Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Biblical manhood and womanhood

From Exodus 35,
30(AG) Then Moses said to the people of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with(AH) skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35He has(AI) filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer. ESV

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. NIV2011
I thought after reading the ESV that men were doing the embroidery. But after reading the NIV2011, I came to think that both men and women are "skilled workers and designers," and the women were doing the embroidery. I am not quite sure. Any ideas?

Women did have a role producing trade goods and artefacts. They were not restricted to reproduction only. Even though I do know how to spin, weave and embroider, (not terribly well, but I have tried them all) - these activites take a significant commitment of time, space and funds that I don't actually have. I don't recommend them now in lieu of a "job." Boring, I know, but that's my experience.

It is important to understand that there was never a time in the Bible when men were considered to be created to work and produce goods, and women were not. Women were always producers and designers, as well as mothers. That is just the way it was. No matter how hard you try, a woman who stays home with her children, is on the periphery of the economy, a consumer and not a producer. That is not biblical. I understand why women are at home with their children, and I am not critizing it - I just don't know how to reconcile it with the model of womanhood in the Bible, where women were driven to create and produce goods, as well as children.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I still have my first piece of embroidery that I did at the age of four. It is a small petit point pattern of a box full of kittens. Hence my affinity with the curmudgeonly Roger Moore in this film.


gengwall said...

Of course, the Proverbs 31 woman famously produced products and engaged in business outside of the home.

Ann said...

I immediately thought of Prov. 31, too, particularly vv. 19-22, if you're thinking of weaving and providing coverings for her household, as well as caring for needy, and vv.25-28 include her provision of wise teaching, too.