Women in Ancient Greek and Biblical Society

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Are the ancient biblical stories and the myths of the Greeks irredeemably male oriented? All ancient societies treated women as the inferior gender. It has been historically shown that in the ancient world, men were the leaders, heroes, and kings, and women served primarily as companions, helpers, and child-bearers. In the Old Testament and throughout ancient Greek literature, there is a constant theme of male superiority that cannot be ignored. Men did not believe that women were capable of existing as anything other than the typical “housewife;” it was unthinkable that a woman would actually need an education, let alone earn a living. Rarely was a woman seen doing anything but being dominated by males in some form, whether she was a man’s sexual object, a submissively devoted wife, or a woman being punished for doing what she believed was right. Women had no identities of their own; in every action, they were presided over by a stronger male counterpart. Because female characters lacked power and existed primarily to provide men with companionship and support, ancient Greek and biblical stories can be described as irredeemably male oriented. A woman’s primary role in ancient times was to serve as a companion to a male figure. The most common form of this companionship was as a wife. God created “the woman” because “It is not good for the human to be alone, I shall make him a sustainer beside him” (Genesis 2:18, p9). “The human” was living in a perfect environment, yet something was still missing. God decided that it would be human nature to desire and need a partner. Thus began the practice of wife-seeking. Men were able to choose whomever they desired to be their wife, an idea that is demonstrated in the book of Genesis “…the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were comely, and they took themselves wives howsoever they chose” (Genesis 6:2, p. 26). Women did not get to choose who they married. The entire concept of love, especially from a woman’s point of view, was not considered as a factor in marriage. The women were expected to comply and marry the man who chose them without complaint. In the book of Genesis, Abram sends a servant to fetch a wife for his son, Isaac, in order to console him following his mother’s death. “To my land and to my birthplace you shall go, and you shall take a wife for my son, for Isaac” (Genesis 24:4, p113). The servant then follows his instructions and travels to Abram’s homeland, finding Rebekah and bringing her home to Isaac. “And he loved her, and Isaac was consoled after his mother’s death” (Genesis 24:67, p123). A wife-seeking mission such as this was considered normal, and was often done, in the name of God- “Take [Rebekah] and go and let her be the wife of your master's son as the LORD has spoken (Genesis 24:51-52, p120). An ancient woman’s principal function in life was to supplement the life of her husband, ensuring that his every need was met. Because men were usually out of the home completing their own duties (in the case of the Greeks, fighting; in the Bible, working), women were expected to maintain the well being of the family, as both wives and as mothers. As a wife, a woman was expected to serve her husband however he desired, which meant remaining constantly sexually available. As a mother, she had to provide a loving and nurturing environment for her children. Wives had the responsibility of doing various tasks around the home like making bread, making clothing, and cleaning. Any time her husband wanted something, a woman was expected to do it promptly, without question. “…Abraham hurried to the tent to Sarah and he said ‘Hurry! Knead three seahs of choice flour and make loaves” (Genesis 18:4, p78). As a big part of meeting her husbands needs, women were expected to bear children. Having children was crucial during ancient times; it was considered to be very important that a woman be able to give children to her husband so that he could carry on his family legacy. If...
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