As we continue our headship study we need to keep in mind that the Scriptures are almost completely opposed to our modern cultural understanding of family structure, morals and responsibility. One major aspect of this is the role of a husband in this thing we call marriage.
While we generally assume that ‘husband’ means ‘male spouse in a marriage,’ the older definitions, and especially the verb forms are quite instructive:
a married man, especially when considered in relation to his partner in marriage.
British. a manager.
Archaic. a prudent or frugal manager.
verb (used with object)
- to use frugally; conserve: to husband one’s resources.
- to manage, especially with prudent economy.
- to be or become a husband to; marry.
- to find a husband for.
- to till; cultivate.
Husband, in its purest form is a manager of resources or cultivator. One might specifically call to mind a vinedresser, or one who guards, prunes, trains and harvests from a vine.
The Hebrew words generally rendered as ‘husband’ are ‘ish’ meaning ‘man’ (in the context of man and his woman) and ‘ba’al’ meaning ‘master.’
Consider Proverbs 30:21-23 NASB
Under three things the earth quakes, And under four, it cannot bear up:  Under a slave when he becomes king, And a fool when he is satisfied with food,  Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband, And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
That word translated as husband is: bâ‛al
- to marry, rule over, possess, own
- to marry, be lord (husband) over
- to rule over
- (Niphal) to be married
While these are the roots, the concept of husband as ‘manager and cultivator of resources’ as well as ‘master’ is well supported by Scripture. So, let’s dive in and consider the major roles of the man in a relationship with a woman.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.Genesis 1:26-30
Clearly man has two major functions, dominion over the earth and to be fruitful and multiply. As we have previously demonstrated, God gave woman to man and placed her under his authority for the purpose of being a helpmeet in accomplishing these tasks. Both involve ‘husbandry’ in the sense that he is to manage, till and cultivate both the earth and the woman to accomplish the very mission that Adam was given. In doing so, as also previously explained, man and woman will image Messiah and the qahal/congregation in the world.
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.Ephesians 5:22-23, 32
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body…..32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
To accomplish this, throughout Scripture, man is given specific directions on how to lead and what to do. While a broad encapsulation of the Torah, Paul commands,
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;Ephesians 5:25-27
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish
Specifically, it is the responsibility of man to wash his woman ‘in the water of the Word’ to cleanse and sanctify her.
A fascinating topic we will take up in the near future is the fact that very, very few commands are given directly to women in the Torah. Almost all commands are given to the ‘sons of Israel’ and then they, the sons, or men, are accountable to teach their wives and families. Even the Leviticus 12 laws of cleanliness dealing with childbirth are given to the sons of Israel. The situation is identical to Adam, in the Garden, being responsible to teach Eve and then help her be accountable. When they sinned, Eve was not the primary party held accountable.
Just as Messiah is the accountable party for teaching and covering the qahal and Adam was responsible for Eve, so is a man responsible for his own wife. One great example evidencing this authority that man has is in Numbers 30. That authority is to recall and redeem the very words that come from her mouth should she make a foolish vow. Yah is literally relinquishing his own authority and stepping aside in deference to the woman’s master. (The corollary, as previously mentioned, is Numbers 5 wherein the woman is ‘uncovered’ before standing to be judged directly by the Father.) The depth of this cannot be overstated and the responsibility that we as men have with regards to our women is staggering. Men this is serious business and we will be held accountable for what we have done with the women that the Almighty has blessed us with.
The husband is further responsible for protecting and providing for her (Ex. 21:10) as well as being the very visible example of Messiah in her life. Folks, Yeshua is not your boyfriend. He doesn’t negotiate about what he wants his bride to do. He lays it out in black and white along with listing the consequences for disobedience. Then he gives us example after example of how his brides have failed to follow his instructions and how he lovingly disciplined them time and time again. How many of us actually understand the gravity of that fact? How many of us are actually in a position that we would correct our women when their misbehavior merits it? Is Yeshua not our example? Are we not supposed to love our women the same way he loves his brides? Do we even recognize the fact that discipline is love? (Hebrews 12:6) And that is part of the love that Yeshua examples for us with his brides? How many of you just reacted with the thought “there is no way my wife would allow me to correct her” ? If that is what ran through your mind then let me ask you. Are you really loving and leading her as Messiah loves and leads the qahal?
Men, we are tasked with a calling that is so high that we can only fulfill it by being in total submission to the Messiah and learning to walk in his ways! We are incapable of so challenging a task as leading, molding, pruning and loving our women and children apart from the continual enabling and filling of the Ruach!
Men, especially, ponder the gravity of what is written in this post and seek the Father for guidance and direction. Consider, too, the recently discussed aspect of vision and its role in leading your family! May the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’acov guide and direct you as you grow into the calling He has for you!
Co-authored by Peter and Jeremy