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A Study on the Women of Ancient Israel: Their Ideal Values and Functional Roles as Religious Agents

장대규 1

1침례신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to articulate religious/cultic functional roles and values of ancient Israelite women in their socio-cultural and religious context that made contribution to their society. The methodology of this article utilizes a functional approach to reveal women performing functional roles in Ancient Israel. Israelite culture, although patrilineal, was not patriar- chal in the sense of men having control over females, male family heads having control over their wives and other family members, or of women being subservient, despite some biblical texts or features of biblical languages that seem to imply this. The social reality of ancient Palestine confirms that authority does not necessarily coincide with power. As collections of Israelite poetry span the nation's entire ancient Israelite history, Proverbs presents woman's value not judged in terms of her sexua- lity, but on the basis of her business acumen and industrious work. The valued sociological functions of women are family educators and wise household-builders. In Proverbs, a woman is the source of life for the house- hold and community, not as a childbearer, but in a socio-cultural and religious sense of life. Although the Old Testament highlights public male leaders, it also speaks of women who figured occasionally in public religious roles: judge, prophet, wise woman, singer/dancer, keener, door attendant at the meeting tent, necroman- cer, consecrated woman, weaver of clothing for divine images, and Queen Mother who made a covering for the "asherah." Women were important and respected in their public religious roles in Israelite society. Biblical texts give various cultic examples of women, both positively and negatively, performing religious or magical activities in the context of their normal domain, the household. Thus, biblical texts, Aramaic incantation from Nippur, and Ugaritic legendary AQHT give women's ideal social-cultural and religious values as well as various examples of women positively performing religious activities as religious agents in their houses.

Citation status

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