Posts Tagged With: ezer

Slaves

shackles broken

In my previous two posts, A Parable and Masters, we discovered the close relationship between a parable and dominion. This foundation inspires my conclusions in this post. If you haven’t read those articles, please do so for context.

My original question was how Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 are teaching us a parable. Let’s look at these verses once again.

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16 NASB)

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7)

In the Biblical Role of Women, we learned that in Genesis 3:16 YHWH is telling Chavah (Eve) the consequence (curse) of her disobedience. This is not the same thing as a commandment even though many theologians across the centuries have treated it as such. In other words, God’s original design didn’t include a hierarchy among the sexes or a mandate that men would rule over women. The text is clear that Chavah was designed to be Adam’s ezer kenegdo (helpmeet); which is an aid, protector, rescuer, boundary setter, and guide. This is far from a mere domestic assistant.

This, however, doesn’t mean that Chavah “ruled” Adam or that her status was superior. Adam has a function and purpose and Chavah has a function and purpose. It is only by working in tandem as “One” that they most effectively accomplish YHWH’s will for their lives. They are one flesh and are equal in the eyes of Elohim. It takes both a man and a woman to display the image of Elohim.

But sin frustrated this design for both Adam and Chavah. Each of their purposes were cursed or distorted due to the fall. Through toil and with sweat Adam will now strive to cultivate the ground. Chavah’s role to be Adam’s ezer is now also problematic. Just as the ground will not effortlessly yield to Adam’s labor, Adam will not easily relent to Chavah’s role as his ezer.

The tension between men and women will be as thorny as the cursed ground. And Eve’s curse reveals the heart of the issue. There will now be a power struggle as fallen Adam seeks to subjugate Chavah in self-preservation.

© Walter Arce

© Walter Arce

This is where the second account we are examining comes in to play. We see virtually the same phrase in Hebrew when YHWH speaks to Cain before he kills Abel. The difference, as I pointed out in the Biblical Role of Women, is that YHWH commands or explicitly states to Cain that it is possible to master sin and that this IS the will of YHWH. In other words, man was NOT created to be ruled or mastered by their nephesh or basic animal drives. Humans are meant to be ruled by the Word of Elohim (God). We live by His words, not our fears or fleshly appetites.

To summarize, let’s look at what we’ve covered so far. (Some of these conclusions are drawn from the Role of Women series.)

  1. Adam ruling over Eve is a curse, not a commandment. Chavah’s desire to be Adam’s ezer kenegdo isn’t evil or sinful. This purpose and function is at the core of every woman redeemed or not. However, all men will resist this function of their wife. This isn’t the design or will of the Creator. This is why a redeemed man is expected to love his wife sacrificially. He must master his desire to resist his wife’s role. Likewise, a woman must not let her desire to be the man’s ezer control or undermine the relationship. She must allow the Spirit of YHWH to bring healing in His timing.
  2. Cain is told that he SHOULD master sin. It is our unbridled passions, desires, and beastly urges that cause us to sin. These urges aren’t evil or sinful in and of themselves; however, if they control or rule our life, they lead us to commit sin. They are only concerned with self. This is why we need the Word of God to set the proper boundaries for living as a human created in the image of Elohim.

A parable or a proverb is a comparison of two things; there will be similarities and there will be differences. Our job is to discern the heart or point of the story or saying. The message should cause a change in our thinking that leads to a change in our behavior.

In both Genesis 3:16 and 4:7, teshukah (desire) is present. Chavah has teshukah for Adam and sin has teshukah for Cain. YHWH doesn’t call teshukah evil or sinful. In fact, it was YHWH that created teshukah! Teshukah is our inborn desires and appetites that motivate us to live and survive.

The first thing that should stand out to us is the fact that Chavah and all women since have an additional teshukah that men do not have. All of mankind (men and women) have the desire to eat, sleep, procreate, and expand their territory. But, women have an additional teshukah for their men; that is to be the ezer kenegd0. This is the way women are wired — before sin and the fall. A woman is an ezer kenegdo whether you allow YHWH to use her or not. And whether she is redeemed or not. (Pray she is redeemed! For an ezer kenegdo that is ruled by her nephesh (flesh) is truly rottenness to the bones of her man! [Pr. 12:4])

Mashal (to rule/master and a parable/proverb) is also present in both of these verses. There is a message to be received in these accounts. Who rules who or what is the real question here. If Adam (man) is ruled by his nephesh, he will walk  in the curse and subjugate his wife in tragic animalistic fashion. A nephesh craves power to benefit only ones’ self. We see the epitome of this when Cain takes the life of his brother. There can be no self-sacrificing love or protection given by a nephesh ruled person since his heart is only focused on numero uno.

However, a redeemed man has relinquished himself over to the Creator. He is no longer guided by his ungodly fear and the flesh (nephesh); therefore, he is free to forgive and love his wife— even sacrifice himself for her. Any authority granted to him is used to benefit his wife, not control her. This is how a restored and redeemed relationship functions. This is unity and oneness. Both the man and the woman are free to fulfill their purpose within the clear and protective boundaries of the Word of Elohim.

As a result, I really believe this is also what reverses the curse on Adam’s purpose as well. Any time we are obedient, we bring restoration not only to our relationships, but also to the creation itself. The Jewish sages call this tikkun olam, repairing/healing the world. We know that creation is enslaved by the corruption of sin and death just as we are; and like us, it desires to be set free[1]. This happens as the sons of God are revealed. We are a son/daughter of God as we are conformed to His image.

I submit to you that the parable presented in Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 is a story about slaves and masters. In the beginning, man (man and woman) were given joint authority over the earth and all the living creatures (the beasts).

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26)

What YHWH declares to Cain is simply a reiteration of His original purpose for mankind. You rule the beast (nephesh), not the other way around. Adam and Chavah were meant to be coheirs[2] of the creation and image bearers of Elohim[3]. In other words, they were meant to master the creation together as godly stewards, not as tyrants. Ultimately, YHWH is the only righteous Master, Ruler, and King. We are His emissaries carrying forth His loving instruction and order in creation.

We must choose whom we shall serve. Will it be YHWH? Will it be some false god? Or will we serve ourselves? As I mentioned in my last post on Masters, there is real irony when we choose to serve anything other than YHWH. While we may believe that serving another god or that satisfying our own fleshly desires is “freeing”, it is actually the very thing that enslaves us to sin. In other words, our real choice is to be slaves of death!

The parable teaches us that there is one Master, YHWH; but our nephesh (soul/flesh) will try to usurp His authority and rule instead. If we allow this to happen, we are nothing more than a beast. By trying to “rule”, we only enslave ourselves to death and destruction, a curse.

We must also be mindful of whom we try to master. For example, I don’t believe it was YHWH’s design nor will that people enslave people. Slavery is a perversion of servant-hood. We have destroyed the spiritual imagery of serving YHWH and the brethren with human abuse, oppression, bondage, and slavery.  In other words, forced captivity and servitude is a perversion of the protective and free will service of the heart we should have for the Master of the Universe.

This is why it is so hard for us to relinquish our whole being over to YHWH. Like an oppressed slave, we fear that YHWH is going to withhold real “goodness” from us. This is why many people drag their feet in coming to repentance. They think true followers no longer have any “fun”. Do you see the irony in that?

Real Slavery

But there is another reason that we need to understand Chavah’s curse. The rule of Adam in the curse isn’t godly. It is oppressive. And if you think I’m wrong about that, perhaps you should take some time to look at world statistics[4] on the plot of women. If you think women are only oppressed in third world countries, you are flat dead wrong. While the hardest hit regions for victims (where slaves are picked up) are South and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa, the destination countries (where they are bought!) include Europe, USA, Japan, Australia, India, Israel, and the Gulf States[5]. In other words, western countries are providing the “demand” for this horrendous practice. Many end up as forced prostitutes or on internet pornography.

“More girls were killed in the last 50 years, 
precisely because they were girls,
than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century. 
― Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky

Yes, women (and even some weaker men and boys) are a hot black market commodity in today’s “progressive” world. In the US, human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly[6]. It is estimated that 200,000 US women annually are forced into the sex trade. The majority of these are American, not imported from other countries. The largest annual human trafficking event in the US is the Super Bowl[7].

Where women are oppressed the most, they are educated the least[8]. This is one way men maintain control and power over women. In less developed countries, as many as 87% of women are illiterate. If you don’t believe that this twisted mindset has infected Judeo-Christian doctrine and tradition, you haven’t read history. In every century since the dawn of mankind, women have been subdued by men the world over. Bible believers have justified this behavior with the Scriptures with Chavah’s curse standing out as the “precedent”.

These facts should at least cause us to pause and consider our current paradigm of the woman’s role. Has our view of women in marriage and the assembly been colored by the beast? Where do you think such ideas as “women shouldn’t even be taught the Torah” originate? The answer can only be found in fallen man. By the way, all these things should also cause us to rethink what Paul is saying about women in his letters. We have a very long secular and spiritual history tainted by the curse. We must separate truth from tradition. Silencing half of our assemblies is a serious matter; especially since women are a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.

“One reason why trafficking has been ignored 
     is that the victims are voiceless.” 
- Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky (Emphasis mine)

There is only one answer to our plot. . Rule the beast (nephesh/flesh); do not serve your lusts, desires, and appetites. Serve YHWH by knowing and keeping His word. If YHWH blesses you with an ezer kenegdo, treasure this gift; there is no need to fear her or control her. Choose to walk in blessing instead of the curse. She’s perfectly suited to guide, nourish, and protect you (inwardly) just as you are perfectly suited to do these same things for her (outwardly).

Hear the parable of Genesis 3:16 and 4:7. The only thing we are meant to rule is the creation and its creatures. The only thing we are meant to master is the beast within us all, our nephesh (flesh). If we fail to do so, we become a curse, enslaved like a beast — headed for the pit.

Now go and read all of Romans 7 and 8 with fresh eyes.

 



[1] Rom. 8:18-23  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (19)  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  (20)  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope  (21)  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  (22)  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  (23)  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

[2] 1 Peter 3:7

[3] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Gal. 3:28-29)

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The Biblical Role of Women Part VII

Role of Women Main Page

The Real Thing

 

Back in Part V, we looked at the woman as being a metaphor for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). There are many reasons why this is true. If you haven’t read that post, please do so now before proceeding.

The following is a summary of some of the equal, but different roles of the man and woman. I’ve used the comparison of YHWH (the Father) and the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the ONENESS that should unify the marriage covenant. There was no hierarchy in God’s original design. YHWH purposefully created a male AND a female to display His image in the creation. The list below is by no means exhaustive; we will draw more conclusions as we continue.

Man = Woman
  • Remembers and Obeys the Word (Action)
  • Needs a (spiritual) protector (an ezer)
  • Serves the earth
  • Expresses worship in work and service
  • Man leaves his Father and Mother and is joined to his Wife.
  • Is a Valiant Warrior
  • Aware of moment to moment direction of God
  • Protects Boundaries of Obedience
  • Challenges, encourages, protects, and nourishes
  • Blesses (benefits) her husband
  • Spiritual Guide
  • Takes Ownership of the Man
  • Is a Valiant Warrior
Man shows the image of Father YHWH = Woman shows image of Ruach HaKodesh
  • Father (God) is love. 1 Jn. 4:7-8
  • Father is faithful.1 Pt. 4:19
  • Father is merciful. Titus 3:5
  • Father delights in his children. Ps. 149:4
  • Father is giving. Rom. 8:32
  • Father is patient. 2 Pt. 3:8-9
  • Father never forsakes his own. Gen. 28:15
  • Holy Spirit is Counselor Jn. 14:26
  • Holy Spirit speaks. 1 Tim. 4:1; Acts 10:19-20
  • Holy Spirit intercedes. Rom. 8:26, 34
  • Holy Spirit teaches. Jn. 14:26
  • Holy Spirit bears witness/testifies. Jn. 15:26-27
  • Holy Spirit guides, hears, tells Jn. 16:12-13
  • Holy Spirit comforts/nurtures. Jn. 14:16; 15:26
  • Holy Spirit opposes. Acts 16:6-7

 

Redeemed Marriage

It is not good for man to be alone. He NEEDS an ezer kenegdo — a protector that opposes him. This is why he is the one that leaves the guardianship of his mother and father and cleaves to his wife — his new guardian. The woman will set boundaries that are necessary for the man to stay obedient. It is in this way that she takes ownership responsibility of the man like the woman in the Song of Songs. Dr. Moen expresses it this way:

She is exactly what he needs in order to be what God calls him to be…Her greatest longing is to be his greatest defense. She is built for that and it will not be denied, even if the direction is misplaced…In God’s perfect world, she takes ownership responsibility for her man, and he welcomes it because he knows she is uniquely designed to bring about what is best for him. She is ready and willing to set aside every other agenda in order to bless him with her care. (Guardian Angel p.345)

If there was no hierarchy in the beginning, then men are only the “head” in the sense of order in the creation, not rank. While this rubs against a lot of traditional theology, I urge you to explore this idea more fully before rejecting it off hand. (Dr. Moen has an article that speaks to this issue here and David H. Scholer explores Biblical Headship here.)

If man was meant to rule over or master women from the beginning, why does Paul in Ephesians chapter 5 instruct the women to submit to their husbands? Carefully consider this. We mustn’t allow current doctrine or tradition to define this for us; rather, we must take the whole of Scripture into consideration and let it interpret itself. Though the difference may be “subtle”, it has far reaching implications. The woman must choose to give her husband authority just as we must choose to give Messiah (Christ) authority over our lives. A man doesn’t naturally possess the position of head by the simple fact that he is male.

So why does the wife submit? This action only works properly if the man also does what Paul requires: love his wife. If a man really loves a woman, he’s willing to do anything for her—- even die. This is a selfless type of love. If a woman is loved in this way, she naturally gives the man authority. She trusts that he will always have her best interests at heart. The authority she gives protects her; it doesn’t control or silence her.

So why are men told to love? Men are instructed to do this because in the fallen nature they naturally distrust women. This is why they instinctively place themselves as the (dominating) authority. This is a self-preservation technique. Somewhere deep down, they fear the woman is going to betray them. Therefore, they have great difficulty in giving themselves completely to their wives. Adam must learn to trust Chavah (Eve).

In order for this to happen, Adam must first forgive Eve for misguiding him. He must literally place his life back into the hands of his ezer. This only functions as a two-way street. As many marriage self-help books attest, these two roles are reciprocal. If they fail to come together, there will be no unity. No oneness. Dr. Moen puts it this way:

The wife grants authority to the husband and voluntarily submits to him knowing that it is in her best interests to do so BECAUSE the husband sacrifices his own interest in order to offer all that he is for her wellbeing. Both of these acts of self-denial model the character of God. (Guardian Angel p.346)

 When Disputes Arise

Dr. Moen calls the restored marriage roles we’ve been discussing “Redeemed Marriage”. I like his term and will use it from this point to describe such. I added this little section to offer a few ideas of what to do when issues arise in those marriages where the man and woman are each doing their best to walk in restoration.

There are thousands and probably millions of things in our daily lives that could spark a dispute between a man and wife. Married couples are all too familiar with this truth. The difference in happy couples and unhappy couples is usually in how they speak to and treat one another when things do happen. Though everyone will have a bad day on occasion, couples of faith should have less.

The short answer is humility—- of course, isn’t it always? Put your mate before yourself! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and having pity parties —– these emotions are coming from PRIDE. Crucify your flesh and serve your spouse. By the way, that’s the answer to far more than marriage quibbles, but I digress.

While the short answer is much easier said than done, it should be our FIRST response. Squash the flesh! But sometimes there are issues where we simply can’t “turn the other cheek”. In those situations, it is best that both parties unify and decide TOGETHER. Nobody should have a veto stamp unless one party is mentality injured, diseased, or compromised in some way.

Generally though, a man must listen to his ezer —- she can save him from a multitude of regrets. That’s her God designed purpose, remember? She is his guardian and protector. Likewise, a man that loves his wife will also have to save and protect her —and often, it will be from herself! It is in these times that she must remember why she chose to submit to her husband — he has HER best interests at heart. The bottom line is motivation. What is your motive in winning this argument or battle? Is it self-serving? Will your spouse benefit or will you?

I realize these solutions are very broad and that we are all in different places. So please keep that in mind and the fact that these actions require BOTH spouses to be in faith and agreement to walk out a Redeemed Marriage. There are many couples where only one spouse is willing or trying to reach restoration. I am praying for you and encourage you to never give up. Keep seeking after YHWH and place your focus on improving yourself, not your spouse. Though it doesn’t make sense to our natural mind, this is the only way real change is accomplished. Be the best spouse you can be.

 

The Real World

How do the redeemed roles of a man and woman translate outside of marriage? Are women meant to stay uneducated and at home? What about in our assemblies? Are women to keep their mouths shut lest they offend the males present? Some would scream a resounding “yes!” to all or most of these questions. But based on what we’ve learned about women from the Tanakh, is that the heart of YHWH?

My hope is that the previous six posts in this series have given you some meat to chew on. Most often, books or teachings about a woman’s biblical role begin in the end. By that, I mean they tend to ignore the entire first three quarters of the Bible (the Tanakh or O.T.) and focus solely on last quarter (N.T.).

Is there any other book in the world where people BEGIN their reading or research three quarters of the way into the material? I don’t believe there is, with the exception of an encyclopedia or a dictionary. But the Bible is not a reference book. It is the Book of Life. Only the enemy of our souls could deceive us so openly. He has done a fine job of keeping us away from the beginning and the foundation.

By focusing only on the last quarter of the Bible, one would expect multiple opposing doctrines, teachings, and positions. Each culture (nation, people, and race) would bring their own bias and traditions into practice. This would provoke a multitude of creeds, formulas, and proof texts to support their particular branch. We see all of these things in our Assemblies. Could this be because we have divorced ourselves from the foundation?

The Bible was written by Hebrews. It is within their culture, language, and tradition that our Adonai (LORD) sovereignly chose to reveal Himself. The Savior, Yeshua (Jesus), was/is a Torah observant Jew. His daily life did not deviate from this setting. A careful read of the New Testament reveals that each writer has this same testimony. While they may have challenged the traditions and laws of men, they never questioned the Law of YHWH.

This is the reason I began this series in the beginning, Bereshit (Genesis). If we don’t understand Paul’s standard (the Torah), how can we properly interpret some answer (of which we don’t even have the questions) that he gave in the first century? These are reasonable questions to consider.

Yeshua and Paul would have never strayed from the Torah, Prophets, or Writings (the only Bible available to people living in their day). Instead, they consistently point us back to the beginning for answers[1]. But, shaking off centuries of tradition is no simple feat. Even many western women struggle with the ramifications of what it means to be an ezer kenegdo or an eshet chayil. Sometimes our shackles give us a false sense of comfort and security. To add insult to injury, modern feminism is a twisted counterfeit of God’s original design.

My desire is for God’s people to repent and return to the ideal of the Garden of Eden. Women (and men) will only be truly fulfilled in their relationships when we do things God’s way. This is not to be confused with traditional church teachings or creeds. Manmade laws are NOT God’s laws.

But I must warn you: YHWH’s Word is OFFENSIVE. It offends sinners. It offends self-righteous “churchmen”; and it especially offends religious spirits. Gloria Steinem was right about one thing, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” But that’s only if we are humble enough to allow the Word to change our hearts. So many would rather fight tooth and nail to cling onto a façade of truth rather than relent to the real thing.

A Woman Shall Encompass a Man

Instead of making a list of the roles that women fulfilled in the Bible, I think it is best to go back to the chart in the beginning of this article. Prayerfully look at the attributes of the Holy Spirit, for a woman will naturally reflect these works/roles. This will be true whether your theology accepts it or not. YHWH designed the woman in this way —- no one can change that, not even church laws and creeds. A woman will be an ezer in harmony with her husband or she will be an ezer covertly coaxing her husband. The choice is up to her Adam— for she will always be an ezer. Will he forgive her and trust her or will he continue to resist her?

As we look through the pages of Scripture, we see women functioning in nearly every role of the man. Many draw the conclusion that these instances are exceptions to the rule and that women only stepped into these positions when a man was unwilling to fulfill his role.(Please see Deborah the Bee Part I and Part II to dispel this myth.) Perhaps a better perspective is to consider that YHWH gave us these examples to ensure that fallen Adam would not be able to draw absolute control (mastership) over Eve. Maybe this was the Father’s way of protecting His daughters and their unique design and purpose.

Jeremiah 31 is a chapter of great importance. In it, we have the only plain prophecy about the New Covenant[2].  But if we go back and reread the entire section, we can easily see that the New Covenant hasn’t happened in its fullness — not yet. Not every man knows YHWH and we are still teaching the world about our great Elohim (God). We have not yet been gathered into the land, ending our exile either[3]. But there is one verse I’d especially like to draw your attention to:

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man. (Jer. 31:22)

While Christian Bible interpretation is often limited, Hebrew is not. In other words, prophecy is multifaceted and dynamic. No interpretation supersedes another. There are usually greater and lesser fulfillments and each are true. The verse in question is often taught to mean a woman’s womb shall encompass a man — the Son of Man to be more specific. And I believe this is very true! Messiah’s work and atonement are central to not only our redemption, but also our restoration of which this passage speaks.

However, that in no way detracts from the literal interpretation of this passage. If this whole section is about our complete restoration, then what does it mean for “a woman to encompass a man”? Could this be an allusion to the Garden of Eden? A return to God’s original design for man and WOMAN? The Hebrew word for “new” in this verse is the same word for “new” in Jeremiah 31:31 in reference to the New Covenant. It is chadash. The AHLB[4] describes it this way:

Strongs #2319: AHLB#: 2151) Renew: New moon: New: The first crescent of the moon as the renewal of the moon, the first day of the month. [from: restoration] To make something like new through repair, restoration, or replacement. [freq. 10] {str: 2318} New: Something that is new, renewed, restored or repaired.  [freq. 54] |kjv: new, fresh| {str: 2319, 2323}

Chadash implies renewal, like the monthly renewal of the moon. The moon isn’t brand new every month, instead it is renewed. This is the language and understanding of the New Covenant. It is the same as the previous covenant — renewed. This is solidified by the fact that YHWH’s Torah (law) will be written on the hearts of His people[5]. In reference to the woman encompassing a man, YHWH also calls this a “renewed” thing. In other words, this is a restoration.

Do you recall the function of the female? She is a boundary setter. She is an ezer that surrounds her husband in protection, counsel, and guidance. Her God designed purpose is to surround or encompass her man. As we progress toward our complete redemption and restoration, we come closer and closer to the garden. Adam will forgive Chavah. She will be restored to her proper role. This, I believe, is one of the prophetic layers found in Jeremiah 31:22.

weddingMoreover, in Jewish tradition, this passage has been used for centuries during wedding ceremonies. When the bride arrives at the chuppah[6], she circles the groom seven times while the groom prays. This symbolizes the idea of the woman being a protective, surrounding light for her husband and their household. She illuminates them with understanding and love and protects them from harm from the outside.

There are several interpretations of the significance of her encircling the groom seven times. Seven is the number of days of the creation, and the wedding ceremony is the creation of a new household. Seven is the number of times the phrase “when a man takes a wife” occurs in the Bible. Seven is the number of times Joshua circled the walls of Jericho in order to bring them down, and in circling her groom a bride brings down any wall that may remain between them.

Also, on the day of his wedding, the groom is compared to a king. Just as the king is encircled by his legion, the groom is to be encircled by his bride. This symbolizes that the bride is a type of “warrior/protector” for the man. She is his eshet chayil. When the bride has finished encircling the groom, she stands at his right, as the Psalmist states, “at the right hand does the queen stand.”[7]

While all the above reasons are given in Jewish tradition for this mystical practice, I believe there is one last purpose that the bride encircles the man seven times. It is because she is a type of the Holy Spirit in the man’s life. There are seven manifestations of the Holy Spirit as we discussed in Part V. A woman of faith will walk in these spirits in order to guide and protect her husband and home.

My prayer is that we will humbly strive towards restoration and obedience to the whole counsel of YHWH in matters of faith, marriage, and community. Let us return to YHWH. Let us return to His ways. Let us return to the garden and find the original man and woman of shalom. May the two become One.

“Who is this, shining forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun” — but formidable as an army marching under banners?

Come back, come back, girl from Shulam (shalom, peace, safety, fullness, complete)! Come back, come back to where we can see you! What will you see in the Shulamite? As it were the dance of two army camps.

 (Song of Songs 6:10,13)

This series was originally meant to be only seven parts. However, due to the the many inquiries I get about this series, its popularity, and my continued studies, I’ve decided to add more posts to The Biblical role of Women. There is SO much more! 🙂

Here is Part VIII.

 

 


 

 

[1] Some examples:  Rom. 16:20, 1 Cor. 6:16; 11:9; 11:12; 15:22, 2 Cor. 4:6; 11:3, 1 Tim. 2:13-14; 4:3-4.

[2] Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:8-12

[3] Jer. 31:8-21

[4] Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner.

[5] Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10

[6] A covered wedding canopy. The covering is usually a large prayer shawl (tallit).

[7] Ps. 45:9

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The Biblical Role of Women Part VI

Role of Women Main Page 

Please see Part I, II, III, IV, and V for the best context.

Ruth

There is only one woman in the Bible that is specifically called an eshet chayil. That woman is Ruth, the Moabitess. If it has been a while since you’ve read the book of Ruth, please take the time right now to read its four short chapters. This will refresh your mind about the context of her extraordinary life.

“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence (eshet chayil). (Ruth 3:11)

The book of Ruth may be a small book, but it has great significance for people of faith. There are many thematic nuggets we could explore within its few pages. The following list is only a sample.

  • Integrity & Kindness
  • Protection & Prosperity
  • Repentance & Redemption
  • The Feast Cycle (harvests)
  • Torah of Widows/Poor & Kinsmen Redeemer
  • Torah for Strangers/Sojourners (They also are in Covenant)
  • The Lineage of King David & Messiah Yeshua
  • Blessings over Children
  • Return from Exile & Restoration
  • Allusions to Wedding Feast of the Lamb

Ruth-Wordled-ESVWith all these rich themes, is it any wonder that the Book of Ruth is read during YHWH’s feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)? Creation Gospel students will recognize the significance immediately: Shavuot falls on the central (main) branch of the menorah. As such, it encompasses the whole. Shavuot stands as the “servant” to all the other moedim (feasts). A careful read of Ruth will demonstrate this fullness. We will try to stay focused only on those themes that directly link Ruth to an Eshet Chayil. With so many treasures in this book, that is going to be difficult!

What’s in a Name? רוּת

The meaning of Ruth (Rut) is usually referred to as a friend. But, the Hebrew root for Ruth is the word for shepherd or to tend a flock. It has the idea of a neighbor or companion, often an intimate companion.

If we stop and consider Ruth’s story, we can deduce that she was indeed a shepherdess of Israel. It is her lineage that birthed King David and Messiah Yeshua, both of whom were notable shepherds. When we think of the relationship that a shepherd has with their sheep, this notion becomes even more apparent. A (good) shepherd guards, feeds, and leads their flock. They are willing to seek out the “lost” and they will fight against dangerous predators. This sounds like the traits of an ezer or an eshet chayil, does it not?

Ruth is the only woman to receive the title eshet chayil by name in scripture. She received this designation BEFORE she was a mother and while she was a poor destitute widow, and a stranger (alien) in Israel. Ruth forsook her birth place and family to join with the God of Israel and His people. Once she made this commitment, she never wavered. Her diligence caught the attention of a wealthy relative — one that could change her and her mother-in-law’s life. That relative was Boaz. It was he that declared that Ruth was an eshet chayil.

RuthAndNaomiThe circumstances surrounding this encounter and proclamation however, are quite risqué. Naomi instructs Ruth in a secret seduction plan to attract Boaz. Both Ruth and Naomi were already aware that Boaz favored Ruth. This could be seen when Boaz told Ruth to only glean from his fields[1]. Naomi, the admitted bitter woman, wanted to secure the future of her beloved daughter-in-law. The favoritism that Boaz showed Ruth must have provoked Naomi’s heart to “push/guide”[2] Boaz to do the right thing—– offer them redemption.

ruth boaz2But Naomi’s plan was anything but orthodox. Ruth risked her reputation and future by approaching Boaz in the middle of the night. Her actions were a reversal of cultural norms. Ruth pursued Boaz. It is usually the man that pursues the woman, even in today’s world. Essentially, she got all dolled up and offered herself to Boaz in a secret proposal.

It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence –eshet chayil. (Ruth 3:8-11)

Boaz knew exactly what Ruth was asking of him. Perhaps he had already considered proposing to Ruth. However, what Naomi and Ruth did was courageous and Boaz knew it. This is why he calls her an eshet chayil. She was not only an upright woman in the eyes of the people and YHWH, but she was willingly to battle (in her own feminine way) for what she desired.

I believe Ruth’s brazenness only added fuel to the fire of Boaz’s growing fascination for her. He could clearly see her attentiveness in the care of her mother-in-law. It takes a special kind of woman to CHOOSE to care for a bitter person. He could also see her strong work ethic. She was driven and steadfast. These things revealed Ruth’s heart. And when Ruth came to Boaz in the night —— well, let’s just say that the depth of her passion was revealed. Boaz probably couldn’t wait to become her husband!

The very next day Boaz seeks out the one person who could thwart their plans — a kinsmen that was closer to Naomi by blood than he was. But when this other man discovers that he will not only have to redeem the land but also marry Ruth, he concedes to Boaz. I imagine that Boaz was rejoicing on the inside at this news.

ruth boazTake note of the process Boaz goes through to acquire Ruth. He scrupulously follows the Torah (instructions/law) of YHWH. In other words, unlike fallen Adam, Boaz puts YHWH before the woman. As much as he may desire her, he faithfully obeys the proper course of action. Boaz was functioning in his “redeemed” purpose. And by the looks of things, he had no problem with allowing Ruth to function in her purpose as ezer. He realized that he had found an eshet chayil!

An eshet chayil, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. (Pr. 31:10)

While all this is true, Ruth’s actions and intentions could be distorted very easily. Based on some carefully placed Hebrew idioms, there are those that have concluded that Ruth’s actions were anything but holy when she approached Boaz in the middle of the night. Was Ruth acting as a righteous woman or a harlot in this scene? There is a fine line to consider when it comes to discerning her role. Please ponder on the thoughts of Dr. Hollisa Alewine on this matter.

“Feet in Scripture are sometimes used as a euphemism for genitals. To lie with a man can also be used as a euphemism for intercourse. Spreading one’s skirt over a woman carries the same implication. Lest we think Ruth was inviting something improper, be assured that sometimes a foot is just a foot! The duality and ambiguity of the expressions is what is important because it inserts the question mark as to Ruth’s virtue. Boaz clearly vindicates her righteousness, and the people and elders at the gate affirm it.”[3]

The duality that Dr. Alewine brings up is an often overlooked theme in the Scriptures. There are many cases where the actions of a righteous person appear to be portraying the contrary. Generations before Boaz, Judah is placed in a similar situation with a woman from Canaan[4].

Ruth, Tamar, and Rahab

When Boaz was at the city gates before the elders claiming his right of redemption for Naomi and Ruth, the elders blessed Boaz’s obedience.

All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11-12)

The elders draw our attention back to Boaz’s forefather, Judah. What is so reflective about the people’s blessing is that Tamar, like Ruth, sought redemption from her kinsmen. But Judah refused to give her what was rightfully hers. If you will recall, Tamar had married two of Judah’s sons but they died before producing an heir. Judah promised his youngest son to Tamar when he came of age. However, when the time came, Judah didn’t keep his promise. Tamar ended up tricking or manipulating Judah to get him to do what he should have done all along: obey God’s Word.

tmarTamar accomplished her kinsmen redemption by deceiving Judah. She dressed up as a prostitute and seduced him. Later, when Judah learned she was pregnant, he wanted to have her burned alive. However, when she proved that Judah was the father of her growing womb —- he declared her more righteous than himself. As a result, Tamar secured the lineage of the Tribe of Judah. It is through the line of Tamar’s firstborn, Perez, that Boaz, Oved, Jesse, David, and eventually the Mashiach (Messiah) would come.

It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah. (Gen. 38:27-30)

Thus far, we have uncovered two women in the ancestry of Mashiach (Messiah) that have questionable identities. And the book of Ruth points to both. This dichotomy between a harlot and a righteous woman runs deeper still. There is another harlot/righteous woman in Mashiach’s line: Rahab.

rahabRahab was an Amorite of the city of Jericho. She was an innkeeper and a supposed prostitute that had heard great stories about the God of Israel. When the Israeli spies came to her city, she placed her allegiance with them and YHWH by helping the spies escape safely. When the Israelites came back to take Jericho, she let down a scarlet cord from her window. The men of Israel recognized this sign and she and her family were spared. They joined Israel as sojourners. Later, Rahab marries an Israelite named Salmon, who became the father of Boaz[5].

Now we have found three women connected to the Book of Ruth and the Messiah that appeared to be doing the actions of a harlot. Yet, we know that in the end they are each really righteous. Since we have already explored this same dichotomy of a harlot and a righteous woman (wisdom) in the Book of Proverbs, a question arises.

What is YHWH teaching us in this duality? Dr. Alewine has this to say:

“Because the Revelation harlot is a woman, and perhaps because it is too easy to dismiss a troublesome woman with bad names or a bad reputation, we would do well to study the foundational roles of women in the Torah. Sometimes a troublesome woman who appears to be a harlot is a virtuous woman [eshet chayil] led by the Holy Spirit, she guides [ezer] men who stray back into the straight path.”[6] [brackets and bolding are mine]

Stay tuned. In Part VII, I hope that we can bring all these revelations together and make them applicable to our lives today.

 


 

 

[1] Read all of Ruth 2.

[2] I hope you didn’t miss that these are the actions of an ezer and an eshet chayil.

[3] Alewine, Hollisa, PHD, The Scarlet Harlot & The Crimson Thread. London, KY: The Creation Gospel Publishing, 2012, p. 162.

[4] This is speaking of Tamar. Though the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that she was from Canaan, the majority of scholars and commentators deduce that this was indeed the case. Judah himself married a Canaanite woman and had a Canaanite friend. This and the fact that Judah was most likely residing in Canaan, all point to Tamar’s Canaanite ancestry. (Gen. 38)

[5] Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. (Mt. 1:5)

[6] Alewine, Hollisa, PHD, The Scarlet Harlot & The Crimson Thread. London, KY: The Creation Gospel Publishing, 2012, p. 54.

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