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”


My Memorial Day


I am an irreverant but Peace Loving Atheiest, so be warned that MY MEMORIAL DAY may not suit your standards.  Proceed at your own philosophical peril:


Woke up.  Got out of bed.  Dragged a comb across my head… NO WAIT.. that’s a song.  Good song though.    Did wake up though.  Did get of bed.  Went to bathroom.  Performed necessary bodily functions of an out of shape 52 year old man.


Splashed water on face.  Looked in mirror.  Still me.  Breathed on mirror.  Residual vapor.  Still alive.  Smelled breath.  Damn near passed out.  Gargled with mouthwash.  Glanced in mirror on way out of bathroom.  Still me.


Stumbled into kitchen.  Started coffee.


Fed cats.  Cleaned out litter box.  Odor reminded me of my breath.  Not quite that bad.


Poured first cup of coffee.  Spilt some.  Wiped counter with bare hand.  Wiped boxers with bare hand.  Took coffee and pipe to backyard.


Sat in backyard.  Sipped coffee.  Smoked pipe.  Thought.  Listened to rooster crowing in the distance.   Watched crow roosting in nest in a tree.  Watched dogs chase squirrel up same tree.  Patted dogs on head while secretly rooting for squirrel.  Sipped coffee.  Smoked pipe. Thought.


Went inside.  Turned TV on.  War movie.  Flipped channel.  War movie.  Flipped channel.  War movie.  Flipped channel.  Episode of M*A*S*H*.  Set to tape.  Discovered it is a M*A*S*H*  marathon.  Set to tape all episodes of marathon.  Will watch later.  Flipped channel.  War movie.  Flipped channel. War movie.  Flipped channel.  Clint Eastwood western.  “FISTFUL OF DOLLARS”.  Title too damned Republican for my taste.  Flipped channel.  War movie. Flipped channel.  War movie.  Flipped channel.  FOX News.  That was last straw.  Cursed at FOX News.  Turned TV off.


Sat and thought.  “What to do what to do…”  Saw Bible on bookshelf.  Contemplated:  Read Bible or watch FOX News?  Bible or FOX News?  FOX News or Bible?  Decisions, decisions.  What would my Mother do?  Probably both.  Irrelevant.  Opted for reading Bible.  Bible trumps FOX News.  Sorry Mom.  Sorry God.


In backyard with Bible.  Rooster not crowing.  Must have fallen asleep.  Crow nowhere in sight.  Watched squirrel chase dogs up  the tree.  Patted squirrel on head.  Wondered how to get dogs out of tree.  Back to the Bible.


Made decision what to read. Should read about blood, war,and violence in honor of Memorial Day.  Plenty of material to choose from in the Bible.  Settled on Numbers 31.


Read: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take vengeance on the Midianites” (Numbers 31:1-2).  Reminded me of another Bible passage:  “Love your enemies”  (Matthew 5:44).  And yet another:  “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”  (Luke 11:4).  Scratched head.  Confused.  Must not apply.  At least not to God.


Read:  “So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm some of yourselves for war, and let them go against the Midianites to take vengeance for the Lord on Midian.” (Numbers 31:3).  Yep. I guess that confirms it.  Forgiveness does not apply to God.


Read:  “ And they warred against the Midianites, just as the Lord commanded Moses, and they killed all the males.” (Numbers 31:7).  Now that’s what Memorial Day is all about!  The fallen dead on the war field.  No wait, that’s not right.  Memorial Day is about OUR fallen dead, not their fallen dead.  What WAS I thinking?  Oh well, YIPPIE for our side.  Take THAT you sorry Midianites!!


Put Bible down.  Went inside.  Went to bathroom.  Performed bodily functions of a 52 years old out of shape man who drinks too much coffee.  Flushed toilet.  Glanced in mirror on way out.  Still me.


Returned to back yard.  Squirrel in one tree thumbing nose at dogs in the other tree.  Picked up Bible.  Now where was I?  Oh, yeah that’s right.  God’s side has killed all male Midianites. YIPPIE for our side.  Take THAT you sorry Midianites!


Read:  “And the children of Israel took the women of Midian captive, with their little ones, and took as spoil all their cattle, all their flocks, and all their goods.” (Numbers 31:9).  Reminded me of another passage:  “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).  Scratched head.  Confused.  Must not apply.  At least not to the Israelites.  Of course, there is another semi-applicable passage:  “Let him that stole steal no more” (Ephesians 4:28).  SO, I suppose that if they stole all that stuff JUST THIS ONCE,  and promise to never do it again, then its okay.  (Oh, I just LOVE escape clauses in the Bible, don’t YOU?)

But now, what about the women that they took captive? Hmm… What to do?  What to do?


Read:  “And Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation, went to meet them outside the camp.  But Moses was angry with the officers of the army, with the captains over thousands and captains over hundreds, who had come from the battle.  And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive?” (Numbers 31:13-15)

Man, that Moses sure has a temper doesn’t he!  Remember that one time that he got his nose all bent out of shape because the Israelites had that party and didn’t invite him?  Man, was he pissed.  He busted the Ten Commandments and everything. Man, oh man.  I guess he doesn’t hold much stock in that one passage that says “Thou shalt not be angry” Oh, the Bible doesn’t actually say that?  My bad!!

So Moses is angry because they had kept ALL the women alive.  Hmm… I wonder what he meant by that….


Read:  “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately.”  (Numbers 31:17).  Too bad for those little male Midianite boys!   Killing children is bad stuff.  Now, isn’t that strange though.  Bible Thumpers are all about not killing kids ALL THE WAY back to conception… BUT since Moses says to murder these little Midianite boys, then THAT’S just okie dokie.  I am sure am glad that none of those Midianite mothers had aborted any of these little Midianite males, because then those poor little Midianite males would not have ever lived, and then those poor little Midianite males would have never had the opportunity to have known the love and mercy of Jehovah.  Praise His Name!!

So, God’s Army killed all the Midianite boys, but don’t forget:  There’s still the women!  Now Moses, he was some kind of fellow.  Believed in gender equality. Sort of that is.  He told his army to kill the women AND the boys.  Well… almost.. but not exactly:


Read:  “But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately” (Numbers 31:18).  Now, isn’t that just the sweetest thing you  have ever read?  Moses, why Moses was a true ROMANTIC!!  He ONLY had the non-Virgin women murdered!  How thoughtful!!  Out of the goodness of his Israeli heart, he did not want to kill those young, sweet, innocent Midianite gals since they had never experienced the pleasure of sex with a hot blooded male!  I tell you, it is romantic moments like this that make all the bloody violent murder and mutilation of the Bible worth it all!!  And who better to bless those virgin Midianite damsels with the deed of sexual intercourse than the Israelites themselves!  Keep them alive “for yourselves” Moses said!!  I tell you, sentimental moments like this just bring a tear to your eye!


Read:  “And as for you, remain outside the camp seven days; whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. Purify every garment, everything made of leather, everything woven of goats’ hair, and everything made of wood.”  (Numbers 31:19-20).  Now, how is that for thoughtful planning?  Lest any impurities of the deceased be passed along to the non-combatant Israelites, those who were involved in the bloody mutilation of  the Midianite men, boys, and NON-VIRGIN women had to purify themselves before being allowed back into the general Israeli population.  God thinks of everything doesn’t he?


While contemplating God’s details for sanitation and cleanliness after mutilation and murder, I suddenly realized that I forgot to wash my hands after I had used the bathroom.  So,with a prayer of forgiveness on my lips, I ran quickly back into the house, used bathroom again (Old Man Bladder!!), and washed my hands TWICE like a good little godly soldier!!


Returned to backyard to read the end of the story.  Dogs taking a nap in tree.  Squirrel nowhere in sight.

Read:  “So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.”  (Numbers 31:31).  Give credit where credit is due!  God was behind it all!  The killing of all the Midianite men.  The killing of all the Midianite boys.  The killing of all the NON-VIRGIN Midianite females.  God was behind ALL that killing!!

Read:  “The booty remaining from the plunder, which the men of war had taken, was six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep, seventy-two thousand cattle, sixty-one thousand donkeys, and thirty-two thousand persons in all, of women who had not known a man intimately.”  (Numbers 31:32-35).  Wasn’t that thoughtful of God to list the NON-VIRGIN Midianite women who he allowed to live?  And to count them as part of the booty?  And to list them among the sheep and donkeys and such.  Don’t let it ever be said that God overlooks women, because this passage is documented proof to the contrary!  And he EVEN calls them PERSONS!

Well, there is more to the chapter.  Something about half the “Beast and Beauty Booty” being given to the Israeli soldiers, and the other half going to the Israeli camp itself.  You can read the rest of the chapter for yourself.  It doesn’t specifically say what they did with the NON-VIRGIN Midianite women who were allowed to live, BUT since these were godly people, I am sure the NON-VIRGIN Midianite women who were allowed to live were left in good hands…..

And now, to go get the dogs out of the tree and mow my lawn.