Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Biblical Case for Stay-at-home Daughterhood Part 6

Last time, we had the opportunity to study the life of Rebekah from Genesis 24. We discovered that not only was she a stay-at-home daughter, but she was also certainly deserving of the title “polished cornerstone”, due to her godly service and productivity in her father’s home. We studied Leviticus 22:13, as well, and learned that not only is stay-at-home daughterhood normative in the Scriptures, but God also outlined a system by which abandoned women who had lost their husbands would also be cared for and protected.

Today, we will study the lives of numerous other stay-at-home daughters. Before we do so, however, I want us to quickly learn from the lives of sisters-in-law Ruth and Orpah, whose stories also clearly outline the order described in Leviticus 22:13-the practice of divorced or widowed women returning to live with family members.

Ruth and Orpah

In Ruth 1:5, we read that both Ruth’s husband, as well as Orpah’s, died while they were living in Moab. In verse 8, their mother-in law, Naomi, admonishes them to, “Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.” Noteworthy is the fact that, following the death of their husbands, Ruth and Orpah were told to return to live with their families. Why would this be if they had not been living there up until the time they married? If they had been on their own as daughters today are, then they would simply return to that lifestyle. Clearly, as in the examples given in Leviticus 22:13 and Genesis 38:11, daughters not only remained with their families until marriage, but they also returned to their family’s dwelling after the death of their husbands. At no time were they out on their own, independent from the protection, oversight, and provision of their parents.

This continuity in Scripture continues on through the account of Ruth and Orpah. In verse 15 of Ruth 1, we discover that Orpah has indeed chosen to return to her childhood home. Ruth, however, no longer desires the false gods of Moab and has no desire to return to her childhood home, for she now knew the one true God and desired to be with His people. So, what did she do? Did she decide to purchase her own dwelling, begin a career, and live on her own? By no means! Rather than going to live with her parents in the pagan city of Moab, she desired to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, as she returned to the godly city of Bethlehem (verses 16-17), and to take up residence with her there. So, we see that neither Ruth nor Orpah lived a solitary life following the deaths of their husbands. Orpah went to her mother’s house, and Ruth went to live with her mother-in-law.

This account represents not only the existence of the deep love and care which the Lord has for women who have lost their husbands, but also makes clear the design of stay-at-home daughterhood which God has set forth. It is a beautiful illustration of the glories of God’s wisdom and grace in providing women with a safeguard and means of protection and care. As I’ve expressed before, what a loving and caring God we serve!

Now let us turn to a study of the lives of other stay-at-home daughters mentioned in the Bible!


We are first introduced to Rachel in Genesis 29, when Jacob arrives at her father Laban’s home. Previously, in chapter 28, we read of Jacob leaving (again, sons leave, but daughters are given!) home to find a wife among the household of Bethuel. Genesis 29:9 makes it clear that Rachel is residing at home, caring daily for her father’s sheep. She, being a grown woman, not only lived at home with her father (verses 9, 12, and 19), but was also diligent in making him and his household productive and fruitful. She was under the care of her father, caring for his sheep, until the time of her marriage. Rachel, like Rebekah, was clearly a stay-at-home daughter who worked with a servant’s heart to further the assets and industry of her household. She, too, served as a polished cornerstone!


Next in our list of stay-at-home daughters mentioned in the Bible, we come to Rachel’s sister, Leah. Leah was older than Rachel, but due to the fact that she was yet unmarried, she was dwelling in her father’s house along with her younger sister (as is made clear by verse 23; note-by referencing this verse, I am intending to simply show the fact that Leah was at home with her father; I do not, however, approve of the sin that takes place in this verse!). We are not told very much regarding Leah’s day-to-day life in her father’s home, but it does become clear through the reading of Genesis 29 that she was provided for by her father both prior to her marriage and at the time of her union with Jacob (verse 24; please note, however, that I am by no means advocating Laban’s sin of fooling Jacob and allowing polygamy! While he is to be commended for providing for and caring for the needs of his unmarried daughters, he was definitely not perfect!). While the passage of Genesis 29 leaves a lot to be desired in the areas of purity and honesty, it does represent to us the fact that, Biblically, daughters were expected to remain at home until marriage, and fathers were to lead, protect, and provide for them until they married.

Zipporah and her Sisters

To complete today’s study of Biblical stay-at-home daughters, we will turn to Exodus and learn from Reuel’s (also known as Jethro) daughter and Moses’ future wife, Zipporah, and her sisters.

Exodus 2:16,18 reveal that Reuel, the priest of Midian, had seven daughters, all of whom were living under his roof and caring for his flock. Not one of these daughters was pining away in an ivory tower in her father’s home, wasting her time, just waiting for Prince Charming to come. Neither were they feeling sorry for themselves, that they were living at home with Reuel rather than “out in the world”. Likewise, not one daughter complained of drudgery. Rather, each one was actively serving her father and furthering the welfare of his household. Again, they were living examples of faithful, dutiful, polished cornerstones! In verse 21, Reuel gives (there’s that word give again!) his daughter Zipporah to Moses, and so the transition from a submissive and industrious daughter-at-home to the status of wife and homemaker, is a smooth one.

As an additional note, I want to mention the fact that Reuel’s protection and care for his daughter Zipporah did not completely end when he gave her to Moses. Yes, Zipporah now had a new head and a new provider, but when the time came for Moses to leave to fight against Amalek (Exodus 17), Moses sent his wife to her father’s home (Ex. 18:2) to be cared for there during his absence. Here is another example of Leviticus 22:13 in action-when a woman’s husband leaves for one reason or another, she is not left alone, but is rather cared for again by her family at home, just as she was prior to marriage. Another beautiful example of this is that of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his wife Anna. Prior to marriage, Anna dwelt with her family in their homestead, Cottage Home.1 After they were married and the time came for Jackson to leave in order to fight in the War Between the States, Anna went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Page. Mr. Bill Potter, in his excellent work Beloved Bride, recounts what happened next, “In May [of 1861], pursuant to his [Thomas’] wishes, she closed up their Lexington home, sent the family servants to ‘good homes among the permanent residents,’ and moved back to Cottage Home in North Carolina.”2 While some might call this being treated like a doormat and child, I believe that Stonewall held in his heart such a tender, caring, protective love for his beloved wife, that he desired for her to be cared for and protected well while he was away. What a blessing this must have been, ladies! Just like Moses, Jackson did not want his wife to be alone worrying while he was away in the War. Rather, he wanted her to be surrounded with family and friends, and cared for lovingly during this difficult time while he was absent.

In Conclusion

And so concludes our study of stay-at-home daughters in the Bible! As you can see, not only was stay-at-home daughterhood commanded (Num. 30) and referred to (Ps. 45:10,13; 144:12, 1 Cor. 7:36-38), but the Lord also provided us with examples of women living at home until marriage.

As was evident through this study, great blessings are to be had when family dynamics are conducted in such a way as to have adult daughters remain at home until marriage. Just as the glories and blessings of this practice are both numerous and evident, however, so are the dire consequences which often follow an unmarried daughter’s departure from home. We will be addressing this next Friday, when we study the tragic account of Dinah.

*Please note that I am not saying above that a divorced or widowed woman is necessarily living in sin if she lives alone. More on that later, in an upcoming article!


1. Bill Potter, Beloved Bride: The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife, (The Vision Forum, Inc.) pg. 14

2. Ibid. pg. 41


  1. Miss Rebekah,
    You obviously spent a lot of time on this post! A lot of great portraits of women in the Bible, always a worthwhile way to spend one's time (even if I do disagree with the conclusions you drew from their lives, I do love reading about them).
    I think my position on using these women being at home until marriage to show that women today should be too can be summarized as this: these women didn't make a choice between home and work. There wasn't work to chose. I think it would be like saying that they made the choice between home birth and hospital birth, and since they had their babies at home then so should we. (There might be a lot of reasons to have babies at home, but because the women of the Bible did is not one of them). Or to get a bit more controversial, to say these families chose between homeschool and public school and homeschooled their children therefore we should as well. (I homeschool and so glad that I do, but not because Abraham didn't send Isaac to kindergarten).
    I really hope to have some time to address the passages of scripture you bring up as commands to stay home. They would be well worth discussing.

    All that said, I do understand that you are at home and under the authority of your parents and if you feel uncomfortable with this discussion or they do at any time I completely understand and will refrain from commenting. It is not my desire to try and woo you away from something you hold dear or to cause you to question your parents authority in anyway. But as it seems you desire and enjoy discussion and have your parents blessing for this blog I would love to keep participating until I hear otherwise.

    many thanks,

  2. Hi, Tiffany!

    I apologize for just now responding to your comment!

    Thank you for your kind words; I appreciate them!

    Please do feel free to comment in the future. I want to also quickly say that I really appreciate your respect for my parents, myself, and our beliefs, and the fact that you are not trying to lure me away from their authority and discipleship in my life. That means a lot! As to my liking discussion, you're right! I do; I've always been a very talkative person (oftentimes too long-winded, as my father says; I'm working on that! :) ), and I do enjoy conversation and "debate", if you will. I don't like the emotional aspect that can seep into disagreements, but I don't think we'll have a problem in that area! Also, another added benefit of discussion is that it always causes me to go back to the Scriptures, search things out, really study the topic at hand, etc. So, I appreciate that opportunity! :)

    I agree wholeheartedly that we should refrain from following some trend, obeying some law or idea, simply because someone in the Bible did so. That's a great point. After all, the people in God's Word are sinners just like the rest of us, and so were faulty. For example, Solomon, who was clearly one of the wisest men to ever live, was steeped in promiscuity and polygamy. Clearly, because this wise man practiced polygamy definitely does not mean that we should! When thinking upon the issue of whether or not to follow in the steps of a certain person in the Bible, we must look at the whole of God's Word, study and meditate upon His commands, laws, precepts, principles, etc., to deduce whether or not it would be godly and wise for us to follow the ways of someone in the Bible. When doing so, it becomes evident that of course it would be a sin to follow in Solomon's footsteps in regards to polygamy.

    However, the accounts of stay-at-home daughters in the Bible are not the only passages which refer to the topic of stay-at-home daughterhood (I refer to the others in previous articles). Again, by studying the whole Word of God and looking into His will for men and women and their respective roles, we're able to see some light shed upon the topic, and see that yes, the examples of Rebekah, Zipporah, and others, are indeed ones to follow, and beautifully represent the teachings of the other passages.

  3. I don't think we should reject the examples of stay-at-home daughters in the Bible as being something to follow, based on whether they chose to be at home or not. The culture at that time was far closer to God and His Word in many ways than our current one is. Fathers understood and took seriously their responsibilities before God to provide for, protect, guard, and lead their daughters prior to marriage. The lifestyles of the women I mentioned are representative of a time when God's Word was more closely followed when it came to the roles of men and women.

    Secondly, while the time in which they lived widely differed from ours in terms of what the culture itself expected women to do and what people saw as commands for them as women to follow, Old Testament times were by no means free from feministic ideas and teachings. Feminism and its varying teachings began in the Garden of Eden after the Fall, and have affected each man, woman, and child from then on. I don't feel that it would be right to say that there was not work to choose. Yes, people then held to more Biblical beliefs regarding men's and women's roles, but again feminism has affected and infiltrated every era to some extent.

    For example, consider these words of Johm MacArthur as written in his book Different by Design: Discovering God's Will for Today's Man and Woman, "The Corinthian church faced the same problem as the contemporary church: a misunderstanding of male/female roles and relationships. Their confusion resulted from various feminist movements rampant in the Roman Empire during New Testament times. In Corinth, women demanded the same treatment as men. Similar to many women today, they regarded marriage and the raising of children as unjust restrictions of their rights. They resented bearing children for fear it would spoil their looks. Asserting their independence, they left husbands and homes, refused to care for the children they did have, lived with other men, demanded jobs traditionally held by men, wore men's clothing and hairstyles, and discarded all signs of femininity." As you can see, throughout Bible times, feminism had varying degrees of influence. While the workforce may be far more open to women today than it was in the Old Testament era, there were likely women in that very time period who chose to march off to work rather than remain at home.

    Well, I better close for now! I appreciate your input, as well as the opportunity to discuss this issue. I'll respond to your other comment soon, as well!

    In Christ,

    P.S. I just want to say thank you for taking the time and effort to homeschool your children; what an investment you can make in their lives through homeschooling. That is quite a blessing! :)


Hi!! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Please come back often. Thank you for your comment as well; your input is always most welcome! Even if you disagree with something, I encourage you to leave a comment; I just ask that you do so in a loving and Christ-like manner.

God bless you!

~Rebekah S.