One of the things that disturbs me about the Bible is how there is very little mention of some of the best women heroes in it. When I read about these females in the Bible though, I always wonder why the heck people have come to viewing them in such stereotypical fashions. Some of these stereotypical fashions include things like “Why isn’t she in the kitchen right now?” and “Girls don’t do that!”, and other things of the sort. My guess is that if truth about these girl heroes in the Bible were to get out, then most of the leaders in the more patriarchal churches would end up peeing their pants about how powerful women really can be at times.
Onto Deborah. Deborah is a tale of great contradiction to the standard Biblical views on women. She defies severely the whole concept of “women as property” that seems to be so prominent in the Hebrew Bible (Christians call it the Old Testament). Exodus 20:17 goes on to comparing women to property such as slaves and oxen and asses.
Anyway, onto Deborah. Deborah was a judge. To the appall of those “uber-masculine” patriarchal scholars out there, Deborah actually held a status as leader of Israel! Not only that, but the leader of Israel in a time of trouble. And she helps to get the Israelites out of trouble. Of course, she had help from a male leader but come on, he was her subordinate in terms of hierarchy. Practically a puppet! Let’s look at the story, come on!
Judges 4:4-8 – Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
See what Barak says to her? He asks her to go with him! Proving that Barak is a coward! Come on, patriarchs! Be serious here. Why would a man in this culture be such a coward and ask property to go out in battle with him? Of course, the story of Judges gets better and even more degrading to you so-called “macho-manly-men” out there who think that women can’t do a thing and that guys should always be uber-masculine. Honestly, as a guy, I’m really not too abhorred by this story. No, this story helps me to realize that women and men are not confined to some sort of “one-size-fits-all” package. There are differences between women and men, true, but at the end of the day should our self-conceived concepts of gender roles weigh us down and make us wish that we were the so-called “perfect man” or “perfect women”.