The position of women in the Hebrew commonwealth contrasts favorably with that which in the present day is assigned to them generally in eastern countries. The most salient point of contrast in the usages of ancient as compared with modern Oriental society was the large amount of liberty enjoyed by women. Instead of being immured in a harem, or appearing in public with the face covered. The wives and maidens of ancient times mingled freely and openly with the other sex in the duties and amenities of ordinary life. Rebekah travelled on a camel with her face unveiled until she came into the presence of her affianced. (Genesis 24:64,65) Jacob saluted Rachel with a kiss in the presence of the shepherds. (Genesis 29:11) Women played no inconsiderable part in public celebrations (Exodus 15:20,21; Judges 11:34) The odes of Deborah, Judg 5, and of Hannah, (1 Samuel 2:1) etc., exhibit a degree of intellectual cultivation which is in itself a proof of the position of the sex in that period. Women also occasionally held public office, particularly that of prophetess or inspired teacher. (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Nehemiah 6:14; Luke 2:36) The management of household affairs devolved mainly on the women. The value of a virtuous and active housewife forms a frequent topic in the book of Proverbs. ch. (Proverbs 11:16; 12:4; 14:1; 31:10) etc. Her influence was of course proportionably great.
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