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Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. Job 31:10
Throughout history it has been most uncommon for women to work outside of the home. Work outside of the home might have been brought on by widowhood, indentured servanthood, or slavery, but it was not normative. It is only in recent time that work outside of the home for women has been regarded as a benefit and blessing. This privilege is actually a curse in disguise, much in the same way that a child might consider ice cream and cake for every meal a superlative freedom.
In the book of Job chapter 31 he gives a list of sins and what would be just punishments for these sins were he found guilty of them. Job states that if he had been deceived by a woman (a harlot) or laid wait at his neighbor’s door (taking a man’s wife while he is away), a just punishment would be for his wife to grind for another and for another to bow over her. In the following verse he says:
“for this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.” Job 31:11
“Then let my wife grind unto another; i.e. “let the wife of my bosom be brought so low as to be compelled to do the servile work of grinding the corn in the household of another woman.” The condition of the female slaves who ground the corn was regarded as the lowest point in domestic slavery (see Exodus 11:5; Isaiah 47:2). And let others bow down upon her. Let them, i.e; claim the master’s right, and reduce her to the extremest degradation There would be a just nemesis in this punishment of an adulterer (see 2 Samuel 12:11).” Pulpit Commentary – public domain
Job states this in a way that is reminiscent of when Paul says,“May it never be!” It is very clear that this is a horrible penalty that would be rendered in judgement of a great sin. This would not be emancipation for his wife that freed her from the restraints of homemaking, rather her labors outside of the home would be considered as enslavement to another. It should be obvious when we read the text that what would be a blessing is for Job’s wife to be a keeper of her own home. It is not a blessing to put his wife in the place where another may bow over her.
The home is the wife’s place of covering. It is safety and protection under the headship of our own husband. Times have changed, we live in a period that it is more common to be a worker outside of the home with another person other than our husband as head over us. Those of us that choose to work inside the home will be often be mocked or pitied. Scripture has not changed. God’s Word is true and applicable to every occasion and state of affairs in our life. Job sums the line of thought up with this very descriptive statement of what folly this would be:
“For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.” Job 31:12
We can ask ourselves, if Job’s wife is working for another outside of the home, doesn’t that add to his increase? Isn’t a second income a benefit to Job’s household? Think of all of the grain and oil Job may purchase. Well, the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune God and Author of Scripture tells us that it would actually rip his increase out at the roots. This means that his increase would be destroyed, not going to regrow or heal. He says that it is a fire that consumes to destruction.
This should be a thousand red flags to us. This should warn us of the terrible danger that awaits the marriage when the wife goes to work outside of the home. Fires that consume us, destruction, and rooting out our increase are curses and not blessings. Whatever the benefits and rewards may be to working outside of the home, God has designed the home to be the wife’s domain. The home is the area where we, under our husband’s leadership, take dominion, subduing the earth and filling it with God’s image. He is glorified by our work inside of our home. This is the work that He has unquestionably designed for us and fit us for. He has not designed us to grind for another. We may work to the glory and blessing of God, or we may work to the fires of destruction.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”