Dr. Alice C. Linsley
A detailed study of gender in the Hebrew Scriptures reveals that male and female are primary to the Hebrew worldview and to their understanding of God Father and God Son. In recent decades critics of the binary balance of Scripture have falsely claimed that the social structure of the biblical Hebrew was patriarchal. However, anthropological analysis of their social structure reveals that it was characterized by binary balance. This balance is expressed in various biblical narratives.
There are many examples: the distinct duties/responsibilities of the mother's house versus the father's house; male prophets-female prophets; male rulers-female rulers; inheritance by male heirs-inheritance by female heirs, patrilocal residence-matrilocal residence; Hebrew patronymics-Hebrew matronymics; and in the Hebrew double unilineal descent pattern, both the patrilineage and the matrilineage are recognized and honored, but in different ways.The blood symbolism of the Passover associated with Moses has a parallel in the blood symbolism of the scarlet cord associated with Rahab. The abusive behavior of drunken Noah toward his sons has a parallel in the abusive behavior of drunken Lot toward his daughters.
To understand the gender distinctions and binary balance of the early Hebrew, we must dismiss the false narrative that their social structure was patriarchal.
The traits of a strict patriarchy do not apply to the Hebrew from whom we receive the foundation of the Messianic Faith we call "Christianity". There were women chiefs and rulers among them. Women could inherit. Line of descent was traced through high-status wives, especially the cousin brides. Residential arrangements included neolocal, avunculocal, matrilocal, and patrilocal. Assessment of the biblical data reveals that male-female responsibilities and rights were balanced, yet distinct.
Mother’s House versus Father’s House
The “mother's house” is where women gathered to plan weddings for betrothed girls. The women attended to the practical arrangements for weddings and the items needed to set up a new household. On the other hand, the “father's house” was where the fathers deliberated the terms of the marriage involving dowry, inheritance, and property. The elders of the village were present to witness the deliberations. Sometimes fathers denied marriage to eligible daughters.
A woman who was forbidden to marry (or re-marry) was to return to her father's house. When Judah refused to marry another of his sons to Tamar, as was required by the Levirate marriage law, he told her to return to the father’s house (Gen. 38:11).
Scholars have noted that Rebecca ran to her mother's house to announce the marriage proposal from Isaac (Gen. 24:28). Running to her mother's house expressed Rebecca's willingness to accept Isaac’s proposal. This practice entails more than preparing for a wedding and a new household. It is about building a lineage. Naomi tells both of her widowed daughters-in-law to return to their "mother's house" in the hopes that they would remarry and have families.