Why should women read Exodus?
As one of the five books of the Torah (Hb “instruction,” usually translated as “law”), Exodus has been considered part of the essential core of Jewish Scripture. Although Exodus has been integral to the identity of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people, it also establishes a spiritual and historical foundation for all believers. Every woman should be familiar with its context in order to make sense of the rest of Scripture. Especially in Exodus, Yahweh is like a husband who rescues His bride from slavery, gives her His own name as she agrees to be bound to Him in a covenant of marriage, and in love establishes boundaries of protection for her. Having done all this for her, He jealously guards her devotion to Him and tolerates no rivals. As God is holy, so must His people be holy and worship Him as He prescribes. There are some significant women in the book of Exodus. Jochebed and Miriam have remained legendary in Hebrew history. Even lowly and seemingly insignificant midwives identified by their names (Shiphrah and Puah), together with Pharaoh’s daughter, had strategic roles to play, illustrating clearly that even women in the shadows are important in God’s plan.
Biblical Womanhood Liberation and Feminist Theology
A wide stream of feminist thought flows from the tenets of “liberation theology,” which interprets God’s liberation of the Israelites as a political paradigm or as a universal prescription for addressing injustice and oppression. God did deliver His people from political oppression and servitude (3:7-8), but liberation theology misinterprets God’s Word by exalting His secondary concern for the earthly well-being of His children above His primary concern for their spiritual redemption. God did not rescue the Israelites merely to free them from bondage to an oppressive foreign power; instead, God led them to Mount Sinai where He bound them to His service by a covenant under which they would find true freedom.
Feminists who draw heavily from liberation theology typically label role expectations or limitations as evidences of the “oppression” of women, “bondage” from which women should be “liberated.” Interest in liberating women from oppression often neglects to answer the question of what women should be liberated for. The heroic women of the exodus demonstrate that true liberation for women is found in fearing God, refusing to exalt any desire or person above Him.
Liberation theology also misapplies God’s Word by exalting what humans can or should do about oppressive social and political structures above what God can and will do, in His own way, about every manifestation of humanity’s captivity to and captivation by sin. To consider political freedom rather than liberation from sin as the ultimate good is to distort the central message of Scripture. In Exodus, God eloquently revealed His unchanging concern for the sufferings of His people and powerfully manifested His sovereignty in the mighty acts by which He liberated them from bondage. The unique events of their deliverance exemplify many truths about God and typify many truths about the ultimate liberation—from bondage to sin and death—wrought by Christ on the cross.