Women were marvellous story-tellers, and though the stories in the Bible were edited later by male priests, but it is clear that women had a thriving tradition of their own.
Many of the stories dealt with families, children, food supplies, security/safety and home-places.
All were matters related to women’s interests, and scholars suggest that many of the stories of Genesis were originally women’s stories, preserved by women in the clan.
Women and Ancient Religion
The Stele of Hammurabi: stone pillars like this, inscribed with laws, were placed in prominent places throughout the ancient world, so that everyone could know the law; the stone tablets of Moses may have been similar
As well, women played an active role in religious matters.
Ancient Near Eastern religions certainly had fertility of the soil and animal life as one of their main focuses, with priestesses who served the forces of Nature (the power of river and rain water, abundance of crops and animals, etc.)
Women and the Law
The laws of Hammurabi, a famous law-maker and king of Babylonia, provide insights into the lives of women in this period. There were laws to
protect the rights of women in marriage
protect women against rape
define the punishment for adultery
define the just treatment of women who were slaves
regulate the behaviour of sacred women who served in the temples
lay down conditions for divorce, etc.
Another source of information about women and their lives was provided by love poemsand lullabies of this period.
For additional information on the lives of women in the Bible, see the links to
Some people say that women in the Bible were down-trodden. This could not be further from the truth. Judging by the To-Do list of tasks for a ‘Woman of Worth’ in Proverbs 31:10-31, women had many ambitions we would see as ‘non-traditional’. But on top of the list was the first essential: finding a good husband.
Michelangelo’s painting of Jacob with two of his wives, Rachel (left with Jacob’s son Joseph) and Leah, Rachel’s older sister