Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Gender Balance of the Hebrew Social Structure

Symbols of authority.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

A close reading of the biblical texts makes it clear that the Hebrew social structure was not characterized by the typical features of a strict patriarchy: descent, inheritance, residence, right to govern/judge, and authority. These are not vested exclusively with Hebrew males.
Descent was traced through both the paternal and maternal lines, especially in the case of the cousin brides who named their firstborn sons after their fathers. This is called "the cousin bride's naming prerogative".

Hebrew women could inherit and some owned property. Daughters received inheritances from their mothers in the form of herds, tents, textiles, sacred objects believed to enhance fertility, jewelry, and servants. Numbers 27:8 makes it clear that daughters could inherit. The law reads: "If a man dies without a son, then the inheritance shall pass to his daughter." Moses judged that Zelophehad's five daughters had a right to inherit their father's property. If a landowner died without a male heir his land was to go to a ranking daughter. If he died without a son or daughter, his property was to go to his brothers.

Residential arrangements depended on the status of the Hebrew couple. Hebrew men who ruled over territories maintained their two wives in geographically separate settlements. Some sons were sent to live with their maternal uncles (avuncular residence). Some sent-away sons established themselves in places where they had no Hebrew kin (neolocal residence). 

Both males and females governed as clan chiefs, judges, and prophets. However, only males served as priests.

Figurine of Hathor found at Hazor in Israel.

The biblical Hebrew recognized three types of authority: derived, attributed, and achieved. Derived authority comes from divine appointment. The veneration of Hathor, an archetype of the Virgin Mary, testifies to the Hebrew recognition of derived authority among the females. Ancient images of Hathor show her with the sun resting over her head, a sign of appointment by the High God whose symbol was the sun. It suggests belief that she conceived the son of God by divine overshadowing as is described in Luke 1:35. The Angel explained to Mary, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."

Divine appointment also was signified by the initial Y in the names of many Hebrew rulers. This solar cradle appears in these Hebrew names: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yachin (Joachin), Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak; Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yosef (Joseph); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse), Yonah (Jonah), Yoel (Joel), and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

Attributed authority came with the offices of king, priest, judge, or prophet. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome. Please stay on topic and provide examples to support your point.