What Is Biblical Womanhood?

What Is Biblical Womanhood?

What does “Biblical womanhood” look like to you? When you hear those words, what comes to mind?

Do you picture a woman tucking her kids into bed, cleaning her sink? Maybe you see the Proverbs 31 lady rising before dawn.

Maybe Jesus shows you a picture of yourself, right where you are, in the very spot and season that you’re in.

The picture you see might be heavily influenced by the denomination you grew up in or the current culture you find yourself in now.

The image of a devoted, Christian woman is unique and subjective to each person, right?

I am a homemaker. I don’t have a profession outside the home; I raise children and homeschool them and make sure they have happy, full bellies and hearts.

To some, that image may be their view of biblical womanhood. We say prayers at bedtime, I read my children bedtime stories, I teach them about the heart of Jesus etc. I make a safe, cozy home for the next generation.

On the flip side of this coin, I have a friend. She is not in a season of her life where she wants to have kids or be married. She is a “career women” being used in incredible ways in the field God placed her in. She loves the Lord and serves Him at her church and loves her community hard.

Is she a Christian woman in right standing with the Lord?

Who gets to decide that?

I’m seeing a trend in faith-based media that worries me.

I love being a wife, and I love being a mom, so please hear my heart in that. I just don’t believe those are the only callings God has in life for women.

If a woman is led to be a stay at home mom, I absolutely stand behind her. Obviously, that’s my life!

But if God has designed a woman with the aspects needed to be a brain surgeon, who are we to say that’s not what the Lord wants her to do?

Or, is this only a topic for debate if the job isn’t white collar, but is ministry focused instead?

Is it fine for a woman to work outside the home for a noble cause, just not leading a ministry? Is it okay to save a man from cancer but not lead him to Christ?

Just this week I read an article in the New Yorker about evangelical women in their “linen sundresses.” I won’t lie, I do love a good sundress!

What an observation of current Christian social trends right now, they sure do have us pegged haha… Linen and wicker and thrifting, oh my!

Listen, if linen dresses are how you outwardly express your femininity, that’s wonderful and should be enjoyed.

But in no way does that make professional suit pants and a sharp blouse any less feminine. Or the Carhartt another woman wears to care for her livestock.

In light of eternity, none of that matters.

We need to stop anchoring womanhood to an aesthetic, because it goes far deeper than your fashion or home decorating style.

I’m seeing this Instagram glamorized homemaking image that does not serve all women that –hear me out– might lead to even more dissension in the Body of Christ.

Here’s why: You can be a devoted woman of God and work outside the home. You can love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and not be a mother.

Your worth in the Kingdom, your calling to “go forth and make disciples” will not look like everyone else’s. We MUST stop this glorification of personal preference or conviction to be the convictions of ALL women.

All of this *waves broadly at social media* does not define your womanhood.

That page you follow is someone’s life portrayed online, the captions are their opinions and perspective, their lifestyle might be something they enjoy or even something they’ve been called to do…

But if those pretty little squares and practiced-to-perfection reels make you doubt where the Lord has you– that’s a stumbling block, dare I say it.

I am seeing women bicker online about “well women shouldn’t do this, women can’t say that, here’s where God designed you to be” etc and truly, it makes me sick to my stomach.

“Well God may have called Deborah, but you’re not a Deborah.” Who is anyone to speak for the Almighty God and tell a woman her calling isn’t as powerful or huge as Deborah’s? Because it doesn’t look like your domestic view of womanhood, and that makes you uneasy?

Let me be the one to free you right now, someone else having a different calling or a different conviction to how they live does not mean your calling is wrong, and it doesn’t negate your personal convictions.

And if you feel uneasy or threatened that a woman is living differently than you and calling herself a Christian, that doesn’t mean she’s disobeying God; you need to take that to Jesus.

We waste time arguing about Scripture and context and translation and it is the resounding annoying sound of clanging cymbals.

We can nitpick Bible verses till we’re blue in the face, debate whether it was written to all of Christianity or a specific church, but is that going forth and making disciples?

Is that healing the sick and casting out demons?

I don’t recall any of Jesus’ dialogue at the end of Mark and Matthew being gendered. “These signs will accompany those who believe.”

People debate online about a few Bible verses about women, but neglect the many directives and statements made about the body of Christ that don’t differentiate male or female. It’s the Bride as a whole.

Scripture can be twisted and used for any agenda or perspective, but I wanted to throw a few things out there before I share the core of Biblical Womanhood.

Women were in the room during Pentecost.

“All these were continually united in prayer along with the women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.”  (Acts 1:14) When the day of Pentecost came “they were all together in one place.” The Spirit fell on all in the room.

When Peter stands before the crowd mocking them for speaking in tongues, he quotes Joel-

In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams.

Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will prophesy.

Still, I see other women downplaying the female prophets and ministers, telling women that they can’t “preach” because people take a few stories “out of context.” Yet they will also take a few verses out of context to make it seem completely unbiblical for women to lead ministries.

I have linked an indepth list of all the female prophets (Old and New Testament) by Marg Mowczko, a theologian with both a theology degree and a Masters specializing in jewish and Christian culture. You can read her full post on the female prophets here.

(When Paul listed ministries and spiritual gifts, he also did not mention gender. In fact, he writes about women prophesying in 1 Corinthians 11, and does not silence them. He is often misunderstood for being against women in ministry, but he knew several. You can read more about Paul’s writings + women here.)

We don’t gloss over the biblical stories of men with little detail and completely write off their worth or existence. So why do we invalidate the stories of church leaders like Phoebe, Lydia, or Junia, simply because their mentions are brief? (Just the beginning of the ladies I’d love to write about in this space.)

Paul often refers to people in his letters as diakonos, which translates to “brothers and sisters” and “servants” but also “ministers.” Paul also uses diakonos to refer to Phoebe in Romans! Same word he uses to refer to Timothy. Brothers and sisters in ministry.

Another female theologian I respect recently shared a post that checked my heart. She essentially said we get so hung up on female heros of the Bible that we aren’t paying enough attention to Jesus.

So while I share the names of female prophets and ministers in the Word, my heart behind it is this:

Women are feeding right into the divisive hands of the enemy by using platforms to argue and debate what a woman can do, rather than just focusing on pointing people to a Savior.

It’s all for naught if we aren’t showing people Jesus.

Ultimately, biblical womanhood is rooted in ministering to others and leading them to Jesus.

We are all in ministry, whether yours is a titled position in a church, raising the next generation, showing up like Jesus at work, or launching a podcast to share the gospel.

But the Great Commission is clear and ungendered. Go and make disciples!

How do you make disciples? Learn together. Teach through life. Talk about theology over dishes with your kids, tell your neighbor how God healed your knee, share with your subordinate the testimony of your salvation.

Dear women, sweet sisters in Christ, can we not get caught up in vocation as the core of our femininity? Our identity cannot be founded in earthly titles that shift in seasons.

I hate to sound cliche, but our identity is above all—redeemed daughter of the King.

Our calling is to point others to Him, and disciple them to grow as they become like Him. Just as we are still growing to look like Him!

Even if this post has not changed your heart on women’s biblical role, we can agree to disagree on theology/doctrine/translation… Can we agree on this?

The never ending debating and division on social media, in church buildings, in family living rooms– none of this points people to Christ.

A house divided can’t stand, so why would someone look in through the murky windows of a divisive faith and want to stay?

Telling women on the internet HOW they should minister in their obedience to God is wasting time that can be used to disciple and glorify God. We can’t hypercontrol what other people hear from God.

Instead of using an internet platform to berate women who might stand on a physical platform, point your following to Jesus.

Let us seek connection and a unified Bride in our pursuit of Jesus and making Heaven crowded!

Motherhood is a beautiful gift unique to women. Likewise, fatherhood a unique gift to men. We can take pride in those roles! Here’s the thing though… Not all people will be parents.

To make blanket statements towards women that motherhood is the greatest vocation you can have is a sharp slap in the face for the woman who can’t conceive. It’s presumptuous towards the woman God has called to celibacy, like Paul.

There seems to be a war in our faith both of identity and value. I have value as a stay at home mom or I have value and I work outside the home. My identity is homemaker or my identity is single.

It’s all a distraction!

Every single one of you is doing Kingdom work!

And your worth, value, and identity is not found in your vocation or marital status.

If you are a homemaker your season is amazing; pouring into your home, using your creativity to foster growth and warmth and giving your all to support your husband and kids is incredible. You get to show them Jesus.

If you are a single woman putting herself through grad school, your season is amazing. The connections you’re making for the future, the people God is giving you community with… You get to show them Jesus.

If you are a divorcee working with your kids in therapy to overcome trauma, I see you. This season might be hard but it sure is holy as you get to lead your kids towards wholeness and healing. You get to show them Jesus.

The list is neverending! Wherever you are in life, your role in womanhood is glorifying your Father.

So here’s my request for you:

Take pride in where God has you, and celebrate your sister who is somewhere else. This is not a competition.

Ask Jesus to highlight a woman to you, who may or may not be in a different season of life or vocation, and pour into her heart this week. Pray for her, lift her up with some encouragement, and ask how her heart is.

Point her to Jesus.

Hi friend! Thank you for reading today! If you feel led, I’d love for you to consider sharing this post. I’d also love to connect with you! You can contact me here on the blog, subscribe for new posts, or come hang out with me on Instagram. I hope we can chat soon!

When Shame Writes The Story

When Shame Writes The Story

If you’ve participated in a church community for any length of time, you’ve likely heard the story of the woman at the well. The beautiful story is found in John 4 and usually has these highlights:

Samaritan. Adulteress. Unworthy. Woman. Sinner. 

Shame. Shame. Shame. 

Anytime I hear or read the word “shame”, I get that scene from The Princess Bride in my mind of the old woman screaming “Boo! BOO!” at Buttercup as the sweet girl makes the best decision she knows how to make, even by betraying her one, true love.

As I was reading Without Rival by Lisa Bevere a few years ago, the story of the woman at the well was retold with more cultural context and with the lens of a loving, compassionate Savior.

Let’s dig into more of this story, exposing the traditional lens of shame it is recounted in, with a lens of love – and see what more important truths we can glean.

I’ve often thought it interesting that many teachers highlight that she was a Samaritan, without going into too much of what that would have meant to Jesus and his followers.

In the biblical setting, Samaria, also known as Palestine, and Israel were basically in a race war. The territory of Samaria is found in land allotted to the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim when the Israelites conquered the Promised Land (Joshua 16 &17). Samaria was the capital of Israel when the country split. 

The biggest issue evident in Jesus’ time in this century old conflict was they practiced their faith differently. Samaritans even went as far as to create their own version of the five books of Moses.

Israel, being way more judgey than they should be, looked down on the Samaritans for their overt mixing of Jewish practices and pagan, settling non-Jewish practicing people in their land and claiming that Mount Gerizim should be the home of The Temple instead of Jerusalem.

Unresolved conflict and removing love from interactions had caused generations to hate, literally HATE each other. The fact that Jesus marches directly into this region brings the utter surprise of the disciples into context and begs so many more questions of the later parable of the Good Samaritan. 

Different faith. Different culture. Different skin color. 

Shame. Shame. Shame.

The term “adulteress” frequently visits the retelling of this story from our modern-day pulpits. Why would this woman have had 5 husbands, the most recent she was living with but had not married?

In the first century Samarian culture a woman was unable to initiate divorce from her husband, since they practiced a version of Judaism. The insinuation that she was an adulteress woman is very likely far from true.

Laying down those lenses of condemnation and picking up the lens of Love, we can explore a few other possibilities that showcase Jesus’ heart in meeting this woman in an even greater way. 

First, she could have been widowed.

Since a woman’s worth in that time and place was only determined by who she was married to, can you close your eyes and imagine what that grief and fear would have been like to lose not only your husband, but your position in the village, the security of food and shelter, the very home you had established…four times over?!

Can you open your heart to the fear of being handed off again and again to the “next in line”, likely without your consent, the stigma of death following you everywhere you go in your village? 

Another possibility is that she was divorced or cast away by her husbands.

Causes for divorce in this time and culture could have been a physical defect, infertility, incurable physical or mental illness. When your only job in society is to marry, please your husband, care for your household and raise as many children as you can produce, I can not even begin to fathom the shame this situation would have produced in her heart. 

Some scholars have speculated this immense burden of shame is why she was at the well gathering her daily water in the middle of the day, when no one else was around. At the high heat of the day she wouldn’t have to worry about hearing all the hushed whispers or comments. She could just be alone. 

No good. Unworthy of love. Cast off. 

Shame. Shame. Shame. 

One undeniable aspect of this story is that Jesus was speaking to a woman. This part always makes me cry. Even now, as I write this I’m crying.

Growing up, as this woman did, in a culture where women were second rate citizens has immense impact on one’s heart and mind.

Knowing no matter what, your life is second thought. Your life is a negotiation chip of interests and property. The knowledge of how powerless you are to initiate change infuses every choice, every day. 

It is from this place of utter hopelessness, that the unfathomable beauty of the heart of our Father shines. It shows His heart to see each woman, just as He sees each man, different, yet equal.

Both powerful, with different strengths. 

I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus got a word of knowledge about how many husbands she had to provoke shame in her. He wasn’t trying to keep her in her place or remind her of her status. There was no desire to pour salt in the wounds of her broken heart.

He had no desire to see her turn red and hang her head. That is not how He operates. That is the voice of the Accuser of the Brethren.

I believe Jesus spoke the word of knowledge to her to let her know that even though she was a woman, from a conflicting racial heritage and her marital record was rough, He was speaking to her. Jesus saw her, knew her and wanted connection to her heart.

What happens next in the longest recorded dialogue between someone and Jesus in the New Testament blows me away. Jesus and this woman embark in a lengthy theological discussion! This would have been unheard of in their time.

Yet, this woman holds her own. She knows what her faith culture believes as well as Jesus’. In a day and age when women were separated from men in the temples, she knew her Scripture! 

In the progression of this theological debate, John 4:26, Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah to this woman. Jesus’ profound compassion on her and His gently delivered prophetic word bring about transformational belief. She knew in her heart that what this man spoke, that the love and gentleness, the equality and patience He showed her set Him apart from any other rabbi.

She knew He was the Messiah. 

The woman is then catapulted by Love into the role of the first missionary we see in Scripture. No fancy schooling. No big ceremony.

Jesus trusted this woman to proclaim Him. She delivered a simple Gospel, “He saw me. Messiah has come.” 

Many in the town believed because of her testimony which exemplifies her as an apostle…all this before Jesus’ death and resurrection. He had yet to even reveal who He was to His 12 Disciples and only one of them actually figured it out (Matthew 16). 

The invitation of this story is not only to watch Jesus wipe out shame from a life but to watch Him rewrite the narrative. Shame is really great at telling us who we aren’t. Jesus is really, really incredible at reminding us who we are in Him.

We lose so much when we stop a story, just like we would lose so much if we stopped at the death of Jesus and never followed the story of His Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, etc. Continuing what we know of the story of this incredible mother of the faith is vital to grasping the glorious story of redemption and restoration.

So who did this famous “woman at the well” become?

Early church historians tell us she followed Jesus’ ministry through His death and resurrection and was one of those 3,000 baptized at Pentecost, along with 5 of her sisters and two sons. It was at this momentous occasion that she received the name Photini.

Photini was known for the boldness that she preached and eventually it gave her the opportunity to share the Gospel with the dreaded emperor Nero in Rome. After sharing the Gospel, Nero tried to severely torture her, hoping she would turn from Christ, but instead Photini succeeds in sharing the Gospel with Nero’s own daughter who choses to become a follower of Jesus. 

Nero ordered Photini to death by fire, which she survived for 7 days, then to death by poison, which she also survived. Her faith was supernatural. Her determination was evident. How can one meet Jesus face-to-face then deny Him existence?

Photini had been captivated by a Love stronger than life. She is revered as a martyr and in the eastern Church she is “equal-to-the-apostles”. 

Where does shame live in this story now?

So many times we let shame tell our story. Something terrible happens and we let that write the narrative of our life. We push back on invitations of healing or cover up the needs of our heart in the searing aloneness of the noonday sun.

Handing our power over to the loudest ridicule, we let the cycle of lies about us tell the story in our mind and weave madness about us in the minds of others.

Your race, faith, gender, marital status, don’t get to hold your value. Jesus does.

The Lover of your soul who sees it all and speaks to you. The Living Water who gave this woman a ravenous hope is not limited to one redemptive story.

Photini says in John 4:15 “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” I like to imagine her saying this, “Jesus, make it stop hurting. Nourish my heart and soul. Give me life. I don’t want to strive for existence anymore. I don’t want shame to write my story.” 

A hallmark of shame running the show is running and hiding. Adam and Eve did it in Eden (Genesis 3) and Jesus invites us into this incredible shame free life in John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The greek word for truth in this verse is alētheia and can be appropriately translated naked or transparent truth.

You can’t give true worship with a naked, transparent heart if you are wearing the dress of shame. 

Shame doesn’t get to write your story, my friend. Jesus died for that shame and in the words of Graham Cooke, “Quit taking that back for yourself. (Jesus) wants that back.” 

Be free, indeed.

SOURCES:

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

History of Samaria

Women’s Ordination Online – The Samaritan Woman At The Well

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

The Good Shepherd – St. Photini and her Almost-Forgotten Apostolic Family


Shannon is an incredible friend and wealth of wisdom. She is about to graduate ministry school, and is a powerhouse momma to four boys! You can find her here on Instagram!

Prisms and Purpose

Prisms and Purpose

I’ve got this prism that is eternally smudged.

I ordered it in hopes that it would somehow elevate our cluttered mess of a dining room into one of those Waldorf forest homeschools where kids keep all their Montessori materials sorted in rainbow colored sets and listen attentively to poetry as they finish watercoloring their nature journals.

Alas, it sits covered in sticky fingerprints on a dust covered windowsill next to an abandoned Captain American LEGO project that is missing a foot. Cap has been sidelined for the foreseeable future just like my dreams of a whimsical home in which to educate my children. 

The truth is that the prism brought us a lot of joy at the outset of the year, but has been shuffled aside under math workbooks and the flotsam and jetsam of four kids learning at home full time for the first time. The prism somehow got shifted aside as an afterthought because, if I’m honest, I’m not fully sure what I’m doing, I’m constantly doubting myself, and I never followed through on that light unit like I thought I would.

The prism hasn’t been shattered by my raging and screaming yet, so that’s a mercy. Turns out we’re not the quiet woodland family I had hoped we might be.

This morning as I lamented the wads of hair and dust that somehow always live on my stairs, and the shoddy job my children do of sweeping them, and the shoddy job I am clearly doing as a parent, I was struck by the prism. Its once pristine glass was noticeably clouded and foggy and I’m pretty sure it was handled by someone who had recently been eating cheese puffs.

But my breath caught as I watched a rainbow pour out of the dim prism onto the hair covered hardwood below.

None of this looks like I thought it would.

I haven’t managed to create a space that “measures up,” whatever that means. I live in a sea of uncertainty and often wonder what use my gifts actually are to the world.

It’s easy for me to dismiss my days as less than, to chalk them up to unfinished projects and problems unsolved. But when I consider the prism, I see more.

When I consider the miracle that a rainbow is at hand, that it dares to shine in the presence of my mess, that it is bold enough to shine onto my doubt and my fury and my fear, I am forced to stop. When I step back to take that in, I’m reminded that all is grace. All is gift. 

You see, the truth reflected in the prism is that the miracle cannot be stopped. The rainbow is somehow not dimmed by smudges or filthy fingerprints.

However manhandled and bunged up it may be, the prism still exists to turn light into rainbows. The purpose of the prism is to reveal invisible, but ever-present colors so that they may be seen by the naked eye.

The miracle cannot be stopped because the prism cannot deny its purpose.

As a woman I am uniquely called to die to myself that I might nurture and grow the souls of others. As a woman I am designed to gently steward the souls entrusted to my care.

As a woman I am specially created to hold all that in my heart, to birth beauty out of struggle, to give life out of groaning. 

We’ve all been manhandled and bunged up. None of us is the flawless crystal we might wish that we are.

Things don’t turn out like we plan or expect. People fail us, boundaries are crossed, our hearts are wounded in broad and intimate ways every day. Yet we are all capable of casting great beauty into the neglected corners of our world.

The miracle cannot be stopped because this is what we were created to do.

The only thing that can stop the miracle is if the prism is moved out of the light. If I shove my prism in a drawer, there’s no way for the light to touch it.

The same is true of our hearts, of course. If our hearts are hidden away, shoved in closets, shut down and shamed, it’s true that we won’t reflect much light. You can’t shine a rainbow from a shadow, it’s true.

And if I’m honest, seeking the light sometimes seems futile and foolish. It’s honestly kind of silly that I’ve kept my filthy prism on the windowsill through the gloom and clouds of the Cleveland winter.

To an outsider it seems like an exercise in futility but I believe the miracle. Even when there are days on end that I don’t catch a glimpse of rainbow, I have faith that the sun will come through the clouds and the cheese puff smudges.

I’ve seen it happen before and I have faith it will happen again. I’ve seen the rainbow on the stairs with my own eyes. I have witnessed the miracle. 

And I realize the same must be done for my heart. I think a lot about how the Psalmist reminds us not to harden our hearts. He may as well be saying, “Don’t retreat. Don’t build up walls and separate yourself from the light.”

And I know in order for me to achieve my purpose, like the prism, I must remain in the light. 

Every day I must claim the miracle. Every day I must accept my purpose as undeniable. Every day I must place myself in the light, smears and smudges fully exposed so that the miraculous love of the Father can penetrate my heart and cast His love onto the world through me.

It won’t work if I’m not in the light. It won’t work if I’m not reading scripture and attending Mass, receiving the Sacraments, praying with my friends. It won’t work if I believe the lies that I’m fed by the world, if I deny my belovedness, compare myself to others, or allow my heart to become hard. 

To be in the light, we must be in the truth. If we are women who claim resurrection, the truth that should spur us on is that nothing is irredeemable.

If we are women who claim the risen Christ, it is our duty to claim Him, to claim the miracle of resurrection in all we do. Our work is to set our hearts on the miracle, to seek it out, to draw our families and communities along with us as we encounter it.

Our calling is to claim the truth of the risen Jesus in ourselves, to speak it over our hurts and our pains, to repeat that truth to ourselves when we are at our weakest and to speak it over our sisters:

“You are redeemed. You are chosen. You are safe. You are loved.”

St. Josemaria Escriva said, “He did not say you would not be troubled, you would not be tempted, you would not be distressed, but He did say you would not be overcome.” 

My place here in my family is not to curate a perfect home or achieve some other lofty goal. My purpose is not to fit any sort of mold of womanhood that’s been manufactured by the world or the church or anyone in between.

My purpose is to shed light, to cast rainbows into darkened corners, to show up and love despite my dinginess and my bruises.

The rainbow is no less beautiful because my prism is smudged. My gifts are no less beautiful because they come from an imperfect source.

If each day is an offering to Christ, I am receiving His light. If each day is a claiming of truth, I am receiving Him.

And if I am receiving the light of Christ, just like the prism on my dusty windowsill, I can be nothing but a channel through which that light enters the world. 

Mary Susan is so dear to my heart! She creates a beautiful space of vulnerability, humor, and encouragement. She can be found at https://oh-bless-your-heart.com/ and here on Instagram.

Deborahs Rising

Deborahs Rising

I recently shared on my Instagram how the Lord is leading me on a new writing journey. I shared it in my most recent post on the blog – Ezer Kenegdo.

Today I wanted to talk about Deborah. She’s one of my biblical heroes, and my first realization that women in Christianity are often slighted in leadership.

Why is that? After growing up in a church culture that had women as Sunday School teachers but never pastors, I read about the female leader of Israel.

Deborah was a prophetess and poet, but most importantly one of the Judges of Israel.

This was huge to me when I learned this. Israel was ruled by judges for some 300 years before they asked for a king, and Deborah was one of those leaders.

This was even more astounding to me because the judges of Israel were appointed by God. That meant, contrary to what I had been taught, that God placed a woman in leadership, over His people.

The office of judgeship in the tribal confederacy of the Israelites, which was centred at a covenant shrine, was not hereditary. The judges arose as Yahweh saw fit, in order to lead an erring and repentant people to a restoration of a right relationship with him and to victory over their enemies. The quality that enabled a person selected by Yahweh to be a judge was charisma, a spiritual power that enabled the judge to influence, lead…”

https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/Judges-importance-and-role

The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
Judges 5:7 ESV

Judge here comes from “Shophet” – שׁוֹפֵ
This type of “judge” doesn’t mean a person presiding over legal issues in court. Shophetim were heroic, highest ranking leaders in the land in both the political, spiritual, and military sense.

Let’s set up Deborah’s story

Life in Israel during this season was extremely difficult, and it was because of the Tribes’ disobedience.

When God delivered them into the Promised Land He told them to drive out all the Canaanites, and while some listened– other tribes allowed the Canaanites to stay, perhaps trying to make peace believing things would change or be okay.

In choosing passivity with an enemy they disobeyed God’s command, which was given for their protection and abundance. This led to the Canaanites pushing Israelites from their land and the slow fade of losing who they were as they mingled with these people who did not honor God.

They began to worship false gods and idols and behave in wicked ways. “So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them.” (Judges 2:14)

He allowed them to be overtaken by the culture and people they welcomed. He didn’t do this with a hateful heart, but that they might repent after feeling His absence.

There was a cycle of obedience, bondage, and rescue in the history of Israel. Judges 2:18 says God was moved to pity by their groaning because of the oppression they were under, and yet they would still return to the same patterns that ensnared them.

When God was setting up judges for them, he would be right there with the judge: He would save them from their enemies’ oppression as long as the judge was alive, for God was moved to compassion when he heard their groaning because of those who afflicted and beat them. But when the judge died, the people went right back to their old ways—but even worse than their parents!—running after other gods, serving and worshiping them. Stubborn as mules, they didn’t drop a single evil practice.

Judges 2:18‭-‬19 MSG

The Lord was angry. Can you imagine? Rescuing a prodigal child over and over for them to spit in your face and return to deplorable ways?

Because of His anger and their violation of the covenant, He left them.

Judges 3 shares the compelling story that comes next, the continuous cycle of judge, rescue, and disobedience. One judge, Ehud, defeated an enemy and led Israel to peace and rest for 80 years, one of the longest breaks in the cycle of this 300+year cycle.

As we can expect, again, the people of Israel fell into evil deeds after Ehud passed away. And so yet again the Lord allowed them to experience the brunt of the repercussions for this.

The Canaanite king’s army was led by a man named Sisera. “Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.”
Judges 4:3 ESV

During this time, Deborah became judge of Israel.

As I have studied this, some of the commentaries have felt the need to weaken the legacy of Deborah, saying she was only appointed because there wasn’t a man strong enough or worthy enough to take on the position.

Only. I laugh at that! She was appointed not because of a lack of men, but because God saw her fit to lead His people!

I also read that she was permitted to lead because she came under Barak’s authority and leadership. But I can’t find Scriptural evidence that confirms this. Barak was a military leader but Deborah was listed as judge over Israel.

“In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.

Judges 5:6‭-‬7 ESV
Image source

In this season of cyclical pain God appointed Deborah to lead His people to freedom again. She rose into her calling, into her position of leadership, and partnered with her military to defeat the oppressive enemy.

The book of Judges says Deborah summoned Barak. When she asks him about the Lord’s command to confront Sisera, Barak tells her he will not go to battle unless she comes with him.

Various theological ideas abound here, might Barak have said this in sarcasm? Because he was spineless and weak? Or because he valued her leadership and prophetic connection to God?

It’s disheartening that so much male-written commentary and opinion seems to discredit Deborah’s authority or worth on some level.

Why would Barak ask her to accompany him to battle in a sarcastic manner (he wasn’t being emasculated), or because he was weak (he led the military forces)?

Could it be that Barak asked the highest leader in the land to join him because that wasn’t uncommon for leadership to go into battle?

He respected her, he recognized the authority given to her from the Lord (Deborah is the only Biblically documented prophet AND judge of Israel, aside from the last judge – Samuel).

Deborah was appointed by God to lead Israel and bring them to peace.

She stepped into a divine calling, obeyed, led her people and brought them into rest as a mother to the land.

“Now Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth.” What is interesting here is this word in Hebrew, eshet, can mean wife. Because of the culture at the time, women were often identified by relation to a husband or father.

“Eshet” also means woman. Lappidoth could be a husband or a place, but neither are mentioned in Scripture to confirm.

There is a third way of interpreting “woman of lappidoth.” Rather than being a proper noun, lappidot in Judges 4:4 could be the plural of lappid, a word usually translated as “torches” elsewhere in the Old Testament, including the book of Judges where the word occurs in two fiery and fierce situations (Judg. 7:16, 20; 15:4-5). Did Deborah have a fiery or fierce personality? Does eshet lappidot mean “fiery lady”?[7]

Lappid can also refer to lightning flashes (e.g., Exod. 20:18). This has led a few scholars and rabbis to suggest that Deborah was a “woman of splendours”.

Marg Mowczko (Who has a theology degree and an MA in early Christian and Jewish studies)

Deborah. Wife, mother, prophetically gifted, governing leader. She is an incredible example of Biblical womanhood.

We, too, can be wives and mothers and leaders. We all have a God-created design and purpose.

In hindsight we can see the great purposes of various women in the Word. Did Esther realize the grand outcome of her story? Did Rahab know the legacy that would come from her?

Are all women called to be political leaders? No. Likewise, not all women will be mothers. Not all women will marry.

Like Paul, there will be women called to not marry. There will be women who mother nations, who mother school rooms, who mother emergency rooms instead of biological children.

I believe we have individual callings for His glory and purpose. We must be careful not to measure another’s role against our own.

If you have been led to be a homeschooling, stay at home mom, I believe there is greatness in the purpose there. You should be supported and equipped on that journey!

If you are called to minister to hearts in social work, there is greatness in the purpose. You also should be supported and equipped well for your journey in that.

A woman’s role is not strictly confined to be a wife and mom. Culturally, in biblical times much else wasn’t always permitted.

In Judges we can see that God does appoint women. In our culture now we have so much more freedom to lead, grow, and serve.

Some of us will serve as wives and mothers. Some will serve in careers. Others will serve in both realms, and all areas covered here deserve our support.

Let’s be women who cheer each other on in our various glorious callings here on earth.

There doesn’t need to be competition or comparison, those are tools of the enemy to divide us and hurt even further.

Women of the Word, let’s rise up like Deborah. Let’s mother our children well, mother our careers well, and mother our callings well together.

Help your spiritual sisters as you can in their own journey. Deborahs partner with Esthers and Tamars and Ruths. Partner with the Baraks and Boazs of our lives!

Let’s dive into biblical womanhood together. I’m excited to dig more into our powerful and divine design! Thanks for joining me along the way.

Ezer Kenegdo

Ezer Kenegdo

I’m going on a new journey with my writing space. I’d love if you would continue to follow along as I share it along with my personal posts, but I recognize the topic won’t be for everyone. That’s okay! If you’re curious, stick around 🧡

Something that I’ve struggled with since childhood is my identity as a woman.

Throughout my journey of religion, disbelief, and discovering Jesus “who am I and what is my purpose” has followed me. Plenty of belief systems have tried to answer that question.

I’ve seen so many mixed messages from so many different crowds. The spectrum in our culture swings from radical feminists who hate men to ultra-controlled wives abused by the term “submit.” I’ve witnessed both ends of it, I’m not here to debate the existence of either side.

I think there’s a middle ground that women are missing out on and honestly, we’re kept from.

Jesus fiercely loved women and advocated for them in a time where that wasn’t the cultural norm.

God desiged women עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – “ezer kenegdo.” A FASCINATING deep term that goes way beyond “helpmeet.”

I want to dive into this topic, our divine design as warriors, not mice. The incredible stories of women weaved throughout the Word, and what this means for us.

How it can EMPOWER us and free us to walk in our callings and live out our purpose.

Whether you are called to teach the next generation of warriors, or you are called to be salt and light in the courtroom, any role in between…

You were created with purpose. And when you know who you are (and the power behind that identity) you can be an unstoppable Kingdom force.