Biblical Israel Wasn’t the Patriarchal Society Most People Think It to Have Been

Sept. 10 2020

According to one prominent Catholic feminist theologian, ancient Israelite women experienced “enslavement” within their families. Carol Meyers attests that her undergraduate students likewise tend to assume biblical women were veiled, subservient, and oppressed. Yet the archaeological record of ancient Israel, when combined with a more careful reading of the Hebrew Bible itself, yields a very different picture of relations between the sexes. Meyers illustrates this point by focusing on the role ancient Israelite women played in processing grains into flour and baking it into bread:

The biblical prominence of national religious institutions—priesthood, sacrifice, tabernacle, and temple—often means that household religious activities are overlooked. Yet those activities were arguably the primary and most common aspect of the religious lives of most Israelites, and women had essential roles in sacral household activities involving food and its preparation.

Sanctity related to bread production appears in the offering of a piece of bread dough to God (Numbers 15:19-21) in order to secure God’s blessing for the household (Ezekiel 44:30). This ritual reflects a belief about the sanctity of bread. . . . In addition to the sacred task of making bread, women prepared special loaves and other foods for everyday and seasonal festivals.

All this should sound familiar to modern practitioners of Judaism. In a similar vein, Meyers warns about misreading the Bible’s depiction of a woman’s role in economic life:

Preparing bread was not simply a domestic chore; it was a life-sustaining activity. It was no less important to household survival than was the work of men in growing grain. While men and women were not equal in all aspects of community life, . . . both women and men were “breadwinners.” In fact, women dominated many household activities and men dominated others.

And let’s not forget the “strong woman,” [usually rendered as “woman of valor”] of Proverbs 31:10‒31. These 22 verses portray a household manager. More than half refer to economic processes. She provides food and engages in textile production; she purchases land, has a profitable business, and sells the textiles she produces to merchants. Moreover, she uses some of her household’s resources as charity for the poor.

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Read more at Biblical Mind

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Sexism

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela