The Bible often takes a hit from critics as somehow being “anti-women.”
Someone hasn’t done her homework.
Take the obscure passage I noticed just this morning in 1 Chronicles 7:24. That biblical detail tells us that Ephriam’s daughter Sheerah “built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah.” So she was a builder. That’s cool. Cooler still, those who compiled the words of the Bible made a note of it.
No big deal?
Think again. Truth is, the ancient, Eastern culture that is the framework of the Bible was a male-dominated society. Women had a traditional role in family life and in their communities. And yet the Bible is not afraid to say, “Hey, look at Sheerah. She was quite the builder!”
But Sheerah’s notation is only an obscure one, and only one of many obscure, positive references to women.
Proverbs 31, the acrostic poem about great women, is unique in all of ancient literature. You won’t find such an uplifting and lengthy passage about women in Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Islamic or Asian antiquity. In many copies of the Hebrew Bible, the book of Ruth immediately follows Proverbs, as if to give us an example of a woman living out the ideal of a woman of noble character.
Then there is Esther, who saved the Jewish people from annihilation, and Huldah, the Jewish prophetess. Did you know she was the only one of the Bible’s prophets who was buried on the Temple Mount grounds?
Jesus treated every woman he met with great respect, no matter their status, reputation or sin. Did you know there was a group of women who traveled with Jesus and supported him financially? Here’s the passage you may have never noticed:
“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, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” (Luke 8:1-3)
It’s not surprising that the women of the Bible had more value in their society than many modern feminists would like to admit. But what is surprising is that the Bible has so many positive things to say about women. Sadly, most of those positives go unnoticed. Perhaps that’s because it’s so difficult for any of us living in a modern, Western culture to fully appreciate the ancient, Eastern culture of the Bible.
Only in recent decades, and only in parts of the world, have people tried to give equal opportunities to women. No kidding, history has been dominated by men, and many of those men have lived out some very hateful attitudes toward women. Just know this: They didn’t get those attitudes from a proper reading of the Bible.
Even the most mis-read passage in the New Testament needs a second look. Wives, comes the instruction of Ephesians 5, should “submit yourselves to your own husbands as to the Lord.”
If only those who howl in protest over such a biblical instruction would read the entire passage. Not only is there a following instruction for husbands to “die” for their wives … that family-oriented passage begins with an instruction for both husbands and wives which states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
Enough said. As the husband of a great wife, the father of three fabulous daughters, the grandfather of two (about to be three) granddaughters … and as a Bible-reading follower of Jesus … I say, “Let’s hear it for the girls!”