August 31, 2022
By Jo Wiersema
Midweek Musings is a weekly Covenant blog with a variety of authors and a variety of topics.
Starting this Sunday is our four-week series Women of Genesis: Hearing the Voices of People Long Silenced. When I found out we were doing this series, I was a theological kid in a candy shop. The women of the Hebrew Bible, and especially in Genesis are some of the most complex and thus misunderstood women of the Bible. Therefore, they’re my absolute favorite.
Although we are only addressing four women in this series, there are dozens of women in the first book of the Bible whom we have the tendency to skip over, or vastly misinterpret their place. The Bible isn't always apple trees and rainbows.
Genesis, when read all the way through, is full of murder, rape, neglect, assault, and deceit. Women are continuously supported by God in a broken world, as men of Genesis so often forget about the ability and wit of these women.
Let’s start with a quick example of the original woman of the Bible:
Lovely, made in God’s image, potentially susceptible to conversation tactics with snakes. Eve, in Hebrew, means Living One or Source of Life. It has been my experience that Eve has taken a brunt of the social scapegoating as the one who caused the fall. Girls being girls just talkin’ to snakes and causing chaos.
Let’s take a step back and talk about our boy Adam.
He was not talking to snakes, he was standing there, based on what we have, just living his best life.
His wife hands him fruit... He starts snacking...
No “honey, wait didn’t we have other plans tonight”,
No questioning to confirm where the fruit came from...
Genesis is likely not an actual recount of real people and real things, but oral traditions and symbolism handed down to give meaning to the people of God as they are enslaved in Egypt.
But if we take a close look at Adam and Eve, the blame is equal, the evidence of the fall is on both hands covered in the juice of fruit.
OKAY ONE MORE WOMAN TO CHAT ABOUT: Noah’s Wife.
Is that where you expected me to go? No? Good.
As someone who has said the children’s church version of Noah’s Ark more than a handful of times, it’s fun. Two by two, we load up the zoo for God to destroy the Earth and try again.
This is likely a symbol and not a catastrophic flood, but still. It’s pretty dark when you think about it.
Noah’s wife deals with sons and the animals and the whole stuck on a boat situation. If she’s like many of the silent matriarchs of the Hebrew Bible, she did a great job of keeping the family together, and get’s approximately no recognition.
The waters recede, the rainbow comes out, the whole gang prays and it’s great.
(okay I guess the Bible is all apple trees and rainbows)
Do you remember what happens next?
It’s classic Noah, but we conveniently leave this part out of the children’s message. Which to be fair, makes my job as someone who works with children and youth easier, but it cuts the narrative short.
You got it: Noah has a little too much wine, gets naked and passes out. If you remember our old friends Adam and Eve, nakedness is bad and pretty shameful. Ham, Noah’s son, sees dear old dad in his shame, and then goes to tell his brothers, presumably to have a good laugh. Because of this, Noah wakes up and curses all future generations of Ham through his son Canaan.
Why do I go through this?
Because Noah’s wife must deal with all this drama without a voice in the narrative.
I can say that if anyone I loved woke up from a drunken escapade and immediately started cursing future generations, I would want to have a few words about the priorities of the situation.
This is why I read the Bible, y’all. To think about how these stories have shaped thousands of years of narratives. These two women represent the complexities of family of womanhood and of the narratives not noted in scripture. There’s so much to read, to pray on, to think about, and maybe to get a little mad about. I hope you’re as excited as I am for this series.
Blessed to be a Blessing,