Women in Bible Times

From the Beginning

We've already noted that the Bible's record regarding women features many gaps. The story of biblical men is much fuller and richer than that of their female counterparts, but women are clearly an integral part of God's plan for humanity. Here are some things we know for sure:

Though the biblical laws reflect an era and a culture in which women did not have the same rights women enjoy today, the Bible also confirms that God called women into His service. He expected them to answer His call whatever their situation. Some were wealthy, others poor. Some resided in traditional settings, while others lived outside of the norm. Women of the Bible like Rahab, Sarah, Ruth, and Deborah faced life's circumstances and followed God through those circumstances, sometimes regardless of cultural expectations, just as women do today.

Same Women's Issues?

Most lists of women's issues include familiar concerns: familial, career, victimization, contraception, politics, and health. How different are the issues facing women today from those that faced females of the ancient world?

Family/Children

As important as family and children are to most women today, their value was even greater to the women of early civilization. The goal at that time was populating the earth and building one's family. Women were raised with the understanding that bringing children into the family was their primary contribution. Their family defined them.

Career

Just to survive, premodern stay-at-home moms faced a balancing act between growing their own food, making their own clothes, caring for extended family, tending to farm animals, and trading for what they couldn't make themselves.

Children were worked into that mix rather than the other way around. A woman's daily work chores, outside of caring for her children, could take up to ten hours a day with kids in tow the whole time. Some child care could be provided if there was an older woman (too old to do housework) living in the home. Older children could also provide some child care, but by the time sons and daughters were old enough to watch younger siblings, they were old enough either to participate in the chores or to be married and manage households of their own.