Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Woman and the other Prophets

Men with charisma often use that charisma for sexual advantage.  This is a major theme of Indian guruism and Japanese monasticism, and has cost the Catholic Church billions.  It would be naïve to assume all the women in such relationships are entirely blameless. 

It is peculiar how little of that comes up in the works of the prophets, whose fiery, passionate, poetic sermons are the very elixir of the charismatic guru.  The only prominent sexual relationship featured that involves the prophets' personal lives, is Hosea's quixotic marriage to a prostitute, representing Israel, gone "whoring" after other gods.  The prophetic writings often invoke that analogy.  But the passion the prophets express is usually not over their personal fortunes, which are often sad, but over the fate of their nation, often pictured as a young woman who makes terrible choices in her personal life, and over the actual widows, young women who are raped, and mothers of children who starve or are killed by foreign armies.  The "daughter of Zion" has drunk bitter water to the dregs, and the faces of the prophets are full of tears for their fate. 

Yet the prophets also look forward to a time of return, and enter into the joy that men and women will equally experience when Israel comes home. 

As usual, the prophets use brilliant poetic imagery to make their points.  Their words are on fire with a passion for justice, and compassion for the weak and helpful, the oppressed, the sorrowful, along of course with indignation over idolatry and over oppression, which I believe has changed the world.  Our focus, however, excludes most of the most brilliant passages. 


(199) Fake Heavenly News. 

13. 17-23:  "Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people.  Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own?   You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.

“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds.   I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the Lord.  Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives,  therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Odd how some skeptics wish to both declaim Judeo-Christian "intolerance," and to pride themselves on standing up against superstition and religious fakery.

(200)  Divine Love and Israel's Betrayal

Image result for israel prostitute
Ezekiel, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, is a brilliant poet.  In Chapter 16, Ezekiel depicts Israel's sins in the most visceral light as betrayal of God's unrequited love for her.  He chose her as an unlovely, unloved youth, cleansed her, richly clothed her, and made her a beauty.  But she made herself a whore, chasing the gods of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon.  Nor did the sins of the Jewish people "merely" consist of carrying out their liturgy to a false object, worshipping idols: Israel burnt her children to the false gods: "You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to idols."

And so Israel would be punished graphically before her "lovers," denuded of her beautiful in the eyes of her neighbors / lovers.  But in the end, God would renew His love for Israel -- and for her mother and father (Hittites and Amorites) and her sisters Samaria and Sodom (?), who would also be restored.

One cannot, perhaps, deduce much from this passage about how the prophet perceives women, except that he expects his readers to recognize nudity and prostitution as shameful states.  (Not, perhaps, heard of Code Pink.) 

16.6-63: “‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”   I made you grow like a plant of the field.  You grew and developed and entered puberty.  Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.

 “‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.

 “‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you.   I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments.   I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck,  and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.   So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth.  Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.   And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.

  “‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.   You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. You went to him, and he possessed your beauty.  You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them.   And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them.   Also the food I provided for you—the flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat—you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign Lord.

   “‘And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?   You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.   In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood.

   “‘Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign Lord. In addition to all your other wickedness,  you built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrine in every public square.   At every street corner you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, spreading your legs with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by.   You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your neighbors with large genitals, and aroused my anger with your increasing promiscuity.   So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct.   You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied.   Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia,  a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.

  “‘I am filled with fury against you, declares the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!   When you built your mounds at every street corner and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment.  “‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!   All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors.   So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.

  “‘Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord!   This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your naked body in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood,   therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see you stark naked.   I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.   Then I will deliver you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you stark naked.   They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords.   They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers.   Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.

   “‘Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?

   “‘Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: “Like mother, like daughter.”   You are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.   Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom.   You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they.   As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
   “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.   They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.   Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done.   Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

  “‘However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them,  so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort.   And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before.   You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride,  before your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you.   You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the Lord.

  “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant.   Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.   Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you.   So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

(201)  Against Sexual Sin

18.5-6: "Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right.
  He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of Israel.
He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or have sexual relations with a woman during her period."

(202) Jerusalem: a lioness, a vine

19.1-2: "Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel  and say:

“‘What a lioness was your mother among the lions!
She lay down among them and reared her cubs."

19. 10: “‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water;
it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water."

(203) Oppressing widows, sexual sins

22.7, 10-11: "In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the foreigner and mistreated the fatherless and the widow."

"In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father’s daughter."

These latter two are among the sins of, respectively, the Prophet Mohammed, and David's oldest son Amnon.

(204) Two Adulterous Sisters

23.1-49: "The word of the Lord came to me:  “Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother.  They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed.  The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters.  Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

  “Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians—warriors  clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen.  She gave herself as a prostitute to all the elite of the Assyrians and defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after.   She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt, when during her youth men slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust on her.

  “Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted.   They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her.

 “Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister.   She too lusted after the Assyrians—governors and commanders, warriors in full dress, mounted horsemen, all handsome young men.   I saw that she too defiled herself; both of them went the same way.

“But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red,  with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea.   As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea.   Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her.  After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust.   When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister.   Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt.  There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.   So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.

 “Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stir up your lovers against you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, the men of Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, handsome young men, all of them governors and commanders, chariot officers and men of high rank, all mounted on horses.   They will come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons and with a throng of people; they will take up positions against you on every side with large and small shields and with helmets. I will turn you over to them for punishment, and they will punish you according to their standards.   I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire.   They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry.   So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore.

 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to deliver you into the hands of those you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust.   They will deal with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you stark naked, and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed. Your lewdness and promiscuity have brought this on you, because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself with their idols.   You have gone the way of your sister; so I will put her cup into your hand.

  “This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“You will drink your sister’s cup,
    a cup large and deep;
it will bring scorn and derision,
    for it holds so much.
   You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,
    the cup of ruin and desolation,
    the cup of your sister Samaria.
  You will drink it and drain it dry
    and chew on its pieces—
    and you will tear your breasts.
I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.

  “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you have forgotten me and turned your back on me, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution.”

   The Lord said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then confront them with their detestable practices,  for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.   They have also done this to me: At that same time they defiled my sanctuary and desecrated my Sabbaths.   On the very day they sacrificed their children to their idols, they entered my sanctuary and desecrated it. That is what they did in my house.

  “They even sent messengers for men who came from far away, and when they arrived you bathed yourself for them, applied eye makeup and put on your jewelry.   You sat on an elegant couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed the incense and olive oil that belonged to me.

   “The noise of a carefree crowd was around her; drunkards were brought from the desert along with men from the rabble, and they put bracelets on the wrists of the woman and her sister and beautiful crowns on their heads.   Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, ‘Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.’   And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah.  But righteous judges will sentence them to the punishment of women who commit adultery and shed blood, because they are adulterous and blood is on their hands.

  “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Bring a mob against them and give them over to terror and plunder.   The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn down their houses.

 “So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.   You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.

Note that aside from "lewdness," which refers to religious promiscuity, worshipping the idols and gods of Israel's polytheistic neighbors, these two sisters are also convicted of murder.  In the Old Testament, the two tend to go together. 

Nothing can be inferred about women in general here, except that the prophet thinks women should not copy these two lewd ladies, but should be faithful to their husbands. 

(205) Daughters killed, too

24.21: "The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword."

(206)  Ceremonial Cleanliness

44.22-23, 25: "They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests.   They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. . . . A priest must not defile himself by going near a dead person; however, if the dead person was his father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unmarried sister, then he may defile himself."

In light of this demand for ceremonial cleanliness among the priesthood, Hosea's story (which we shall introduce shortly) is even more poignant.  God is willing to "defile" Himself by loving the unclean.


Not an issue!


(207)  "Go Marry a Whore"

1.2-9: "When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”   So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.  Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.  In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”  Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them.  Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.'   After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son.  Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means 'not my people'), for you are not my people, and I am not your God."

(208) Israel Punished and Restored

2.1-23: “Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’
 “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.
 Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.
 I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery.
 Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’

 Therefore I will block her path with thorn-bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;  she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,  ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’
 She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold  which they used for Baal.

  “Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her naked body.
  So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands.
  I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.
   I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them.
 I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,' declares the Lord.
 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
 “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’

 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.
 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground.

Bow and sword and battle  I will abolish from the land,  so that all may lie down in safety.
 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.

  “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord
“I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth;
and the earth will respond to the grain,  the new wine and the olive oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.

 I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

Here, in spades, is what C. S. Lewis called the "divine humility."  Having been rejected, God is yet not too proud to pursue, and to use the tricks of a lover to win back his love.

God is jealous.  But recall, he is the only "lover" in this story who truly loves, who wishes his bride to be beautiful productive happy and dignified.  The other "lovers" are just after a momentary thrill, not a life-long commitment.

Such "jealousy" is looked on with disfavor or contempt, these days.  And I don't know if a marriage between two such unequal partners could or even should last -- adultery is grounds for divorce, so much the more on this scale.  (The prophets are engaging in hyperbole to make the point that Israel is less faithful even than an ordinary unfaithful bride -- few women are this indiscriminately sex-crazed!  Maybe a few more men.) 

But if God is so patient and forgiving (ultimately) a husband, what sort of model does that set for men in general?  Certainly this is not the kind of mentality that stones women for their first offense, and lets the man go free.      

(209) "Show your love to your wife again."
3.1-5: "The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress.  Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.'   So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.   Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”   For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods.  Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days."

It is not clear to me whether this describes Hosea's original marriage to his wife with a checkered past, or if she has run away with some fellow, and for some reason he has to buy her back.   Either way, this can't be easy on the man's pride.

(210) Against the Double-Standard?

4.13-15: "They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills under oak, poplar and terebinth, where the shade is pleasant.

 "Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery.
“I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law  when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes a people without understanding will come to ruin! 

'Though you, Israel, commit adultery, do not let Judah become guilty.'"

This looks like a disavowal of the double-standard.  God says, "Why should I punish the women for fooling around, when the men do it too?"  For that principle, this is a significant passage.  Yet the whole nation is, in fact, punished for its sins.

(211) A Spirit of Prostitution

5.4: “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God.
A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord."

Sin begets shame, which (without repentance) begets more sin through the attempt to cover up or justify the original sin.  From the original "cover up" in the Garden of Eden, this is an important, and psychologically-astute, pattern which the Bible describes.  University of Texas political scientist Jay Budziszewski forcefully describes the same pattern as it impacts modern American society.  Does not a "spirit of prostitution" that prevents repentance, explain how "free love" led to legalized abortion and "gay marriage" and then the attempt to shut down free speech?

(212) Mercy, not Sacrifice

6.6: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

While its relevance to gender relations may seem indirect, it is in fact profound, reflected for instance in how Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery. 

(213) A Prostitute Nation

9.1: "Do not rejoice, Israel; do not be jubilant like the other nations.  For you have been unfaithful to your God; you love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor."

These teachings must have made Hosea popular.  Perhaps the sadness of his own situation is what saved him from his neighbors' anger, and gave oomph to his message. 

(214) God's Sorrow

11.8-9: “How can I give you up, Ephraim?    How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
    How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
    all my compassion is aroused.
  I will not carry out my fierce anger,
    nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man
    the Holy One among you.
    I will not come against their cities."

If God be a cuckolded husband, and rightly an angry one, he remains a loving husband, who is determined to see His wife restored.   Why?  Because He loves her. 


(215) Sons and Daughter, Men and Women

2.28-29:  "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
  Even on my servants, both men and women,  I will pour out my Spirit in those days."

If the Spirit of God is prophesying through a woman, as it often does in the OT, shouldn't men and women listen?  And doesn't that put women in the public square? 

(216) Girls for Wine

3.3, 7: "They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink . . . See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done."


(217) Sexual Profanity and Oppression

2.7: "They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.  Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name."

Isn't it odd that so many modern Westerners seem incapable of recognizing that sexual acts can be sins as surely as social oppression?  But that is part of the declension Budziszewski describes.

(218) Country Club Cows Oppressing the Poor

4.1: "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, 'Bring us some drinks!'

A cow is an animal that presumably thinks no higher than the grass that fattens it and the water it guzzles.  How many women, in that society, could afford to grow fat? 

(219) Jerusalem: a lioness, a vine

The royal seer Amaziah has warned King Jeroboam that Amos is (supposedly) raising a rebellion against him, and he has told Amos himself to shut up and go home.  The Lord responds through Amos:

7.17: "Therefore this is what the Lord says: 
“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
    and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
    and you yourself will die in a pagan country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.’”






(220)  Busted!

1.7: "All her idols will be broken to pieces;    all her temple gifts will be burned with fire;
    I will destroy all her images.
Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes,
    as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.”

(221) False Prophets Break up Homes

2.9: "You drive the women of my people    from their pleasant homes.
You take away my blessing
    from their children forever."

(222 Captivity and Return

4.10: "Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,    like a woman in labor,
for now you must leave the city
    to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon;
    there you will be rescued.
There the Lord will redeem you
    out of the hand of your enemies."

(223) Miriam Helped Lead Israel

6.4: "I brought you up out of Egypt    and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
    also Aaron and Miriam."


(224) Babylon, that Seductress

3.4-5: "All because of the wanton lust of a prostitute,    alluring, the mistress of sorceries,
who enslaved nations by her prostitution
    and peoples by her witchcraft.

 '''I am against you,' declares the Lord Almighty.
    “I will lift your skirts over your face.
I will show the nations your nakedness
    and the kingdoms your shame."

Babylon is punished not merely for idolatry, and not just for being too cruel in her attack of Israel.  She "enslaved" whole nations by her sins.  Of course that enslavement was more than figurative.

(225) Like Women.

3.13: "Look at your troops—they are all weaklings."








(226) Three Female Figures

5. 7-11: "He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.   Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings!  They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
  “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
  He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”

The woman in the basket represents wickedness, like the two children in Dickens' Christmas Carol represent Ignorance and Want.  But the angels carrying that basket also appear to be female.

(227) Good Times Shall Return

8.4-5: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age.  The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.'

This was before video games were invented!  Which I think spoil this image of lively streets with children playing.

(228) Daughter of Zion: Your King Comes, Riding on a Donkey

9.9:"Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey."


(229) God doesn't like it when men betray women, either.

2.13-16: "Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, 'Why?' It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.  Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.  So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

"'The man who hates and divorces his wife,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'does violence to the one he should protect,' says the Lord Almighty.

"So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.'"

This looks like another shot across the bow of the double standard.   God is rebuking men who forget the "wife of your youth," those to whom you have vowed unity before God.

You mourn because God seems to have forgotten you.  But have you not likewise neglected your own wife?  The Lord has not forgotten your vows to her. 


We have now surveyed the entire Old Testament, looking at a total of 229 passages that touch, in one way or another, on the relations between men and women, and on the status of women. 

I have found this a fascinating journey through the Old Testament.  I never knew the Bible contained so many heroines!  Even though I knew the radical feminists who said the Bible is a manual for the oppression of women were badly wrong, I now recognize that they were even more wrong that I knew.  Indeed, even today, the Old Testament alone - still more the teaching and example of Jesus -- remains the greatest manual for the liberation of both sexes. 

Not that none of the passages we have read are problematic in any way!  A few seem deeply troubling.  (Though the skeptics have so concentrated on those passages, that they all seemed quite familiar already.)

One can see the advantages of honestly surveying a body of literature, rather than engaging in the cherry-picking that is so common among the New Atheists.  (Though not alone, of course.)

This survey is the beginning of my analysis of the Old Testament.   I intend to use this data as background material for the book I am writing on "how Jesus liberates women." 

One final post in this series, at least for now, will analyze these 229 passages in light of Annie Gaylor's critical comments about the Bible and women.


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