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Studies on the Women of the Bible
Davis W. Huckabee
God has created all things, and we have many of these things detailed for us in the Book of Genesis. But of all the many wonderful and varied things that He has made for the good and convenience and help of man, can anyone think of a greater invention than that of Woman? It is this writer’s humble opinion that the greatest of all God’s inventions is that of the Woman. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him,” (Gen. 2:18). And the details of this are given in the verses that follow, which will be considered in due time.
There are many mysteries about the human constitution and by far the majority of these were not even suspected until very recent times, nor has science even come close to exhausting this knowledge in our advanced and technological age. Indeed, much of modem science compounds human ignorance concerning the constitution of man. And this is especially so in regard to the interrelationship of the genders. Too often this ignorance is of the same nature as that of Professor Henry Higgins, who said of Eliza Doolittle, “Why can’t a woman think like a man?” The answer is, Because they are divinely constituted different from one another, even though they have a common origin. Men and women were never meant to be identical in constitution. God purposefully made the two genders radically different in several ways.
In regard to the two genders of mankind, some basic truths must be established. First, “man’ as used in the creation account is not a sexist designation, for the proper name Adam and “man” translate the same Hebrew word for a human being without regard to gender. Radical feminists, in their neuroticism, raise their hackles at every mention of the word “man” yet this is the Divine designation for both genders. “So God created man (Hebrew adam) in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” (Gen. 1:27). Different Hebrew words such as ish, enosh and adam, the most common ones, and other, less common words, describe the human being, depending upon the aspect of the individual being emphasized.
Second, ish is used commonly in regard to the marital relationship of a man to a woman, and the derivation of ‘woman” from this is shown in Genesis. 2:23. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman (Hebrew isha ), because she was taken out of Man (Hebrew Ish).” The New Testament gives a commentary on this in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12. “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman is of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” Verse 10 relates to the length of the hair in each case as was established immediately before this, (vv. 3-7), and it is this that is given in place of a veil, as shown in verse 15, where the common word for substitution (Greek anti) is used. This is the same Greek word used in Matthew 20:28 of the Lord’s substitutionary death for His people. Will anyone dare say that His death was not sufficient, but that man must add something, as some say that an artificial covering must be added to the woman’s hair?
Nor was she called Woman because, as one bitter man observed, she would henceforth be a Woe to the man. Granted, some women fall into this class, but probably a lot oftener the man is a curse to the unfortunate woman that marries him more than she is to him. Creation of the first woman was an act of great goodness toward the man, as we read in verse 18, for God has committed Himself to make it so that marriage to a fitting woman obtains the favor of God, as we are told in Proverbs 18:22. “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.”
Third, the word “meet” (it is not helpmeet, as sometimes said) requires some study. The following, as will be true of other material in this study, is taken from the author’s BIBLICAL STUDIES ON SEX, including STUDIES ON THE HOME AND FAMILY, (p. 11). The meaning of this phrase in the original language suggests that it would be better punctuated “help, meet for him,” for the Hebrew means “as over against him,” “according to his front presence,” (Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Commentary). Or, “like him,” “as agreeing to him,” “his counterpart,” (Albert Barnes Commentary,) or “suitably corresponding to him.” The thought is that just as God created men and women physically different so that they would fit together, so He created them to fit together psychologically, mentally and in other ways as well. The phrase suggests that man is incomplete without the woman, and the woman is incomplete without the man, but they complement and complete one another, each filling out what is lacking in the other, so that only together do they truly become “one.” God created the woman out of the man, hence, she is an extension of him. 1 Corinthians 11:8 says, “The man is not of the woman [originally]; but the woman of the man” [by extension]. And when a man and woman are united in marriage, they become one, and so they complete the cycle. It is clear from this that men and women were created, not to compete with one another but rather to complete one another. So says 1 Corinthians 11:11. Neither can be independent of the other. It is a divisive tactic of Satan to set the two genders at odds to one another and to try to make them adversaries. Granted, this is the case in a lot of marriages, but that is only because the couples have allowed themselves to become tools of the god of this world instead of servants of God. Marriage makes a man and a woman one in God’s sight and indivisible by human authority, (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:14-16; Matt. 19:6).
Fourth, several famous people have spoken of this in ways that go back at least to the 1700’s if not before. The London Baptist preacher John Gill in his commentary on Genesis had the following to say but implied that it was not original with him.
It is commonly observed, and pertinently enough, that the woman was not made from the superior part of man, that she might not be thought to be above him, and have power over him. Nor from any inferior part, as being below him, and to be trampled on by him. But out of his side, and from one of his ribs, that she might appear to be equal to him. And from a part near his heart, and under his arms, to show that she should be affectionately loved by him; and be always under his care and protection.
Though in ancient times, and in some parts of the world today, women were not treated as they should be, but were considered little above cattle, this finds no justification in God’s sight Man’s natural egotism always wants to feel superior, and so he directs his pride to exalt itself over others, often even over the members of his own family—yea, even over wife of his bosom. This attitude is condemned by 1 Corinthians 11:11.
Fifth, the creation of the woman was to have a stabilizing effect upon the man, as Adam realized, and as is suggested by Genesis 2:23-24. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh? When a man takes a wife, if he has any sense of responsibility at all he realizes that a new family unit has been created, and that he is to have loyalties to his wife superceding all others. He is henceforth obligated by God to protect, provide for and perpetuate his family, and this cannot be done by a self-centered flit-about butterfly playboy.
Tragically sometimes misguided parents endeavor to insert a wedge between a married couple in order to keep a strangle hold on an adult child. This is always a sin against God’s will as well as against the child. The unity between husband and wife is not to be broken by anyone for it is of the nature of a covenant, (Mal. 2:14-16), as is emphasized by the Lord Himself in Matt. 19:4-6 and by Paul in Ephesians 5:31. Those utterly selfish parents that try to do this often justify their actions by claiming the need for “family loyalty,” but they betray their ignorance of the Bible’s teachings on family loyalty. The Divine order of such is first, Loyalty to the family of God, which is to supercede all other loyalties, as Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Then, Loyalty to the marital family. Next, there must be Loyalty to one’s church family, which is to supercede loyalty to one’s blood relations if need be. And only then, after all these, does Loyalty to one’s parental family come in. Nor is there any need for this order to work any hurt to anyone so long as those in each category do not selfishly try to make itself exclusive over all others that have prior rights. Someone has very wisely said that every father is raising his daughter for another man, and every mother is raising her son for another woman. That is part of God’s great purpose and woe be to any father or mother that sets his or her will against this just to control an adult child.
Sixth, the creation of the woman for the man was to create a strong family unit that could stand against the many and varied assaults that the world and its Ruler would bring in attempts to corrupt the holy influence of the home. A husband and wife may be a formidably strong force when united, as is implied in the general statement in Ecclesiastes 5:9-12. One of the great tragedies of our day is that many women have forsaken the lofty place of influence that they formerly maintained by living lives of high ideals. Too many have lowered themselves to the ungodly levels of utterly selfish men that are dominated only by the desire for momentary satisfaction without commitment by taking up living together without benefit of marriage. Many have characterized couples living together without benefit of marriage as, Why buy a cow when one has free milk without any cost or commitment.
The Bible records many instances of the interrelationship of men and women, in some instances where high moral principles were maintained and in other instances where right principles were forsaken for momentary selfish gratification. And in every instance there was manifested the consequences of breaking God’s Law of “Whatsoever a man (Greek anthropos—human being without regard to gender) soweth, that shall he also reap,” (Gal. 6:7). See an expansion of this law in Proverbs 1:24-33. Thus, because they are objects of great desire by men, women need to be guided by high ideals, for thereby they will tend to stabilize and even to uplift their men by their examples. But when a woman compromises on right principles in order to please a man, it will not be profitable for either one in the long run, for both will reap the solemn consequences of violating the Law of God. It is not enough that there are two consenting adults that make this decision; this is not enough, for it requires three consenting persons, for unless God consents to such an arrangement, it is sin, and is under God’s judgment. Sadly many people live totally pagan lives then wonder why God’s curses their lives.
Seventh, “one flesh” is correctly taken to refer initially to the sexual union, but this does not exhaust its application, for the physical union is only meant to be outward symbol of the entire unity of the pair, physical, psychological, mental, moral, social and spiritual. Ideally, there should be a complete harmony between husband and wife. But let not this be misunderstood to refer to a total identity between the two. Such would not be wise, nor would it be in harmony with God’s purpose. There may be unity in diversity, as we see in many areas of life. Someone once wisely said that if two people are exactly alike in a relationship, one of them is unnecessary. It is generally recognized by any discerning person that men and women are “wired up differently” for this is necessary for both of them to fulfill their Divine purpose in life. Therefore, the macho man that expects his wife to think and act “like a man” is going to rob himself of many blessings, for woman was created to be a help that corresponds to man’s needs, as the man should correspond to her needs. Both of them are to fill out what is lacking in the other so that together they become “one”—unified in fulfilling the purpose that God has for both of them.
Eighth, the creation of the woman was not done at the instigation of Adam, for he was not aware of the emptiness of his life without a marital partner. No! It was God that took the initiative in this creation, and He did so in pursuance of His own purpose for His second highest creation. Angels are apparently God’s highest creation since it is said of Christ in His incarnation that “He was made a little while lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9; literal rendering). But whether a man and a woman attain to the high purpose of God for them will be dependent upon whether they are governed by right principles in their marriage.
Someone once wrote a book entitled “Duel or Duet?” which suggests that marriage can be characterized either by constant warfare, or by beautiful harmony. Alas but it is true that it is too often the former. John MacArthur has suggested six Scriptural reasons for marriage as follows. 1. Procreation, (Gen. 1:28). (2) Pleasure, (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:1ff). (3) Purity, (1 Cor. 7:2). (4) Provision, (Eph. 5)—(Man is to provide security and caring). (5) Partnership, (Gen. 2:18). “Help, meet for him.” (6) Picture, (Eph. 5):— (The marriage relation pictures Christ and the Church in a sense.) It is sad but true that too many people think that the purpose of marriage encompasses only one or two of these, and so, they do not work at making the marriage and home what it should be and what it could be. And this failure is at the root of many divorces and the resulting destruction of the family involved.
There is an extensive description of the ideal woman in Proverbs 31:10-31. She is called a “virtuous” (Hebrew chayil) woman, but this word is rendered by 29 terms of various signification. The most common renderings suggest multiplicity such as “army” “host” etc. This has led some commentators to think that the idea in the word is that she is characterized by a multiplicity of good abilities—that she excels in all directions. This would be in harmony with the many things said in the verses following about her talents. Unfortunately there are not many excellent women of this character, which led Solomon, who had known a lot of women to make the rather sarcastic statement of Ecclesiastes 7:27-28. “Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: which yet my soul seeketh but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.”
A great deal of Solomon’s problem was of his own making, for it is recorded of him that he entered into union with a thousand different women, (1 Kings 11:1-4). In our day sociologists and others that have made a study of the matter have found that the so-called “Playboy philosophy” is self-defeating. For the more a man flits from one woman to another, the less likelihood he has of ever being able to establish a long-term relationship with any woman. That is to be expected for God never intended his human creatures to engage in such utterly selfish behavior as the Playboy philosophy glorifies. Now as with all other sins, God’s grace is able to overcome this,(1 Cor. 6:9-11), but most people that adopt this philosophy consider the grace of God a deadly poison, and want no part of it, and so, cut themselves off from the only remedy .
And another difference between the two of them: Eve sinned as an individual only, her sin affecting no one but herself, while Adam sinned as both the representative and natural head of the whole race, his sin making sinners of all his descendents to the end of time. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” (Rom. 5:12). This is the only explanation of universal sin in every nation and age.
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