The Bible is full of surprising images and metaphors when it speaks about God. Take for instance Jesus’ parable of the lost coin. In it God is compared to a housewife sweeping the floor.
The Hebrew Bible contains similarly surprising metaphors. When, for instance, Job (7:6-8) and prophet Isaiah (38:12) lament the fleeting nature of human life they use a metaphor of weaving. Job is the most evocative comparing human life to a weft, the thread swiftly flying off the shuttle.
That is a highly surprising image because within the context it implies that God is the weaver. And here you need to understand that throughout the Middle East the spinning and weaving were activities for women. We know it from myths, documents, as well as, artwork. And it is confirmed by the bible itself. Delila is to fasten and weave Samson’s hair in her loom (Jdg 16:13). And part of the Josiah reform, we are told (2Ki 23:7), was that he threw out female weavers from the temple.
For all the ancient middle eastern people a weaver God takes up a clearly feminine role, female household work. As much as the Hebrew Bible is predominantly patriarchal and God is portrayed as male, there are these surprising depictions of God clearly taking over female gender roles. And that is something you might not know about the Bible.
Join us this first Sunday of the year 2022, we will lift up and expound this image of a divine weaver – far from talking about a loom of gloom, it in reality contains a beautiful, illuminating and hopeful message.
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And for those who read this far and might be interested in understanding the Bible within the context of the Ancient Near Eastern religion here are a few more words.
In the mythology from Ugarit (Ball cycle, KTU 1.4.ii), it is the goddess Asherah who is depicted as spinning and dyeing a yarn. And those earlier mentioned female weavers who were thrown out of the temple by Josiah, were allegedly making fabric for the same goddess.
It is therefore possible that in the process of monotheisation of the biblical religion, this single Biblical God absorbed some attributes, functions and activities of the goddess Asherah, thus combining gender roles, and becoming biblical version of divine Herm-Aphrodite.
Earlier we made several short videos and some blog entries linked here: