#MeToo Stories in the Bible
The phrase "Me Too" was first used on social media in 2006. It developed into a movement in 2017 and is usually written with a hashtag. Since then, many women have been sharing their stories about being harassed and abused no matter how long ago the events occurred. The movement is fairly new, but the stories are not. The narratives go back to Bible times when women had no voice. They were used, misused, attacked and assaulted.
Perhaps you never made a connection between the #MeToo stories of the Bible and the modern #MeToo movement. Today, the response to it is new and voices are heard. On the other hand, women abused in the Bible had no voice or response at all.
The Bible records horrific stories of women being sacrificed, abused, assaulted and silenced by members of their own family and others.
Sarah’s desperation to have a son is a well-known story in the Bible in Genesis 16. She was old and barren and her husband was also old. Most people overlook the fact that Sarah used Hagar as a trafficked slave girl. She ordered Hagar to sleep with Abraham so she could give them a child. Hagar had no voice in the matter.
Ishmael was born, but after Sarah had Isaac, her own son she ordered Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. (Genesis 21:8-21)
Genesis 19:1-23 records the #MeToo story of Lot’s two daughters who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah with their father. Lot extends hospitality to strangers he met in the square. He takes them home and prepared a meal for the strange men.
Before they went to bed that night, all the men both young and old from every part of the city surrounded the house and demanded to be intimate with the men Lot was hosting. Lot refused to send the men outside. He did something much worse.
According to Genesis 19:7-8 Lot said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
In other words, Lot volunteered to offer up his own virgin daughters to all the strange men. He thought it was more normal for the men to be intimate with females than to be intimate with men.
We often hear about Jacob's twelve sons. However, the patriarch had one daughter named Dinah. Her #MeToo story is in Genesis 34:1-31. She was assaulted by Shechem, a leader of a tribe in the area who wanted to marry her. Dinah's twelve brothers tricked Shechem and his tribe. They pretended to form an alliance with them. They requested the deal to be sealed by circumcision.
While the men were still healing and couldn't walk or run very fast, the brothers attacked and killed all the males. Then they captured the women and did the same thing to them that Shechem had done to their sister. The brothers also preyed upon the children in the tribe.
Notice that in this biblical story, Dinah did not speak out on her own. Her brothers defended her honor by blood revenge.
Some people read the account of David and Bathsheba as a romantic story. However, the relationship was one that was wrong from the very beginning. It is a well-known biblical story that children study in Sunday school even though the narrative clearly shows the abuse of power and the invasion of privacy. (2 Samuel 11:1-27)
David uses his power as a king to summon Bathsheba, a married woman, to become intimate with him. The sin of adultery led to other sins. David ordered Bathsheba's husband Uriah to be murdered so he could marry Bathsheba. The baby they conceived died soon after it was born.
Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel, and two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah. The wives ordered the concubines to sleep with their husband so they could bear children for them.
Tamar was the daughter of King David. Her #MeToo story is in 2 Samuel 13. She was abused by her half-brother Amnon. He was advised to do so by Jonadab. He told Amnon to lure Tamar to his bedchamber by pretending to be sick and asking his sister to prepare a special dish of dumplings for him. When she does so, Amnon takes advantage of her.
Tamar protested and tried to reason with her attacker. She said, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! As for me, where could I carry my shame?” Amnon ignored her pleas and had his way with her.
When Tamar's full brother Absalom heard about what happened, he advised Tamar to keep quiet. He said, “Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” Then Absalom took revenge and killed his half-brother. Tamar was left with the shame of the ordeal.
Abuse of a Concubine
Some stories in the Bible suggest that violence against women was more tolerable than violence against men. In Judges 19:1-20:11, a host volunteers to throw his concubine out of a house to an assaulting mob in order to protect a male visitor. The host puts his concubine outside the door to be assaulted until she dies. There are harrowing details of the discovery of her body with her hand on the threshold the next morning. The host then cuts up the dead body and sends the pieces to the twelve tribes.
The woman's hand was reaching for the door because she needed help, but she died instead.
Woman Caught in Adultery
The stories above are in the Old Testament, but abuse and power of men over women existed in the New Testament until Jesus put a stop to it. One story that comes to mind is in John 8:1-11 when a group of men took a woman to Jesus and threw her on the ground before him.
They claimed she was caught in adultery. No man received the same treatment even though the unnamed woman couldn't have committed adultery alone. The woman was expected to pay for her sin while the man was expected to share no blame.