Gina recently commented this on my blog:
…[T]here was for a time I couldn’t even read the bible because it gave me feelings of worthlessness. In the old testament temple, you had the holy of holies, only the High priest could enter, then the court for only men, then farther out one for women. Why did God like women less? (I thought) …
Oh, Gina. I cry over all the wrong messages that keep women (or men, or children) away from God. I think God does too. And as far as we can know today, God did not command a woman’s court.
God gave the rules for how the tabernacle should look – those are found in the Old Testament. And the tabernacle did not have a woman’s court.
God gave the rules for how the first temple, also called the temple of Solomon, should look. And the first temple did not have a woman’s court.
We know of no instructions from God, after the first temple was destroyed, for how the second temple should look. (If God gave such instructions, it is not recorded in the Bible.) The second temple had an outer court that was the woman’s court – men could enter further than women.
We know of no instructions from God, after the second temple was destroyed, for how the third temple (Herod’s temple) should look. (If God gave such instructions, it is not recorded in the Bible.) The third temple had an outer court that was the women’s court – men could enter further than women.
The pattern seems to be that when God planned the temple, there was no distinction between how close men and women could come. When man planned the temple, restrictions were placed on women.
Jesus seemed to spend much of his time wherever the people were, people who could not enter the temple as far as he could: The turning of the tables, for example, took place in the Gentile’s court, and the widow’s mite teaching in the women’s court.
(I think the temple cleansing story is very relevant: The Jewish people were exploited – and Jesus loved them. All this happened in the name of God – and Jesus loved his Father. People (whom Jesus loves) were probably grumbling and losing respect for God (whom Jesus loves) and His sacrifices, all because greedy people put the name of God on their system for exploitation. This caused Jesus to drive them out.
Similarly, the “you can’t go in as deep into the temple, and women can’t learn the Torah” meant women were excluded – and Jesus loved them. All this happened in the name of God – and Jesus loved his Father. This would literally have created distance between women (whom Jesus loves) and God (whom Jesus loves), all because sexist people put the name of God on their system for marginalizing women. Would Jesus think about that in the same way he did about the money changers in the temple? I think He did.
Jesus showed, even on the cross, that he was against separations that keep people from God. There was a separate area in the temple, the Holy of Holies, that have been there even when God gave the plans for the tabernacle and first temple. It had a thick curtain in front where only the high priest could go into God’s presence once a year. When Jesus died on the cross, that curtain was ripped from top to bottom: Everyone could come into God’s presence through Jesus. Man and woman, Jew and gentile. No walls or curtains limit how close we can get. We can even take our feelings of worthlessness, because of all the sexist messages of people, to Him.