Female Voices: Upholding the Honor of the Household


A survey of the narratives in the First Testament demonstrates that women are often portrayed as dynamic characters, who speak quite eloquently, and when they speak they generate immediate action on the part of their audience. Their influence also transcends the simple notions of public/private and civil/domestic. The most frequent examples of "female voice" or "female rhetoric" are found in situations in which the woman defends the honor of her household. Words or actions in defense of a household may be based on at least two criteria. First, it is the obligation of the woman, as wife or female member of a household, to demonstrate her loyalty in speaking or performing actions which will work to ensure the survival of the household. Secondly, when her household is attacked, either by physical actions or by shaming speech, it is the duty of the woman to uphold the honor of the household, even at the expense of her own honor or personal safety. If the woman fails to show proper respect for or loyalty to her household, the punishment is despair and/or barrenness.


Religious Studies

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Biblical Theology Bulletin