Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Patriarchal Privilege To Veto The Vow

“When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3 Or when a woman vows a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her. 6 And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he expresses disapproval, then he shall make void her vow which was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the Lord will forgive her.” (Numbers 30.2-8; emphasis mine, DLH)

There is hardly a concept more personal and privileged than one’s own thoughts. The impenetrable fortress of the intellect is a natural private domain. Yet in the ancient Hebrew culture which produced biblical literature, patriarchy trumped privacy, even with regards to a female’s deliberated determinations and personal commitments.

The patriarchal privilege and power to veto a woman’s personal vow is one of the most intrusive of all violations of privacy and is a most presumptuous form of misogyny. Though a seemingly subtle authority in that such neither violates one’s physical being nor exploits one’s services, nonetheless the right to regulate another individual’s personal commitments is a most substantive exercise of assumed hierarchy and usurped privilege.

The right of the Father and then later the Husband to veto the vow of the woman is not only a matter of patriarchal rule, but likewise upholds the principle of male property rights with regards to the woman. The Tenth Commandment clearly regards wives as the personal property of their husbands, and the fact that the patriarchal right to veto the woman’s vow passes from the Father to the Husband is an evident indicator that the ownership of the woman is transferred from the former to the latter at the point of marriage.

The disregard for the intellect of the woman was clearly deep rooted in a variety of ancient cultures, including that which produced the Bible. Hebrew mythology blamed the hardships of humanity on an independent woman who dared think for herself with regards to her choice of edibles, much as Gnostic mythology blamed an independent female deity who chose to reproduce without consulting her consort for the deficiencies of our earthly domain. And unfortunately, such backward and bigoted thinking was incorporated into the doctrine of the Church, as women are to learn in silence and subjection, and leave the teaching to the men.

Regardless of one’s religiosity, surely it is evident that the conventional and orthodox doctrines of the Church have been based upon backwards thinking and bigoted views towards women which originated in an ancient male oriented culture. Whereas it seems unfortunate that such blatant sexism was ever normalized and legalized in any ancient society, it is surely a shame that such thinking has been incorporated into any aspect of modern, civilized society.

(Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Patriarchal Rule Of The Father”)

Misogyny In The Myth Of Sodom And Gomorrah

The Sodom and Gomorrah myth appears to have been a doublet, that is a story which is recorded twice in two different contexts in biblical literature. Each account entails out of town strangers being lodged by a hospitable host, only in turn to be subjected to the threat of gang rape. Such was averted in the Sodom and Gomorrah myth, though unfortunately not so in the lesser known doublet. These tales are representative of the vile and violent culture within which they were written, and likewise reflect commonplace bigotries of the day such as homophobia and misogyny.

As is the case with doublets in the Bible, there are certainly distinctions between these two narratives. The one takes place in Sodom; whereas the setting of the other was in Gibeah. The Sodom myth involves two males traveling together; whereas the Gibeah myth cites a man and his concubine (there is a passing mention of a male servant, yet his role in the tale was evidently too insignificant for further reference). The hospitable host in the Sodom myth has two daughters; whereas in the Gibeah myth only one daughter is mentioned. The Sodom myth was the pretext for the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; whereas the Gibeah myth was the pretext for civil war against the Benjamite tribe of Israel. Indeed, there are distinctions between these two mythical tales, yet there are certain common elements as well.

In each of the two myths at hand, out of town travelers find lodging with admittedly hospitable individuals. Unfortunately, in each case there are groups of men who gather around the abode of the hospitable host, demanding to have sex with the male strangers therein. Inexplicably, in each case the hospitable host offers to send his daughters out to be gangraped in the place of the coveted male strangers. Although in neither case are the daughters actually sent out, the concubine of the Gibeah narrative was forced outside to the fate of an all night mass molestation, which lead to her subsequent death.

These two tales reveal specific cultural bigotries of the day. Each narrative stereotypes homosexuals as sexual predators, while at the same time each normalized misogyny. The fact that the group of sexual deviants wanted to gangrape those of their same gender paints homosexuality in an exclusively negative light. This is a transparent glimpse of the worldview of ancient Hebrew values. Additionally, the fact that modern day Homophobes often cite the Sodom myth as an authoritative source to justify their bigotry illustrates the detrimental effects of incorporating the values of ancient male oriented cultures into contemporary societies.

The fact that the hospitable host in each respective narrative offers to send his daughters out to be gangraped in order to protect his male guests blatantly normalizes misogyny. To add insult to the circumstances of a daughter being offered by her own Father to be gangraped is the fact that Lot, the Father in the Sodom myth, is described as a “righteous” man in New Testament biblical writings. To describe a Father who was willing to offer his own daughters to be the victim of a gangrape as being a “righteous” man trivializes women, a circumstance which was evidently commonplace in the ancient Hebrew world from which the Old Testament was produced.

As if the later biblical assessment of Lot is not insulting enough to women, consider the literary maltreatment of Lot’s wife in the course of time. Whereas Lot, in spite of offering his own daughters to be gangraped, is referred to in the New Testament as being righteous, his poor wife was murdered and then utilized in the later biblical writings as a bad example, merely because she looked back. To put this in context, the day after having to endure the emotional stress of having her husband offer to allow their daughters to be gangraped, this poor woman was murdered because she looked back. Because she looked back!

The double standard applied to the memory of Lot’s wife in later biblical writings, as contrasted to how Lot is memorialized, is the epitome of shameless sexism and misogyny. The degrading comment “Remember Lot’s wife” memorializes her as a bad example; whereas the memory of “righteous Lot” white washes the memory of a Father who was such a misogynist that he would offer his own daughters to be gangraped in order to save face and protect his male friends.

The mythical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed a case in point as to the detrimental effects of incorporating the ancient values of the male dominated Hebrew culture into modern society.

(NEXT: “The Misogyny Of Moses”)

Misogyny In The Creation Myths

Normalized misogyny and patriarchal rule are clear and consistent themes throughout biblical literature. The fact that the history of Western Civilization has traditionally reflected these same core values seems by no means coincidental. For so long as the template for social order in modern society involves a literal interpretation of the ancient myths of a male dominated culture, then we shall embrace the same bigotries which are recorded therein.

Indeed, the fundamental basis for patriarchal rule was introduced in the opening chapter of the Bible when God is identified as an exclusive and male entity. Despite the fact that the Creation Mythicist exposed the original generic perception of polytheism in Genesis 1.26 (“let us make man in our image”); nonetheless the later perception of a monotheistic deity prevails throughout both Creation myths as recorded in the Bible. And by identifying that God as exclusively male, the Creation Mythicists disenfranchised all women from any sense of equality with men, and relegated them to the status of second rate beings and insignificant consorts to their patriarchal rulers. Such was certainly the conclusion of the Garden Creation Myth, which may very well have been patched into the text immediately following the preceding Creation Myth to serve that very purpose.

For by blending these two Hebrew Creation Myths so as to read as one narrative, then such a reading leaves the false impression that the only reason the earth is not a blissful utopia is due to the fact that a woman named Eve ate an unidentified piece of fruit in a garden called Eden. In fact whereas the first Creation Myth concludes that all which God (the male figure) had made was good, the Garden Myth closes with Adam and his consort Eve banished from Eden, and cursed to a life of struggles and suffering due to Eve’s decision to partake of the forbidden fruit.

The degree of blame cast upon Eve was clearly irrational, and her punishment was likewise disproportionate to the deed, but such is commonplace throughout biblical literature. For whereas Eve became the scapegoat for all suffering and was sentenced to the lifelong rule of Adam simply because she ate a piece of fruit, Lot’s wife was killed simply because she looked back. For that matter, any newlywed wife who displeased her husband in bed was publicly shamed and stoned to death at her father’s doorstep, unless of course she could prove she was a virgin when she wed. Indeed, biblical literature reveals a male dominated culture in which women were subjected to double standards and were constantly vulnerable to the rash whims of the patriarchs in their lives.

In fact, the Hebrew culture was so male dominated, that patriarchal rule was regarded as natural for a woman to endure as were the pains she experienced while delivering children. This disturbing perspective derives from a literal interpretation of Eve’s punishment for eating the forbidden fruit as recorded in the Garden Myth. The case for a patriarchal order was ironically even further established as God punished Adam, for his indictment was that he listened to Eve, and thus partook of the forbidden fruit himself. The implication of course being that had he been a strong Patriarch and ignored the foolish woman that he would have remained blameless in the matter. It is somewhat ironic that Eve’s punishment was that she had to live under the rule of a man, even though that same man was chastised for his lack of leadership.

It is of course quite evident that these Myths merely reveal the culture and the worldviews of their respective writers, but therein lies the danger of interpreting these tales literally. For as hard as it is to conceive, even now in the 21st Century, there is still a sizeable demographic who maintain that the man is the natural head of the woman, and that the woman is therefore duty bound to subject herself to the rule of man. There is of course no natural basis for such a theory, which is why the Garden Myth is so significant to patriarchal thinkers. For without the Garden Myth to authorize patriarchal order, then there is no justification for male domination in any culture.

The manifestation of misogyny in the modern world ranges from the subtle conditioning of male dominance as a matter of church doctrine and personal faith, to celebrated males feeling entitled to verbally and sexually assault women, to the systemic oppression of double standards and intrusive dictates into the personal lives of women in general. Clearly, the influence of ancient male dominated Hebraic values as introduced into and forced upon modern society has lead to social discord in the way of defiant resistance from women who have chosen to become liberated from social convention and antiquated bigotry in our contemporary setting. And rightly so.

It is my personal view that until such time that Western society can mature past a dependency upon ancient Hebrew myths as a standard bearer for moral values and social order, that we will be doomed as a matter of our own making to live by the dictates of antiquated sexist values in the modern world.

(NEXT: “Misogyny In The Myth of Sodom and Gomorrah”)

Patriarchy In The Bible

It is my view that Patriarchy is the most fundamental of all illegitimate forms of authority. As the family is most likely the original organized collective in the history of humanity, then the concept of male rule would seem to have developed in that very context. Then, by the time societies had developed into municipalities and conceived of the ideology of monotheism, misogyny appears to have become both normalized and legalized. At least such was the case for certain cultures, namely the ancient Hebrews. For although the origin of sexist ideology is uncertain, the concept was clearly embedded into the Hebrew culture by the time their Bible was written some 2800 years ago.

In fact, from the opening Creation myths to the final apocalyptic assertions, sexism and misogyny are presented throughout biblical literature as normal and acceptable. Misogyny within the Hebrew Bible ranged from conditioning and commanding women to accept a subjective and submissive role towards the man, to the legalized maltreatment and merciless murder of women.

In the light of the import of such archaic values into modern society, and the detrimental influence of such even to this day, I am embarking upon a personal study and written assessment of the topic of Misogyny in the Bible. It is neither my intent to attack any of the three monotheistic faiths whose doctrines developed from the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament), nor to malign the Bible itself, but rather to assess such from a secular, sensible, and hopefully sensitive point of view. In so doing, I shall endeavor to be as fair to the original writers and to people of faith as I am fervent in subjecting the archaic ideology and illegitimate authority of Patriarchy to a rational and critical assessment.

(NEXT: “Misogyny in the Hebrew Creation Myths”)