Remember the old woman who lived in a shoe? I don't judge her nearly as harshly as I used to, now that I have a husband and six children. In our 100-year-old farmhouse, we have broth, bread, and lots of Smucker personalities, and this blog is about our lives.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Retaining Honour--Post 6
Let me direct you to the book of Judges, chapter 4, in the
It’s the vivid and gruesome
story of how Sisera, the ruler who “cruelly oppressed” Israel for 20 years, met
Most of the Old Testament war stories are entirely full of
men and their exploits, but this one features two women—Deborah, who was
leading Israel, and Jael, who let Sisera believe she was an ally and who very
decisively proved otherwise.
Actually, rather than retell the whole story, I’ll let you read it for
The narrator is so matter-of-fact.We see Deborah riding off to battle with a
timid commander and 10,000 men.And we
see Jael, calmly inviting Sisera into her tent to rest, covering him up with a
blanket, and giving him milk to drink.And then just as calmly driving in that tent peg—of all the weapons...
Nowhere does the story imply anything but that they did what
they did entirely as women.They didn’t
dress up in men’s uniforms or armor.They are not described as being like men or of having man-like qualities of bravery or
They did what they did fully as women.
“Certainly I will go with you,” said
Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be
yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.”
In the next chapter, Deborah and Barak
sing a song of celebration.In it, they
refer to Deborah and Jael in the most female roles possible—wife and mother.
Most blessed of women be Jael, the
wife of Heber the Kenite, most
blessed of tent-dwelling women.
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they
held back until I, Deborah, arose, until
I arose, a mother in Israel.
I think we would all agree that fighting
was generally the men’s domain.But, in
this case, when the need arose, the women did what needed to be done, and their
success was celebrated.
The land then had peace for forty years, so
we assume that Deborah went back to judging and Jael went back to her tent and
was a good wife for Heber and milked the cow twice a day and ordered a new tent
peg off of Amazon.
We don’t read that they went around trying to change women's roles in society and
spoke at high schools and told girls they can be anything they want to be,
including warriors going to battle.
Conclusions I think one can draw from this without
stretching the lessons too far:
a)Some roles, duties, and exploits are
normally the domain of men, and that’s ok.
b)If the occasion calls for it
and they have the skills, women may and can do them as well, and that’s ok too.
c)The reverse is also true.
d) Doing the occasional task of the other gender doesn't make you less of yours.
Tomorrow: a few Biblical examples of gender role reversals and a few that
differ from our culture