Emancipation in the Church?! Impossible! Doesn’t it say, ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.’? Yes it does (1. Cor. 14: 34)! This is 1. Tim. 2: 9 to 15:
 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
And doesn’t it say that a man shall rule over a woman? Yes again (Gen. 3: 16).
Doesn’t that mean there will never be emancipation in the Church?
No, it does not.
There can be emancipation in the Church!
Just because there was no emancipation in the Church at Paul’s time that does not mean there should not be emancipation in the Church today.
There are many different kinds of women today and there were many different kinds in the Ancient days. In the pre – historic days there was only one kind of woman. This one kind of woman developed into the ishah, the sarah, the kallah, the maidservant, the piylegesh, the zanah and the prophetess. Further there was the bethulah and the almah and, not to forget, the slave girl. Also there were Amazons and the tribe Rahab.
Not surprisingly there was no emancipation in the Church. There was no Church. But is there a reason for gender differences. Could it possibly be that one morning, a couple of guys woke up and decided to suppress all women?! How did it really come to this? Why do we have difficulties with emancipation, particularly with emancipation in the Church?
So let us look at all these different types of women in turn. Then we will have a sound foundation to think about the above Bible Verses. Maybe then we can have an understanding how we can have emancipation in the Church.
Now pre – historic women were the female adam.
Adam means mankind. God created adam in Gen. 1: 27, ‘So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.’ The word for man in this verse is adam. Adam does not have a plural form. It can mean man in general or mankind.
The word him in the middle part of the verse refers to this adam. It is important to understand that all nouns in Hebrew have a gender. This is so, even if there is no obvious reason. Torah, law is female. Adam is male and therefore the pronoun for this word in Hebrew is ‘he’. In English the pronoun for mankind is ‘it’! This word does not exist in Hebrew. So the best translation of this verse should be, ‘So God created mankind in his [own] image, in the image of God created he it; male and female created he them.’
So these were the first women. Gen. 2: 25, ‘And they were both naked, the man and his woman, and were not ashamed.’ (There is neither word for husband or wife in Hebrew.) Prov. 25: 2 says, ‘[It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter.’ Kings have found out that people have been on earth for about hundred to two hundred thousand years. The creation story was just something that a bunch of uneducated runaway slaves could understand.
So this was what women were like for the first hundred to two hundred thousand years of their existence. On the other hand people pursued emancipation only for about one hundred to one hundred and fifty years. That’s emancipation in the Church and outside!
These women were the important people
in pre – historic society because they created life. For some unknown reason, they brought forth small living human beings! They must have enjoyed tremendous respect for this. People even called them life, chavah, King James anglicised Eve (Gen. 3: 20). They were seen as goddesses. (See Speculations on the Birth of Isaac) So instead of emancipation in the Church, ewomancipation of men might have been a worthwhile pursuit. If equality would have been the aim, that is.
So when a tribe had been in an area and had eaten all the berries there, they moved on. They might have arrived at a place with some good looking berries. But they didn’t know these berries. Maybe these berries were holy to some god. Now if a person would eat of these berries, this god would smite this person in the guts. The person would be bent with pain, fall down and be no more! Somebody would have to try out whether these berries were holy or not.
So they did a scientific experiment. Aim: To find out whether the berries are holy to a god, who would smite someone who ate them. Equipment: Now whom would you select for this? One of these holy creatures who are able to bring forth new life? Or would you rather use one of these useless cuddly toys for night time?
The adam men protected the adam women
because the survival of the tribe depended on their childbearing. They were holy. So whenever someone had to do something dangerous it had to be a man! Men were hunting. When the tribe moved, men would go ahead through the thick bushes. Some god of the bush might kill a number of them. They would scream in pain and you could see the god escape through the leaves. They would have two small holes in one of their feet! But it didn’t help. The tribe had to move. They just tried to protect the women.
When there was fighting, men had to do it. Imagine a tribe of hundred couples. The men go out to fight and ninety – nine die, but one escapes. This one man still could have hundred children each year. Some would die due to diseases, some in hunting accidents, others by raids of other tribes. However, after one generation, the tribe would get back to the population of one – hundred couples. If, on the other hand, the hundred women would have gone into battle and ninety – nine would have died, only one escaped, the tribe would be dead. They could only have one child per year and taking into account diseases and other causes of early death that tribe had no chance of survival!
Now at some stage
women actually found out what made them pregnant. The chapter ‘The Original Sin’ in Greetings from Paradise discusses this incident in great detail. The consequence was that men now saw themselves as the creators of life. They thought that the gooey substance that comes from the penis was an early form of the complete child. After all the gooey substance inside a chicken egg would develop into a chicken. So most likely the gooey substance from the penis would develop into a complete newborn baby. Only the man had to insert this gooey substance properly into a woman. Women from then on were seen as empty containers. Nobody thought that they would have any hereditary influence on the child!
From then on the former goddesses were degraded to empty vessels. Men, however, became very concerned with the question of fatherhood. Is the child of this woman, my child? That’s what they wanted to know. They ensured this knowledge by forcing the woman to wear a head dress and to castrate some men. They would tell those eunuchs to watch that nobody would touch that woman while they were out. This woman was the ishah. Her owner kept her from all outside influence.
From then on emancipation became an issues, even, if not emancipation in the Church.
So let’s look at those two kinds of women,
the adam woman and the ishah, in the light of emancipation in the church. Society protected women. Men had to do the dangerous tasks. So men had to develop their own language over the hundred to two hundred thousand years of their existence. Today we would call this a language of military precision. When they were out hunting or fighting communication had to be quick and accurate. If it failed someone would die! Men dealt with the outside world!
Women on the other hand dealt with men. Whenever a woman wanted something she talked to a man. The man might say no the first time. But if the woman kept asking and charming or annoying the man, he might give in. If the woman failed in the purpose of her communication nobody would die. And she still could try again, even with a different man! This difference in language and use of language was engrained into the different genders over hundreds of millennia! On the other hand people pursued emancipation only for about one century!
Emancipation only became possible by the great advances in medicine of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And from then on emancipation in the Church would have been possible also. Up to then women were birthing machines. If a child would get sick, the parents would say some prayers. If this didn’t help they just had to replace the child with another one.
There were other reasons
why emancipation in the Church and outside the Church was impossible. Warfare was quite common. In the old days well into the Vietnam War heroism meant death defiance! How did an army take a city taken in Ancient Times? They might besiege it. However often attackers just ran up with battering rams and ladders to climb the wall. Meanwhile the defenders would shoot arrows at them, throw stones or boiling oil down the wall. So the strength of the warriors did not decide the battle. It was decided on whether the attackers had more warriors or whether the defenders had more materials to throw at them. Heroism meant to die so that the defenders would use up their materials on killing you. Then others after your death might take the city, if there were sufficient men left.
Therefore it was very important that every woman in the country was pregnant at all times. There was no room for emancipation or emancipation in the Church. Even in the World Wars of the last century commanders just threw men into situations in which they were certain to die. How would you take a machine gun stand? You fire guns into the direction and maybe bomb from the air. But then someone will scream, ‘Attack!’ Then two hundred young healthy men would jump out of the trench and run at the machine gun stand.
If the gun attacks or the air raids
had wiped out the defenders everything went well. But if not these two hundred young men would be dead within the next sixty seconds. They were running into machine gun fire. So what then? Take another two hundred young men, scream, ‘Attack,’ and out of the trench they jump. Sixty seconds later all of them are dead. Again the battle is decided on the fact whether the attackers have more healthy young men or the defenders have more ammunition! Every woman in the country must be pregnant at all times. No emancipation, no emancioation in Church.
Heroism is to run into the machine gun fire. It does not have to do with personal strength. Being small is an advantage. When random bullets and shrapnel is flying around, smaller people offer less of a target! Modern women claim the right to decide over their own body whether to become pregnant or not. This right is equivalent for a man to decide whether to go to war! Today most Western Nations have volunteer forces. However the Allied countries drafted young men into the Vietnam War. Also there was and still is general draft in other Western Countries after that.
The Vietnam War
was a turning point in attitudes towards warfare. In this war parents wanted a reason for risking their sons’ lives and the loss of their sons. The military answer was to refer to the kill ratios. In most battles more Vietcong warriors died than Allied soldiers. The American public did not receive this answer well. So from then on the US used their superiority in the air to fight wars with very few casualties. And they are very reluctant today to engage in combat on the ground in the Middle East.
The Roman army had a similar technical superiority at the height of the Empire. And there were powerful women at that time! There probably were other armies able to minimise casualties through technical advantage. The success of the Assyrian Empire may well be due to the superiority of its weapons made from iron. Iron weapons would break bronze weapons in combat!xxxhere
Now about six thousand years ago
the adam woman diversified into several women. The scriptural evidence for their existence is in Greetings from Paradise. Some even have their own chapter in the book.
The first new type of woman was the ishah. King James translated this word as woman or wife. There is no real word for wife in Ancient Hebrew, neither is there a word for husband. The most common word which King James translated as husband is baal. This can mean lord or owner. It can refer to the owner of an ox.
Ishah really means flame or fire. The word occurs for the first time in Gen. 2. God had said in verse 18 that ‘[It is] not good that the man (adam) should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.’ Therefore God made all kinds of animals. He brought them to the man and the man named them. But, verse 20, there was not found an help meet for him. Then God made the man sleep, took one of his ribs and made it into a woman, an ishah. About this woman the man said, ‘This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman (ishah), because she was taken out of Man (ish).’
The word ish occurs here for the first time also. It is a male form of the word ishah. Did the adam call her ishah, flame or fire, because he was burning with desire for her? Was there strong feeling for close relatives? In the Gilgamesh Epic the hero said about his lovers that they were like sister or mother to him. Anyway, the word ishah preceded the word ish in Genesis.
The Original Sin
Flame of desire seems to be the original meaning of this word. However in the next chapter, Gen. 3, the Original Sin occurred. The chapter named ‘the Original Sin’ in Greetings from Paradise explains this sin. It was eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This knowledge must have been the realisation how women get pregnant. God’s punishment to the woman in Gen. 3: 16 was, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; ….’ The Hebrew word for ‘and’ implies that God connected sorrow to conception by this curse. In other words the ishah shall never again be able to engage in this most pleasurable of all touches without thinking of pregnancy and childbirth! That was God’s punishment!
Since then the status of the ishah changed considerably. Before the recognition of the Knowledge, people saw her nearly as a goddess! This was because she could create life! Now that people falsely realised that the man puts the child into a woman, this changed. The Ancients thought the gooey substance from the penis was an early form of the complete child. Therefore people saw the ishah as an empty container and not as a goddess anymore.
To be an ishah was an honour.
The ishah was the mother of the heir and she hoped for special treatment. She was special to her owner and special to her son who would inherit her.
For her owner to inseminate her with an heir, she first had to become a bethulah. She probably had to wear a head dress in public and she would not consort with men. The bloody cloths she wore during her periods were her bethulim, her proof of being a bethulah. King James translated bethulah as virgin. However the essay Virginity explains that the modern meaning of this is quite different. A bethulah was not a woman who never had had sex before. She was a woman who was not pregnant!
Rich or influential men could afford one or more sarahs. King James translated this usually with princess, except when he referred to Abraham’s woman. A sarah was a good looking strong woman who would bear strong children, if inseminated by a strong man. This strong man could be the owner himself. It could also be a sar, King James translated prince. The Pharaoh of Egypt had sars (Gen. 12: 15). Children brought forth by these women would become warriors or important court officials. One of them would become king after the king. In Ancient times the new king was not always the biological son of the previous king! Gilgamesh, for example, would not have known which of the boys of his city were actually his.
An ishah also was a kallah.
King James translated daughter in law. This is not entirely correct. A kallah was a young woman. The chathan of her tribe was her owner. This may have been her father. The task of the Chathan was to trade girls with the chathans from other tribes. This was a custom which throughout the centuries must have caused less children with birth defects due to incest. King James translated the word chathan as father in law. The chathan would allocate a young girl which he had traded or bought to a young man of his tribe. The Ancients were breeding people!
Apart from these women there were the maidservant and the piylegesh. The maidservant could belong to a woman. Jacob made the maidservants of his ishahs pregnant on their request of the ishah! (Gen. 30: 3 & 9) The word for wife in verse 9 is ishah.
The piylegesh or concubine (Latin to sleep with) belonged to a man. She was good for pleasure and her owner would invite his guests to enjoy her favours. Her children would be slaves. They would belong to her owner, not to her. Her owner might use them for labour or he might sell them as slaves.
was a temple servant of a goddess of love and war. These had sex with anyone who would come to the temple. Their daughters would be temple servants again, their sons would belong to the king. They might become warriors or slaves depending on their ability. These goddesses were goddesses of love and war. Love, because their servants would make love with anybody. War, because they brought forth many warriors for the king. These warriors were unattached. They had no parents to look after and for sex they would go to the temple. Even if they knew who their children were, they did not need to provide for them. The king did that. These warriors could be daring in battle.
King James translated zanah as harlot, meaning prostitute. Certainly the visitors to the temple brought gifts and food. But they did that at all temples they visited, even the temple of God. In 1. Sam. 2 a man of God prophesied doom for Eli, the priest. He foretells that both the priest’s sons shall die and God will establish a new faithful priest. Verse 36, ‘And it shall come to pass, [that] every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.’ That’s how every priest made his living. So did the zanahs.
may have been to God what the zanah was to other goddesses. The Ancients believed that the feeling of sexual pleasure was a sign of the presence of God (see Where Did Abraham’s Servant Put His Hand? Sex in Honour of God or The Name of God) The chapter Ecstasy in Greetings from Paradise deals with prophesy in general. Prophets were beside themselves. The New Testament calls it speaking in tongues. These people gave over their bodies to God. God took control of it, they had lost control. That is why people held sex to be a divine activity. Also they saw epileptics as holy. Since the epileptic had no control of his body, who did? The Ancient answer was God or a god or goddess. Julius Caesar was an epileptic and this gained him much respect with Cleopatra.
Now there were the Amazons. Strabo in his Geography 11 5 mentioned the mountains of Albania or the Caucasian mountains as possible homes of the Amazons. Mountains are easy to defend with little loss of human life. However, in the long run these fighting women died out.
Strabo reported that the Amazons lived in the vicinity of a normal tribe of men who owned their women. These were the Gargarians. Once a year Gargarian men and Amazons would meet following an ‘ancient custom’. They sacrificed together, meaning they met for dinner, and they had intercourse with each other at random. Strabo wrote, in darkness and secrecy, any Gargarian with any Amazon. Female children the Amazons would keep for themselves, boys they sent away to the Gargarians.
The tribe Rahab
may have been a similar tribe of women living amongst the Israelites. Only they might not have been fighting women. Josh. 2 reports that the spies whom Joshua had sent into Jericho lodged at a harlot’s, a zanah’s, house. Later in chapter 6 this woman is saved from the general slaughter. It is remarkable that the scripture does not find this type of accommodation offensive. Neither did the Scripture criticise Judah for having sex with a prostitute (Gen. 38: 15 to 18).
There are scholars who believe that the story of the zanah Rahab was an explanation. It explained the existence of a tribe of women living amongst the Israelites. Did these women have sex with random Israelites? Did they ask rewards for the pleasure? If they had sex with them, they most likely kept the girls they would bear. The sons they might either give away, as Strabo reported of the Amazons, or they might sell them as slaves.
There was the almah. The Gesenius Dictionary says it means a girl in puberty, a nubile girl. It does not mean virgin or even unpossessed.
The slave girl together with all other women except the ishah enjoyed complete sexual freedom. If she would get pregnant, all the better, her master would get another slave.
Now this was the situation in Israel before Jesus.
These were the rules. Would there be room for emancipation in the Church? Well prophetesses probably were more powerful than most men. Maybe the sexual suppression of ishahs led them to be depressed. Some might have appeared as if obsessed by evil spirits or devils. Maybe Jesus healed some of those. Could sexual repression be the reason for depression amongst young people in the Western World today? Young people feeling they should wait to their mid – twenties to have sex in marriage. They might never admit in counselling that that is their reason for discontent. They might not even be aware of this.
In any event, at Jesus time there were no Christian rules valid in the Roman Empire. Palestine and Jerusalem belonged to that empire. Christianity was not the ruling Religion as Judaism was in Judah. Christianity was a religion of lower class people and slaves.
So when Paul said (1. Tim. 2: 11 & 12), ‘Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.’ he spoke about lower class women, slave girls.
There is even evidence that in Christian communities women were bringing up children in common. Maybe their fathers were not even known. Tit. 2: 4 gives instructions to older women how to treat younger ones. It says, ‘That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.’ This is according to King James. He obviously did not translate the Greek text word for word. This would render, ‘That they may sober up (or maybe calm down) young menlovers to be childrenlovers!’ In other words, the Christian communities might have lived like pre – historic people. The community protected women and their task was child bearing. From this verse it seems that there were no one on one couples! They might have brought up their children in common. The above verse is just a reminder not to forget the duties towards children.
If this was not so, how could a man become a martyr? He would make his woman and his children suffer. In Christian society women must have brought up their children in common. Only then could a man give his life for a noble cause.
Could there have been emancipation in the Church? Well, there have been female martyrs!
There is an Ancient Poem, ‘Gilgamesh and the Land of the Living’. In it the hero Gilgamesh intended to travel to this land. He wanted to fell cedars there. However there was a monster, Huwawa, who protected the forest. Gilgamesh asked for fifty volunteers to accompany him. He began, ‘Who has a house, to his house! Who has a mother, to his mother! Let single males who would do as I, fifty, stand at my side.’ Men who risk their lives must be unattached! The chapter ‘Living with the Sin’ in Greetings from Paradise discusses the life of Gilgamesh in great detail.
Martyrs and Apostles didn’t have sex? Yes, they did! Even the Apostles Had Sex!
So in Paul’s society women still were like the adam women. Would there have been emancipation in the Church? The community protected women from contact outside the community. That’s why there was no emancipation in the Church. That’s why he said, ‘I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man.’ It is not a command which God gave valid for all times. Today women can get an education. They can act as men. Women can take part in scientific, factual discussions. They even can become high ranking military commanders. And they should be able to become priestesses. Today there can be emancipation in the Church!
However some women like protection.
There are women who don’t want emancipation. They don’t want emancipation in the Church. A woman can have a nice life, if she has a husband who treats her well. And if he doesn’t, she has legal means in today’s society. Why wouldn’t a woman try to find a nice husband and be a classical house wife? Working life is hard. It is hard for women and it is hard for men. The same applies to top jobs. They are hard to get for women, they are hard to get for men also.
In education in Western Society girls have no disadvantages compared to boys today. And in the workforce they have advantages. Men still feel protective for them. And equal opportunity policies give women advantages in employment. We must not forget that quite a number of women still choose to be housewives. So the numbers in the workforce should not be equal. Emancipation in the Church cannot mean that half of all priest are priestesses.
Also there is no women’s way to work.
To work women must be e – man – cipated. They cannot act like women. This is very obvious in the military. In the military women must communicate with short, sharp, military commands, giving and obeying immediately. In the combat situation there would be fatal consequences, if a woman would act the women’s way! Women can take part in this male way successfully. However one does not expect half of all soldiers to be women.
If women can be emancipated there, then there should be emancipation in the Church. Women can pick up the necessary qualities to become priestesses. However one would not expect that half of all priests would be priestesses.
There are, however, jobs were consequences of failure are less severe than in the military. Education is one of these. One might ask the question whether the excessive employment of non emancipated women in education today is not one major reason why our children do not learn what we have learned in a male dominated education system?
Would there be world peace, if women would rule the world? To be a ruler in today’s world women will act like men. They must be e – man – cipated. Look at Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, or Tansu Çiller. Is the German refuge policy due to the fact that Angela Merkel is a woman? Or maybe that she is a Christian?
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.