Women in the Bible

I don’t shy away from the ugly.  In the passage I read today, 2 Kings 9-11, there is a lot of ugly.  Frankly, the slaughter of your political and religious enemies is ugly.  But we also have within a few passages some terrible images of women.

This is as Jehu and his army approach the city intent on murdering Ahab’s son, Jezebel and all who are related or allied with them.

Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

After the death of Ahaziah at Jehu’s hands, we have this:

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

So, we get two misogynistic archetypes in rapid succession.  Jezebel is the whore and Athaliah is the witch.  Hell, perhaps Jehosheba is the virgin and we’ve got the trifecta.

I don’t think the poor treatment of women in the Bible is proscriptive; nor do I think it is a unique product of the Abrahamic religions.  I think it reveals the presence of the patriarchy in our society. BUT, modern people of faith must acknowledge the presence of this deep seeded injustice and work to undo it.

Leave a Reply