Sex Slaves and Concubines
No matter what ones take on the Bible is, whether it be the inspired Word of God, or an historical account of men’s ideas about god, an undeniable fact remains that the Bible promotes sexual violence against women and the trafficking of women for sex. I have listed a handful of verses below to show the extreme abuse that women have endured at the hands of men, condoned and promoted in the pages of the Bible, without a single reprimand recorded against such barbarism. In each of the passages I have listed, men have inflicted sexual violence against women and in each of the cases there is not so much as one word of condemnation written against their horrendous deeds…in fact quite the opposite is true – there are laws written in the Bible to accommodate such behavior!
It is time women and men alike raise their voices denouncing this sexual violence targeted specifically at the female gender. These passages that I have listed are just a few amongst the many contained in the Old Testament part of the Bible, and for the most part are ignored by faithful believers, but what does that say about peoples moral values? The Old Testament contains the whole of the biblical writings of Judaism, and over half of the Christian Bible that Jesus said not one “jot” or “tittle” would pass away from. How can it be that all one hears is silence from the religious communities that hold these texts to be God’s moral laws? This is an issue that needs to be dealt with and it’s time the voices of those who care about human rights be heard. Sexual violence in never okay, even when it’s promoted in a book considered by millions to be the word of god…it’s always WRONG, Wrong, wrong!
The Daughters of Righteous Lot
The account listed below is found in the book of Genesis, it perfectly depicts the status of women as property. The first story takes place in the infamous city of Sodom where Lot, the nephew of Abraham is residing. Lot is entertaining two “messengers” in his home; the men of the city begin to bang on his door demanding that he send out the “messengers”, so that they can sodomize them. Lot pleads with them not to harm the “messengers” that are abiding under his roof, so he offers instead for these wild men to take his two daughters and do with them as they see right. If you have not already fallen off your seat I don’t understand why not. Can any human being with a conscience imagine offering ones own daughters to wild men to be raped in lieu of giving them the men they asked for? And to make matters worse, Lot was not reprimanded by God for his egregious actions, in fact he was lauded as a righteous and godly man by the apostle Peter in the New Testament, but we already know the reason for that…women were considered no more than a mans property, whereas the value of a man was not that of property, but rather of his honor… apparently their god, Yahweh felt the same way.
Gen.19:4-8 But before they lay down, 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. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Another blatant act of Yahweh treating women as being expendable property happens a little later on in the story where we find that Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt for looking back on the burning city of Sodom…a slight overkill wouldn’t you say, especially when Lot was not even given a slap on the wrist for offering his daughters to be raped…ah, but then Lot’s wife was just a woman. Even Jesus speaks disparagingly of Lots wife in Luke 17, where he admonishes the people to “remember Lot’s wife” when they think about what happened at Sodom, but nary a word is mentioned about the atrocious behavior of Lot when he offered his daughters up to be raped. To make matters worse in the epistle of Peter, Lot is called righteous not once, not twice, but three times in the space of three verses along with the term “godly” being inserted. It seems the standards of righteousness and godliness for biblical writers was far different than what would be considered righteous in today’s society.
Gen.19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Luke 17: 31-32 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife.
2Peter 2:6-9 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
Lastly we read that Lot committed incest with his daughters, so if there is any question left concerning Lot’s unrighteous behavior it should be settled once and for all.
Gen.19:36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
All it would have taken was for someone like Jesus, Paul, or Peter to stand up for women’s equality by condemning the atrocious behavior of Lot, instead of calling him righteous. Because men dominate most societies historically, and are the perpetrators of violence against women, it is incumbent upon them to stand up for human rights and condemn those who abuse them.
Take my Concubine
Throughout the Old Testament men were allowed under the law to have as many wives and concubines as they desired, the most famous case being that of King Solomon who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines by the biblical account. Of course most men could not afford to have so many wives and concubines, but nonetheless it was still legal for them to do so.
1King 11:3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
I consider the following account of abuse to be the most horrendous in the entire Bible, and if it doesn’t make you scream at the top of your lungs MALE BIAS, I fear there is no hope anything will.
This story begins with a man who has taken a male guest into his house. Shortly thereafter a group of men begin banging on his door demanding the householder send out his male guest so that they may sodomize him. The householder pleads with the men to not abuse his male guest, but instead to take either his daughter or his concubine and do with them as they see fit instead. Where this case differs from the previous one in Sodom is that the master of the house actually does give his concubine over to the men who repeatedly rape and abuse the woman all night long till morning when they finally let her go. This poor woman barely has enough strength to crawl up to the door of her master’s house where she dies on his steps. Her master then proceeds to cut his dead concubine into twelve pieces and sends her body parts to all the coasts of Israel.
Judges 19:22-29 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place. And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
This story is so despicable, horrendous, and revolting it should make anyone who reads it want to puke, but do we read one word of rebuke for the actions of the householder? NO! And why not? Because women were considered property and a man could do with them as he wished…this idea is in keeping with the laws given by the biblical god Yahweh. According to the god presented in the Bible, a man’s worth was of a much greater value then that of a woman. That is why we see in the two cases where men had the choice of either giving over their male guests to be sodomized or giving over their women, the choice is always to give the woman, because handing over the man would have been dishonorable.
Keep Whom you Desire
Once again the ring of male bias sounds loud and clear, this time in the fifth book of the Torah. As I have shown with clarity over and over again the male mindset that is attributed to the masculine warrior god, Yahweh…such is the case again with the verses below. When the Hebrew’s are directed by Yahweh to go to war against their enemies, he will deliver into their hands captives, and if the soldiers desire any of the beautiful virgin women they are instructed by Yahweh to take those women for themselves. Of course first there are some rules these lustful soldiers must abide by and that is making the captive woman shave her head and trim her fingernails, also he must allow her to “bewail” her mother and father (whom the soldiers have killed) for a full month…only then can he go in and “humble” her (the Hebrew word is anah, which means to force himself upon her). Now, if after he has raped her, he finds no “delight” in her he may rid himself of her, with one restriction…he is not allowed to sell her for profit.
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
First off, what business is it of Yahweh to be involved in the sex trade of women and catering to the wanton lusts of men who are willing to slaughter mothers and fathers in order to take their virgin daughters? It is one of the most disgusting things I can think of, but it is very telling of where these ideas actually came from. Men naturally lust after beautiful women and it is common knowledge that especially during times of war, soldiers capture and rape women; many times with little or no consequences. It is a far different thing though when the raping of women is actually initiated and sanctioned by the deity who is claimed to be the creator of the universe! Which of course directly reveals that this god of the Bible, named Yahweh is a construct created from the minds of men and whose actions are directly in keeping with the lustful desires of men. Whether it be attacking other tribes to take their women, or their property it ultimately comes down to common traits that are displayed in the aggressive warrior mentality of men. To think that Christians of today see no problem in their god allowing women to be auctioned off like livestock to men who lust after them is one of the most degrading actions I can think of…certainly not something I would want my children taught in Sunday school. What we need to remember is that the Old Testament was the collection of scrolls that Jesus referred to as the Law of Moses and the Prophets which he held to be inspired words of his father god.
It is also interesting to note that the idea of coveting your neighbors wife or maidservant is forbidden in the Tenth Commandment, yet the Biblegod allows men who covet and desire women of other societies to capture them and take them for wives! Sounds like some pretty mixed up morals to me.
Daughters of Shiloh
I hope I am not beginning to sound like a broken record, but here we go again with Yahweh commanding the Hebrew’s to slaughter all the men and women in a city called Jabesh-Gilead, EXCEPT the virgins for the sole purpose of furnishing the men with wives. In this case the ONLY reason for utterly destroying the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead was because the Benjamites needed wives. The reason the Benjamites needed wives is because all of their tribe had been killed by the other Hebrew tribes in a previous conflict, except for 600 men who hid in the mountains, thus escaping death. Also, earlier in the story the Bible tells us that all the tribes of Israel had sworn to not give of their daughters to the tribe of Benjamin for wives because they had cut off the tribe of Benjamin, so the only tribal members who had not sworn the oath were the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead…and guess what? They got chosen to be the ones to furnish the Benjamites with wives at the expense of their own lives.
But, a problem arises when only 400 virgins are captured at the slaughter of Jabesh-Gilead, and the Benjamites needed 600 women for wives, so then they were commanded to go kidnap 200 more virgins from Shiloh; all of this of course was under direct command from Yahweh. I’m not sure why at first it’s said that they can only take wives from Jabesh-Gilead because they had not sworn an oath, but then when they didn’t have enough it was okay to take virgins from another place called Shiloh? I guess it’s just another biblical inconsistency.
Judge 21:10-12 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children. And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man. And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan…..14) And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-Gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not….20) Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch (chataph) you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
This story is a perfect example of how men in biblical times saw nothing wrong with taking the women they wanted, because women were considered property! No mention is ever made of women’s rights, only the fact that if men wanted women they were free to take them by any means necessary (with Yahweh’s approval) which included killing off whole cities to take their virgin women. If nothing else, these stories show the Bible to be a perfect reflection of how men viewed women in ancient cultures, including of course the teachings of Paul in the New Testament, which sadly continues in many fundamentalist churches into modern times.
Keep the Virgins Alive for Yourselves
The verses below highlight the fact that the Israelites under “God’s” command, were doing exactly what their pagan neighbors did. When a battle was fought and war “booty” was taken, the virgin women were counted as part of that “booty” to be divided up amongst the men along with the livestock. This horrendous behavior can be compared to modern day sex trafficking only worse because not only were the girls taken as sex slaves but their families were slaughtered in the process.
Numbers 31:15-18 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Numbers 31:30-31 & 35 And of the children of Israel’s half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the cattle, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD. And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses…..And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.
Does anyone not see the picture these verses are painting? The supposed hierarchical order given to the Hebrews by their warrior god, Yahweh is no different from any of the other patriarchal societies – perhaps worse. So, what makes a Christian today believe that this god of the Bible who bases his hierarchical order solely on gender is valid, and not the mythical imaginings of ancient minds? Why is it that the horrendous immoral actions found throughout the Old Testament to a large degree are overlooked while its god whom Jesus endorsed still remains viable?
As hard as I try I can come to no solid reason as to why sexual violence against women is not condemned in Scripture except that those who wrote the Bible did not view those deeds as human rights violations, but then what does that say about biblical morality? At the very least one would think that the many explicit sexual violations against women contained in the Bible should be exposed as examples of man’s wickedness instead of promoted as commands from Yahweh. So, the question remains unanswered as to why the sexual violation of women in the Bible is not condemned? Biblical morality is either right or wrong; it doesn’t change with the times. If it is immoral today to sexually violate a woman, then it was immoral three thousand years ago to sexually violate a woman. Women are humans and have rights over their own bodies just like men do, they are not the property of men as the Bible promotes. It’s time to speak up and condemn human rights violations wherever they are found, even in the “Word of God”!
Male Bias of Slavery
Gender bias is rampant in all areas of male/female relationships in the Bible; it even spills over into the differences in the treatment of male and female Hebrew slaves. If a male Hebrew slave is purchased, the slave owner is required by law to release the slave in the seventh year after purchase. If the slaves master has given him a wife and he has children by that wife then when he is set free his wife and children must remain behind because they are the property of the slave holder. Apparently the female Hebrew slave is not granted the same rights of freedom in the seventh year as her male husband is. Once again, showing clear evidence of bias based solely on gender.
Exo.21:2-4 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.
Daughters Sold to be Concubines
In Hebrew society, which was governed by the laws given by their god Yahweh, a father was allowed to sell his daughter to a master be his slave/concubine. According to the law if the daughter that was sold as a slave/concubine did not please her master, he was required to let her be redeemed. The master was not allowed to sell her, because he has sexually used her, thus making her undesirable for any other man, which shows that the only value a woman had was her virginity. If the master has given the woman he bought to his son for a wife, then he was required to treat her as he would a daughter-in-law, lastly if he takes another woman to wife he is still obligated to treat his slave/concubine equally. The master must follow these rules or he is required to let his slave/concubine go free, because her worth has been diminished.
Exo.21:7-11 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.
Yet again the male bias of the Hebrew god Yahweh is blatantly obvious. Fathers were allowed under the law given by Yahweh to sell their daughters to become the sex slaves of a master; whereas the same was not the case for sons. A male could sell himself into servitude, but was not considered the property of the father as a female was. This was permitted because women were considered to be owned by either their fathers or husbands under the laws given by the god of the Bible. The only time a woman was ever considered free was if she was discarded by a man who had “humbled” her, or she was widowed. A woman’s value lay in her sexual purity, her virginity; whereas a man’s value lay in his attributes such as being a good warrior, or a good hunter, a man was free to choose a wife or concubine, a woman was not.
A parent’s job is to raise and teach their children until they reach an age when they are mature enough and can take care of themselves. Never should parents control decisions on when their children marry or have offspring (this is something that should only be decided when the child is old enough to make their own choices), but this is exactly what the Bible teaches as being the will of Yahweh. Because a daughter is considered the property of her father he is the one who determines whom he will sell his daughter to, thus also making the choice of when she will have children since contraceptives were not an option. The desires and will of the female child did not exist in biblical times. The idea of making money off your children is a disgusting thought to the modern mind, so why would a god approve of such actions let alone promote them? Having a “bride price” is a primitive custom (many backward countries still practice those archaic traditions) which keeps men in control of women; the reason this tradition is supported and promoted in the Bible is because men are the ones who created the Bible-god. Child marriage is a violation of a child’s human rights and also poses a higher risk for pregnancy complications since a young girl’s body is not fully developed. The question that one must ask, is it ever a better decision for a girl to be married off and have children then to wait and make her own choice at maturity? Apparently the biblical god thinks so. Girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have a far higher rate of maternal mortality and child mortality, or having complications that lead to serious health problems, this in and of itself is enough to condemn the idea of child marriage. A decision like marriage and having children should always be made by the individual involved at a time when they are mature enough to make such decisions and never should they be made by another.
To Marry or Not To Marry, that is the Question
It seems that there is a bit of a conundrum in the book of Deuteronomy concerning whether or not Hebrew men were allowed by Yahweh to marry pagan women.
In one incident when the Lord delivers the enemy into the hands of the Hebrew men they are commanded to kill every last person without showing any mercy to them, they are also forbbiden to make any kind of marriage covenant with them … then in another incident, where the Lord delivers once again the enemy into the hands of the Hebrew men, they are allowed to take any beautiful woman they desire??
Deut 7:2-3 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
Deuteronomy 21:10-12 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house;
More Contradictions and Confusions
Once again it seems that the Biblegod is confused about whether or not to allow the Hebrews to marry pagan women. In Exodus 34, the Lord explicitly forbids the Hebrews from making any covenants with the pagans because it says the women will cause their sons to go “a whoring” after other gods, and Yahweh is a jealous god! Then in Numbers 25, an explicit example is given of what happens when the Hebrew men go “a whoring” after pagan women, which in turn caused god to pour out his wrath upon the Israelite congregation killing 24,000 of them with a plague. After that, the Lord commanded Moses to go to war against the Midianites and vex them and smite them, but the Hebrew soldiers only killed the men, keeping the women and children alive … this kindled the anger of Moses who commanded that all the women and male children be killed as Yahweh had instructed, allowing only the virgins to be kept alive, which were to be distributed as booty to the men by direct order from the Lord.
Exo.34:12-16 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
Num.25:1-5 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people (Hebrews) began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. … 9) And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Num. 25:16-18 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Vex the Midianites, and smite them: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.
Num.31: 1&15-18 And the LORD spake unto Moses, … And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. 25) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation: And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation: … And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep, … And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.
The crazy contradictory thing about this whole story is that the Israelites are warned by god in Exodus 34, about making covenants with pagan idol worshipers, and then in Numbers 25, it clearly shows the consequences of forming such alliances, then directly in Numbers 31, Yahweh allows the Hebrew men to keep the very same Midianite pagans that caused him to pour out the plague killing 24,000 of them in the first place. It seems that the Biblegod is very confused about whether or not he should allow the Hebrews to take and keep pagan women?? Just one more reason to conclude that the Biblegod is made-up in the minds of primitive men.