Women in the Heart of God (3a)

The Data From the Monarchy Literature


[updated 10/11/96]
In this period, we have THREE sources of primary data: the historical data in the narratives/literature between the institution of the Kingship (in I Samuel 8) and the division of the kingdom after Solomon (approx I Kgs 12), the literary data within those texts, and the portrayal of women in the "leisure" literature of the period (e.g. Psalms and Wisdom books). In this section, we will focus on the HISTORICAL data.

One: The Historical Data from the Monarchy-period narratives.

We can arrange this material under the following categories:

  1. General indications of their valuation/status in the society

  2. Passages in which they participate in the cult

  3. Their roles as Sages

  4. Their roles as heroes/leaders and as the 'voice and memory of the nation'

...............................................................................................................

One preliminary remark should be made here. The main thematic focus of the bulk of these narrative texts will be the establishment and expansion of the Monarchy: the request for a king, the mistake of Saul, the rise of David, the flowering of the nation under Solomon. Most of the characters (although the 'extras' are few in number, due to this theme) play integral parts in this royal plotline. Therefore, it is significant when details--apparently incidental to this theme--are kept and even highlighted in this historical flow.

Accordingly, the mentions of women in the narrative portions must be given additional weight, when compared with those in the pre-monarchy narratives.

  1. General indications of their valuation/status in the society

  2. Passages in which they participate in the cult

    It should be noted that in the passages describing this period, we do not have much description of cultic activities, but where we do, women are generally present and involved significantly.

  3. Their roles as Sages

    We have already seen sage-like behavior in the pre-monarchical period, but here it becomes explicit. We have two specific women who are called 'wise women' (2 Sam 14 and 20).

  4. Their roles as heroes/leaders and as the 'voice and memory of the nation'

    First, passages in which women were heroes or critical contributors in the sequence of events.

    Second, we have passages which connect women to the 'voice and memory of the nation'.

    Thus we see that the women played an important part in (1) articulating the feelings of the people toward their fortunes; and (2) disseminating that information throughout the nation. They were indeed, the "memory and voice" of the heart of the common people at this time.

.............................................................................
Summary:

  1. Daughters were valuable enough to be used in an argument against kingship.
  2. Mothers should not be shamed.
  3. The love of a women was held in highest esteem.
  4. The highest expression of a father's affection can be seen in his relationship with his daughter.
  5. The virtue of women is highly prized.
  6. Mothers of kings were duly honored and accorded authority and respect.
  7. Young girls were very familiar with cultic practices (probably through participation)
  8. Women participated fully and freely in public cultic ceremonies and celebrations.
  9. Women singers were involved in sacred worship along with the men singers.
  10. Women are consistently portrayed as Sages or sage-like, exerting great influence over the leaders and over the events of the nation.
  11. Women's roles as sages were not confined to rural areas, geographical areas, or some type of 'subordinate discourse'--their wisdom speeches show the same forms and approaches used by male sages and leadership.
  12. These women show mature theological positions and excellent articulation/argumentation skills.
  13. These women seem to exert considerable authority/influence over male leadership.
  14. These women manifest a wide range of independent action.
  15. They are responsible for numerous critical events in the biblical history:
    1. One saves David's life
    2. One keeps David from avenging himself--probably also saving his life
    3. One was probably pivotal in gaining Calebite support for David's consolidation of the kingdom (e.g. Abigal)
    4. One hid the spies and probably saved the life of David again.
    5. One diverted a civil war.
    6. One was co-conspirator in seeing to it that God's appointed king (e.g. Solomon) made it to the throne, in spite of adverse conditions.
    7. One was installed as Queen-mother by the greatest king in OT history.
  16. Women played a central role in the articulation and dissemination of national history throughout the communities of Israel.

    One can easily see from this data, that women were VERY important in both the history and consciousness of Israel. As sages, they spoke and practiced wisdom; as singers, they shaped the national identity of Israel; as worshippers, they co-celebrated with all the men; as agents, they were critical in the establishment of the RIGHT kings! God used His daughters mightily in His service, and undoubtedly delighted in their every victory and every song.


    The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)