"Weren't women always kept separate from the men in worship? They weren't even allowed in the Temples or synagogues. The OT religion just didn't seem to include women."

[Note: This is a simple summary of the detailed data in the syllabus. Refer there for sources/discussion. Updated: 01/02/97]
There are two questions in there: one about women's access to cultic locations; and one about women's roles in the cult.

Women's access to cultic locations in the bible

  1. Rebekah was allowed inside some shrine to "inquire" of the Lord.
  2. Miriam appeared with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
  3. Women served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
  4. Hannah went into the sanctuary.
  5. Josiah's mother hid him in the temple.
  6. Anna, the NT prophetess was in the temple area night and day.
  7. Women appear in synagogues in Jerusalem often (cf. The "daughter of Abraham")
  8. Women singers probably participated in 1st Temple functions and certainly in 2nd Temple functions.
  9. Women completing Nazarite vows offered sacrifices in the Tent/Temple(?) entrance-area.

What this list means is that there was no identifiable sacred area (of general use, not like the Holy of Holies which was ONLY for the high priest) that was not visited by a women at least once (most were done on a routine basis).

Women's role in the cult

Consider this partial list...

  1. they participated in all public assemblies
  2. they were taught the law in public by priests
  3. they brought the same sacrifices as males
  4. they could take Nazarite vows
  5. they participated in singing events
  6. they were prophets
  7. they composed Victory Songs and Laments
  8. they made vows to the Lord
  9. they made themselves temporary servants to Levites (like males)
  10. they traveled to the festivals with the men and families
  11. they were addressed in the Law
  12. they were responsible for religious education (along with the dad)
  13. they were equally guilty before the Law
  14. they offered gifts for the building of the Tabernacle compound and Temple
  15. they performed some unknown service at the entrance to the worship sites
  16. they did scribal work (perhaps even on the sacred texts under Ezra)
  17. they marched in religious processions and parades.

Together, these pieces of data indicate that women were significant participants in the OT cult...

And, in the NT, their roles even expand--every title for Christian workers is ascribed to a female in the NT or in archeological/literary remains before the 4th century AD...

God has ALWAYS sought a vibrant relationship with His daughters, and has always sought to have them bless His other children with their ministry as well...

The Christian ThinkTank...[https://www.Christianthinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)