Why did God relegate women to second-class citizenship in Old Testament law?


Only men were permitted to have multiple spouses. Only the man could initiate a divorce. Only men were allowed to establish a covenant with God through circumcision. If a newly-wed wife were found to be unchasted she could be divorced, I found no mention of an unchasted husband suffering the same fate. Women were only allowed in the Court of Women and no farther into the Tabernacle of God. Why the disparity? Why the contempt? Do you know of a book that explains this reasoning. I am a Christian and I know that things are different now that Christ has come and abolished the Law. But, I can’t help but feel devalued when I read the Old Testament. PS: God-heaters and man-heaters need not reply; I am looking for real answers.


  1. spedusource
    0 Votes
    As women today, we are blessed by living in a technological society, in which the strength of one's mind and not the strength of one's fist determines who is in charge of your life. Throughout history, in ALL patriarchal cultures, we women were treated as second-class, even slaves, because of being physically smaller and being, overall, weaker fighters. Also, without modern supports, a pregnant woman is usually extremely helpless. We are talking about phyiscal issues here, not intelligence, creativity, or productivity. The person who can beat you up or kill you, can control you completely. That is why most countries have military. If you view it in that context, Jewish scriptural law regarding the treatment of women is highly protective and enlightened, in the overall context of the times in which it was written. Women have rights to personal property, inheritance, food, shelter, and gentle treatment. While, at the time, husbands and fathers were granted permission under the law to physically hit women and children as a punishment, they were not allowed to cause long-term damage (a big step given the times), except in the case of adultery, or a son's constant delinquency and disobedience. Women who were raped, and cried out (in public areas) or had it happen in an area where no help could be called, were not punished for it. If the woman was already spoken for (engaged or married) the rapist was heavily fined and/or put to death. If the woman was not spoken for, the rapist was forced to marry her... which meant, BY LAW, providing for her financially and socially (being married removed the social stigma of not being a virgin while not being married). She was considered a WIFE, not a concubine, which meant her children had right of inheritance, and she had control of the environment inside the home. The forced marriage was HER RIGHT, to maintain her respectability and survival needs. The penalties given to women for infractions may seem harsh... until you look at the ones given to men... they are pretty much the same. If you look closely at the laws regarding how a man was expected to treat a woman, they define those times when a man is ALLOWED to reject her or punish her... these are written as EXCEPTIONS to the rule... which is gentleness, respect, and care of her life survival needs. Men's and women's roles were very much separated. Women were in charge of the what went on inside the home, and men in charge of what went on outside the home. Women had authority over children (male or female), and over the organization and routine of the home. Women had the responsibility of ensuring that the laws were kept inside the home, and led worship within the home (therefore the continued tradition of WOMEN initiating Shabbat). Actually, Shabbat is a prime example of Jewish women's authority within the home in religious matters. The first thing G-d did was create light. And it is the WOMEN's role to call forth the first light of Shabbat by reciting the blessing over the candles. Not being allowed into the Tabernacle had to do with community - level worship being outside the home, therefore man's work. These are laws written 3000 years ago. Modern Judaism, even the most Orthodox, uses rabbinical commentary on these laws to define them in the context of modern culture and expectations. Today, banishment from the Jewish community is used for extreme behaviors, instead of stoning or other physical punishments. The anti-abuse laws are applied to verbal abuse as well by viewing the spoken word as something that can hurt or heal. And so on. In modern times, with so many women pursuing careers, the male and female roles are blended, regarding both inside the home and outside the home duties, responsibilties, privileges, and control. It makes things difficult in relationships because each partnership must find it's own definitions of who is responsible for what. However, it also allows for a much greater level of achievement by our culture, because twice the number of people are working on cultural, scientific, and political issues, not to mention personal sense of achievement.
  2. tepid
    0 Votes

    he didn’t…men did..the same men who made the old testament up.

  3. Will
    0 Votes

    The Bible reflects the culture in which it was written. People can only see God though the glass of their culture and background.

  4. Justin J
    0 Votes


  5. Damian
    0 Votes

    That was not God’s plan. He made one woman and one man. He also said in Corinthians that they both shall marry and be one flesh leaving mother and father. His plan is not for women to be second class but because of sin it was pracitced in some stories told in the Bible but it was never right and it always ended in sin if you check it out.

  6. jyd9999
    0 Votes

    that’s why more ppl say it was written by a man to free men from the woman run previous religions

  7. MikeK60
    0 Votes

    I can see that you’re young, – so I’ll explain it to you this way.

    Even in America, -it wasn’t even ’till about 1919 that women were granted the ‘right’ to vote. So we see prevalent throughout history that there has always been a greater disparity between the genders than there is today.

    Kids ‘born yesterday’ seem to think that everything is suppose to be equal and non-sexist. This non-sexist thinking is a relatively new concept, and some would call ‘experiemental’. After all, the tried-and-true way and 99% of history has shown that sexism is the rule, – not the exception.

    So is sexist thinking ‘stealing’ something from you that is rightfully yours? Or is the tried-and-true “callings” of each gender better?

    Maybe it’s really inequitable for women to vote!

  8. tomtvedtenmd
    0 Votes

    Pick a myth. Proclaim it absolute Truth. Then, follow it blindly.

  9. jymsis
    0 Votes

    I don’t believe that God had these laws. The only “laws” that He set out were the Ten Commandments. The law of the land was dictated by men. That was the times.
    Please remember that we say that the Bible is the “word of God” but not all of it is really what was said by God (or Jesus in the NT.) Some of it is history. Simply stories telling what happened. Read carefully and see the difference between the things that are telling what people did and said and what God did and said.

  10. jimmyh
    0 Votes

    cause men interpreted the bible

  11. Soelk
    0 Votes

    God haters? lol, is it hate to question God? To love God enough to question those that speak his “word” without mostly knowing what he is actually trying to say? Beyond the point…

    Men wrote the Old Testament, sorry to say it but men usually take whatever power they can get. The fact that Eve was created from Adam’s rib probably made them think that God was saying that all women belong to men or something. Been awhile since I read the bible… Sorry.

  12. jvd4486
    0 Votes

    The multiple marriage thing is easy: God wanted to multiply his people. One woman could only get pregnant every year or so, so having more than one husband would have been useless. But one man could get several woman pregnant. Hence it made sense to have more than one wife.

    The other stuff: I am not sure. I think it’s something YOU have to think about. It probably has several reasons: maybe woman had a different role. That role did not necessarily have to be less important than men. But even that explanation is stretching it. In my opinion men manipulated the words of God to keep themselves powerful. That is why I do not take the Bible, any other religious text or any organized religion seriously. There are a lot of good ideas out there but I think they have been manipulated to make us not know the truth.

  13. Walt.
    0 Votes

    The real answer to your question is; that the woman was created last, that is the woman was to be more intelligent than man, she was meant to be the denominator.
    Notice: The Gate of human creation is in her.
    Something happened along the evolution process, which God was not finished with.

  14. Julia
    0 Votes

    >>>Only men were permitted to have multiple spouses.< << A very long time ago, yes, this was true -- but only because there were far fewer people, and families needed to be bigger in order to run farms and such. Having one woman marry several men wouldn't address that concern, since men cannot get pregnant. >>>Only men were allowed to establish a covenant with God through circumcision.< <<< That's because men have penises and women don't. How does a woman get circumcized? >>> If a newly-wed wife were found to be unchasted she could be divorced, I found no mention of an unchasted husband suffering the same fate.< << That doesn't necessarily mean he could get away with it, though. The Bible doesn't mention latrines either, but one is safe in presuming that they existed back then. >>>Women were only allowed in the Court of Women and no farther into the Tabernacle of God.< << Most men were not allowed in there either. Only the priests were. >>>Why the disparity? Why the contempt?< << It's not "contempt". I'm afraid you are judging people who lived 6,000 years ago by 21st-century standards. That's never a fair thing to do. >>> I am a Christian and I know that things are different now that Christ has come and abolished the Law.< << Christ did not come to abolish the Law. He says so plainly in the Gospels. He came to fulfill it. >>>But, I can’t help but feel devalued when I read the Old Testament. <<< Again, that's largely because you're judging ancient people by 21st-century standards. Which, again, simply isn't fair. I don't feel "devalued" as a woman reading the OT, any more than I feel "devalued" when as a black Hispanic woman I read a textbook chapter about slavery. Because I'm able to put both things in their proper historical and cultural context. Also, realize that much of what you speak of occured in very early Old Testament times. In the Old Testament eras just prior to Christ's birth, though, much of what you speak of no longer was taking place -- Jewish men having multiple wives, for instance.

  15. headinjury
    0 Votes

    why do u need god to explain a total patriacle society?

    like; u know get over it. Woman have never been in a better position than now. I know it’s sad that you were discriminated against—and there is still some now; but, they were an ancient goat herding society. Leave it behind now. Crikey! now I’m preaching.

    And I am not a inanimate object that heats your house, I am human.

  16. Lotusrain
    0 Votes

    The society or culture of the times was like that. Women were seen as property and that has not stopped even in the culture of today really. Ever hear of the trophy wife? The bible and I don’t want to shock you was written by men,not by God. They say it was divinely inspired. Do some research into the actual origins of christianity and you might be shocked a bit. They even have some pagan rituals thrown in with christians rituals. I respect whatever anyone wants to believe, for me Jesus was a Master, but not god anymore then anyone else. He was an awakened human being with an awareness of a higher reality and our own christlike selves. We all have a light within. Cultural conditioning is what you believe, it is what you were taught to think. Think for yourself. Its ok, nothing terrible will happen. Women all over the world are still suffering from this stupidity. God made us as equals, like yin and yang, dark,light,hot cold. Male/female energies. Good Luck and Peace.

  17. john s
    0 Votes

    I wouldn’t fret over it. God made Adam first-because He didn’t want any advice on how to do it. (haha)

    Well God had His reasons for doing things the way He did. Not everything we read in the Bible is God’s fault either. One thing about the Bible is that it gives us the good and the bad.
    Generally speaking-
    Most men are left-brained-logical (half-brained), seemingly un-affectionate-you fill in the blanks. Maybe God wanted men to lead because they are less distractable while on a specific task.
    Many women make better leaders that some men. Women do not do good in combat, many men don’t either-but men are more likely to keep to the plan. Remember men have less brains than women. I don’t think God sees women as second class at all. We each have our rolls in life. Sometimes we put people in the wrong places. I think women could control the world if they could just realize they only need to influence their husbands. A wife can do a lot with a man who really loves and respects her.
    I know, I know a lot of women would be better off if they had not married that …….!

  18. vernell h phyllisshusband
    0 Votes

    That is not entirely true. Deborah was a leader of Israel, she was id’d as a judge, and prophetess. Judges4:4. Judges 5:7. Miriam, Moses’s sister rescued him from the water. Ex.2:4-8. She was also a prophetess and led the women in a song of victory Ex. 15:20-21. she sisded against Moses when he married an Ethopian Woman and was punished with Leprosy, some beleive not because of prejudice but, because of ambition and insubordination.She was also a leader sent by God. Mic. 6:4. Ruth shows the story of faith between God and family. Consider Rahab Josh. 2:1 who saved the Hebrew spies duiring the days of Jericho and was delivered from death after the Hebrews took the city. Josh. 6:17-25

  19. Sandy S
    0 Votes

    Why do you judge the status of women by the Old Testament? The Old Testament was written under the law and men wrote the law. The behavior you describe is cultural, not spiritual. And it continues today in Africa, the Middle East, etc. It is a power trip that is of Satan, not God. You will not find anywhere in the Bible where God encouraged unkind and vicious treatment of women.

    Read the stories of Eve, Sarah, Esther, Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth and Hannah (just to name a few). They are all Old Testament women who were submissive to authority, yet gained power through their submission. Submission and subservience are NOT the same thing and are not interchangeable in a biblical teaching of the position of women.

    God intends women to be submissive to men.
    Submit: To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.

    Subservient: Subordinate in capacity or function.
    Women are NOT subordinate to men unless they allow Satan to convince them of this lie.

    God has charged men to be the head of the household, to love, honor and cherish his wife and family, and to lead them spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially and in wisdom. Women are charged to offer an opinion (which is listened to seriously), respect and honor their husbands, and to submit to his authority if there isn’t a meeting of the minds on any given issue. This is the Way of God. It is up to God to deal with men who don’t act according to God’s instructions. However, when women are obedient to God, their position and obedience are blessed.

    Read “Out of Control” and Loving it” by Lisa Bevere.

    When I stopped DEMANDING to be heard, when I stopped trying to CONTROL everything, when I began to SUBMIT to my husband’s authority, his love, respect and adoration of me increased and our relationship became one of mutual respect and love, not strife. God NEVER handed women the responsibility of being the head. When we try to take on that responsibility, it becomes a yoke around our necks.

    Read Proverbs 31 regarding how God sees women and who you already are in God. The New Testament, especially Ephesians and Galatians also discuss the positions of men and women.

    You should NEVER feel devalued because of Old Testament writings. They are meant to teach us. You should feel precious and unique because you are! God loves his daughters. We are in the season of God’s daughters coming to the forefront, taking our positions next to our husbands and bringing God’s peace and joy in a world full of horrific behavior. We cannot do that if we believe Satan’s lies. Remember, he goes about roaring like a lion, seeking to steal, kill and destroy. Don’t let Satan have a minute of your time or an inch of your life. He will make you feel fear and uncertainty about who you are.

    God bless you in your search for your answers. Hope this helps.

  20. smh73448
    0 Votes

    Eve is the one that was decieved, and then decieved Adam (man) We was also made from Man’s rib and he made for the joy, not the other way around. Since woman sinned first, was cursed by God..

  21. Danielle S
    0 Votes

    The god of the Old Testament was a warrior god who encouraged the Jewish people to fight, kill the enemy, and to kidnap and rape their females (Numbers 31:13-18).

    He promised victory in battle and political power to Jews if they would adore him and be obedient soldiers in his army by adhering strictly to all his ‘laws’ (some of which made sense and some of which didn’t).

    Women have never been considered a particularly valuable commodity in a warrior society, except where they can be used by men.

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