25 April 2024

Interpret according to modern perspectives

Probers 5:3-5: "For the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol."

If you're reading a theological blog post, you probably know that women are marginalized throughout the Hebrew Bible, aka the Old Testament. This quote refers to a loose woman, but rest assured there are no loose men in the Hebrew Bible. In other words, women can be loose, but men cannot. Men can be weak and be unable to resist those feminine wiles, but men are typically not held accountable. The great King David sent a soldier to his death so he could take Bathsheba, and David's infant child died for that, but David's horrific selfishness is ignored afterwards.

At worst, in the Hebrew Bible, men punish women for their tempting ways. Men who lose battles are insulted by being compared to women. Men inherit land, women do not (with a few exceptions that are notable because they are exceptions).

Before I go on, I must agree that the Hebrews valued the institution of marriage highly. The husband was in charge, but adultery was bad. Jesus was able to stop the crowd from stoning the adulterous woman because the men in the crowd were just as bad. Nevertheless, ancient Israeli society was patriarchal, sometimes to the point of misogyny.

In 2024, it is simply wrong to treat these verses as explicit wisdom for the ages. The Bible doesn't tell us that God wants men to rule over women even to the point of violence. Men seduce and men lie, as they always have, just like women and queers and every other homo sapiens. Act righteously, and justly toward other demographics.

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