Women at Worship in First Century Israel

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Was there division between men and women while they worshipped? Did women have roles in the early church? Did women have the same requirements for worship as men? When did the Jewish people start using synagogues, and why?

Come along with us as we explore How to Live as a Woman in First-century Israel, the era of Jesus Christ and the new Christian church. In this series we are walking in the shoes of a first-century woman, seeing the world through her eyes. If you are not planning any trips back in time, I hope this series will help you understand the context of the Bible and show you how ancient Jewish, Roman, and Greek culture affected the early Christian church.

First-century Judaism is different than modern Judaism, so it's important to try and see historical evidence without a modern lens.

So far we have explored women at work in the Bible, managing a household and slaves, delved into marriage and divorce, and what to wear and how to stay clean in a time without running water or shampoo. Now we will look at a crucial aspect of woman's life: How to Worship.

What Faith Looked Like in the First Century

In the twenty-first century, worship has become very much an individual decision. We don't like to meddle too much in other people's faith because we don't want to judge and we certainly don't want to come off as holier-than-thou. Traveling back in time, you will find that faith is very much a group mentality and that there are duties that you are to uphold for the good of everyone. (1)

The worship experiences laid out by Moses focused on worshipping God as a nation so that the nation could be blessed and could bless others. God's people were often blessed or punished as a basis of national-level obedience. God wanted an entire nation of obedient people living in harmony with God and with each other, and worship reflected that desire.

Even sacrifices that were brought by an individual became a group blessing. After the selected portions were given to God, the meat was brought home and shared by the family and friends. (Go here for more about Old Testament sacrifices and what they mean