The primary role of a Torah observant woman was wife, mother and keeper of the home
Q. What do you think about women in leadership roles?
A. In the 1st century congregations, they were very active. The church "put them out" about the 3rd century and they have been in a type of "bondage" ever since, limited in what they are permitted to do in male-dominated Christianity.
Biblically, women have always been seen as an equal partner, her rights guaranteed by the Torah. Women served at the tent of meeting (Exo. 38.8), at the Tabernacle (1Sam 2.22).
You will find them listed as Temple musicians (1Chron 25.5-6) and members of the choir (2 Chron 35.25).
Women brought sacrifices, made Nazarite vows, attend the festivals and had to appear every seven years before the L-rd to hear the Torah read Deut 31. 10-13).
In Herod’s Temple, there was a segregated area called "Ezrat Nashim" (women’s court). The Torah does not make any distinction of this court and it was given no special status in Jewish practice.
There was no prohibitions regarding the women moving from this court. This came in later with Rabbinic writings.
There was no women’s court in the 1st Temple or the pre-Herodian 2nd Temple. Women functioned in the synagogues.
She prayed daily the same prayers as men, was counted as part of a minyan, which was at least 10 people required to recite certain prayers. Women studied along with the men.
Proverbs 31.10-31 creates the picture of a liberated and empowered woman.
In the Tanach (old testament), 48 men and 3 women are mentioned as prophets (Miriam, Huldah, Deborah). Later, Sarah, Hannah, Abigail and Esther were added by the rabbis.
Now, throughout the Torah, the primary role of a Torah observant woman was wife, mother and keeper of the home.
This is a very important role, so much so that she was exempted from many of the commandments that were to be performed at certain times of the day or year.
Her duties as wife and mother were more important and could not be neglected. She should not be expected to drop a crying baby at the time something needed to be performed.
For instance, if she was required to go to the Temple for a festival, but couldn’t because of a sick child, she did not have to go.
This exemption later became a prohibition, preventing women from participating in worship and religious life, but this was not how G-d designed it.
Many of the Torah commandments centered around the home where her role was important, and in many ways, more important than her husband.
We see women prophets, teachers and judges in the Tanach.
Next week, we will continue with this question because there are many more important but forgotten aspects to this that need to be addressed.
We will talk about women in the New Testament. We will look at Yeshua’s attitude toward them and their roles in leadership.