Women and the Work of God in the Pentateuch -- By: Alan D. Ingalls
JMAT 12:1 (Spring 2008) p. 46
Women and the Work of God in the Pentateuch
Associate Professor of Old Testament Languages and Literature
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, PA
In 1 Corinthians 14:33b–34, Paul says, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”1 The fact that the law nowhere specifically says “women must be silent” or even “women must be in submission” poses a problem. In 1 Timothy, Paul points specifically to the facts that Adam was created first (1 Tim 2:13) and that Eve was deceived (2:14). Most scholars seek, then, to point to Genesis 1–3 as the referent of “as the Law also says.”2 Discussions of the role of women in the Old Testament (OT hereafter) are often limited to a few pages.3 Such discussions seldom venture beyond blunt assertions which beg the very question they answer.4 Nevertheless, the
JMAT 12:1 (Spring 2008) p. 47
broader scope of the law supports the conclusion that women ought not be spiritual leaders.
Eve: Adam’s Helper
Eve was created after Adam, out of Adam, for Adam, brought to Adam, and named by Adam. Genesis 1:27 sets the expectation of male priority (i.e., creation prior to the female) by referring to the creation of mankind as “male and female,” placing “male” first:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Image extends to both the male and female, so the woman is not lesser in quality or worth. Genesis 2 provides the detailed description of the creation of man and woman, explaining that indeed God created Adam first, and then created Eve from Adam’s “stuff.”5 Adam named all the animals, demonstrating his authority over them. Eve was created in order to be Adam’s helper (עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, “a helper corresponding to him”). The word translated “helper” is not a derogatory or demeaning one: it is used, in fact, of God (Ps 33:20)....
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