Israel Institudes of Bible Studies

Jesus compares his audience to a shepherd who lost his sheep, then to a woman who lost a coin in Luke Chapter 15. He begins His first parable with, “What man of you…?”, and the second one with, “What woman…?” However, his audience contained all men and no women. Why did Jesus make this comparison to an all-male audience?

It’s All in the Balance

Remarkably, male and the female images are not only both present, but also well balanced throughout all of Jesus’ teachings. In modern society, the status of a woman is entirely different to what it was in 1st century Jewish culture, therefore we aren’t surprised by this balance. However, it was undoubtedly a great shock to Jesus’ listeners, when he used examples from the world of men and from the world of women.

Two Different Worlds 

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says, “You are the light of the world” he illustrates this statement with two images. The first one is taken from the world of men — men built cities. The second is taken from women’s experiences — in Jewish society, the lighting of lamps belongs to “keeping house” and “preparing food”, therefore it’s a woman’s task (that’s why women light candles on Shabbat).

Grasp the full meaning of His words

This balance between material relating to men and women in the teachings of Jesus is unmistakable – and it was absolutely new and unheard of in 1st century Jewish culture.