Anyone who has seriously studied the Hebrew Bible is aware of the fact that a woman in the Patristic Religion was regarded as inferior to man. Her status was a little higher than that of a slave. Her husband was her baal - that is, lord, ruler, master, possessor, owner. The wife was the property of her husband. Her husband owned her. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary on p. 819, gives us the following information on women:
“…the dependence of the wife on her husband is shown by the Hebrew appellation for husband [BAAL], lit. “lord, master,” as is seen in the conduct of Sarah, who speaks of her husband Abraham as “my lord” [Gen. 18:12]. From this mastery of the husband over the wife arose the different standard of virtue that existed in married life. The wife, subject to her husband as master, WAS OBLIGED TO REGARD THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE RELATION, AND ANY UNCHASTITY ON HER PART WAS VISITED WITH DEATH. The husband COULD TAKE ANY UNMARRIED WOMAN HE CHOSE AND VIOLATE THE LAWS OF CHASTITY, AS WE UNDERSTAND THEM, WITH IMPUNITY.”
The word “impunity” means freedom from punishment, penalty, injury, or loss. Genesis 38 depicts Judah who at that time was married with children GOING TO A PROSTITUTE without any CONSEQUENCES TO HIM WHATSOEVER. However, as soon as it was discovered that his widowed daughter in law was pregnant, Judah ordered that she be BURNED WITH FIRE. Such was the justice of the early Patriarchs. The text clearly demonstrates the discrimination which existed between men and women. The husband had the right to divorce his wife. The wife however was denied that right. The husband had the right to practice polygamy by having other wives and concubines. On the other hand the wife was forbidden to have more than one husband or to practice polyandry.
Almost all early Patriarchs are presented as polygamists. The kings of Judah and Israel had MANY wives. Solomon’s “brothel” consisted of 700 wives and 300 concubines. The husband as the lord and master of his wife had the right to nullify any vow that his wife may have vowed, if he did not approve of it [Numbers 30:6-8]. The wife could not nullify any of her husband’s vows. The unmarried girls were not exempted from discrimination. Their fathers had the right to nullify their vows if they did not approve of it [Numbers 30:3-5]. The father even had the right to sell his daughter into slavery [Exodus 21:7]. If the husband suspected his wife was cheating on him, he had the right to take her to a priest and subject her to a humiliating test [Numbers 5].
The wife received no compensation whatsoever if proved to be innocent. Numbers 5:31 says that “the husband shall be free of guilt, but the woman if guilty, must suffer the consequences.” The husband in case of his wife’s unfaithfulness could command her death, as well as that of her lover. The wife could not do so to her unfaithful husband. Her husband had the right to marry as many wives and concubines as he pleased. In addition, he could sleep with any unmarried woman and visit any harlot he wished. The husband was guilty and stoned to death only when he had sexual relations with a married woman. But even in this case, he is not killed because he sinned against his own wife but rather because he polluted the bed of his neighbour - the husband of the woman he slept with. If an unmarried woman was raped in the town, she was killed. Her life was spared only if the rape took place in the country [Deuteronomy 22:23-27].
Anyone who raped an unmarried woman was not guilty. All he needed to do is pay the fine to her father and marry her. The unmarried woman could not refuse to marry her rapist - only the father could if he so wished [Deuteronomy 22:28-29]. When it comes to a levirate marriage, the widow could not refuse to marry her brother in law, but he could reject her if he wished. If a woman - whether a wife or concubine - was raped, her husband would never again sleep with her. She was treated as a widow and the husband provided only food, clothing and shelter. The rape and defilement of men was looked upon as a heinous crime. But the rape, defilement and ill treatment of women was tolerated. It is said that Lot offered his own daughters to be gang raped in order to prevent the rape of the strangers who were at his house for the night. A certain Levite offered his concubine to be gang raped in order to prevent his own rape. The concubine actually died from the abuse. When Amnon raped his sister Tamar, King David did absolutely nothing. When Absalom later killed Amnon for his crime, David punished Absalom.
A wife in the biblical times could own no property. If her husband died she could not inherit any share of his property. His estate was divided among his sons with the double portion going to the firstborn. Daughters could inherit only if their father did not have any sons. The wife however could not inherit any share of her husband’s property. If her husband died childless then his nearest relatives inherited his property and not the wife. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible, Vol. 4, art. Marriage, on p. 100, says:
“As a general rule the daughters were not included in the inheritance of their fathers. There were exceptions as in the case when a man had no sons…When a man died leaving neither sons nor daughters, his relatives were the inheritors and not his wife…A Hebrew woman’s status was inferior to that of women in Egypt - who were found to serve as heads of their families, or in Babylon, where a woman could acquire property, be a party to a contract and share in her husband’s inheritance. In Israel a woman could only own her marriage portion of the dowry, and even this was administered by her husband. She was excluded from her husband’s inheritance.”
The Jewish redactors legislated many points which regulated the life of a wife but very few for the husband. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible, Vol. 4, on p. 100, says:
“The Israelite law has developed detailed and strict regulations governing a woman’s sexual role and life. Her rights were FEW, her obligations MANY…LEGALLY SHE WAS REGARDED AS A PIECE OF HIS [HUSBAND’S] PROPERTY. The generally accepted double standards placed upon her the burden of the code of sexual morality.”
A woman was worth only half of what man was worth [Leviticus 27:3-5]. But she was expected to work much harder than her husband. It was her duty to bear as many children as her husband wanted and to consent to his sexual advances at all times. The husband however had no such obligations. In later Judaism the husband could deprive his wife of sexual relationship up to three years without her consent to study Torah or do something else the rabbis considered noble. Woman’s domestic tasks were time consuming, involving spinning, weaving, grinding corn, baking bread and cooking, washing clothes and caring for the children. In addition, the women worked in the fields or produced goods for sale in the home. They were also expected to bring water from the public wells - since the men would not debase themselves with this “dirty” task. This custom of women fetching water goes back a long time. It was already well established in the days of Abraham. Abraham’s servant met Rebekah at the well, doing this “dirty” task [Genesis 24:14].
Saul met the girls outside of the town called Zuph, carrying water [1 Samuel 9:11]. The custom was still in force even in the times of Jesus [John 4:7]. Only the Essene men did not mind carrying water even though this was a degrading task for other Jews. A woman was a taboo in ancient Israel during her menstruation. She was segregated from her husband for the period of 7 days. Anything and everyone she touched became unclean [Leviticus 15:19-23]. A woman who gave birth was also unclean. If she gave birth to a son she was unclean for 40 days. If it was a daughter she remains unclean for 80 days [Leviticus 12:2-5]. During this time whatever or whoever she touches becomes unclean. The discrimination against women began at birth. The female child was regarded twice as polluting as the male child. That is why the Jewish legislator prescribed double time for the mother’s purification.
There is another very, very significant fact you should be aware of. The religion of ancient Israel and Judah was a Patristic religion - religion of the fathers. As such it excluded women from the religious covenant. The exclusion of women from the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT is attested to by the rite of circumcision. Only the circumcised males were full members of the covenant. All those males who were uncircumcised were excluded from the covenant. Please note the text of Genesis 17:9-14:
“God said to Abraham, you also must agree to keep the covenant with me, both you and your descendants must all agree to CIRCUMCISE EVERY MALE among you. From now on YOU MUST CIRCUMCISE EVERY BABY BOY when he is eight days old, including slaves born in your homes and slaves bought from foreigners. This will show that there is a COVENANT BETWEEN YOU AND ME. Each one must be circumcised, and this will be PHYSICAL SIGN TO SHOW THAT MY COVENANT WITH YOU IS EVDRLASTING. Any male who has not been circumcised WILL NO LONGER BE CONSIDERED ONE OF MY PEOPLE, BECAUSE HE HAS NOT KEPT A COVENANT WITH ME.”
This covenant was only between God and Abraham’s MALE descendants and the slaves his descendants would possess. Any male who neglected the circumcision was excluded from the covenant. Only the MALES were allowed to enter this covenant and only the MALES bore a physical sign of that covenant on their flesh - the most treasured phallus. Women were excluded from this covenant and women did not bear the physical mark of this covenant nor was there any other ceremony performed which would inaugurate women into God’s covenant. That the women played only a minor and insignificant role in the Patristic Religion of ancient Israel and Judah is also evident from the fact that ONLY MALES were required to appear before God in the CHOSEN PLACE - during the Passover, Firstfruits and the Feast of Tabernacles:
“There are three annual religious pilgrimages you must make. The first is the Pilgrimage of Unleavened Bread, when for seven days you are not to eat bread with yeast, just as I commanded you before. This celebration is to be an annual event at the regular time in March, the month you left Egypt; everyone must bring me a sacrifice at that time. Then there is the Harvest Pilgrimage, when you must bring to me the first of your crops. And, finally, the Pilgrimage of Ingathering at the end of the harvest season. AT THESE THREE TIMES EACH YEAR, EVERY MAN IN ISRAEL shall appear before the Lord God” [Exodus 23:14-17 The Living Bible - Life Application Bible].
The Israelites were forbidden to sacrifice the Passover anywhere else but the chosen place:
“You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives you EXCEPT IN THE PLACE HE WILL CHOOSE AS A DWELLING FOR HIS NAME. There you must sacrifice the Passover” [Deuteronomy 16:5-6].
Since the Passover was to be sacrificed only in the CHOSEN PLACE and since the women were not required to be present in this CHOSEN PLACE, this clearly demonstrates the fact that the women were not really a part of the covenant nor were they required to eat the Passover. Only the male children of the priests were allowed to eat the replaced shewbread and the consecrated flesh. The female children were excluded [Lev. 6:18,29]. Only the MALES were counted in both censuses. The WOMEN were completely ignored. That a woman played an insignificant role in the Jewish religious affairs is also apparent from the fact that the Jewish sages and rabbis forbade any Jewish rabbi and teacher to converse with a woman in the public or to even greet women in the public. James Freeman in his book, Manners And Customs Of The Bible, on p. 424, says:
“…it was unusual for a Jewish teacher to converse with women in a public place. The rabbins expressed their contempt for women by teaching that they were not to be saluted or spoken to in the street, and they were not to be instructed in the law.”
Women were segregated from men in the Herod’s Temple. They sat in the OUTER COURT which was fifteen steps lower than male court. Women were not allowed to eat at the table when any male guest was present. They had to veil themselves every time they were in a public place. Failure to do so would make a woman liable for divorce. The Jews cannot hold synagogue services unless there is a quorum of TEN MALE PERSONS. It does not matter if there may be 1000 women present - the services cannot take place unless there are TEN MALES at the MEETING. The testimony of a woman cannot be legally accepted among the Jews. If 1000 women would testify one thing their testimony is annulled by the testimony of ONLY TWO MALE PERSONS. If all these women would witness a crime their testimony is not accepted in the Court of Law against any MALE individual.
Only the testimony of TWO MALES can convict another MALE. But the testimony of TWO MALES could convict 1000 WOMEN even if they all testify to the contrary. This clearly shows the subordinate and humiliating role of the WOMEN. Every Jew knows the degrading position of a Gentile, a slave and a WOMAN in the Patristic Religion of Israel and Orthodox Judaism. For that very reason he daily thanks his God for not making him one of these. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, art. Woman, on pp. 1093-1094 says:
"Every day a Jewish male thanked God that he had not been created a gentile, slave, or WOMAN.”
From the Jewish Talmud we know that the Jews were regarded as human beings while the Gentiles as beasts [Baba Mecia, 114:6]. On the house of a Gentile the Jews looked as on the fold of cattle [Tosefta, Erubin, VIII]. Everybody knows the degrading and inhumane conditions that a slave endures in a slave owning society. But not many people realised the nature of the ancient Patristic Religion of Israel and Judah. Much less do they realise the degrading and humiliating status a woman enjoyed in this chauvinistic male dominant society. Today this kind of treatment of women is severely criticised and the Patristic culture is bitterly condemned. But generally those who condemn this Patristic culture where patriarchy was all in all do not realise that in earlier times the Matriarchal Religion dominated where women ruled over men and where women practiced polyandry - that is, had many husbands while husbands could have only one wife.
Women in those days could sleep with any unmarried man in addition to all her husbands and women could resort to male brothel houses in order to indulge in sexual acts without impunity. Men were forbidden to do the same. Man was forced to stay home and do all the domestic duties while women worked and went to fight wars. In those days the chief deity was not Father God but rather Mother Goddess. Thus the Patriarchal Religion did displace the former Matriarchal Religion but both cultures were wicked and cruel - far removed from the will and the perfect Law of the true God who regards men and women of equal status.