Too often, over the years, I have heard people say, “The Bible is a book about men in which women receive short shrift.” But as I read Scripture, it is the woman who repeatedly ‘gets it’ and the man who is often ‘clueless.’
It started with Eve
For example, Eve, has been maligned for generations for the “fall of man” when in fact; she is – in my view –the heroine of “the elevation of humanity.” In the Garden of Eden, she had the courage to seek knowledge and trade immortality for a life with the potential to have meaning and purpose.
Rebecca was another earth shaker. One may certainly question the way she went about things, but she certainly had greater insight into what God needed in terms of an heir to the Covenant of Abraham than did her husband Isaac. She acted decisively on her instinct.
Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law deserves credit for his transformation from one who sold his brother as a slave into one who would not let his other brother become a slave.
The story of Zelophehad’s daughters. In the Book of Numbers marks a vital first step in establishing a woman’s right to inherit her family’s property.
The Women of the Exodus
Then there are the six women who made it possible for Moses to stand before Pharaoh to demand the liberation of our people: the two Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Puah, Yocheved, Miriam, Pharoah’s daughter, and Moses’ wife Zipporah.
Deborah in the book of Judges successfully united the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali to thwart foreign invaders. She summoned Barak, a leading General, but he refused to lead the troops unless Deborah went with him into battle. She was a judge, military leader, prophet and poet, one of the Bile’s strongest characters of either gender.
In that same book Samson’s unnamed mother received God’s vision that she would bear a son who would begin to redeem the Israelites from the Philistines, but when she told her husband, he was sure they would die. But Manoah’s wife knew better. She was another example of a savvy woman with a clueless husband.
Hannah, Samuel’s mother is another pivotal figure in the Bible. Compared to her, Eli, the High Priest at Shiloh was a bumbling fool.
There are five books of the Bible designated as Megillot (scrolls), Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations Ecclesiastes and Esther, and these are associated with Passover, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, Sukkot and Purim respectively.
Three of the five Megillot are about very strong women. Purim celebrates the courage of Vashti and Esther. Song of Songs tells of a woman strong enough to resist the blandishments of King Solomon’s harem to follow her shepherd lover.
Then there is Ruth. The story tells of Naomi’s faithfulness and Ruth’s loyalty and the reward she receives to become the great grandmother of King David, who, according to both Jewish and Christian traditions, is to be the ancestor of the Messiah.
I hope the examples of Eve, Rebecca, the six woman who saved Moses’ life, Deborah, Hannah, Samson’s mother, Vashti, Esther, the heroine of Song of Songs, Naomi and Ruth are sufficient to convince everyone that far from being unimportant, many biblical women outshine the men around them in terms of leadership ability and perception of what it was God needed them to do. They are important role models for young women today and an inspiration to all of us.
It is an important that more people learn about these heroic women.