Reading through the book of Mark, I began seeing many stories of healing. Two particular instances stood out to me in reading. Mark 5:21-43 and Mark 7:24-30 . The first story refers to a woman suffering from a perpetual bleeding problem, and in her desperation to be healed she approaches Jesus in a crowd. However, she only touches the hem of his robe. The next story shows a woman who comes to Jesus in desperation for the sake of her child. Then she references herself as only worthy to take the scraps from the table. Why did the woman feel as if she could only touch the hem of his robe? Why does the woman see herself taking scraps from the table. Why were they so fearful? I believe it is based on culture.
During the Greco-Roman Empire, women were viewed vastly different than they are now in Western Culture. I believe that the culture influenced the way women saw themselves and reacted to men. First, women were viewed mainly inferior to men . “As the great Roman orator Cicero wrote, “Our ancestors, in their wisdom, considered that all women, because of their innate weakness, should be under the control of guardians.” (http://www.dartmouthapologia.org/articles/show/118) Not only were women considered weak, but in government affairs most women had no voice including the right to vote. According to most sources, ancient Roman families were ruled strictly by the eldest male. Some of the prescribed roles women had during these times were to bear children, to teach the culture to the children, and to submit to the male figure in her life whether that was her father, brother, or husband. All of these roles were accepted as a typical view of a women during this time period; however, exceptions to these roles could be seen in certain aristocratic or upper class women’s lives. However, it was frowned upon for women to receive much education. They learned only enough to pass the Roman culture to their children.(http://www.moyak.com/papers/roman-women.html).
I am a part of an international community at my University, and I am friends with a young man from Jordan. I asked if I could interview him as a viewpoint on this subject, simply because he understood the culture more than me. Given that modern day Jordan is not the only place Christ walked it is very close to the majority of places that are referenced in the New Testament. The interview was very interesting because his answers were in contrast to what I thought they would be.
How were women treated during the Roman Empire in what is now modern day Jordan?
Salem: “Before the Roman Empire’s rule in this land, people viewed women in illogical ways according to today’s standards. It was almost a primitive or extremist view and a treatment of oppressing women. However, during the time of Roman Empire in modern day Jordan, Palestine, and Cyprus the men and women lived in relative peace and minimum oppression of women.” ( He added that this was strictly his view looking back to the roots of his culture.)
How has the view or treatment of women changed now in Jordan and surrounding areas?
Salem: “Well, this is connected to my last answer. After the Roman Empire or the time of Jesus, politics and political parties began working toward controlling society. They often used religious establishments as their route to infiltrate society and to manipulate people. With the rise of political parties, the views and treatment of women is slowly returning to that of the primitive or extremists.”
How are women viewed and treated in Jordan today?
Salem: “ Now, women are typically seen in the role of a housewife, but not because she has been oppressed. Simply, because of the great number of refugees that are settled in my country, work is hard to find. The opportunity to find a job is decreasing rapidly because of the large competition of workers applying. Mainly, women are treated and viewed like the women here in America or in the UK. We have a very modern society, but always remember there are exceptions.” (Again he added this was strictly his viewpoint).
Overall, women in the Roman Empire in what is modern day Jordan, Palestine, and Cyprus were treated and viewed as inferior to men according to the research I read. In contrast, my Jordanian friend Salem offered an interesting opposing viewpoint on the matter. Either way, the women in these two particular stories were fearful to break a culture norm of inferiority toward men.