(Isa. 3:12) Why is it wrong for women to rule over the nation of Israel?

CLAIM: Isaiah writes that the nation is being judged by having “women rule over them” (Isa. 3:12). What’s wrong with female leadership? Critics might argue that this demonstrates how the Bible is patriarchal. Is this the case?

RESPONSE: The Bible isn’t anti-women anymore than it is anti-children, which are also mentioned in the same passage (“their oppressors are children”). Isaiah is referring to judgment in this section of his book (chs. 1-5), because of the sins of Israel. By writing that women and children are ruling over the judged nation, Isaiah is stressing how the nation has become utterly crippled by their foreign oppressors. In this culture, women and children were viewed as weak; therefore, to be oppressed by women and children would be a cultural sign that you were utterly powerless as a nation. In addition, it’s possible that the women were not the only ones in view here. Motyer argues that Isaiah could specifically be referring to prostitutes in Israel at the time.[1] For more on the Bible’s view of women, see “Christianity and Women”.


[1] Motyer writes, “Women possibly refers to the royal harem. If the king was a spoiled brat then likely enough his wives were numerous and manipulative, fitting what we sense of the reign of Ahaz (but cf. Am. 4:1).” Motyer, J. A. (1996). The prophecy of Isaiah: An introduction & commentary (Is 3:12). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.