Let your women keep silence in the churches
This is a restriction of, and an exception to one of the above rules, that all might prophesy; in which he would be understood of men only, and not of women; and is directed against a practice which seems to have prevailed in this church at Corinth, allowing women to preach and teach in it; and this being a disorderly practice, and what was not used in other churches, the apostle forbids and condemns, and not without reason:
for it is not permitted unto them to speak;
that is, in public assemblies, in the church of God, they might not speak with tongues, nor prophesy, or preach, or teach the word. All speaking is not prohibited; they might speak their experiences to the church, or give an account of the work of God upon their souls; they might speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; or speak as an evidence in any case at a church meeting; but not in such sort, as carried in it direction, instruction, government, and authority. It was not allowed by God that they should speak in any authoritative manner in the church; nor was it suffered in the churches of Christ; nor was it admitted of in the Jewish synagogue; there, we are told F2, the men came to teach, and the women (ewmvl) , "to hear": and one of their canons runs thus F3;
``a woman may not read (that is, in the law), (rwbub) , "in the congregation", or church, because of the honour of the congregation;''for they thought it a dishonourable thing to a public assembly for a woman to read, though they even allowed a child to do it that was capable of it.
But they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
In ( Genesis 3:16 ) , "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee". By this the apostle would signify, that the reason why women are not to speak in the church, or to preach and teach publicly, or be concerned in the ministerial function, is, because this is an act of power, and authority; of rule and government, and so contrary to that subjection which God in his law requires of women unto men. The extraordinary instances of Deborah, Huldah, and Anna, must not be drawn into a rule or example in such cases.
F2 T. Hieros Chagiga, fol. 75. 4. & T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 3. 1.
F3 Maimon. Hilch. Tephilla, c. 12. sect. 17. T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 23. 1.