Misogyny In The Ten Commandments

The society which produced biblical literature was male oriented and misogynistic as to their thinking. Although most ancient cultures envisioned female deities in their tales and myths, the Hebrew world which produced the Old Testament usually identified God as a singular, male being. One particular Hebrew Creation Myth explains patriarchal rule as the divine order. It seems that once upon a time there was a woman who ate fruit from a tree which had been labeled as off limits by her male God. Naturally, as the narrative explained, that wanton act of rebellion subjected that particular woman to a life of patriarchal rule. Over the course of time, the basic interpretation of that myth became “what’s good enough for Adam is good enough for me”, hence all women of the ancient Hebrew culture were subjected to that same treatment. Thus, Eve’s punishment came to be regarded as a divine order of sorts. More reasonably, the writer responsible for the myth itself probably revealed the actual male oriented values of his day by way of this creative tale.

In fact, the ancient Hebrew culture which produced the biblical literature known as the Old
Testament was so male oriented that misogyny and the maltreatment of women were both normalized and legalized. Indeed, the hallowed Ten Commandments themselves were by no means exempt from the sexism which so characterized ancient Hebrew ideology:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20.17)

For this Tenth Commandment clearly documents that which so many Old Testament passages and accounts confirm; namely that the women of that society were regarded as mere male property. In other words, every good Hebrew male was lawfully bound to have the respect to refrain himself from coveting a fellow male’s personal possessions, among which included his wife.

This patriarchal dictate then was somewhat of a good old boys code of ethical conduct, yet there is no wording within the passage which would bind women to show the same respect to each other with relationship to their husbands. Thus, there was a loophole in this sexist commandment which allowed husbands to freely consort with concubines and prostitutes, but which certainly permitted no such liberties to wives.

The degradation of women and the double standard for men so dictated by this Tenth Commandment are clear indicators that the society which produced biblical literature both normalized and legalized misogyny and sexism. It is my personal view that ancient patriarchal standards should be left to the past, and that it is furthermore a shame that such were ever normalized and legalized in any setting.

(Next: “Females A Fraction Of The Worth, Yet Twice As Unclean”)

The Misogyny Of Moses

And so the killing began. Siblings watched as their brothers were executed. And then the remaining brothers themselves were executed. Mothers watched as their sons were executed. And then they themselves were executed. Children watched as their Mothers were executed. And then the sons themselves were executed. From young teen boys whose voices had barely begun to crack, to toddler boys barely able to walk, to baby boys in the clutches of their Mother’s arms. All the males and all the Mothers were executed.

As ordered by Moses.

It must have all been a bloody mess when the killing was done. The on the scene Priest even reminded the collective killers of their sanitation duties under the circumstances, as dictated by Hebraic Law. They were even reminded to sanitize the sex slaves that each of them had claimed.

For such was the fate of the virgin daughters of the Midianites. Their Fathers killed in battle. Their Mothers and their Brothers murdered before their very eyes. And then, as if to add insult to the most injurious of sinister circumstances, each of these young ladies was taken captive and forced to live the remainder of their lives as the sex slave of one of the Israelis soldiers who had murdered their family.

As ordered by Moses.

The trauma for these young ladies must have been inconceivable. It is hard to imagine that they ever recovered from the experience.

Sad to say, but such is the final legacy of one of the great names of biblical literature. The fact that the writer of this narrative would envision Moses himself as being the person who actually ordered the executions of the Midianite women and who arranged for sex slaves for each of the Israeli soldiers involved is unfortunate, while at the same time quite revealing. For according to this tale, among the final notable deeds of Moses were orders of the mass execution of women who he blamed for the shortcomings of his fellow Israeli males (typical “blame it on the woman” theme), the likewise execution of the male children of those same women, and the capture of young Midianite girls so they would live the remainder of their lives as sex slaves of the very Israeli soldiers who had already killed their family. This incident as described is a dreary and despicable affair, and the writer of such envisioned Moses himself as being the man who ordered and organized the entire affair.

The strong feelings of animosity which the writer of this tale feels for non-Jews is clear and evident, as are his assumptions of patriarchal entitlement. His xenophobic inclinations towards the Midianites is ironic in that the Midianites were allegedly distant cousins to the Hebrews, yet in the context of religious bigotry, the writer’s radical feelings are predictable. For as the Midianite women had supposedly once been a bad influence over the Hebrew men by encouraging them to worship other gods, the writer seems to have felt justified to see the whole lot of them executed. And their sons.

But not their virgin daughters.

As it is, the entire account was quite likely mythical. There seems to be more symbolism to the tale than realism, especially the claim that not a single Israeli soldier was killed in a battle that allegedly entailed the death of every male enemy combatant, including five kings. However; this narrative nonetheless reflects the unfavorable values of a vile and violent culture which both normalized and legalized murder and misogyny.

References: Numbers 31, Numbers 25

Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses”

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”)