This might hurt a bit, ladies, but the Bible reflects a culture in which women didn’t really have full rights as people. They were not even considered reliable witnesses in legal matters. Often when you read an account of a crowd in the Bible, you will just be given the number of men in the crowd. (This can make the event even more amazing when you add in women and children. See Matthew 14:19-21, for example). Basically, in Bible times, men were trained for farming, hunting, and fighting in wars. Women typically tended the children and cared for the needs of the home.
There were exceptions, though. Deborah was a judge (Judges 4:4). Miriam was a worship leader (Exodus 15:20). Anna was a prophetess (Luke 2:36).
When you understand the typical role of women in the ancient world, then you understand how revolutionary Jesus’ life and ministry were. He honored women as people (John 4:7-9). He allowed them to minister alongside Him and even support Him in His ministry (Luke 8:1-3). Today, when women still struggle against gender stereotypes, Jesus’ style would be refreshing. In the time in which He lived, it was downright radical!
By Carol Smith
Quicknotes Bible Guidebook, Barbour Publishing, Inc. (c) 2007