11 Ιουν 2017


Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos

The man in Israel had unlimited rights as a father that apply to the members of his family. Rights applicable much longer in the face of his wife. And here was a paradox. What was this? That there was neither one sacred text that explicitly recognizes the unlimited these rights against his wife, namely he had no legal basis for their exercise. On the contrary some texts of the Bible clearly allude the parity between men and women. So, where it came from this trend of superiority of men over their wives?
Quite simply, some other texts of the Bible lend themselves to such an interpretation from which the men rushed to take advantage for their own benefit of course. So, under the command of the Decalogue: “Do not covet the house of your neighbor, not to covet your neighbor's wife, nor his slave, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything which belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5:21), they had no difficulty at all to deduce that their woman, "belongs" to them like any other good. The wrong perception, which the woman is like a part of man reinforced and by the Law because it was saying that the woman of a slave must to sold with him: “If he came alone (meaning the slave) only will be gone. If he came with his wife and she will be freed with himExodus 21:3. That fitment was so precious to the man, who not must anyone to touch it, as it appears in the Gospel which recounts the episode with the adulteress. The marital morality was the alpha and omega of the Jews, especially because they saw the Romans or the Greeks to have a worrying freedom that believed they can affect their own.
The honor” then of a woman defined by its purity as a girl and later by the faith and devotion to her husband. This had the result, her contact with the public space it is impossible without the presence of man. Any rift in the coherence of the family because of woman was a "shame" for all its members, particularly for men. So the women were required to be careful in matters of "honor", which was applied not only to Israel but in all over the Eastern Mediterranean and in rural societies. These perceptions of course had to be transmitting to their children. Therefore the female “honor” had a close relationship with the sexual act and reproduction. The proof of chastity of woman e.g. the first night of marriage was necessary, because otherwise he would turn in her father's house with painful consequences for the prestige and reputation of its members. Source of shame was the woman and when he could not procreate. Considered "cursed" by God, which meant the same time a kind of 'contamination' and social exclusion, since she could not e.g. to fill the pitcher of water from the well when there were other women who had given birth and had to wait aside until they leave. This seems very clearly at the Evangelical narrative that describes the capture of John the Baptist by his mother Elizabeth: After these days his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and hid herself five months, saying «This my Lord did in the days that interested me remove the shame among the people», Luke 1:24 - 25.
She owed absolute faith to her husband, but - and here is the key difference with today - not was able to require that from him the same. Her husband had no the right to sell her, but he could be to chase away without any difficulty, simply saying I in divorce”, while the cases which she had the right to divorce was very rare. In every respect, therefore, the position which was recognized by the Jewish society was inferior. For this reason should not surprise dictum of some rabbis who he urged men to thank God every day because they were not made ​​them to be born women, pagans and proletarians! And the discriminations against women were endless. They don’t ate with the men, but they were served upright, a habit that unfortunately was taking place in many areas in Greece until almost the middle of last century, especially when the bride accepted the husband's kin. On the road and in the Propylaea of the Temple was standing aside. Indeed, in the Temple had the right to enter only in the specific yard for these. Nowhere else. They spent most of their lives at home - the small "kingdom" - and usually in the windows they saw in the street was trellises not to see them as narrates and the Bible: The black mother looked out of the window and Cicera’s  mother lamented through the trellisJudges 5:28. In the old years the women were not going out, but only with the face covered and this habit was maintained in some strict circles. A habit who were applied later and the Byzantine women, wearing the so-called “chipa”, of which and the habit that is called even today, for a woman lightweight morals, as “un-tsipa” or “she has not chipa (i.e. shame)”. Needless to say, that the custom is prevalent in women of Islam, known to all as yashmak”. To speak to a woman in the street, it was great impropriety for the Israelite, especially if she was his wife! This explains the huge surprise that the Apostles were felt when they saw Jesus talking with a woman, a Samaritan, fact that rescues the Gospel of John: At that moment came the disciples and were amazed that speak to woman” John 4:27.
Bearing all the above in mind, let's see now, how the law was seeing the woman in Israel. So according to the law, the woman was considered as minor, as irresponsible. The husband had the possibility to set aside without any impact for him, all the obligations assumed and the woman who had accepted them she could not to recourse nowhere to justice. Indeed in the courts - except in certain very rare and exceptional cases - her testimony was not accepted. Therefore we can say - although we become somewhat excessive - that legally the woman does not there was as an existence, as an entity. She was nonbeing, nonexistent. The result of all this was, as a general rule, to not inherits neither her father nor her husband and the assets of the deceased is going to the nearest relative.
But at this point it should now ask ourselves. Does the woman because of this weakness had not ultimately any right? Each other! Because it was powerless and weak the law protected her. A large part of the holy book of Deuteronomy was intended to protect the woman and this seems particularly in Chapters 21 and 22 thereof.  So the holy text was protecting the new one who a man had seduce her and more even this that had been also raped, the woman who touched upon the price by slander, and even the captive woman, that the chosen winner had tried to use her as flesh for pleasure. Let's look at some excerpts. And first the behavior towards captive woman: “When you make war with your enemies and the Lord, your God, deliver them to your power and you catch captives, if any of you have seen among them a beautiful woman and falls in love and wants to get her as his wife, he can carry in his home ... she will stay at home and will cry her father and her mother for a month. Then only a man can approach her and make her his wife. If you later he doesn't like anymore the woman may be let her free. However prohibited to sell her or to treat her as a slave, after having obliged her to be his wife” Deuteronomy 21:10 - 14.  In the event that a man got bored his wife and he slanders her that was not a virgin: Then the elders of the city will arrest the man and will flog him. Additional would impose a pecuniary penalty a hundred silver shekels, which will deliver them to the father of the new woman, because he discredited a pristine Israelite woman. Finally she will remain his wife forever. It can not divorce allover his lifeDeuteronomy 22:18 - 19.  In the event that a man will rape a woman: If a man meets a young woman who is not betrothed, and he rape her and they discover them, then the man who raped the girl will give to her father fifty shekels of silver, and will take her his wife because humbled her. And in the whole his life he could not to divorce” Deuteronomy 22:28 - 29.
Of course all the physical preservation of the woman, from the time which had not been its own resources, burdened her husband, who ought to provides a roof to her, nourishes and dressing depending on the social position and the means to certainly had: “If the owner of the slave get and another woman may not cut down her food, her clothing and the marital relations” Exodus 21:10. In fact if the woman was not sustained well she could request assistance and protection from her father, who hastened to rebuke his groom. But generally it was not necessary something like that. The Jews wanted their wives well dressed and adorned as well wanted to show that there was abundance of goods at home with the finest wheat and honey and olive oil to run in great abundance as described in Ezekiel's famous aversion to symbolism of the Lord as husband and Fine Israelite Ethnicity as a wife: “I have clothe in colorful woven dresses and I wore sandals made ​​of softer, smoother skin. I put belt at your waist with nice linen and I covered with silk mantle. In adorned with jewels: I put bracelets on your arms and necklace around your neck, rings in your nose, earrings in your ears and priceless crown on your head. Thus adorned with gold and silver and you are clothed with the linen and into the silky and colorful textiles. You ate cake semolina, honey and olive oil” Ezekiel 16:10 - 13.
Another eminently right that enjoyed by a woman, was the respect they ought to have the Israelis for their mother, under familiar to all of us command of the Decalogue. Worthy of attention is also the fact that in Leviticus 19:3, the woman mentioned first: Honour thy your mother and your father”. Although the woman lived in such a stranglehold of domination of men, that it was not easy bring to her any financial income, since as a rule the husband was the administrator of the estate, is assumed that no completely were prohibited on woman to use her personal gains, if there were naturally. So the worthy woman looks a corn field and buys it. With money that she earned, planting vineyard” Proverbs 31:16. If anyone wondered from where the woman could have such revenues, the answer is very simple. Many women with spinning the wool at home and were making filament longer than necessary for the needs of their family, they kept all the money earned by selling anything was surplus.
Religiously the women had unlimited freedom in relation to men. Were not required to reciting theShema”, i.e. the equivalent of our own Jewish Symbol of Faith” (“The Creed”), be present at the reading of the Mosaic Law or to live in tents for eight days at the annual feast of Tabernacles which took place in commemoration the era they lived in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. But these tasks are not were prohibited and were their many rabbis who encouraged their to learn well the Law to teach him their sons and they urge the husband to faithful execution of his religious duties.
But there where the rights of women peaked, so that feels like a little queen, was at the family home. And could not be otherwise, since the physical role of her was enormous, because in almost all ancient peoples many things which today are supplied ready from a factory or a workshop then were made by the woman. For example the fabrics and various items of clothing that they were spun and wove at home. Then, the construction of the daily diet for the whole family. To make the bread she was taking the seeds of wheat, grinded it between the millstones of a small mill, which it had every home and the product of the grind, i.e. the flour, she was taking it and knead it with her ​​hands. Then, carrying the wooden trough with the dough usually on the head, its going in the oven, that had any home to bake it and becoming “the daily bread”, as mentions and the “Lord's Prayer” in our famous as “Our Father”, which will harbored all the family. Of course the shape of the bread was not as we are used to today, known as "loaf", but the form of pie, because the dough was stretched in hot metal plate to cook. But with the manufacture of “the daily breadwas not finished yet the contribution of woman in the family home. I had to supply the house with another essential commodity, which today we have without fuss in abundance, after the rapid advance of technology, it has secured to us, the central water supply. The water, the most essential commodity for our survival and our sustenance sourced it women with pitchers from adjacent wells or rivers. It was a rare sight to see a man with a pitcher that had water and that are explained the words of Christ to his disciples, that might sound a little strange, because it does not give us his name, when he sent them to prepare the Paschal Dinner before his Passion: Go to the town and will meet you one who will keep a pitcher with water”, Mark 14:13. This, namely that the man was holding pitcher was distinctive sign. Of course, the places where the women were supplied with water, were places of joy and sociability, because there they found the opportunity to learn and comment on the various foursomes in their area. Another obligation of the woman was also the supply of oil and in particular the very pure oil that was burning in the oil lamp, the holy Sabbath day. Indeed, according to the oral tradition of Judaism, the Gkemara was saying that those women who did not cared to maintain the flame of the oil lamp will were dying in childbirth.
So, because of that significant offer of woman, but also of the binding and dependence of man to her, especially the emotional, he found occasion to manifest the misogyny of men, which is evident in some texts of the Old Testament, especially in the prophetic. By a ridiculous way Isaiah calls them vainglorious. “The Lord said, «Look at the women of Jerusalem, just how bragged! Marching with neck erect, they disperse glances defiantly as well as they go with small steps and they are knocking the loops of their ankle». Isaiah 3:16, Amos calls them tough Listen to this reason, women of Samaria, pudgy like the cows of Bashan: Oppress the weak and depress the poor, say to your husbands, «Bring us to drink! » Amos 4:1. The secretariat occult in the texts of the Old Testament is even more intransigent and judgmental. The “Testament of 12 Patriarchsdoes not recognize anything good, but only opportunity for prostitution. From the Testament of Patriarch Rouvim: Women are cunning, my children, because having no power or strength over man think cunningly because of their shape, that would cause attention to them. And because they can not prevail against him with force defeat him with fraud. Because and on these the angel of God said to me and taught me how women beat the man with prostitution, and are devising means against of people, and with the adornment mislead first the mind and with the eye spread the virus, and then they capture with their actions. Because the woman can not force the man. Avoid thus my children, prostitution, and order it your wives and your daughters, not adorn their heads and faces. Because any woman by deceit uses them will receive of eternal hell”. Testament of 12 Patriarchs 5:1 - 5. On the same wavelength about are moving and innumerable aphorisms of rabbis of Judaism. Let us glean a few: “When the Lord gave to mankind ten meters of discourse, women took nine”, Gluttonous and lazy, jealous and brawler, so are the women and even they hear on the doors!” From what part of the man to send a woman? Wondered the Almighty. From head? Will become very conceited. From the eye? Would be very curious. From the ear? Will overhear the doors. From the mouth? Will prate. From the hand? Would become wasteful. He finally got a very dark place, very occult part of the body, hoping to make her demure.”
The misogyny does not discerned all the rabbis. Many of them eulogized their insight, their zeal for work, their perseverance, their good heart. Also attributed to Gamaliel, who was - as you know - and the teacher of the Apostle Paul, the following cute little story: An emperor says to the Wise: «Your God is a thief: to create the woman has had to steal a rib from the sleeping Adam». The Wise did not know what to answer and then his daughter, said to him: «Let me to arrange it». She went to find the emperor and said to him:
"- We will make a complaint.
 - Nah! And why?
- Entered thieves in our house at night, they stole a silver coffee pot and they left in its place a gold pot.
- Oh and I had every night such visits!
, he said laughing the Emperor.
- Well, so did and our God. Got from the prime guy a simple rib and in return gave him the woman!
Similarly, the books of the Old Testament not only are praising the women but give countless examples of admirable women for the courage, generosity, self-sacrifice and magnanimity them. What we will remember first: the heroic Debora, the self-sacrificing mother of the Maccabaeus, the demure and prude Ruth, Judith, Esther and so many others. Let us remember, however, at this point, the beautiful lyrics that dedicate Sirah to the woman: Happy is the man who has virtuous wife. The number of years of his life will be doubled. Woman active and working gladdens her husband, and the years of his life will be full of peace. The virtuous woman is a good gift, which is offered by the Lord.” Sirach 26: 1-3.
Eventually, the woman would find her actual location in the person of Christ. The Godman who not stand out the people, he defended her and he liberated her from any devaluation and injustice against her. He accepted her equally - for that reason it had also schoolgirls, a fact unheard about that time - with the man, he crouched with interest and affection in its problems and he protected her from the stringency against her, of the religious and social norms. Taking the baton from the Church of Christ, he made mystery the love and the relationship of the man with the woman, likening it with the union of Christ and the Church, through the sacrament of marriage.

1. Daniel Rops: Everyday life in Palestine in the time of Jesus
2. Collective volume “History of Orthodoxy, the beginnings of Christianity”
3. School handbook for Religious, Class B’, High School.
4. Savvas Ch. Agourides "The apocryphal texts of the Old Testament", Volume A’.
5. Holy Bible of the Greek Bible Society.
6. New Testament, Apostolic Diacony of the Church of Greece.

Writer Christos Pal

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