a property offense against the woman’s father. The seducer was required to pay money to her father, even if he did not marry the woman. The money would be in compensation for the damage to the father’s property – his daughter. Although most of the Old Testament demoralizes women there are some exceptions.
For instance, in Exodus 1:17-21, Hebrew midwives were able to outsmart the Pharaoh and save the lives of the Jewish baby boys. In Exodus 2, the birth mother of Moses was able to circumvent the Pharaoh’s order to kill all of the baby boys, and to save her child. There are other books as well that depicted women rationally. Joshua 2:1-16 describes how Rahab, a prostitute, hid two Israelite spies and saved their lives by misdirecting the soldiers. Although she was a prostitute she still contributed greatly to Joshuas army thus showing women in a respectable way.
There were other instances where the women were shown as intelligent and able to contribute something to society. Some of which include Judges 4 and 5, where Deborah is described as both a Judge of Israel and as the leader of the army and in 1 Samuel 19:11-13, where David’s first wife, Michal, tricked soldiers and engineered David’s escape. The Hebrew Scriptures describe many other Prophetesses, including Miriam, Noadiah, and Isaiah’s wife. Throughout the Scriptures, Wisdom was visualized as a type of female Goddess who was present at the creation of the world, and who has intervened in human affairs. This showed that women were capable of having knowledge and wisdom giving her the respect she deserved.
Aside from these very few exceptions, the position and importance of women in the Jewish culture was defined in the Old Testament, and in the interpretation of those scriptures, which then became traditions. Women were almost completely confined to their father or husband’s home. If they did get to leave the house than they were required to be doubly veiled. Since women were considered to be inferior to men they were therefore under the authority of men. When a women was married she was said to passed from being under her father’s authority to her husband’s.
Many of the laws were heavily biased towards the men. Some of these laws were the laws of inheritance, betrothal, and divorce. For example, a girl could not refuse a marriage arrangement that was made by her father. Women were also not allowed to testify in court trials. They were excluded from much of the ritual religious life of the Jewish men, especially from the studying of the Torah. As a result of not studying the Torah, many women were not allowed to teach their own children (Daniels).
There were a few checks and balances that gave women a few rights (such as the right of maintenance that they received instead of inheritance) (Daniels) but overall women led restricted and secluded lives, which resulted in women having roles of little or no authority. This practice of women being the inferior gender is still around today. Women have not had an equal opportunity from the start. They have always been portrayed in a bad connotation whether that was inferiority to men, sexual predators, or being thought of as no more important than an item of property. Bibliography Callaway, M.C.
Women in the Old Testament. San Fransisco: Harper, 1999. Coogan, M.D. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford, 1993. Hoffman, R.J.
What the Bible Really Says. San Fransisco: Harper, 1999. Holy Bible. Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1973. http://www.scs.unr.edu/~fdaniels/rel/women.htm leads to an essay entitled The Role of Women in the Church by Frank Daniels Religion.