If you have been following my treatises on the BIBLE STORIES series, you’d find that recently I’ve been highlighting genealogies as an important aspect of the stories in the bible, and in fact if you pay attention to these genealogies you’d find in them stories deeper and more engaging than the main stories that featured them. Many a time, you’ll find the list of genealogies replete with names of male offsprings, totally devoid of females, or just the number of females (born to patriarchs) given, and on rare occasions the name of the female is given. When the names of these females appear, you can be rest assured that their contribution must’ve been too great to be ignored.
What I think might have been responsible for the way the bible is skewed in favour of males, is the fact that it was written by men who lived in patriarchal societies, with the possibility of a few been misogynists and male chauvinists at a time it didn’t feel wrong to be so. Women appeared to not have been forgiven for the “original sin” which they are said to have caused the first man to commit, and in so doing found themselves (man and woman) cast out of the Garden of Eden. This judgmental approach appears to define the portrayal of women in scripture, from the period after Eden even unto the Book of Revelations, and I will name a few instances of one of such portrayals that you’d find frequently in the bible. The most popular, I think, been the harlot portrayal, where once a fully grown woman isn’t living with a husband she is portrayed as such, even when instances aren’t stated of her engaging in illicit sexual acts with men.
Remember Rahab? The harlot in Jericho? She it was who helped Israelite spies into Jericho in the dead of night to gather Intel on the land they intended to overrun. As reward, she was spared by the General, Joshua such that when the walls of Jericho fell, she and her family were spared by hanging a red cloth on her window. She would go on to marry into one of the Israelite families, begat Boaz, who begat Obed, who begat Jesse, who begat David from whose stock the Messiah was born. Sometimes I wonder if the portrayal of Rahab as a prostitute in the book of Joshua wasn’t simply because as a woman her age, she lived alone, and the true meaning lost in translation? Yet many who read these things take it verbatim and also see women in such a light, reflecting in situations where in cultures that revolve around the bible, people see such women in Rahab’s shoes as harlots till and unless they find their way into a man’s house as his wife.
A woman who finds it difficult to be or stay married is then put under mindless stress and undue pressure, to settle with anything that looks like a man (again, as the case may be), just to fit into the status required of her by society, according to the dictates of misogynistic translators and teachers of the bible, following in the footstep of some of the writers, whom I repeat wrote these things when it wasn’t considered outlandish to view women through such prisms. In the simple story that I highlighted above, you’d find that the fact that Rahab was considered a “harlot” didn’t stop YAHWEH from actualizing his ultimate plan for mankind through her lineage (in one of the rare genealogies of the bible where a woman not only made the list, but played a key role, not once but thrice in the naming of Rahab, Ruth, then Miriam- the mother of Yahshua Ha-Mashiach, the one Christians call Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 1), in what seems a silent proclamation of how the Divine doesn’t see this denigration of women as we do, when we do such citing religion. Women are as important to HIM as men are (if not in fact more, and if you doubt me, consider Joseph the adopted father of the Messiah), and as much as we portray women as evil to pull them down, he raises them up to astound us at every given time.
If you allow me, I will cite examples upon examples of feat of women in the bible whom YAHWEH used to turnaround situations of helplessness of individuals to even the nation of Israel. You’d see their boldness in the protection of Moses in Egypt (in the book of Exodus) through Miriam his sister and his mother and Pharaoh’s daughter, Jael in Judges 4:17 who delivered the Israelites from Sisera; Deborah as Israel’s first female judge, even Judith is a book of the bible that was struck out of the common compilations for a place in the Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical books only, in what in my estimation, is for sexist reasons because it celebrates a heroine. I have mentioned here only a few of the old testament females to show that so called liberation epistle for women didn’t start with Yahshua (regarding Miriam of Magdala, better known in Christendom as Mary Magdalene) or with the Apostle Paul (Sha-ul), and if we can but open our eyes and read between the lines of the letters, even of the old testament, we will find the truth behind these women, including the ones often referred to as harlots. Unfortunately, time and space will not permit me to tell you about the wife to one of Judah’s son, Tamar in Genesis chapter 38 to put things in proper perspective.
Our societies, especially the ones built on biblical principles have not been fair to women at all. The same applies to those societies built on the Quranic, and by extension Islamic principles. If we examine the books that guide adherents of these religions, we will find that instances cited many a times for the “chaining” and shaming of our
women are mostly traditional (as obtainable among the people of the time as now) rather than gospel or spiritual, talk more divine, enough for them to be cast in stone. We are wont to emphasize those parts that demonize women and make evil second nature to women, especially to please/benefit us men in our patriarchal societies, hence women are the ones who cannot attend some “spiritual” churches when they are in their menses, citing old testament creed of a time in the wilderness (of the children of Israel) when the apparatus to check menstrual bleeding wasn’t known nor available, and water was scarce, to our time for instance. I saw a video of a woman being flogged in a Christian society for committing adultery with her husband’s friend, no video of anything happening to the man. I’d say she was even lucky because under the Boko Haram reign in northern Nigeria, the Ansar-Deen in Mali, Al-Shabab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (and elsewhere), Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL and even so called “moderate” Islamic communities women are stoned to death for adultery, some after been buried to the neck (from a video I also saw of Ansar-Deen atrocities in Mali), while the man is nowhere to be found, or hardly ever punished. Interestingly, the presence of female deities in certain eastern religions, including the many aboriginal polytheistic religions the world over, haven’t done much in terms of translating to better deals for female adherents (who sometimes find themselves as objects of sexual exploitation during festivals celebrating goddesses mostly dedicated to “fertility” for instance), compared to their counterparts who are adherents of the Abrahamics.
When this sort of situation arose in Yahshua’s time, He was recorded in the book of John chapter 8 as saying to the men who’d come to stone the woman accused of adultery to cast a stone, if indeed they had no SIN. One by one they left, from the oldest till He was left alone with the woman, whom he advised to go and sin no more. This should be our attitude towards so called sinners as we all are, empathy as exemplified by One who knew and did no sin. In a bus I boarded one day, this preacher started preaching what turned out to be “women bashing” all the way, mentioning almost everything women did as sins, from wearing of trousers, to weave-ons, to makeups, to having boyfriends, sex outside wedlock, promiscuity, fornication, adultery, abortion, and all the while looking at the woman seated before him, as if for inspiration because of the way she was dressed and made up, without mention of any sin by men, except in relation to the woman, especially where he said the women caused the men to commit the “sin of lookery”, which sometimes results in rape, in essence blaming women for rape. I left that bus feeling guilty for not giving the so called preacher a piece of my mind, seeing that he probably attends one of those churches where only women are accused of being witches, possessed by one spirit or the other, and if the woman is of a fair pulchritude, possessed of marine or mammy-water/mermaid spirit, and be physically and psychologically abused before other church members, all in the name of “casting the demons” out of such victims.
A review of relevant aspect of scripture affirms that “ALL”, not just females, have sinned and come short of the glory of YAHWEH. It is even said that, as through one MAN sin came to the world, so also through another (man) salvation is availed all, and that from the same bible that acknowledged that Eve was deceived to eat from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” (which doesn’t seem much like a bad idea if you consider what consequences should follow consumption from such a tree with that nomenclature, but again as much of the bible is lost in translation, I won’t push this). We must therefore stop the shaming of women under the guise of religion, and go on to liberate women with religion, with the scriptures, with the bible, just as at every spot, despite the misogyny of writers and translators, YAHWEH still managed to do, even in the “dark” times of the Old Testament, and as Yahshua typified in the New. Selah