What is a woman’s role as a wife, and as a sister in the assembly and community? This is a subject that could fill volumes, but we will stay focused on the basics.
Yahweh created the woman Havvah (Eve) as a helper corresponding to her man.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 2:18
18 And Yahweh Elohim said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable [or corresponding] to him.”
The word comparable is the Hebrew word neged (נֶגְד). This word refers to a counterpart or mate who stands “over against, or before” her husband.
OT:5048 neged (neh’-ghed); from OT:5046; a front, i.e. part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate; usually (adverbial, especially with preposition) over against or before:
While the woman is created as a helper, she is not created as a robot, or as a drone who has no mind of her own. Rather, she is her own person, but she is supposed to use her talents and abilities to help her man succeed. The goal is that together they do all they can for Yahweh and His people Israel. Because the woman is created differently, she may see things from a different point of view. To use the spiritual army analogy, if the man is the officer, the woman is the sergeant, while the children are the privates. While an officer is responsible to for all decisions, a good officer consults with his sergeant on a regular basis and listens carefully to his advice. He knows his sergeant has a different perspective, and yet he values his insights and support.
Because women are not robots (but are sentient beings who have their own insights and opinions), at some point there will be disagreement between a man and his wife. The solution for this is to realize that Yahweh made man as the head of the house, and that a wife is to submit to her man as the leader. This is just as the man is to submit to Yeshua as his leader in turn. This relationship extends Yeshua’s kingdom into the home.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 11:3
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Messiah, the head of woman is man, and the head of Messiah is Elohim.
In an ideal marriage, a husband should talk with his wife about everything, and listen carefully to her advice. He does not necessarily need to take her advice, but he should listen closely nonetheless, to hear what her concerns are, and how best to address them. Then he takes all major matters to Yahweh in prayer (as the priest of the house), and lets Yahweh make the final decision. (As we said, if he does not hear Yahweh’s voice he can ask one of the prophets or apostles in the assembly, which means he must be in right relationship).
Because she is a helper “opposite” her husband, and because she is not created as a drone, a wife may not always agree with her husband in everything. Still, even when she disagrees, she is to submit to her husband, respect him, and do her best to make his decisions work.
For his part, the man is to love his wife, and give himself for her, as Messiah loves His bride, and gave Himself for her. This is true even when he does not feel like his wife respects him. (In marriage, each party must do his best, whether the other party is doing his best, or not.)
Ephesim (Ephesians) 5:22-28
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to Yahweh.
23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Messiah is head of the assembly; and He is the Savior of the body.
24 Therefore, just as the assembly is subject to Messiah, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the assembly and gave Himself for her,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious assembly, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be set-apart and without blemish.
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
It can be difficult for a woman to respect her husband if he does not respect her. It is also hard for her to respect him if he does not listen to her. Yet while it may feel very humiliating, a woman can get her man’s attention by treating him with respect (regardless of how he treats her). Even non-believing (or non-devout) husbands can be won this way.
Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 3:1-7
1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel —
4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of Elohim.
5 For in this manner, in former times, the set-apart women who trusted in Elohim also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,
6 as Sarah obeyed Avraham, calling him adoni [my master], whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the favor of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
In verses 5-6, Kepha (Peter) says it is good for sisters to imitate Sarah, who submitted to her husband, and called him adoni (my master). Whether or not she called him master every day, it seems clear that she thought of him as her master. While this practice has fallen out of favor since democracy has supplanted the Christian kingships of Europe, it is Scriptural, and can remedy some marital issues.
Democracy holds that men and women are equal in the eyes of the law. This can cause marital difficulties in that it encourages the woman see herself as an “equal,” rather than as her man’s helper. However, the Scriptures teach patriarchy, in which the men lead, and the women help.
When a wife calls her husband Adon (Master), it shows she is a true daughter of Sarah, and is attempting to respect her husband. While this is often not respected culturally, it is what Scripture says to do.
Verse 7 reminds us that it is not the job of the man to put his wife in submission. Rather, it is the job of the wife to humble herself and submit. It is also the man’s job to treat her lovingly, whether she understands her need to submit or not. He needs to treat her in this way so that his prayers might not be hindered.
THE WOMAN OF VALOR
Some Christian traditions hold that the woman should not work outside the home. However, Scripture does not confine women to the home. For example, Proverbs 31 sings the praises of a woman of valor who does business in the community. With wisdom, diligence, and hard work she serves not only her husband and family, but also serves the needy in her community.
Mishle (Proverbs) 31:10-24
10 A woman of valor, who can find? For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor: Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.
The word valor is the Hebrew word chayil (חַיִל). This word is translated in different ways, but it refers to a person of power and valor such as a soldier, or a warrior.
OT:2428 chayil; from OT:2342; probably a force, whether of men, means, or other resources; i.e., an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength:
The idea is that the Proverbs 31 wife is a strong woman who does her valiant best to support her husband, her family, and her community. She also helps to build her husband’s reputation within the community, so that he is honored to sit in the gates (verse 23). These things are still an ideal for wives in Renewed Covenant times.
SISTERS IN THE ASSEMBLY
While a woman is to submit to her husband, that does not mean she submits to the other men in the assembly. Also, she is not required to be completely silent in the assembly. Rather, the doctrine of women needing to be silent in the assembly is based on misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14:34-36.
34 Let your women be silent in the assemblies, for they are not allowed to speak; but let them subject themselves, as the Torah also says.
35 And if they wish to learn whatever, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in an assembly.
36 Or [ai] did the word of Elohim go out from you? Or did it reach only to you?”
The first time we read this it might seem like Shaul is saying that the women must be silent in the assemblies, and that he is citing the Torah as his authority. However, this cannot be correct, as the Torah says no such thing. Further, according to that misinterpretation, verse 36 seems to come out of nowhere. So, what does this passage say?
[Note: while we believe the Renewed Covenant was first written in Hebrew or Aramaic, it also appears that the existing Aramaic and Hebrew manuscripts are either not the originals, or if they are the originals, that they have been modified (Hellenized) a great deal. Because of this we normally use the Greek texts for analysis, since they appear to be older.] In the (Greek) Textus Receptus, verse 36 begins with the preposition ay (ai). Strong’s Concordance tells us that this word describes what is called a disjunction, or a comparative.
NT:2228 (ai) e (ay!); a primary particle of distinction between two connected terms: disjunctive, or; comparative, than:
This word indicates a sharp contrast between the two things it joins together. When used at the beginning of a sentence, “ay!” (ai) can mean “or”, but usually it means something more like the Spanish “¡Ay!” or the Hebrew Oy! (“Enemies!”). If we were to translate (ai) into English in Shaul’s context, it would probably translate into something like, “Oh, stop with the nonsense!”
In the first century there were no quotation marks either in Hebrew, in Aramaic, or in Greek. Thus, what makes sense here is that Shaul is quoting another author in verses 34 and 35, while in verse 36 he is ridiculing what the other author said.
1st Corinthians 14:34-36
34 [Quoting:] “Let your women be silent in the assemblies, for they are not allowed to speak; but let them subject themselves, as the Torah also says.
35 [Quoting] And if they wish to learn whatever, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in an assembly.” [end quote]
36 [Shaul’s response] Oy! [What nonsense!] Did the word of Elohim go out [i.e., originate] from you? Or did it reach only to you [meaning, why are you the only one who knows about this alleged Torah command]?
And as an additional witness, the Aramaic Peshitta uses a similar exclamation, “Oh!” (או) which seems to fit with the idea that Shaul is ridiculing this other author.
|1 Corinthians 14:36
36 Oh! [או] Went forth from you the Word of Elaha?
Oh! [או] Arrived it to you only?
|(36)או דלמא מנכון הו נפקת מלתה דאלאהא. או לותכון הו בלהוד מטת|
While assembly leadership is male, it is not desirable for the women to be completely silent in the assembly, because the whole idea behind assembling is to provide a venue for those who have Yeshua’s Spirit in their hearts to gather, and worship and glorify Elohim each week. This can take many forms, but there should be a time for those who speak in tongues to speak, whenever there is a true interpreter. And, while there are no women apostles, there can be true women prophetesses, and there must be a time for them to speak, and for others to judge. Some of these speakers may be women.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 14:27-29
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself and to Elohim.
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
We want our gatherings to be spiritually-nourishing and joyful times that lead people to convert. For this to occur, the men and women must collaborate, and talk. When this is done according to Yeshua’s Spirit there is nothing disorderly about it (as the women spoke during times when Yeshua was present). The main thing is to listen for Elohim’s voice, and to speak only that which Elohim wants spoken. (It is always safe that way.)
One thing that seems difficult for Ephraimites to accept is that men and women were segregated when they went into the temple, and in devout synagogues. This is based on Leviticus 15:19-20, which deals with the ritual impurities during a woman’s monthly time of cleansing.
Vayiqra (Leviticus) 15:19-20
19 ‘If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.
20 Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean.’
Many things can make us ritually unclean. While it is not a sin to be ritually unclean, it does mean that a man cannot lead the rituals. (Others say he should not even attend the rituals if he is ritually unclean, but this is not proven.) We discuss these things in detail in “About Ritual Cleanness,” which is part of Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1. However, at a practical level, what it means is that priests, elders, and deacons (and indeed, anyone who can) should do his best not to be ritually unclean on the Sabbath and festival high days. This also includes not having marital relations on those days.
Shemote (Exodus) 19:15
15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for [lit: against] the third day; do not come near your wives.”
Traditionally, synagogues segregate by gender (and the young children go with their mother). One reason they do this is so that the women do not need to tell anyone else whether they are cleansing. While it may be hard for younger couples to remain ritually clean, the elders will have an easier time remaining ritually clean (as their own wives are no longer in their cleansing years). Simply by segregating the assembly, the risk that the elders will become ritually unclean (and thus not able to lead the ritual prayers) becomes greatly reduced.
Another thing Ephraimites seem to have difficulty with is the Hebrew custom of the women covering their heads. This is done both to conceal a woman’s beauty to the outside world, and to show that she accepts authority. In 1 Corinthians 11:10, Shaul tells us that a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the “angels.”
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 11:8-10
8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man.
9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.
10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
The word angel is Strong’s NT:32, aggelos (pronounced ang’-el-os). It has multiple meanings, one of which is pastor (i.e., a priest, elder, or other minister). It also translates as messenger (and those who work in ministry are messengers).
NT:32 aggelos (ang’-el-os); from aggello (meaning, to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an “angel”; (or) by implication, a pastor: KJV – angel, messenger.
It may be that the heavenly messengers (angels) are beneficially influenced by a symbol of righteous authority on the woman’s head. It may also be that this symbol of righteous authority is needed to help the pastors and other messengers (ministers). But why would that be?
Pastoring, counseling, and other forms of ministry can get personal. To do his job the right way, a pastor needs to develop close relationships with those he serves. It is natural for women to feel attracted to men in leadership, especially when they are taking an interest in getting to know them better. It is also natural for men to develop feelings for women who look up to them, and because men are visually-oriented, a visual symbol of authority can help. Because Satan is continually trying to distract the ministers, the more a woman can help the minister keep his focus on Elohim by concealing her beauty, the better.
Because head coverings are not one of the four Acts 15 issues, we do not divide over it. However, it is a good practice for any woman who wants to do things the way they were done in Yeshua’s time. (For more details, see “Head Coverings in Scripture”, in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1.)