“Putting aside constricting, inaccurate and stale patriarchal interpretations of this ancient text we can rediscover the bloodline of faithful women together with faithful men, who by God’s grace have been instruments in his purpose to bring the redemption in which we stand”.
In my papers on the Israel’s Matriarchs I will trace the promise of the woman’s seed, the promised One, Israel’s Messiah, delivered to Eve the Mother of All-Living through the women’s genealogies, showing the matriarchal blood lines of the women in the Hebrew text.
My proposition stems from a literal understanding of the creation account and that the biblical characters are actual persons belonging to Israel’s history. In some instances, I show that they are also allegorical acting as symbols of spiritual concepts to inform and develop our understanding.
Jewish and Christian interpretations of this account vary. From both perspectives, some believe that the early chapters of Genesis are literal, others that it is allegorical, a myth telling a powerful story. Interestingly, a literal interpretation of creation among classic rabbinic commentators is as uncommon as it is common among Christian believers.The influence as I see it comes from the New Testament teachings and the way the stories become metaphorically interpreted for our learning. Either way, how this text is interpreted is significant especially for women.
It is my intention to demonstrate that the patriarchal interpretation imposed on the Hebrew scriptures by both Jewish and Christian translators and those who comment upon them has marred the image of Christ and his relationship with his bride (the Church). To do this I take the promise made in regard to the ‘seed’ of the woman, given in the words God spoke to the serpent.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring (seed) and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3. 14-15
The ‘woman’s seed’, her ovum, is the promised One, Israel’s Messiah. I will trace this promise through the genealogies of the women springing from Leah’s matriline and other foreign women who joined her house to build it up. This comprises of the matriarchal blood lines of the women identified as playing their part in what is collectively known as the tribe of Judah in the Hebrew text. This bloodline starts with Eve and ends with Mary the mother of Jesus.
I suggest this continuity supports and is evidence of the practice of endogamous marriage, of marrying within a specific social group, caste, or ethnic group, rejecting those from others as unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. Endogamy is common in many cultures and ethnic groups. Endogamy is the social norm prescribed in Genesis 2: 24: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh’.
Such marriages rely on female kinship and each mother’s innate knowledge of her children. Hence one reason I can think of for the lack of the woman’s recorded genealogies. History shows that women owned land and lived in matriarchal households, albeit originally in tents. As the land was settled, regions, cities and towns in early Canaan history are named after the women of Israel as the rightful owners.
Those faithful women passed on the prophecy that from the ‘seed of a woman’ the Messiah would come. This prophetic word was presumably have been passed on by oral tradition to each succeeding generation. Each woman’s monthly menstruation was a continual reminder both physically and spiritually that through one of them the promised Messiah would come.
Women were not without standing in the community of Israel and it was in the mothers and their daughters interest to build up their matriarchal house. It was a joyous event when a daughter was born. Not only was she a descendant of her mother
, but the thought was always there that this girl may be the one to find favour with the Lord and to give birth to Israel’s Messiah
The faith of these women is shown by their actions, their determination to take and hold the hope given to humankind in the garden following the deception of Eve and the disobedience of Adam. I will show it was the women’s faith in the promise that kept them and thereby Israel on its divinely intended, ordained and prescribed course.
My work traces the matriarchal lineage from Eve to Sarah, to Leah, and through many other notable women to Bathsheba, and finally to Mary, who gave birth to that Seed of the woman, Israel’s Messiah and the Saviour of the world: The Chosen One. No doubt Mary was surprised by a stranger at her doorway but not by the messenger’s announcement. It is plain she understood that a child is conceived through sexual intercourse but shows no surprise that she is chosen to receive the announcement. In her case, however, it will be a different conception. Like other women of Leah’s House she had been hoping praying and waiting in faith and she readily agreed.
Thus, Mary’s seed, the ‘Seed of the woman’, was born into this world, born under the law of sin and death, born without man’s intervention. She gave birth to Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. His mission was to reverse what the first Adam brought upon all humankind.
The genealogy of the Messiah cannot be traced through patriarchal interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. It cannot be traced through the seed of Abraham nor Israel’s male ancestors. Indeed, male genealogies cannot be trusted. Instead, Jesus’ lineage is female. A hard pill to swallow for the for those who come from a patriarchal perspective I know, but the focus of God has always been on the woman’s seed and this is traceable only through female kinship.
To fulfil the Creator’s word in Genesis regarding the seed of the woman (the proto-evangel, the first hint of the gospel), God ‘took flesh’ and became the man Jesus. God laid aside God’s glory but not God’s divinity. Instead, God humbled God-self. God lived on this earth as a human. God was tempted on all points as we are and learned obedience through the things God suffered.God was put to death, nailed on a common cross, God died and was resurrected.
God returned to the presence in the godhead from whence God came and promised to return again. God sent to us the Holy Spirit, another Comforter, the spirit of Jesus present with church for all time until Jesus returns as the ‘Bridegroom for his bride – the Church’. Where Adam failed, Jesus fulfilled the Law (teachings) and the will of God. The apostle Paul will describe Jesus as the second Adam.
This is the outline of my teaching and research. It is my hope that putting aside constricting, inaccurate and stale patriarchal interpretations of this ancient text we can rediscover the bloodline of faithful women together with faithful men, who by God’s grace have been instruments in his purpose to bring the redemption in which we stand.
I invite you to study with me, awake to a fresh image. Believers, we are the Bride of Christ. Get ready, our bridegroom is soon coming back!