Sunday, April 12, 2009

Literal Bibles: Sarah 3

From The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature we can learn of another snippet of untranslated text which refers to Sarah. The author cites R. Sorotzkin who writes,
    Indeed, we find the Bible relating (Gen. 12:8) that Abraham 'piched his tent [oholoh] west of Bet-El.' The word as written could be read oholah, 'her tent.'meaning that he first pitched his wife's tent and then his own. (Rashi ad loc.) According to Tradition, then, Abraham, the first patriarch, set up two types of tents of learning: one for women and the second for men.

    Sarah was engaged in proselytizing women, propogating the monotheistic idea to her sex, while Abraham following her example, was teaching similar religious belief to men all along his travels. We can infer from this passage that education of the woman and setting up of 'her' tent of learning take precedence to 'his' tent. page 127
We have been told that as women we must accept the masculine pronouns of the scriptures as revealing the intent of God, to allow man to represent woman. This is supposedly indicative of the literalist approach to the scripture. But how many men have stood in the pulpit and preached on the the pronoun 'her' in Gen. 12, that woman leads men in religious education.

Actually 'her' is only a grammtical ending in Hebrew, although in English it is a pronoun. In fact, many of the pronouns in the English text are a translation of grammatical endings in the original languages. Nonetheless, this is a part of scripture that I have never heard preached.

This reminds me of a piece by William Wilberforce, which I read recently,
    This is more especially affecting in the female sex, because that sex seems, by the very constitution of its nature, to be more favourably disposed than ours to the feelings and offices of Religion; being thus fitted by the bounty of Providence, the better to execute the important task which devolves on it, of the education of our earliest youth.

    Doubtless, this more favourable disposition to Religion in the female sex, was graciously designed also to make women doubly valuable in the wedded state: and it seems to afford to the married man the means of rendering an active share in the business of life more compatible, than it would otherwise be, with the liveliest devotional feelings; that when the husband should return to his family, worn and harassed by worldly cares or professional labours, the wife, habitually preserving a warmer and more unimpaired spirit of devotion than is perhaps consistent with being immersed in the bustle of life, might revive his languid piety.
Spiritual leadership in the family is like a ping pong ball that has been passed back and forth between the sexes from one generation to the other. It is time for both men and women to both step up to leadership themselves as well as honour the other sex as co-leader.

Wilberforce, William A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious Systems of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. Halifax:William Milner, 1843. First published in Britain in 1797.


Jane said...

Suzanne thank you so much for all of the research you continue to do on these issues it makes for fascinating reading.
Happy Easter

SingingOwl said...

This is such interesting reading, Suzanne. May God bless and strengthen you!