This is a continuation of my last blog, so if you didn’t read The Value of a Woman, it won’t make much sense. You can just skip it…pick it up next time.
So…if nothing else, my last post taught me a valuable lesson. And some humility.
But before I get to that, I’m going to finish the thought.
As context, (because we love context) the Bible gives a unique history of women from the Creator’s perspective.
God said it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. So He made woman.
And He does seem to value her…more than 30 shekels of silver. Even above rubies.
God heard the cries of Hagar. He opened the womb of Leah. And Rachel. And Hannah. He restored to a widow her son on more than one occasion. He granted Sarah and Elizabeth each a baby in their old age. He provided a loving husband for Ruth. He saved Rahab and her family. He delivered a wicked ruler into the hand of Deborah. He sent one of His highest ranking angels to deliver a message to Mary. Jesus would release an adulterous woman and forgive her sin. He would take the time to reach out to the “woman at the well” despite the social taboo and her sordid past. God would write the sacrifice of Mary’s ointment into history. He appeared to Mary Magdalene personally after His resurrection.
In one of my favorite stories, Scripture tells us specifically that Jesus loved Martha and Mary. He even cried with them over their brothers’ death even though he knew he was about to do what men love to do: fix it.
God would later inspire Paul to write that there was neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female before God—all given the opportunity of salvation and the ability to approach the throne of grace.
So with God’s evident care for women as a backdrop, I had two possible answers as to why God would set a lower value on women’s labor.
One was the idea of reducing market incentive. Keep in mind that if a woman was sold as a slave or a servant, it probably wasn’t because she was getting the money. By setting a lower price, it would be less likely for men to see their daughters as dollars. Outrageous as it is, mercenaries have sold their own daughters into slavery from the earliest of times to the present. Perhaps by setting a low price, God discouraged this practice. A wife or daughter would be worth more to her family by contributing her industry directly rather than through her wages.
As an alternative (or possibly to cure potential abuse on the other side of the deal), perhaps God was taking into account the tendency of a task master to be determined to get the benefit of his bargain. If a purchaser pays 50 shekels, he is going to want to get his 50 shekels worth. He will push harder, expect more, and forgive less than if he is paying 30 shekels. Maybe the lower payment would make an owner more understanding of the other callings on a woman’s life–things that weren’t income generating for the master but are unique to women. Having kids, for example.
But as it turned out, my warm, fuzzy explanations are a bit unnecessary and maybe just plain wrong.
Here comes the lesson I mentioned: never blog about what you thought you heard while sick on your bed doped up on chicken soup and herbal tea.
The fact is that on further study to finish the blog, I realized that the scene I laid out in part one was not exactly correct. The part about the values was actually a separate discussion sandwiched between two passages about the year of Jubilee. See Leviticus 25 and 27.
So while the discussion about Jubilee was correct and the idea of calculating values based on an upcoming year of Jubilee was correct, the passage which set the value of women at 30 shekels and men at 50 shekels (ages 20 – 60) actually had to do with people making a vow before God (chapter 27) and not the annual wage calculation of slaves (as best I can tell).
None of you called me on my mistake which is a little troubling since it was mostly men who commented on the last post and ya’lls brains are supposed to be worth like twice as much as mine. Just sayin’.
Some of my observations still stand, but the correct context does change the evaluation a bit. To make sure I got it right this time, I tried to look at some commentaries. The first thing I discovered was that I didn’t own a commentary on Leviticus 27. The second was that none of the online commentaries I found had anything helpful to say about Leviticus 27. Now there are two issues–1. why did God set different values on men and women; and 2. what exactly did He mean when He was talking about vows involving the valuations of persons? I can’t even quite picture the scenario in my head.
So, with regard to the first issue, I would proffer that while there probably is a practical explanation consistent with His character, all we know for sure is that God made men and women different and didn’t feel compelled to always treat them exactly the same. He loves and cares for both in His own sovereign way. He makes no apologies for his design or his decisions. He’s God and He really doesn’t have to explain himself to Hillary Clinton or anyone else. As an aside, everywhere Christianity has gone, the position of women had been elevated. I would rather be a Christian woman than…say, a Muslim woman.
With regard to the second one, perhaps my annual Bible reading is going to be enhanced this year by the peak in curiosity that is making me search out things like vows based on the value of persons. I’m hoping some of you with brains worth 1.67 times what mine is have figured this out.
And when you are sick, curled up in a ball in your bed listening to your Bible app, don’t compose blog posts in your head. It’s a really bad idea.
But I DIDN’T forget which helicopter I was in. Just sayin’.