Are woman mistreated in the Old Testament?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by IfbReformer, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. IfbReformer

    IfbReformer
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    I have grown up in IFB churches my whole life, I have taught Sunday School, I have even written for a website I have. But this seems by far to be one of the most difficult subjects I have had to face in the scriptures.

    While things get much better in the New Testament for women, in the Old it seems very harsh on women. The Mosaic law seems to want to pounce on a woman at any given turn. I also find it interesting, that the first time men are specifically commanded to love their wives as their own bodies is in the New Testament. In fact there is no command for a husband specifically to love his wife in the Old Testament, at least not that I have seen(please feel free to punch holes in here anytime).

    It seems that even the rape laws such as those found in Deuteronomy are more built around the family's honor being violated(especially that of the father), and no so much the crime done to the woman specifically.

    What about when Moses specifically allows for the Israelites to take female captives and force them to be their wives?

    Then there is the story of the Benjamites needing wives and taking the girls as they were dancing, another example of forced marriage.

    This all came about because I was witnessing to a woman at work and she said she thought the God of the Bible was unfair to woman. Even the sheckles paid for a boy were more than that paid for girl, clearly, she says, woman were seen as second rate in the Old Testament.

    Any help from you wise folks would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    IFBReformer
     
  2. bapmom

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    are women mistreated in the OT? Of course they are. It was the way of the world for much of human history. A large portion of the OT is history, and God records human history for us in sometimes gory and distasteful (to us), but truthful, fashion. Isn't always pretty, is it?

    The NT is a close-up personal accounting of God's work FOR mankind in a short span of time. It is God dealing on an individual basis with us. The OT is a broad span, dealing in many more generalities, and covering a far greater time period. Much of the OT is just stating how things were, what was happening then...not necessarily what God had commanded.

    I do not believe that GOD has ever or will ever mistreat women. If you ever come across someone stating this sentiment again perhaps you could point out that wherever the Bible is preached the status of women has been raised. You can also point out that God inspired two entire books of the OT on just the life and heroisms of two individual women.....both of them extremely positive books showing bravery of these women and their faithfulness to God despite their circumstances. There are no books of the OT dedicated to the failings of a woman (ie Jonah).
    When Elijah was hungry TWICE God sent him to widows......not to poor men, but to poor women.

    We women are not mistreated by God, we are sometimes mistreated by men, and God does not hold punches in regards to pointing that out. But on the other hand we women are not always innocent victims either. We do our share of mistreating.
     
  3. Deacon

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    Mistreated? sure thing!

    When some look at our God-breathed Bible they see only God's words but the Scriptures are a very human book too. They show us man, sometimes at his worst.

    Women were not given the same respect as they are now.
    They were often treated as property.

    Look at the life of David and see how his wives and porcupines were treated.
    See how both he and Saul, (and particularly David’s son Absalom) treated the women in their lives…. deplorable by today’s standards. ….probably deplorable even back then for anyone else except the king.

    Rob
     
  4. John of Japan

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    What particular Deuteronomy law on rape are you talking about? The only one I can find (Deut. 22:25-27) is totally lenient with the woman, and commands death for the man. This is quite different from the vast majority of the world throughout the vast majority of history.

    In Japan rape is almost never reported, and when it is reported the woman traditionally has had little recourse. It is only recently that molestation and sexual harrassment has been prosecuted here in Japan, but I still virtually never read in the paper or hear on the news about rape being prosecuted. By the way, it also often happens in the so-called "wonderful" Japanese school system, and is always covered up (as are many other crimes occurring in the school system). So much for the "high standards" of Buddhism and Shinto.

    Concerning love for the wife in the OT, seems to me that "Love your neighbor" would cover that.

    Concerning men taking as wives women taken as prisoners of war, what is wrong with that? Such an action is really merciful, because then the woman had the chance to hear about the true God of Israel. Have you ever studied the religions of Palestine in the time of the conquests? Absolutely vicious and wicked religions, including baby sacrifice in the worship of Molech, etc. The Jewish man would be doing the woman a favor to take her out of that.

    God bless.

    John
     
    #4 John of Japan, Feb 16, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2007
  5. Mexdeaf

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    The problem here is trying to filter Scripture through a 21st century mindset. It helps to read a book about what life was like during OT times to bring things into perspective.
     
  6. IfbReformer

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    Ok,

    Thanks to everyone who has written so far. But I can see I need to get more specific to really get to the heart of this matter.

    Consider this passage from the book of Exodus:

    Exodus 21(NIV)

    There are many issues with this passage:

    1.(vs 7) Moses allows for a man to sell his daughter as a servant? Is this not treating her as property to bought and sold? And unlike male servants who only had to serve 7 years, female servants were not to be let free just because 7 years had expired. But the person I am witnessing to would have a big problem with this man being able to sell his daughter, and the Moses actually gives instructions for how to do it.

    2.(vs 10) Clearly allows for pologamy, just making sure that the first wife continues to get food, clothing and sexual rights to her husband after he takes another wife.


    2 Samuel 12:8(NIV)

    In vs 8 of 2 Samuel 12:8. when God is scolding David for taking another man's wife he clearly tells him that he gave him the wives(plural) of Saul(his master) and that later another would have his wives because of this(absolon)

    An indication to some here, that God actually condoned pologamy.


    Leviticus 12:1-5(NIV)

    In this passage from Leviticus 12, why is a woman considered unclean for twice as long if she has a daughter, than if she had a son? Some might feel that God here is saying that girls are more unclean than boys.


    Are males worth more to God than females? Consider this passage from Leviticus:

    Leviticus 27:1-6(NIV)

    Why at any given age, are the males always worth more shekels than the female? Does this not clearly show that God values males more than females?

    This post is already too big so I will continue with the adultery section in the next post.

    Please understand again, I am a Christian and Bible believer, these are not my takes, but someone I am witnessing too.

    IFBReformer
     
  7. bapmom

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    no, no, no, no..........

    first of all, the girls were not to be "just set free" as boys were. As in she was not to just be set at liberty and put on her own! She had to be redeemed, as in "bought" back by her family. She was NOT to be sold to foreigners who might mistreat her. This passage that you cite here is actually showing God's special care and provision for the girls OVER the boys. The girls were to be shown special respect and caretaking.

    Im short on time right now.......(if you sit down to check a thread right as you are walking out the door you MIGHT be addicted to the BB :laugh: )

    I'll be back later!
     
  8. IfbReformer

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    In conclusion I will address the adultery passages in the Old Testament:

    Leviticus 20:10(NIV)


    Deuteronomy 22:22-28(NIV)

    It seems from this passage in Deuteronomy, that rape laws all centered around the marital status of the woman in question. The last verse, vs 28 seems to suggest that if a man rapes a woman who is not pledged to married that all he has to do is pay the father the bride price and she will become his wife.

    So in essense if he likes a girl, he can just rape her, pay her father and she becomes his wife. I have read some commentaries that say that the Hebrew here translated as "rape" here(also translated as "lay hold on"(in the KJV) does not have to mean rape.

    If is does not mean rape, but rather consenual relations, then we have another problem. There is not one mention in the Mosaic law of how to handle a situationon of when a man rapes a woman who is not pledged to married - was this not an issue for God(this is what the person has asked me).

    The woman I am witnessing to has summed this up as it seems that woman were considered second rate by God in the Old Testament, and akin to property of the men they were pledged to or married to. The crime seems more to focus on the honor of the family(the father or brothers) be violoated than on the fact that a woman has been forced to have relations with a man she does not consent to.

    It almost seems(in this woman's opinion), that there seems to be a loop hole in the Old Testament. If a man has consensual relations with a woman who is not pledged to married, where is the prescribed punishment for this? For a girl, if she is found not to be a virgin when she is married she is stoned, but what about if a male was promiscous(just not with a pledged or married woman)?

    And then we also have forced marriage, is that akin to rape(she would ask).


    The last item is the treatment of female captives:

    Deuteronomy 21:10-14(NIV)

    Problems in this passage:

    1.(vs 10) Why would God allow Israelites to to take captives and make them slaves(is this not an immoral action?)

    Consider this passage in that context:
    Deuteronomy 20:10-12 (NIV)

    2.(vs 13 and 14 of Deuteronomy 21) It seems that they could sell her or treat her as a slave if they did not try to take her as a wife(first problem - a person is regarded as property). The second issue is that if he did take her as his wife(so he as releations with her), but is not pleased with her he can send her away because he has "dishonored her". Does this not seem like she was a thing, to be tried out, and if he does not like her can throw her away?

    So that sums it up. Please fire away with everything you guys(and gals) have.

    Thanks

    IFBReformer
     
  9. Scarlett O.

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    Back up to verses 23-24. If the man "humbled" the woman, or violated her as some translations call it and she, being in the city, did not scream for help, she dies with him.

    Your verse is about a girl being violated in the country, where the bible says no one could hear her anyway even if she did scream.


    And just which wife would that be? All of them or just his personal favorites? :laugh:

    Ew....my head hurts!

    Let's just say for the sake of argument that you are right. Then why was this benevolent act of witnessing to foreign women only afforded to the beautiful women who were sexually arousing to these men?

    Deutoronomy 21:11 says that they could take from the captives the "beautiful women - the women that they had a desire for". If this taking of foreign women into your home was a benevolent act of witness.....did not the unattractive women deserve the same opportunity to come to know God? :saint:

    Perhaps the attractive and sexy women were afforded an opportunity to escape barbarianism.

    But the Jewish man was doing her no favors and in no way, shape, or form was he treating her with special care or respect or love.

    Verses 13-14 say that these Jewish men had to wait 30 days for these beautiful and sexy women to mourn their families and then he could have sex with her. If she didn't please him, he could get rid of her. But he couldn't sell or trade her because he had humiliated her. She was on her own.

    The Old Testament is full of passages and stories that don't make sense to us, today. We may never understand it, but we accept it and move on. We cannot make this passage into something it wasn't. We have to accept that God had a reason for doing so. We don't have to know the reason.

     
  10. mnw

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    Let me state from the beginning I do not believe God ever approves of rape or violence toward any one. Now, on to what I think and could well be misunderstood. :)

    If we view the Bible as a continual, gradual revelation to the end then it may clear up some issues.

    Sometimes new information must replace old laws because of a change in dispensation and a general growth in knowledge and standards. Sometimes new information adds to previous knowledge. I would stress that I do not believe it ever conflicts.

    Sometimes it is better for something to be regulated before it can be condemned and banned. I think this may be the case with some of the society issues we percieve.

    For example, I do not believe God or Moses condoned divorce under any circumstances. But, it was better for it to be regulated rather than simply ignored. By regulating divorce at least women had some recourse rather than being completely abandoned.

    Give this Bible to someone 6000 years ago or someone who has never heard and the change necessary would be immense! So they would need to be instructed slowly and gradually.

    Consider the missionary who goes to a society where polygamy is still a part of life. Firstly, you can't just have them toss all their wives except their favourite out the door. Secondly, the women's perception of the wrong done to them may not be as strong as we would percieve it in a post-women's rights movement society. I am not saying they are happy about it, but their perception may be considerably different. Thirdly, the missionary would have to start with the basics and it may take a generation or more before the practice of polygamy dies out.

    As for perceptions, many western women feel Muslim women need to be liberated, but many Muslim women in various polls say they do not want the "freedoms" that western women have. Really, is the freedom to dress immodestly and promote promiscuous sexuality freedom for anyone?

    Lastly (I think), some writers say that some women in ancient times would make themselves more attractive to their captors and so this could be a double-sided coin.

    What are the benefits of the laws Israel had? Instead of being left destitute in a destroyed nation, homeless, husbandless and about to starve, they could be taken into a home, taught the laws of the God of Israel and have the opportunity to become a prosolyte.

    When we consider the other laws of the Old Testament there was a degree of respect and honour giving to women. And I seem to remember any women joining the Tribe/Nation had to meet certain regulations. So perhaps there are truths assumed in this passage. Truths that were common place for National Israel but things that Christians would never imagine.

    Taking the Bible as a whole leaves you in no doubt as to the proper treatment of men, women and children, whether they be friends, family, enemies or strangers or neighbours.

    You don't chance a person over night, and it takes, very often, a generation to change a nation.
     
  11. webdog

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    That must have been even more of a prickly situation :laugh:
     
  12. webdog

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    Couldn't it be said that mankind in general was mistreated? Slavery was allowed and condoned...disobedience in many cases meant immediate death...hostile takeovers and pillaging...men being forced to marry their sister in law upon their brothers death (NOOOOOO).
    It seems like a rough time to live for both men and women.
     
  13. Scarlett O.

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    No, they aren't examples of freedom.

    But the right to dress comfortably and modestly without being ashamed, the right to dress comfortably and modestly without my body being labeled as an evil thing or having to hide even my wrists and ankles, the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to run for office, the right to jobs, the right to marry a man of your own choosing, the right to protect you own body from the Muslim practice of female genital mutilation to keep their women nonsexual, the right, when raped to be seen as a victim and not a person who has "dishonored" the family name, the right to be protected from honor killings, having your own brothers kill you, and then celebrate with their male friends, or pour acid in my face if I were raped, the right to enter your place of worship with your own husband, the right to sit beside him as a co-heir with Christ and worship God together, the right to sit in the same room and eat dinner with your own husband, the right to attend the funerals of your own family member and the right to visit the cemetery of you own child.........

    I'd say all in all, I'll keep my Western freedoms anyday.....including the right to wear pants even though it offends some people.

    Ah....the old "she's-asking-for-it" philosophy. Even if that were so, there are some women who could go through 10 years of beauty treatments and still not be considered beautiful nor sexy as these women are described.

    Well, that would have been nice, but that's not what these women were being offered. Why are we making this passage into something that it isn't? Is it because we can't believe that this was allowed because it so contrary to our own thinking?

    Again, God must have a reason for this law. We must accept that and move on.

    These men weren't looking for nice, wholesome women to make religious converts of. These guys weren't missionaries!

    They were allowed to grab the women that "made their spurs jingle" so to speak. If this were today, and these guys invaded America....they would snatching up the Paris Hiltons and the Brittany Spears and Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit girls. It was based on a man opinion of her beauty...what struck him as her ability to sexually arouse him.

    Unattractive women, older women, and small girls weren't included in the directive....

    "...a beautiful woman and hast a desire unto her...."

    This passage is not about tenderness and mercy. This was all about visual excitement and carnality....that's why the clause was given that after he had sex with her, if she didn't please him, he could dump in the streets if he so chose. But because he had humiliated her, he could not sell her not trade her.

    As a woman, I don't really understand this passage, but I accept that God had a reason for it and I do not question it.

    I will also not make a little fairy-tale out of it. These women were not Cinderella and these guys weren't Prince Charming.

    This was not about bring lost people into God's Kingdom. If it is, then God was only interested in the beautiful people.

    It's just part of the Levitical civil code that is strange to read, but part of God's Holy Word.

    Yes, this is true.
     
    #13 Scarlett O., Feb 16, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
  14. mnw

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    You have used some extremes found in Islam just as your trouser issue is something of an extreme within Christianity.

    Besides, all I was passing on was what I had read in some polls. Some Muslim women do not want want what is sometimes seen as Western freedoms.



    I just deleted a paragraphor so here. :) Due to the fact I feel very much insulted by, what I hope, is a misunderstanding on your part. No where did I state that "she's-asking-for-it." You imply that I think rape is okay if the woman somehow deserved it.

    I said, "Lastly (I think), some writers say that some women in ancient times would make themselves more attractive to their captors and so this could be a double-sided coin."

    Firstly, it is something I have read by some commentators but have been able to verify yet. Secondly, all I meant was that the women seemed to be making the best of a bad situation. I am not saying they deserved rape or brought it on themselves.

    No one, man or women, ever deserves rape. Some perhaps are unwise and put themselves in bad situations, but they are not to blame and do not deserve rape.



    You can't tell me something more is not going on. Where in the text does it say or imply that all the regulations to do with fornication, adultary, religious cleanliness etc were to be put aside for a one night stand after taking them into their home for one month.

    Having said that, how many other nations do you think had the one month rule? Do you not think the one month could have acted as something of a cold shower?



    I never meant to imply that they were. I used the example of missionaries having to utilise gradual teaching/revelation. And I do think there could have been cases where the "wife" was a prosolyte and not just some poor abused woman.



    Seeing as this conflicts with other OT passages, and seeing as the Hebrew seems to give more light I cannot simply rest on your interpretation.



    For me this does not fall into the "That's just the way it is" category. I applaud the stand you have taken because I know you feel strongly about some issues that are touched on here. It demonstrates a strong and mature faith and you I genuinly applaud that.
     
  15. benz

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    Christianity as a whole have given freedom to women that they enjoy today. I think Jesus' had the right attitude towards women, he protected the woman from being stoned for adultry and even commented that he had not seen such worship from anyone else (MARY MAGDELINE)........I think the 'love' in christianty has given women much more rights in today's society as compared to islamic and hindu countries.
     
  16. Scarlett O.

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    I was not saying that you embraced that philosophy. I was responding to what you said that "some writers" think and that "double-sided coin" of which you said they believed.

    I was responding to the philosophy, not the messenger. :saint:

    I do not believe that this passage is talking about rape, per se. It just seems to be talking a woman having no choice as to her destiny.

    My apologies if you or some other reader interprets that I was directing that comment at you.



    It's possible. The bible says that is was for her time of grieving for her family.



    That is also possible. I was reading you and others who have posted to mean that this was the purpose of this law.



    Thank you.

    For me, right now in my life, it has to fall into the "that's just how it is category." I know that there really is no such category to God's Word. God's Word is not ambiguous nor misleading.

    It's people, with faulty thinking, that come away with ambiguous interpretations and misleading ideas.

    But until I can be clear on what deeper meaning this had.....I have to go with "that's just how it is."
     
  17. John of Japan

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    But the fact remains that if she screams, she is not guilty and the man dies. Every girl knew that and screamed, I would think. This is a far, far better law than those of the heathens were.


    All of them, of course!

    Make no mistake, I believe God's original plan was one man and one woman becoming one. Noah and his wife were a great example of that. But God dealt with the culture as it existed in 1400 BC. Don't try to read your 21st century prejudices back into it.


    Take two aspirin and read the passages again! :saint:



    Every woman is beautiful to some man. You are not understanding men here. My wife is gorgeous to me and always has been. But some other man might not think so (can't imagine that). That's how God's plan of romantic love works.

    At any rate, even being a slave of the Jews was far better for a young woman than the culture she had come from. Note the horrible religion of the region before the Jews came:

    "The fire-god Molech was the tutelary deity of the children of Ammon, and essentially identical with the Moabitish Chemosh. Fire-gods appear to have been common to all the Canaanite, Syrian and Arab tribes, who worshipped the destructive element under an outward symbol, with the most inhuman rites. According to Jewish tradition, the image of Molech was of brass, hollow within, and was situated without Jerusalem. 'His face was (that) of a calf, and his hands stretched forth like a man who opens his hands to receive (something) of his neighbor. And they kindled it with fire, and the priests took the babe and put it into the hands of Molech, and the babe gave up the ghost.' Many instances of human sacrifices are found in ancient writers, which may be compared with the description of the Old Testament of the manner in which Molech was worshipped." (Smith's Bible Dictionary)




    Now you are reading into the text something that is not there. The text does not say they had sex, it says he shamed her: shaved her hair, etc.

    Agreed.


    Now my lovely bride is wafting the smell of fried chicken up the stairs. She's not only beautiful but a great cook! (And no, I'm not being sexist. She barred me from the kitchen after I almost burned down the house heating water :BangHead: .)
     

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