This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean  from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine,  Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt).  A similar evolution and change happened in the (farther) East that became dominated by Islam and Hinduism.

To read the entire Punishing Eve series and other (Zeitgeist Change) commentaries by Janet Wise go to www.janetwise.net 

Note: The term androcracy is used to describe a social system ruled through force, or threat of force by men. This term derives from Greek root words Andros or “man,” and kratos (as in democratic), or “ruled.”

 

PART VIII: PUNISHING EVE

Again, it is important to remind that religion is a construct of the civilization’s sophistication of language to express and analyze their understanding of their natural world, and desire for the meaning of life and continuity of life after death. It formed the rules around which that culture was ordered. It is their spiritual mythological story. Such was the time in history approaching when a new mythological paradigm shift was about to occur: multiple deities ruled by male gods and female goddesses all representing aspects of nature’s forces to that of a single male god – one that does not represent or revere nature. This male god would go all out in considering the earth and surrounding atmosphere – still a her but no longer deified– as something to be dominated, plundered, and raped for profit; ah, well . . . most likely because it was a her. It was to be a mythology written by male priests for power and profit.

When the Hebrew tribes made their first appearance in the eastern Mediterranean has long been a subject of dispute. As already discussed, most early scholars, and even many today, attempt to follow the Old Testament literalist method of time-dating Abraham, who is considered to be the patriarch from whom all Hebrews descended. According to Genesis, Abraham’s family was from Ur, which was in southern Mesopotamia (by the time of Abraham, the name by which the land of Sumer would be known). At some point, but before Abraham migrated to Canaan in the Levant, his family had moved to Haran, which is on one of the northern tributaries of the Euphrates. His parental extended family continued to live there after Abram (as he was then called) and Sarai (as she was then called), along with his nephew Lot departed for the land God promises him in Genesis 12: 1-2. And while scholars have been studying this biblical history for over 2500 years, since archaeology came into its own, biblical archaeologists have been searching for physical evidence of this history for a couple of hundred years.

Archaeologists and scholars, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman write, “There was something intimately connected that motivated the scholarly search for the “historical” patriarchs. Many of the early biblical archaeologists had been trained as clerics or theologians. They were persuaded by their faith that God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—the birthright of the Jewish people and the birthright passed on to Christians, as the apostle Paul explained in his letter to the Galatians—was real. And if it was real, it was presumably given to real people, not imaginary creations of some anonymous ancient scribe’s pen. The French Dominican biblical scholar and archaeologist Roland de Vaux noted, for example, that ‘if the historical faith of Israel is not founded in history, such faith is erroneous, and therefore, our faith is also.’ Vaux and others argued that the biblical narratives, even if compiled at a relatively late date, such as the period of the united monarchy, preserved at least the main outlines of an authentic, ancient historical reality.”

Finkelstein and Silberman continue with, “Indeed, the Bible provided a great deal of specific chronological information that might help, first of all, pinpoint exactly when the patriarchs lived. The Bible narrates the earliest history of Israel in sequential order, from the patriarchs to Egypt, to Exodus, to wandering in the desert, to the conquest of Canaan, to the period of the judges, and to the establishment of the monarchy. It also provided a key to calculating specific dates. The most important clue is the note in I Kings 6:1 that the Exodus took place four-hundred eighty years before the construction of the Temple began in Jerusalem, in the fourth year of the reign of Solomon. Furthermore, Exodus 12:40 states that the Israelites endured four-hundred thirty years of slavery in Egypt before the Exodus. Adding a bit over two-hundred years for the overlapping life spans of the patriarchs in Canaan before the Israelites left for Egypt, we arrive at a biblical date of around 2100 B.C.E. for Abraham’s original departure for Canaan (from Haran.)”

As has already been discussed in Part III, Finkelstein and Silberman discuss the problems and contradictions that occur when following a literalist method of tracing the history of the patriarchs. In summing this up, they write, “Yet the search for the historical patriarchs was ultimately unsuccessful, since none of the periods around the biblically suggested date provided a completely compatible background to the biblical stories. The assumed westward migration of groups from Mesopotamia toward Canaan—the so-called Amorite migration, in which (American biblical archaeologist, William F.) Albright[1] placed the arrival of Abraham and his family—was later shown to be illusory. Archaeology completely disproved the contention that a sudden, massive population movement had taken place at that time.

But if Abraham was from Ur, as the Bible tells us, he would have been living in Babylonia (or late Akkadian) time. The Akkadians were an androcratic culture that overtook Sumer in the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C.E. But who were they? There is evidence that they were Bedouins who had come from the hills (and beyond the hills) and were living among the Sumer before Sargon, their King is known to have overtaken the entire region as their first monarch. His empire began in the mid 2nd millennium B.C.E, the Babylonians coming after in about 1850 B.C.E.

But backing up a bit: the Kurgans—an ancient, pre-historic people from what is today southern Russia and the Ukraine, or from the Asiatic steppes north and north east of the Black Sea—invaded what we would think of today as central eastern Europe. That first wave of invasions was in about 4300-4200 B.C.E.; the 2nd wave of Kurgan invasions was in about 3400-3200 B.C.E. In 3000 to 2800 B.C.E. of which by then would have been differing racial mixes of Asiatic and Aryan groups in central Eastern Europe—there was a mass migration into the southern agricultural regions around the Mediterranean. These invaders are referred to as Indo-Europeans; they were various tribes who descended from the Kurgans and the Aryans.

Some scholars use the term Indo-European and Kurgan interchangeably. But, as just described, they were a mix of Asiatic and Aryan. They were nomadic and moved with their herds. They would have been organized as tribes—a family lineage group, but with much intermarrying or breeding with captured women of other tribes. These tribes—with some growing into dynasties, or empires included many through the millennium: Hittite, Luwian, Achaean, Mycenaean, and later Dorian, Assyrian, and Hebrew to name but some. What they had in common was a dominator model of social organization, in which male dominance, male violence, and a hierarchic and authoritarian social structure was the norm. And their dominant gods were male–of mountains and war.

Professor George Mendenhall, whose long career in Near Eastern and biblical studies as well as related archeology, including a professorship at the University of Michigan wrote extensively about how the ancient Hebrew could no longer be treated as an isolated independent tribe. His studies supported that Hebrew history was inseparably bound with ancient oriental and Middle East history, whether we are considering religion, cultural, or political history. He wrote that the patriarchal attitudes of the Hebrews were not formed in a vacuum, as is generally assumed (as in Moses talking to a male god on a mountain top), but by their connections to the male-oriented northern Indo-Europeans among whom they lived (and may likely have descended).[2]

Whether they were really the sons of the Indo-Europeans  who had intermarried with the Neolithic Sumer, which is likely, or whether their tribal ancestry was an ethnic isolate, has been speculated with some disagreement among historians—the religious implications apparent.  Archaeologists and scholars, Finkelstein and Silberman write, “The book of Genesis describes Abraham as the archetypal man of faith and patriarchy, originally coming from Ur in southern Mesopotamia and resettling with his family in the town of Haran, on one of the tributaries of the upper Euphrates. It is there that God appeared to him and commanded him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing,” (Genesis 12:1-2).[3]

But whether or not they were a Semitic language blood relative of the Indo-Europeans, once Abraham’s tribe returned from Egypt and slaughtered their way into Canaan, (as the Old Testament describes) there is much evidence of intermarriage between the Hebrew males and the pagan women whose communities they would destroy, occupy and take young virgins as concubines.

Merlin Stone writes, “In Egypt the Hebrews had known the worship of the Goddess as Isis or Hathor. For four generations they had been living in a land where women held a very high status and the matrilineal descent system continued to function. Judging from the number of the Hebrews who emerged from Egypt, as compared with the family of the twelve sons who supposedly had left Canaan and entered it four generations earlier, it seems likely that a great number of those Hebrew people known as Israelites may actually have been Egyptians, Canaanites, Semitic nomads and other Goddess-worshipping people who had joined together in Egypt.”[4] Note: the concept of pagan, thus the word, would have been coined during this time to differentiate matriarchal cultures still honoring the animist, nature-worshipping Goddess, from the Levant priests who constructed their concept of a monotheistic God (designing their story of a male god-created universe by using the legends of the Neolithic Goddess worshippers.)

The Old Testament gives graphic accounts of the Israelite slaughter of long established Canaanite cities – sixty cities in all, according to Deuteronomy 3:37. Additionally, we see accounts of keeping the virgins alive for their sexual use. In Deut. 21:10-14, Joshua commands:

When you wage war against your enemy and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take some of them captive, then if you see a comely woman among the captives and take a liking to her, you may marry her. You shall bring her into your house, where she shall shave her head, pare her nails, and discard the clothes she had when she was captured. Then she shall stay in your house and mourn her father and mother for a full month. After that you may have intercourse with her; you shall be her husband and she your wife. But if you no longer find her pleasing let her go free. You must not sell her, nor treat her harshly, since you have had your will with her.[5]

Merlin Stone writes, “Many of the women who were later known as the wives of the Israelites may well have been the girls who witnessed the murders of their families and friends and the destruction of their homes and towns. The combination of the fear and trauma they must have felt, having been taken into the Hebrew tribes in this way, along with their memories of their childhood customs and religions must have made their attitude and position in the Hebrew life a difficult one. Though the number of women in the Hebrew tribes is never listed, these passages also suggest that when the Hebrews left Egypt there may have been a much greater percentage of men. Each of these factors may help to explain the Hebrew women’s ‘acceptance’ of the new patriarchal laws.”[6]

After their years of slaughter (if you believe the stories in the Old Testament) of the original Canaanite cities, the Hebrew tribes came to occupy the coastal lands in Canaan (their region of Palestine) until 597 B.C.E. The Hebrew God that would evolve by the time of the writing of the Old Testament in approximately 700 to 600 B.C.E. would have been a “construct” derived from a world in transition.

Of course, Stone was researching and writing in the 1970’s. She is taking the Biblical text as a literal account of what actually happened. Since then archaeologists have been digging their way around the Levant, looking for the burnt remnants of those cities that Joshua destroyed.

By 2002, Finkelstein and Silberman, in a detailed analysis, cast serious doubt as to whether there was a mass exodus out of Egypt by Israelites. They also cast doubt on the sacking of those sixty cities. On the Exodus: regarding the failure of archaeologists to find any evidence, they write, “According to the biblical account, the children of Israel wandered in the desert and mountains of the Sinai peninsula, moving around and camping in different places for forty years. Even if the numbers of fleeing Israelites (given in the text as six hundred thousand) is wildly exaggerated or can be interpreted as representing smaller units of people, the text describes the survival of a great number of people under the most challenging conditions. Some archaeological traces of their generation-long wandering in the Sinai should be apparent. However, except for the Egyptian forts along the northern coast, not a single campsite or sign of occupation from the time of Ramesses II and his immediate predecessors and successors has ever been identified in Sinai. And it has not been for lack of trying. Repeated archaeological surveys in all regions of the peninsula, including in the mountainous area around the traditional site of Mount Sinai, near Saint Catherine’s Monastery, have yielded only negative evidence: not even a single pottery sherd, no structure, not a single house, no trace of an ancient encampment. One may argue that a relatively small band of wandering Israelites cannot be expected to leave material remains behind. But modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world. Indeed the archaeological record from the Sinai peninsula discloses evidence for pastoral activity in such eras as the third millennium B.C.E. and the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. There is simply no such evidence at the supposed time of the Exodus in the thirteenth century B.C.E. The conclusion—that the Exodus did not happen at the time and in the manner described in the Bible—seems irrefutable when we examine the evidence at specific sites where the children of Israel were said to have camped for extended periods during their wandering in the desert (Numbers 33) and where some archaeological indication—if present—would certainly be found.”[7]

It is not only the lacking physical evidence that the authors cite, it is also the lack of any written accounts of such an account in the very detailed written history kept by the Egyptians.

And what about Joshua’s conquest of Canaan—the burning and sacking of those sixty cities; did it really happen? This is a central saga of the Bible and of the subsequent history of Israel. Is it history, or is it a myth? “As with the Exodus story, archaeology has uncovered a dramatic discrepancy between the Bible and the situation within Canaan at the suggested date of the conquest in early 1200 B.C.E. Although we know that a group named Israel was already present somewhere in Canaan by 1207 B.C.E., the evidence on the general political and military landscape of Canaan suggests that a lightening invasion by this group would have been impractical and unlikely in the extreme. The almost 400 Amarna tablets, now scattered in museums around the world, include letters sent to Egypt by rulers of powerful states, such as the Hittites of Anatolia, and the rulers of Babylonia. But most were sent from rulers of city-states in Canaan, who were vassals of Egypt during this period. The senders included rulers of Canaanite cities that would later become famous in the Bible, such as Jerusalem, Shechem, Megiddo, Hazor, and Lachish. Most important, the Amarna letters reveal that Canaan was an Egyptian province, closely controlled by Egyptian administration, with Egyptian garrisons stationed at key sites throughout the country. In the Bible, no Egyptians are reported outside the borders of Egypt and none are mentioned in any of the battles within Canaan. Yet contemporary texts and archaeological finds indicate that Egypt managed and carefully watched over the affairs of the country.”[8]

And because of Egypt’s heavy physical presence, “There were no city walls. The formidable Canaanite cities described in the conquest narrative were not protected  by fortification.”[9]

In the midst of this debate, American Archaeologist Albright also appears. And his findings and theory remain central to the debate as to the truth of the history of Joshua’s conquest. “Thus, for most of the 20th century, archaeology seemed to confirm the Bible’s account. Unfortunately the scholarly consensus would eventually dissolve.”[10]

In the case of the infamous Jericho, “there was no trace of a settlement of any kind in the 13th century B.C.E. and the earlier Late Bronze settlement, dating to the 14th century B.C.E., was so small and poor, almost insignificant, and unfortified. There was also no sign of destruction. Thus the famous scene of the Israelites marching around the walled town with the Ark of the Covenant, causing Jericho’s mighty walls to collapse by the blowing of their trumpets was, to put it simply, a romantic mirage.”[11]

 

The Goddess was very much in evidence in neighboring cultures occupying Canaan – the Phoenicians, Amorites, Jebuites and the Philistines – though as in Sumer, male animistic gods representing elements of the earth, air, and heavens were by then her consorts.

The Philistines, known as the Sea People, were settled in the southwestern area of Canaan  (which would now be Gaza)– the area named Philistia, and the origin of the name Palestine; they were a highly advanced civilization. Settling in Canaan in the 13th and 12th centuries  B.C.E., most scholars believe they were Minoan Crete / Mycenaean Greeks who had migrated south and east as the Indo-European Dorians invaded the Greek mainland and Crete was devastated with volcanic tidal waves. Most Westerners know of the Philistines through biblical accounts of such stories as Samson and Delilah and David and Goliath, and as the Hebrews evil arch-enemies. However perceived through stories written by a biased hand, the Philistines represent the most significant links between the worship of the Serpent Goddess of Crete and the female deity as she was revered in Canaan. Merlin Stone quotes religious historian and scholar Professor R.K. Harrison B.D., M.Th., Ph.D., in writing, “Archaeological excavations in Philistine territory have shown that it is clearly a mistake to regard the Philistines as synonymous with barbarity or cultural deficiency,”[12] attitudes as reflected from the Bible. They were a very advanced civilization much more so than the Hebrews of their time.

It would be with the Minoan/Mycenaean Greek influenced Philistines and the others mentioned that had been influenced by the Goddess worshipping Sumerians and Egyptians that the Hebrews would make war, mix, and inter-marry with over several centuries before writing their story of creation in Genesis and the Old Testament – plenty of time for their priests to learn their legends (along with the Sumerian legends their ancestors carried with them), absorb their influence on the mass psychology, and ‘alter’ them to introduce a male monotheistic dominator deity. The new monotheistic Hebrew male God they were to create would no longer deify the Mother Goddess earth, her air and sun and her waters and what lay below. Rather this new God would instruct his people to dominate all her elements for their own purpose and use, and to dominate women – both a propagandist technique to justify confiscating wealth and property from the Goddess matriarchate culture and installing male kings and a male god to be in charge. Twisting Sumerian and Minoan Crete legend of millennium before, no longer was a Goddess needed for giving birth; in this new myth man was to appear full blown out of the earth and woman was extracted from his rib – at least it was the case of the second woman, Eve. As learned earlier, the first woman the Hebrew God created, also full-blown out of the earth, was Lilith. But since Lilith didn’t obey her male counterpart and objected to his domination, she was discarded, named as the devil, and a new woman, Eve was created—this time by extracting a rib from the male and blowing into it. The legend attributed to both these male God-created females turned woman and her sexuality into something to be loathed and blamed as the elicitor of sin. Therefore, Hebrew laws – their “severe code of ethics for the supposed purity of life” – and resulting atrocities against women were as harsh as other androcratic invaders; in many ways more so.

According to the Old Testament, married Hebrew men were technically discouraged from having sex with other women. Yet prostitution flourished in ancient Hebrew societies, as it did in all others of the time. Perhaps, more important, Hebrew men were permitted to take multiple wives and concubines – a law to accommodate a male’s lusty appetite to encourage them not to succumb to the lure of prostitution practiced by the pagans among whose societies the Hebrews lived and intermixed where by the time of the Hebrew, sex with temple prostitutes (temples operated by male priests as was learned earlier) was a ritual of communing with the Goddess. Also, it was a way to legitimize the Hebrew practice of keeping young virgins alive from cities they plundered and destroyed and then used for sex.

Note the word pagan: a new linguistic term to identify anyone who believed in deities other than the Hebrew one and only male God. Note: before the Hebrew mythology of a monotheistic God, the concept of pagan did not exist in thought, therefore not in language.

By then, (the Hebrews) had developed a newly refined sexual legal system. Pre-eminent, as handed down by the Genesis myth of creation and Eve enticing Adam into sin, was a preoccupation with restricting sexual activity: who could have it, when they could have it, how often they could have it, how they were to be clothed when they had it, how they had to purify themselves and everything they touched after they had it, and the sacrifice of animals to their God via his proxy priests after they had it. Although the body of Hebrew law is immense, the book of Leviticus,[13] according to the Old Testament, recounts the rules God supposedly gave Moses as to how his people were to atone for sins and how to have sex (which was now “unclean”).

Since the basis of Hebrew law considers the human body to be an extension of God’s body, the rule was, (Leviticus 11:44) “You shall sanctify yourself and be holy as I am holy.” Thoughts had a powerful religious significance, and everything a Hebrew thought about doing with his body and did physically with his body was highly regulated: sex and reproduction were thus at the core of their law. Of prime importance, was how to cleanse the woman after childbirth, and how to cleanse man after having sex with her – the reason for both being, anything related to woman’s sexuality was inherently unclean. But before sex: every sin in thought or action required the slaughter and burning of specific animals in a very ordered way; thus a lot of blood was required to appease this Hebrew God, and it had to be spilled in a very “clean” manner. And after this slaughtering, burning and atoning for the sin, God was very specific on what the Hebrews could eat of their slaughters. In law after law of what to kill, how to kill it, how to burn it, God ends with:

Leviticus 11: 45-47, For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 46, This is the law of beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: 47, To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

(Reminder: there is doubt that the massive Hebrew Exodus actually happened.)

Immediately after the lengthy Leviticus list of rules of clean and unclean sacrificial killing and cooking, and what could be eaten comes, “the purification of women after childbirth!” In summary, if a woman bore a male child, she was to be isolated for seven days. After that, she was to continue in her purifying for thirty days where she was to touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary. If she bore a female child – inherently more unclean than a male child (?) – she was to be isolated for fourteen days, and continue her no-touching purifying for thirty-six days. When her time of cleansing was complete, she was to bring a lamb yearling and a pigeon or turtledove to the Hebrew God’s priest for sacrifice as an offering of her sin (of reproducing).

The Old Testament teachings degraded the life-giving principle exemplified in motherhood, and in a two-fold way lessened the Hebrew nation’s and later Christian’s regard for womanhood. First, through the sin-offering and purification demanded of the mother for giving birth to a child; and second, by its lengthening the period of exclusion for purification in the case of having a girl child. It automatically placed an infliction, a lowered status, and degradation even, upon the girl child. This attitude would, through both Judaism and Christianity, spread the world over. These practices also attributed uncleanliness to women in every function of her being that would haunt women for centuries to come.[14]

Following Leviticus’ rules for woman’s cleansing from childbirth, is a lengthy discussion of leprosy. Then comes the uncleanliness of men “in their issues” (semen ejected during copulation, wet dreams, or masturbation), and women in their issues (menstruation). The bed in which they did lie together, their clothes, everything they touched, and any who touched what they touched, had to be bathed for seven days followed by more sacrifice – two pigeons or turtledoves to the priest.

Leviticus 18:2-18 gives a long list of who a man may and may not lie with, with Leviticus 20:10-12 condemning death for adultery, incest, or sodomy, and Leviticus 21:13-14 stating that a man may marry a virgin, but not a widow, a divorced woman, or a harlot. The death of women for their sexually related sins by stoning is described in Leviticus.

Though sex was highly regulated and required a great deal of atoning to the priests, to follow God’s commandments was “to be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28); to ignore the laws of how to do that was to anger God to the point where he would “vomit out” the Hebrews from the land they held on to so tenuously. Therefore, disobeying God’s laws was not only jeopardizing your individual safety (in this world) and salvation (in the afterlife) but the safety and salvation of the entire tribe; a pretty heavy burden of guilt and fear imposed to keep one in line.[15]

In the new paradigm the Hebrew mythology was ushering into the Western world that was to spawn Christianity in which they would ironically become its victims of slaughter and oppression, the Hebrew focus on hygiene would make them the best and most sought-after Western doctors of medicine.  And though the future Christian Church would outlaw the hiring of a Jewish doctor (both male and female—remember, only the women attended childbirths) the wealthy and the royalty would all secretly do so as a means of protecting their families’ life and health from death and disease. Of course, to be historically accurate, the Hebrew would have learned about medicine and hygiene from their pagan neighbors.  Moses supposedly studied at old Heliopolis in Egypt (assuming he actually existed and was in Egypt); and, as it was a coeducational and priestly school, it is probable that his wife Zipporah studied there as well as at Sais, Egypt’s famous medical university. Moses knew all the magic and superstitions, as well as all of the empirically tested medical prescriptions of many countries, including Egypt and Babylon—both of those culture’s knowledge having been passed down by the earlier Sumerians. He was a great sanitarian and understood the hygiene of camp life, kept stores of supplies for the people, erected shelters for the workers as well as hospitals for the sick and needy which he called Beth Holem and Beth Said, etc. Both Hebrew men and women were well-trained in diagnosis, and had a long and useful list of remedies for every disease. These may have been Egyptian or Babylonian medicines, for it is said that the Jews developed the prophylaxis of contagious diseases, chiefly of leprosy, from the Babylonians. Certainly, they would have learned about bathing and hygiene from their pagan neighbors. The Philistines would have brought their baths with them – remember the Minoans of Crete had running water, bathtubs and flush toilets in their homes  for centuries, if not for thousands of years – even in the homes of the working classes – and they had community sewage systems. The Greeks and the Romans had public baths, as did the Sumer and Egyptians who passed the concept of bathing to their conquerors.

The reason this emphasis on Jewish medical and hygiene knowledge is made is because, though the Hebrews spawned Christianity, once the Roman Empire collapsed, the Church would usher in well over a thousand years of the darkest, most barbaric period of Western history. Hygiene and sewage systems were long forgotten. In response to Roman sexual debauchery at the baths, the Christian Fathers would prohibit cleanliness. Bathing required nudity, and nudity promoted  . . . ah, promiscuity and sexual lewdness. So opposed to sexual license were the Catholic bishops, they would teach that opening the pores with water was dangerous as in letting disease into the body.[16] It would be this lack of personal hygiene, and community sewage systems that would cause millions to die of the plague, of typhoid, and many other infectious diseases that raged through Europe in the centuries that would follow.

But that is not the only way the Church would cause the death of millions.

A final note: the writings of earlier scholars accepted the writings of the Old Testament as based upon an assumption of truth: how the Israelites fled slavery and Moses led a mass exodus from Egypt, and Moses’ progeny (Joshua) invaded those sixty cities such as Jericho, quoted earlier, burning the walls and killing all the males, and women who had lain with a man, keeping only the female virgin children alive as their own property. Later archaeology excavations have discredited the literal truth of these writings. Yet, the bias against women —of women’s bodies and the ‘original sin’ associated with giving life, which had to be closely regulated by an authoritarian patriarchal male God and those made in his image—has remained in our Western culture for over 2500 years.

***

 

 

 


[1] Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2002) pp 319-321. “With the development of modern archaeology, it became clear that Canaan of the third millennium B.C.E—the early Bronze Age—was characterized by fully developed urban life. This was obviously inappropriate as an historical background to the stories of the wandering patriarchs who had few urban encounters. In this first urban period of the Bronze Age, large cities, some of them reaching an area of fifty acres and accommodating several thousand people, developed in the lowlands. They were surrounded by formidable fortifications and contained palaces and temples. Though there are no texts from this period, a comparison of the situation in the 3rd millennium B.C.E. to the 2nd millennium B.C.E., (when we do have texts) suggests that the major cities served as capitals of city-states, and that the rural population was subordinate to these centers. The material culture was that of a highly organized sedentary people. But in the 3rd millennium B.C.E. the flourishing urban system collapsed. The cities were destroyed, and many of them became ruins, never to recover from the shock—the rural settlements around them abandoned. What followed was a few centuries of a very different culture with no urban life. Urban life gradually recovered, and Canaan entered a second urban period, that of the Middle Bronze Age in early 2nd millennium B.C.E. The American biblical scholar, William F. Albright believed that he had identified the historical background of the patriarchs in this nomadic interlude between the two periods of developed urban life in Canaan, an interlude that fell between 2100 and 1800 B.C.E. Albright argued that the collapse of the Early Bronze Age urban culture was sudden and that it was the outcome of an invasion, or migration of pastoral nomads from the northeast. He identified the invaders with the people called Amurru—Amorites (literally Westerners) of the Mesopotamian texts. Albright went a step further and identified the patriarchs as Amorites, and dated the Abraham episode in the Genesis stories to this phase in Canaan history. According to this reconstruction, Abraham was an Amorite, a merchant, who migrated from the north and wandered throughout the central highlands of Canaan as well as in the Negrev. The Amorite hypothesis did not last very long. Due to additional excavations throughout the country, scholars concluded that the early urban centers did not collapse overnight but declined gradually over many decades, due more to local economic and social upheavals within Canaan than to a wave of invaders from outside. In the meantime, the Amorite hypothesis took another blow from another direction, for it became clear that the term Amorite was not restricted to pastoral people. Village communities in northern Syria in the early 2nd millennium B.C.E. were also termed Amorite. Thus it is unlikely that Abraham came into the country as part of a wave of invaders. Also, in sharp contradiction to the theory of a great migration of nomads from the north, the continuity of architecture, pottery styles, and settlement patterns suggests that the population of Canaan in this interurban phase was predominantly indigenous. The population was descended from the people who had lived in the cities a few generations before. And the same people would reestablish urban life in Canaan in the cities of the Middle Bronze Age. No less important was the fact that some of the main sites mentioned in the patriarchal stories—such as Shechem, Beersheba, and Hebron—did not yield finds from the Intermediate Bronze Age; these sites were simply not inhabited at that time.”

[2] Note: George Mendenhall graduated from Midland College in Nebraska in 1936, and from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 1938. Mendenhall was first an ordained Lutheran minister, and during World War II he served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy. After the war, Mendenhall obtained a Ph.D. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University and began a long career in Near Eastern and biblical studies as well as related archeology, including a professorship at the University of Michigan from 1952 to 1986. Mendenhall authored: Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh: The Biblical Colloquium, 1955); The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition (Johns Hopkins, 1973); Ancient Israel’s Faith and History: An Introduction the Bible in Context (Edited by Gary A. Herion, Westminster/John Knox Press, 2001); and Our Misunderstood Bible (BookSurge Publishing, 2006.) His theory that the Hebrews were ethnically and culturally related to the Indo-Europeans – though well-supported archaeologically and academically– has been controversial.

[3] Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, (Touchstone, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 2002, p 28

[4] Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, p. 167

[5] Bible, King James Version, Book

 of Deuteronomy

 

[6] Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, p. 172

[7]  Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, pp 61-63

[8] Ibid., pp71-72

[9] Ibid., p 72

[10] Ibid., p 79-96, and Appendix C, pp 329-339

[11] Ibid. pp 81-82

[12] Merlin Stone, When God was a Woman, p. 204

[13] All references from Leviticus from the Old Testament, from the Bible, King James Version.

[14] Matilda Joslyn Gage, Women, Church and State, p 59-60.

[15] Note: All references to Leviticus and Genesis from the Bible: King James Version.

[16] Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead, M.D., A History of Women in Medicine, From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century, (Haddam Press: Haddam, CT, 1938) p. 276