A New Testament Perspective On The Treatment Of “Everywoman” -- By: Gretchen Gaebelein Hull

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 09:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: A New Testament Perspective On The Treatment Of “Everywoman”
Author: Gretchen Gaebelein Hull

A New Testament Perspective On The Treatment Of “Everywoman”

Gretchen Gaebelein Hull

Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, editor of Priscilla Papers, is a writer and conference speaker who also lectures on biblical equality at various Christian colleges and seminaries. This article is reprinted by permission from chapter 5 of her book, EQUAL TO SERVE (Revell, 1987).

Chapters 17 through 21 of the Book of Judges record the depths of social depravity in possibly Scripture’s clearest depiction of the flaws of a patriarchal society. These chapters truly show the ultimate in degradation: idolatry, pride, selfishness, moral perversion, and insensitivity to human life. Chapters 19-21 also reveal the most awful violations of the human rights of a nameless woman. This frank reporting removes any vestige of courtesy or civility from patriarchy, revealing male dominance at its very worst.

One key to the passage is that phrase “...everyone did as he saw fit,” which occurs in Judges 17:6 and finally in 21:25, bracketing the story. Another key to this section is patriarchal preoccupation with clan, because that idea also brackets the story. Chapters 17 and 18 put clan loyalty over pure worship of God; chapter 21 puts clan survival over human rights. Thus preservation of both the male-dominated group (clan) and the individual male became the guide for action.

The dreadful “centerpiece” of these appalling chapters is found in chapter 19, where we learn that a Levite, his servant, and his concubine spent the night in Gibeah. Verses 22-26 read:

While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”

The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.”

But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused h...

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