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Courage and Obedience: Women of the Old Testament, Part Two - A gray stone wall, arched window, red drape. Courage and Obedience: Women of the Old Testament, Part Two - A gray stone wall, arched window, red drape.

Practical Theology | The Old Testament View of Women

  • March 2022 Issue
Practical Theology

“The Old Testament underscores the value of women by showing their important place in God’s redemptive plan.”

Does the Old Testament present a negative view of women? Some other early texts expressed the notion that to be a woman was seen as a negative thing. For example, in a blessing in the Jewish prayer book known as the Siddur, the author thanks God for not making him a woman. The Greek philosopher Plato allegedly said, “I thank God that I was born Greek and not barbarian, freeman and not slave, man and not woman; but above all, that I was born in the age of Socrates.”

While the Old Testament authors accurately depicted the cultural status women held at the time, it is clear that, from God’s perspective, women were highly valued. Women were created to bear the image of God equally with men (Gen. 1:27). Women and men were both given the task to fill the earth and rule over creation (Gen. 1:28). Old Testament scholar J. Richard Middleton describes this dominion as “the right of humanity to spread over the earth and make it their home.” Their calling required the sexual differentiation of male and female. This biological difference equipped both men and women for the vocation God had given them and bound them to each other (1 Cor. 11:8–12). The first promise of salvation revealed that the Redeemer would be born of a woman (Gen. 3:15).

Women were protected by the laws given through Moses. For example, although daughters were not usually entitled to a share in the family estate, Moses ruled that the daughters of Zelophehad should inherit their father’s land because he had no sons (Num. 27:1–11). Moses also enacted laws of the already existing cultural practice of divorce, so that women would not become victims (Deut. 24:1–4). Divorce was a husband’s prerogative. The Mosaic law required a husband who wanted a divorce to have legitimate grounds and to give his wife a legal document showing she was no longer bound to him.

The Old Testament underscores the value of women by showing their important place in God’s redemptive plan. Women worshiped and served God, playing a critical role in His activities.

For Further Study

To learn more, read A Woman God Can Use by Alice Mathews (Discovery House).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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