Abigail-Her Biblical Story Through Feminist Eyes

September 22, 2012

I think the name, Abigail, is a beautiful name. It comes from the Bible, but few people know Abigail's story, or at least I never heard of it coming from the church I was raised in. I didn't know it until a few days ago when I was reading my Bible. According to The Inclusive Bible,unfortunately it is a story that is often told by anti-feminists.

The story of Abigail is especially remarkable because of its frequent misuse by anti-feminists.  They see a woman who firsts submits herself to a drunken and abusive husband, and whom once God frees her from the husband's control because of her kindness to David, is willing to subject herself to the lowliest form of servitude and become David's new wife; they applaud her submissiveness.  Feminists, however, see a fiercely independent woman who calls her husband a fool, overrules her husband's insulting rudeness, and honors the sacred code of hospitality; and who, when offered marriage to David, first stands, then performs a carefully choreographed humility ritual (the submission of a subject to a ruler, even though David at this point had not yet ascended the throne), then stands again-evidence of her great dignity and self-determination-before going to meet David with five servants of her own.  Abigail was a woman of power.

Her story is found in first Samuel, in the twenty-fifth chapter. David is angry that her husband has refused to obey the code of hospitality, but Abigail realizes just how big a mistake her husband's carelessness is-so big that David plans to kill her family-so she goes behind her husband's back and offers valuable gifts to David on her husband's behalf. Basically, Abigail saves the day with her smart thinking! Sure, she may have been submissive to her husband in word, but in deed she is kick-ass! Abigail is a smart, resourceful, quick-witted woman who not only knows how to keep the peace, but is always able to make sure that her needs are taken care of, which is a quality that every woman needs. I think more girls should have women like Abigail as a role model, but not in terms of submission, but in terms of resourcefulness and leadership. Even today, many women are taught that it is the men that should take care of women, if not overtly, then covertly, by devaluing female achievements and by society always deferring to men's opinions. I am not saying that women should stand alone-no person is an island-but that no woman should depend solely on man. It is a sad thing if you read Abigail's story and all you see is two marriages and a lifetime of submission, because I see a woman of power who knows how to rise above the limitations put upon her by the men in her life. Abigail is a great role model for any budding Biblical feminist like me.
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