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”)