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Women in the OT

stubs
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4/27/2013 4:10:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
There has been a lot of discussion on this topic lately and I myself just wanted to touch on a few things. I tried to make a diagram (yeah I know it's awful) to explain my thinking, but I will explain it as best I can. Please note that I will be explaining from a Christian worldview.

Let's say the bottom line is the cultural norm. Let's also say that the sorry excuse of a diagonal line I tried to draw starting at the cultural norm and going towards redemption represents the treatment of women. There is also an option to start at the cultural norm to go on a downward diagonal line towards regression which I did not draw here.

------------------------------------------------------ ^ redemption
....................................>
............................./
...................../
............./
......./
/
---------------------------------------------->
Cultural norm

The question is: does the treatment of women in the OT bring us closer to redemption or regression.

I will be the first to admit that upon first glance there are a lot of passages in both the OT and NT that seem horrifying. I would even say that after understanding the culture in to which these laws were given, they still do not rest easy with me; at all. That being said, I would like to give some examples that show the OT laws move towards redemption.

In other ANE cultures women had no rights. They were bought/sold/punished according to their husbands and masters. Contrast this with Exodus 21:7-8 "If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her." Is this ideal? Not at all. Is it a step in the right direction (towards redemption)? I think so.

I will now look at what most would probably consider a more severe of an issue.
"If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives." Deuteronomy 22:28-29

This verse can seem barbaric and horrifying. First off, let's all agree that this is far from ideal. This verse, however added huge amounts of security to the woman that are not typical of other ANE cultures. For example, in many ANE cultures, if the woman was raped, she would be punished for putting herself in a position in which she would have been able to have been raped. This verse was actually looking out for the well being of the women. Again, is this ideal? Not at all, but it is, in my opinion a step in the right direction for that time period.

Those are examples of explicit portrayals within the text. There are, however, also implicit portrayals which show women having more rights than some might have thought after reading parts of the OT. For example there is Deborah who was a prophet and a judge. Even more so, she was a judge during the earliest part of the judges in which things seem to be at their best as far as the time period of the judges. We also see Hulda who was a prophetess and the story of the daughters of Zelophehad show women having more rights than most would assume in the OT.

I will try to narrow it down, or summarize what exactly it is I am trying to say. I think that these verses are clearly far from ideal. So yes, I do believe that God gives laws that are not the ideal. I also think that when looking at these verses in their context of ANE culture that they are clearly moving in the right direction (towards redemption from a Christian worldview). A modern day connection might be if I was married and I told you that every night I made my wife sleep on the couch. You would tell me that I was a horrible person and treated my wife terribly. What if, however, you found out that everyone in my neighborhood made their wives sleep out in the yard in a tent every night. What I was doing is still far from ideal, but it is a step in the right direction. I think that is what we see in not only the OT but also throughout the entirety of the bible in regards to the treatment of women. We have a line starting at the cultural norm, but gradually going up towards redemption.
Fruitytree
Posts: 2,176
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4/27/2013 4:54:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
You have a good way to explain things.

Can you please tell me where I can find verses related to the prophetesses, as I never heard about them before.

In my religion we believe that few women attained perfection, amongst them: Marry the mother of Jesus, Sarah the wife of the pheraoh, and Khadidja the first wife of the prophet Mohamed.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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4/27/2013 6:50:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I don't deny that there are texts that positively promote the equal value of women, but, I, on the other hand, don't deny either that there are many, many texts that do positively deny the the equal value of women in the OT. Not all the texts can be used to point to instances of progression; in fact, they seem very much like regression. The examples are legion and can be produced if needed.

To address one point - it's simply not true that in other ANE cultures women had no rights. In Bablyon women were allowed to own property and their are other more progressive laws.

"If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the
man of her heart."

"If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go."

^ From the Code of Hammurabi

And you say this: "For example, in many ANE cultures, if the woman was raped, she would be punished for putting herself in a position in which she would have been able to have been raped. "

Deut 22:23-24: 23 "If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst."

I mean, killed for not crying out? Ummmm....yeah. It's not too out of this world to think that some rapists might threaten a women not to cry out on pain of serious injury or death, right? Or cover their mouth?

I'm not seeing the problem with just admitting that some biblical authors had mistaken and, in some cases, horrifyingly morally erroneous views of the value of women that they wrongly attributed to God and get on with it. Sure, that might conflict with most definitions inerrancy but I see no reason why Christians should be inerrantists in the first place.

Many female biblcial schoalrs have been pointing out the troubling patriarchal and misogynistic overtones of a lot of biblical texts *** for forever and many attempts to address their concerns seem to be just sweeping the problem under the rug. And to actually argue that a morally perfect God would approve of or command such things (because he was "accomodating"/being "concessatory" toward their views at the time) is beyond me. If I knew that my friend was beating and raping his wife and I "accomodated" his practices I'd daresay I'm morally implicated to some extent. I simply don't see why we should accept that God was being "accomodating" of these practices when he had already necessitated the most radical break of all - monotheism.

*** SEE: http://books.google.com...'connor&source=bl&ots=xkb6puVJsK&sig=ucfU73SI4Z52blZfVtpuyRf1rsM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mlh8UduoN8mpiAKn44H4Bg&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22problems%20for%20feminists%20reading%20the%20bible%22%20kathleen%20o'connor&f=false
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Composer
Posts: 5,858
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4/27/2013 7:28:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/27/2013 6:50:25 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I don't deny that there are texts that positively promote the equal value of women, but, I, on the other hand, don't deny either that there are many, many texts that do positively deny the the equal value of women in the OT. Not all the texts can be used to point to instances of progression; in fact, they seem very much like regression. The examples are legion and can be produced if needed.

To address one point - it's simply not true that in other ANE cultures women had no rights. In Bablyon women were allowed to own property and their are other more progressive laws.

"If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the
man of her heart."

"If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go."

^ From the Code of Hammurabi

And you say this: "For example, in many ANE cultures, if the woman was raped, she would be punished for putting herself in a position in which she would have been able to have been raped. "

Deut 22:23-24: 23 "If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst."

I mean, killed for not crying out? Ummmm....yeah. It's not too out of this world to think that some rapists might threaten a women not to cry out on pain of serious injury or death, right? Or cover their mouth?

I'm not seeing the problem with just admitting that some biblical authors had mistaken and, in some cases, horrifyingly morally erroneous views of the value of women that they wrongly attributed to God and get on with it. Sure, that might conflict with most definitions inerrancy but I see no reason why Christians should be inerrantists in the first place.

Many female biblcial schoalrs have been pointing out the troubling patriarchal and misogynistic overtones of a lot of biblical texts *** for forever and many attempts to address their concerns seem to be just sweeping the problem under the rug. And to actually argue that a morally perfect God would approve of or command such things (because he was "accomodating"/being "concessatory" toward their views at the time) is beyond me. If I knew that my friend was beating and raping his wife and I "accomodated" his practices I'd daresay I'm morally implicated to some extent. I simply don't see why we should accept that God was being "accomodating" of these practices when he had already necessitated the most radical break of all - monotheism.

*** SEE: http://books.google.com...'connor&source=bl&ots=xkb6puVJsK&sig=ucfU73SI4Z52blZfVtpuyRf1rsM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mlh8UduoN8mpiAKn44H4Bg&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22problems%20for%20feminists%20reading%20the%20bible%22%20kathleen%20o'connor&f=false

It appears Women are superior in Wisdom even to Story book god itself -

e.g. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget [it] not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7 Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom : and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. {a crown...: or, she shall compass thee with a crown of glory} 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. 11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom ; I have led thee in right paths. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life. (Prov. 4:5 - 13) KJS

Your vindicated mentor, 50 nearly 51 year successful Cult busting personal successful literal Saviour, moi!
stubs
Posts: 1,887
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4/27/2013 8:56:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/27/2013 6:50:25 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I don't deny that there are texts that positively promote the equal value of women, but, I, on the other hand, don't deny either that there are many, many texts that do positively deny the the equal value of women in the OT. Not all the texts can be used to point to instances of progression; in fact, they seem very much like regression. The examples are legion and can be produced if needed.

To address one point - it's simply not true that in other ANE cultures women had no rights. In Bablyon women were allowed to own property and their are other more progressive laws.

I apologize if what I wrote implied that all other ANE cultures women had no rights. That was not my intent. I was just trying to say that in several other of the surrounding cultures women had little to no rights.

"If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the
man of her heart."

"If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go."

^ From the Code of Hammurabi

And you say this: "For example, in many ANE cultures, if the woman was raped, she would be punished for putting herself in a position in which she would have been able to have been raped. "

Deut 22:23-24: 23 "If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst."

I mean, killed for not crying out? Ummmm....yeah. It's not too out of this world to think that some rapists might threaten a women not to cry out on pain of serious injury or death, right? Or cover their mouth?

Yeah I agree and I think within chapter 22 there are a series of given situations in which the punishments differ. I think that the differences between the situations make a big... well... difference.

I'm not seeing the problem with just admitting that some biblical authors had mistaken and, in some cases, horrifyingly morally erroneous views of the value of women that they wrongly attributed to God and get on with it. Sure, that might conflict with most definitions inerrancy but I see no reason why Christians should be inerrantists in the first place.

Yeah I don't want to get into defining what an inerrantists really is, but I think at the most basic level I would not identify myself as one. That being said, I think that the implications of taking the view that you posted (I don't want to attribute that view to you if it is not in fact your own) that would have an effect on other parts of scripture, or the scriptures as a whole. Now I'm not big into philosophy so I'm not sure if that's an appeal to consequences or whatever it's called, but that is how I feel about it haha.

Many female biblcial schoalrs have been pointing out the troubling patriarchal and misogynistic overtones of a lot of biblical texts *** for forever and many attempts to address their concerns seem to be just sweeping the problem under the rug. And to actually argue that a morally perfect God would approve of or command such things (because he was "accomodating"/being "concessatory" toward their views at the time) is beyond me. If I knew that my friend was beating and raping his wife and I "accomodated" his practices I'd daresay I'm morally implicated to some extent. I simply don't see why we should accept that God was being "accomodating" of these practices when he had already necessitated the most radical break of all - monotheism.

I think that is a very good and reasonable point. I do also think that there were a sort of limitations to what God could have done to do the culture that they were in. I think it may have been very much like why Jesus did not just go up to people and say, "I'm God." The people just would not have understood it. Likewise, I think if God had all of a sudden said men and woman are completely equal in everything, the people would just not have gotten it.

I also would like to reiterate the point that these verses do not sit easy with me and I'm not sure how they could with anyone to be honest, but I can say that after taking some time to study them, I do see a pattern going towards redemption.

Kind of a side note it is interesting you brought up a quote with monotheism because going on in another thread is the discussion about whether the Israelites were really monotheistic or monolatristic. In all honesty I had never even heard of monolatry until like 4 months ago and I thought there was not evidence for it, but now I actually seriously consider it. That, however, is not really related haha.

Thanks for your input, very insightful.

*** SEE: http://books.google.com...'connor&source=bl&ots=xkb6puVJsK&sig=ucfU73SI4Z52blZfVtpuyRf1rsM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mlh8UduoN8mpiAKn44H4Bg&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22problems%20for%20feminists%20reading%20the%20bible%22%20kathleen%20o'connor&f=false
Rusty
Posts: 2,109
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4/27/2013 9:54:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I don't really see the strength in the argument that God tolerated such and such because the alternative would have been too shocking to the people and he had to 'ease them into it' or whatever.

On another note, it's interesting because it seems like there's an inconsistency for people who hold this view for ethics, but not for science.