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THE WOMEN'S BIBLE - CONTENTS
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The Woman's Bible
Comments on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Chapter IV - Comments on Genesis iv
by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
[Ed. Note: The Bible used in the preparation of The
Woman's Bible is the 1888 edition of the Julie Smith translation of the
Bible - a literal translation - one of FIVE translations by this brilliant
woman. See the appendix for more information.]
THE BOOK OF GENESIS - CHAPTER IV.
Genesis iv; 1-12, 19, 23
1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and
she conceived and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper
of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And its process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought
of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock
and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And
Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the Lord sad unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why
is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well; shalt thou not be accepted: and if
thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: and unto thee shall he his
desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass,
when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother,
and slew him.
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, where is Abel thy brother? And
he said, I know not: Am I my brother s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of of thy
brother s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth which hath opened
her mouth to receive thy brother s blood from thy hand.
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth
yield unto thee her strength: a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in
19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was
Adab, and the name of the other Zillah.
23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillab, hear
my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech.
One would naturally suppose that Cain's offering of fruit indicated
a more refined and spiritual idea of the fitness of things than Abel's
of animal food. Why Cain's offering was rejected as unworthy does not appear.
There is something pathetic in Eve's joy and
faith at the advent of her first-born: "Lo I
have a man child from the Lord." She evidently thought that
Cain was to be to her a great blessing. Some expositors say that Eve thought
that Cain was the promised seed that was to bruise the serpent's head;
but Adam Clarke, in estimating woman's reasoning powers, says, "it
was too metaphysical an idea for that period."
But as that is just what the Lord said
to Eve, she must have had the capacity to understand it. But all speculations
as to what Eve thought in that eventful hour are vain. Clarke asserts that
Cain and Abel were twins. Eve must have been too much occupied with her
vacillating joys and sorrows to have indulged in any connected train of
thought. Her grief in the fratricidal tragedy that followed can be more
easily understood. The dreary environments of the mother, and the hopeless
prophesies of her future struggling life, banished to a dreary, desolate
region, beyond the love and care of her Creator, is revenged on her children.
If Adam and Eve merited the severe punishment
inflicted on them, they should have had some advice from the Heavenly Mother
and Father as to the sin of propagating such an unworthy stock. No good
avails in increasing and multiplying evil propensities and deformities
that produce only crime and misery from generation to generation. During
the ante-natal period the mother should be held sacred, and surrounded
with all the sweetest influences that Heaven and earth can give, loving
companionship, beautiful scenery, music and flowers, and all the pleasures
that art in its highest form can produce.
As the women at this period seem to be myths,
no one takes the trouble to tell from whence they came. It is sufficient
that their husbands know, and it is not necessary that the casual reader
should. The question is often asked, whom did Cain marry? Some expositors
say that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters living in different
parts of the planet, and that they married each other.
There seems to have been no scarcity of women,
for Lamech, Cain's great grandson, took unto himself two wlves. Thus early
in the history of the race polygamic relations were recognized. The phraseology
announcing the marriage of Lamech is very significant.
In the case of Adam and Eve the ceremony was
more imposing and dignified. It was declared an equal relation. But with
the announcement of Lamech's, he simply took two wives, Adah and Zillah.
Whether the women were willingly captured will ever remain an open question.
The manner in which he is accustomed to issue his orders does not indicate
a tender relation between the parties. "Hear
my voice: ye wives of Lamech, and hearken unto my speech!"
As the wives made no reply, it shows that
they had already learned that discreet silence is the only security for
Naamah the sister of Tubal Cain was supposed
to be the wife of Noah. Her name in Hebrew signifies the beautiful or the
gracious. Jewish doctors say her name is recorded here because she was
an upright, chaste woman, but others affirm the contrary because "the
whole world wandered after her." But the fact that Naamah s
beauty attracted the multitude, does not prove that she either courted
or accepted their attentions.
The manner in which the writer of these chapters
presents the women so in conflict with Chapters i and v, which immediately
precede and follow, inclines the unprejudiced mind to relegate the ii,
iii and iv chapters to the realm of fancy as no part of the real history
of creation's dawn.
The curse pronounced on Cain is similar to
that inflicted on Adam, both were to till the ground, which was to bring
forth weeds abundantly. Hale's statistics of weeds show their rapid and
widespread power of propagation. "A progeny,"
he says, "more than sufficient in a few
years to stock every planet of the solar system." In the face
of such discouraging facts, Hale coolly remarks. "Such
provisions has the just God made to fulfil the curse which he promised
It seems far more rational to believe
that the curses on both woman and man were but figments of the human brain,
and that by the observance of natural laws, both labor and maternity may
prove great blessings.
With all the modern appliances of steam and
electricity, and the new inventions in machinery, the cultivation of the
soil is fast coming to be a recreation and amusement. The farmer now sits
at ease on his plough, while his steed turns up the furrows at his will.
With machinery the sons of Adam now sow and reap their harvests, keep the
wheels of their great manufactories in motion, and with daily increasing
speed carry on the commerce of the world. The time is at hand when the
heavy burdens of the laborer will all be shifted on the shoulders of these
And when the woman, too, learns and obeys the
laws of life, these supposed curses will be but idle dreams of the past.
The curse falls lightly even now on women who live in natural conditions,
and with anesthetics is essentially mitigated in all cases. When these
remedial agents were first discovered, some women refused to avail themselves
of their blessings, and some orthodoxphysicians refused to administer them,
lest they should interfere with the wise provisions of Providence in making
maternity a curse.
-- E. C. S.
[Elizabeth Cady Stanton]
MYTHS OF CREATION
Nothing would be more interesting in connection
with the "Woman's Bible" than a comparative study of the accounts
of the creation held by people of different races and faiths. Our Norse
ancestors, whose myths were of a very exalted nature, recorded in their
Bible, the Edda, that one day the sons of Bor (a frost giant), Odin,
Hoener, and Loder, found two trees on the sea beach, and from them created
the first human pair, man and woman. Odin gave them life and spirit, Hoener
endowed them with reason and motion, and Loder gave them the senses and
physical characteristics. The man they called Ask, and the woman Embla.
Prof. Anderson finds in the brothers the threefold
Trinity of the Bible. It is easy to fancy that there is some philological
connection between the names of the first pair in the Bible and in the
Edda. Perhaps the formation of the first pair out of trees had a deep connection
with the tree of life, Ygdrasil, which extended, according to Norse mythology
throughout the universe, furnishing bodies for mankind from its branches.
It had three great roots, one extending to the nebulous world, and this
was constantly gnawed by the serpent Nidhug.
There was nothing in the Norse mythology that
taught the degradation of woman, and the lay of Sigdrifa, in the Edda,
is one of the noblest conceptions of the character of woman in all literature.
North American Indian mythology has the human
race born of the earth, but the writer cannot learn that women held an
inferior place. Among the Quiches the mothers and fathers of old slept
in the waters, covered with green, under a limpid twilight, from which
the earth and they were called out by a mighty wind. The Algonkins believed
the human family were the children of Michabo, the spirit of the dawn,
and their supreme deity. In their language the words earth, mother and
father were from the same root. Many tribes claim descent from a raven,
symbolizing the clouds; others from a dog, which lS the symbol of the water
Dr. and Madame Le Plongeon relate that in their
discoveries among the buried remains of the Mayas in Yucatan, everything
marks a very high state of civilization. In one of the exhumed temples
they found pictures on the walls, which seem to be a combination of the
stories of the Garden of Eden and Cain and Abel. The Serpent was always
the royal emblem, because the shape of Yucatan is that of a serpent ready
It was the custom among the Mayas for the oldest
son of the king to be a priest, and the second son to marry the oldest
daughter. The pictures represent that the oldest son in this particular
case was dissatisfied with this arrangement, and wanted to marry the sister
himself. To tempt her he sends a basket of apples by a messenger. He stands
watching the way in which the present is received, and the serpent in the
picture (indicating the royal family), makes it curiously suggestive of
the temptation of Eve. The sister, however, rejects the present, and this
so enrages the elder brother that he kills the younger, who accordingly
is deified by the Mayas.
The image of Chacmohl was discovered by the
Le Plongeons, and is now in the possession of the Mexican Government. Perhaps
these brothers were twins, as the commentator says Cain and Abel were,
and that gave rise to the jealousy.
Nothing can surpass in grandeur the account
in the first chapter of Genesis of the creation of the race, and it satisfies
the highest aspirations and the deepest longings of the human soul. No
matter of what material formed, or through how many ages the formative
period ran, or is to run, the image of God is the birthright of man, male
and female. Whatever the second chapter may mean, it cannot set aside the
first. It probably has a deep spiritual significance which mankind will
appreciate when cavilling about the letter ceases. To the writer's mind
its meaning is best expressed in the words of Goethe: "The
eternal womanly leads us on."
-- C. B. C.
[Clara Bewick Colby]
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