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Post Info TOPIC: God's love – for the Jews! Ignorance, misogyny and intolerance


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God's love – for the Jews! Ignorance, misogyny and intolerance
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God's love – for the Jews!

Ignorance, misogyny and intolerance 

 In the creed of the Jews, the natural impulse to love another human, expressed through sex, became a prisoner of the counterfeit impulse to fixate upon, adore and worship an illusory tribal deity. With emotional attachment, and its associated fears and anxieties, displaced from fellow humans to Yahweh, whose wiles only the priests could interpret, the sexual drive itself was shackled to a bizarre assortment of imperatives, taboos and prohibitions. Sexual love became a beast to be corralled, harnessed, tamed and neutered. Sexual dysfunction was assured.

 

The Jewish Legacy

god-stars.jpg

"The LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth ... because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your ancestors."

– Deuteronomy 7.6,8

 

The pagan world respected and feared the gods, whose behaviour could be, in turns, either malicious or benign. Of course, the gods did love some mortals. It was supposed that a god, in an amorous encounter with a human female, might on occasion sire a hero, an Alexander or a Caesar, especially favoured by the gods. The hierodules, priestesses of the pagan religions, had sexual intercourse as proxies for their favoured goddesses. The act, at least in theory, was no mere profanity but a religious rite, anticipating fertility in some form, the beneficence of the venerated deity. Clay replicas of diseased or broken body parts were left in the temples. Together with an appropriate sacrifice, it was hoped that a particular god would be induced to grant relief to the sufferer. But for the most part, pagan gods were unpredictable and capricious and the whole point of pagan religious ritual was to propitiate the gods and win their uncertain favour.

The Jews, however, unlike other peoples of the ancient world, convinced themselves that they were the unique and perpetual beneficiaries of divine favour, a chosen people "loved" by their fierce tribal god. The concomitant of God's love, of course, was the imperative to love God in return. Indeed, this celestial "lover" demanded it under threat of retribution:

"You shall have no other gods before me ... for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments."

– Exodus 20.3,6.


Love for fellow Jews (or even Jewesses!) had to be subordinated to love for God. The disturbing yarn about Abraham's all but sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22.2) made alarmingly clear that love for a favourite child could not withstand the demands of the terrible sky god. In the disgusting tale of Jephthah (Judges 11.29,39), an only daughter was indeed reduced to a burnt offering to please "God". Love indeed.

Thus Yahweh is the most monstrous of lovers, threatening to harm children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren for any shortfall in his required adoration. HIS was to be no lukewarm or part-time affection: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." No wonder that bloody abattoir, otherwise known as the Jewish Temple, sacrificed thousands of animals on a daily basis. The bloody sacrifice of life conveyed "love" to the divine tyrant.

 

Judaism's "one flesh" – Sex makes more Jews

"A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

– Genesis, 2.24.

"The concept of adultery does not apply to intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman; rather the Talmud equates such intercourse to the sin of bestiality."

– Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, p87.


In the Mosaic law of the Jews "fornication" had a precise meaning, quite different from contemporary usage. The Law made no prohibition on 
male premarital or extramarital sexual activity so long as the women involved were not the property of another JewA Jewish male could acquire as many wives as he could afford, and also avail himself of the services of concubines and prostitutes. A childless marriage was reason enough for a male to take another wife and polygamy among the Jews drew no rabbinical reproof until the 11th century AD.

Setting the example were the patriarchs themselves, all prodigious fornicators. Abraham had three wives and his grandson Jacob, progenitor of the twelve tribes, had the services of four women – Rachel and Leah, and their obliging personal slaves Bilha and Zilpa. Rehoboam, son of the legendary King Solomon, is credited with 18 wives and 60 concubines (2 Chronicles 11.21) – an impressive harem, but far short of his father's prodigious tally of 700 wives and 300 concubines. And it seems the randy king still found the energy to give the Queen of Sheba "all her desire" (1 Kings 10.13) – which according to Ethiopian tradition was a son called Menilek. No "adultery" was committed by all this extra-marital activity: visiting dignities, unmarried females, slaves or captives, all were fair game.

Indeed, sex with powerless women was deemed desirable, because any resultant pregnancy increased the stock of Jews. Genesis1.28 relates God's mandate to the Jews: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.". The Jews, possessed by dreams of imperial expansion yet zealous for a "racial purity", especially prized captured virgin brides. They, like all early peoples, recognized that copulation with a female virgin was the best assurance of paternity. In a notorious pronouncement, supposedly Moses himself said:

'Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.'

– Numbers 31.17,18.


Judaism fiercely defended male rights to first penetration as a guarantee of legitimate inheritance. A Jewish father was the custodian of his daughter's virginity and market value until ownership passed, with a bride price, to her new owner. Family honour and economic survival were intimately bound up with its female products remaining untampered with until a successful "sale" had been agreed. If a buyer discovered that his new wife had been deflowered already she was to be stoned to death. Parents might retain stained nuptial bed sheets as proof that their virgin daughter really had been intact on her wedding night (Deuteronomy 22.15,20). An unbetrothed rape victim was required to marry the rapist, provided the rapist first compensated the father with fifty shekels (Deuteronomy 22:28,29).

Even today, in many cultures, an unauthorised loss of virginity is a cause for alarm – and even violence. An early episode of an "honour killing" is told in the story of Jacob's sons Simeon and Levi, who massacre and pillage a whole city to avenge the dishonour of their sister Dinah – "Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot?" (Genesis 34.1,31).

Jewish wives, held as property, preserved the gene pool and transmitted Jewishness in a tribal system which might otherwise have been diluted by predatory males. The essence of this principle is preserved in the story of the progenitors, where Sarah, the wife of Abraham, demands the expulsion of his concubine:

"Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son."

– Genesis 21.10.


Deuteronomy
 23.2 made clear that "bastards shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to the tenth generation"! Fear that a Jewish male might be cuckolded even led to the sanctity of "trial by ordeal", in which a suspected wife could be made to drink "bitter water" made from dust taken from the floor of the tabernacle! If her "thigh" (read "genitals") rotted and her belly "swelled" – and no doubt if she merely feared the priestly curse – she was surely guilty (Numbers 5).

Thus while "love for God" had the highest calling, sex with captives could "give delight" (Deuteronomy 21.14) and was a righteous reward of warfare. As late as the time of the Maccabean kings, sexual slavery was an instrument of Jewish expansionism, with concubinage forced upon female captives (Deuteronomy 21.10,13). Enslaved males were forcibly circumcised ("made Jews"), no doubt with considerable bloodshed and infection. Clearly, the mutilation of male genitalia had great symbolism. 1 Samuel 18.27 records the edifying tale of the soon-to-be-king David using two hundred Philistine foreskins to buy the daughter of Saul – quite a dowry!

 

Racial potency

So important was the Mosaic rescript to add to the stock of Jews that males damaged in the genitals were forbidden even to enter the Temple. Only the potent could hold their place among the righteous:

"He that is wounded in the stones or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord."

– Deuteronomy 23.1. 


The yarn about Onan "spilling his seed" and being slain by God in consequence (Genesis 38.8,10) was a warning from the priests about shirking the responsibility "to multiply". Even the involuntary loss of semen brought pollution upon the godly:

"And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even."

– Leviticus 15.16.


One aspect of the inspirational tale of Exodus is that virile Jews, though set to "hard labour", were still able to out-breed their Egyptian masters. By the time Moses is ready to lead his people a mere seventy members of Jacob's clan has grown to three million. Fecund, or what?

Homosexuality, in particular, drew the ire of the priests. It was one of many sex crimes for which righteousness demanded capital punishment. A "moral tale" was provided by the story of Lot in Genesis:

"The men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them."

– Genesis 19.4,5.


Lot, of course, solved the moral dilemma by offering the would-be rapists his two virgin daughters instead (he must have read Judges 19). The Sodomites, at least according to Ezekiel 16.49, were also guilty of pride, gluttony, sloth, greed, and failure to help the poor (in other words, Republicans).

But whatever yarns the priests dreamed up to illustrate "right behaviour", the real challenge to the Jews came from the culture of the Romano-Hellenistic world, which accepted homosexual liaisons, and was certainly untroubled by the use of a passive male partner.

"That men might wish to caress and penetrate other beautiful men caused the Greeks, at least, little surprises. What was judged harshly was the fact that the pursuit of pleasure might lead some men to wish to play the female role."

– Brown, The Body and Societyp30.


One might reasonably suppose that Judaism's condemnation of sodomy, as of bestiality, arose not because it was unknown among the Hebrew tribesmen but precisely because it was prevalent and ran counter to the primary goal of populating the world with Jews.

 

"Song of Songs" - Old Testament pornography

A collection of erotic verse known as the Song of Songs is a surprising inclusion in God's greatest hits. It seems that in the 3rd century BC, at a time when Jewish scripture was being regularized, some priestly scribblers were reluctant to give up their titillating verse. They successfully passed off the poetry as "sacred" by attributing authorship to none other than KingSolomon, centuries earlier. Hence the verses are also known as the Song of Solomon. Of course, the poetry had nothing to do with Solomon but simply built upon his reputation as a prodigious "lover".

I am black, but comely ... I am a wall, and my breasts like towers ... breasts like two young roes that are twins ...

The king hath brought me into his chambers ... Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine ... He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts ... By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth ... I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste .. Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits ... My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved ... I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone...

Let us get up early to the vineyards ... there will I give thee my loves ... Make haste, my beloved.

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Breasts like towers...

 

Empowering the priests

The imperative was clear. Procreative sex was a religious and racial duty. Go to it. Marry young, breed prolifically. On the other hand, unbridled sexuality might easily have undermined priestly authority. Certain sexual practices – masturbation, homosexuality, incest, etc. – were perceived as subversive of marriage and its procreative purpose. Sex, therefore, had to be within "divine" guidelines. After all, God himself had chosen – of all places! – Eve's genital region to inflict punishment for her disobedience in the garden:

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children."

– Genesis 3.16.


A few chapters later, when the Lord Almighty decides he needs a "token" of his covenant with Abraham, it is now the male genitalia which take a hit:

"And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you."

– Genesis 17.11.


The strictures upon the chosen people were tightly drawn. The act of sex was held to be both necessary and intrinsically "unclean". After intercourse, elaborate rituals were required to re-establish a "cleanliness" acceptable to God. By regulating sexuality, the regulators – the priests – were empowered and received endless tribute into the bargain.

 

Washing away the stain

Restoring ritual cleanliness, after all the mess of bodily fluids and removed foreskins, became an obsession with the Jews. An entire volume of the Talmud dealt almost exclusively with the subject of "family purity". Fear of menstruation – common to primitive, patriarchal societies – became for the Jews a female "sin" which required a week's isolation and the "atonement" of providing the local priest with poultry (Leviticus 15.29). Various prohibitions were spelt out in the Jewish holy scripture:

"And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean ... And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean."

– Leviticus 15.19,24.


A later verse implied a far harsher discipline for breaking the taboo on sex at the wrong time:

"And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people."

– Leviticus 20.18.


But not just bodily functions but the naked body itself drew censure. In an outrageously unjust yarn, Canaan, grandson of Noah (together with all his descendents forever!) was cursed and condemned to slavery because his dad had caught sight of a drunken Noah dancing naked! (Genesis 9). No doubt this "moral tale" originated in a primitive tribalism where the dignity of the chief honcho had to be preserved at all costs. The act of "uncovering the nakedness" of the patriarch was a great sin. It may obliquely refer to an act of incest (nakedness by proxy):

"The man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness."

– Leviticus 20.11.


The taboo on nudity is to be found in the primordial "origins" fable. Having eaten fruit from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve acquired "knowledge" of good and evil. This amounted to an instant "moral code" which made them realize that they were naked and should cover up their naughty bits:

"And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."

– Genesis 3.7.


However, the fig leaf "aprons" made God aware (surely he knew anyway?) that the first humans had disobeyed him – so, as well as expelling them from the garden, he started up the leather coat business:

"And the LORD God ... said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? ... Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." 

- Genesis 3.9,21.

 

Nude Jews?

It might thus be imagined that being clothed was concomitant with divine moral law. Certainly, the "shamefulness" of nudity can be traced to this primitive religious taboo. However, God's earthly spokesmen had a surprising penchant for shedding their clothes:

"The LORD said ... my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia."

– Isaiah 20.3.

"Saul stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?"

– 1 Samuel 19.24.


The precedent of naked holy men belongs not to Judaism but to Hinduism, a practice which continues to this day. This affectation of nude "unworldliness" quite possibly percolated from the sub-continent into west Asia in antiquity – along with the ritual of dusting oneself with ashes – where it was adopted by Jewish ascetics. Judaism may not be as original as it claims!

 

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"So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face."

– 1 Kings 20.38.

"And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her"

– 2 Samuel 13.19.

 

Indian holy men (Naga sadhus) have gone naked, covered with ash, for millennia.

 

Jewish misogyny

"It cannot be denied that male beliefs about 'honor' have made it a brilliant instrument of psychological and cultural oppression. Rape has become a means through which the taboos of a community ... the intrinsic sinfulness of women, in the importance of virginity prior to marriage, and in the shamefulness of being raped ... can be used to rend it from within."

– Sam HarrisThe End of Faithp188,


The misogyny of Judaism is plain enough. Essentially, women were baby-making chattel, without rights, and wholly subordinate to their fathers, brothers and husbands. Daughters could be sold as slaves (Exodus 21.7). A wife, passing from the ownership of her father to the ownership of her husband, had before her a lifelong role of producing and raising children. To be childless ("barren") had the stigma of God's disapproval. In many of Judaism's holy stories "divine intervention" worked its magic to cure the curse of infertility. All shall breed:

"Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle."

– Deuteronomy 7.14.


Yet clearly, even within the semi-nomadic patriarchal society of the Jews male priests had to contend with – and eliminate – rival priestesses. Aspects of the sacred feminine which could not be totally erased were assimilated into a minor or subsidiary role of an all-embracing Yahweh cult.

One of the oldest extant passages of Jewish scripture tells the story of Deborah (Judges 4-5), a prophetess and judge from the warlord period. The Song of Deborah tells how this female soothsayer supposedly guided the conquest of Galilee.

"And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."

– Judges 4.4,5.


Almost uniquely in the sagas of the Jews, Deborah is neither victim nor villain. The tale probably originated in the northern kingdom before it was overrun, and with it, a tradition which allowed women to share in tribal leadership. A fainter echo of "priestess power" is found in the story of Hulda the prophetess, who is consulted by the "righteous" king Josiah on an unknown book of Moses "found" in the temple during rebuilding work, the "restatement" of the law known as Deuteronomy. Rather conveniently, Hulda confirms that the book is indeed a genuine script from the pen of Moses, including presumably the verses which describe the great man's own death and burial! (Deuteronomy 34.5,12). A purge of non-Yahweh cults immediately followed (2 Chronicles 34).

 

Assimilation of the Sacred Feminine

"The religion of the Rabbis ... was for men only, since women were not required – and therefore not permitted – to become Rabbis, to study Torah or to pray in the synagogue. The woman's role was to maintain the ritual purity of the home ... In practice, this meant they were regarded as inferior."

– Karen Armstrong, A History of God, p92.


The heroines Deborah and Hulda were the residue of an earlier age. In the emergent Judaism of the southern kingdom, female meddling in the arcane art of speaking for God was not to be tolerated. Nor were women to be involved in certain festivals (Exodus 23.17) or allowed into the inner courts of the temple. The later prophet Ezekiel will warn:

"Set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart ... Woe to the women ... lying to my people that hear your lies ... Because with lies ye have ... strengthened the hands of the wicked ... Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD."

– Ezekiel 13.17,23.


Nehemiah
 and Proverbs warned of the dangers posed by "strange women":

"Solomon ... was beloved of his God made king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?"

– Nehemiah 13.26,27.


In the utterances of the Jewish male prophets, women were not only self-indulgent huzzies, they were easily led into superstition and false gods and by nature were sly and deceitful:

" I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets and her hands as bands, whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her but the sinner shall be taken by her."

– Ecclesiastes 7.26.


Isaiah
 threatened retribution to women who forgot their subordinate place:

"Tremble ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins."

– Isaiah 32.11.


The Old Testament reserves some of its most virulent invective for Jezebel, feisty wife of king Ahab, mouthed in the curses of the wandering prophets Elijah and Elisha. Jezebel, a woman who clearly did not know her place (or the right god) was thrown from a window and her corpse left to be eaten by dogs. She had been warned by the righteous prophets of the Lord:

"Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine ... Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall ... The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel."

– 1 Kings 21.19,23.

 

New Bottle, Old Vinegar

From the time of Julius Caesar to the mid years of the 1st century AD, Rome granted privileges to the Jews. The concessions showed the gratitude of a succession of Roman princes for Jewish support in their own power struggles. During this period certain well-placed individuals (Nero's wife Poppaea Sabina among them) were curious about the Jewish religion. Some non-Jews attended the synagogues and presumably found comfort in Judaism's heroic tales and fierce, moralising God. These "God fearers" stopped short of circumcision and the full observance of Mosaic law but otherwise adopted "Jewish ways". At the same time, many wealthy Jews willingly embraced Romano-Hellenic culture.

This period of mutual curiosity and rapprochement ended with the first Jewish war and the destruction of Jerusalem. Judaism's Hellenised revisionists, no doubt, post-war even more accommodating of the occupying power, faced increasing bitterness from their conservative co-religionists. In 93 AD, the "heretics" were expelled from the synagogues. Violent clashes continued into the 2nd century and led to catastrophe for the Jews. With the final defeat of militant Judaism in 135 AD, the Jewish kingdom itself disappeared from history. Thereafter, the Jews, despised for their insularity, were drawn inexorably into a wider cosmopolitan world.

Judaism would bequeath its unfortunate mix of ignorance, misogyny and intolerance to a wayward faction of its heretics known to the world as Christians. The plethora of rules and regulations of the Jews, designed to restrict, repress and otherwise regulate sexuality in the semi-nomadic barbarism of the Levant, would pass wholesale into the new creed and bedevil a Christian Europe for the next two millennia.

 

Sources:
Cullen Murphy, The Word According to Eve (Allen Lane, 1998)
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Bantam, 2006)
Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion (1927)
Sam Harris, The End of Faith (Free Press, 2005)
Paul Tabori, A Pictorial History of Love (Spring, 1968) 
Philip J. Lee, Against the Protestant Gnostics (OUP, 1993) 
Uta Ranke-Henemann, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven (Penguin, 1993) 
Peter Brown, The Body and Society (Colombia, 1990)



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