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The Woman's Bible
Comments on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Chapter V - Comments on Genesis, continued
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 V.
Genesis I, 2.
1 This is the book of the generations
of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called
their name Adam, in the day when they were created
Here we have the first account of the dual creation
verified. Man and woman a simultaneous creation, alike in the image of
The dual relation, both in the Godhead and
humanity, is here again declared, though contradicted in the intervening
chapters. In this and the following chapters we have a prolix statement
of the births, deaths, and ages in the male line. They all take wives,
beget sons, but nothing is said of the origin or destiny of the wives and
daughters; they are incidentally mentioned merely as necessary factors
in the propagation of the male line.
The men of this period seem to have lived to
a ripe old age, but nothing is said of the age of the women ; it is probable
as child- bearing was their chief ambition, that men had a succession of
wives, all gathered to their fathers in the prime of life. Although Eve
and her daughters devoted their energies to this occupation, yet the entire
credit for the growth of the race is given to Adam and his male descendants.
In all this chapter the begetting of the oldest son is made prominent,
his name only is given, and the begetting of more "sons and daughters"
is cursorily mentioned.
Here is the first suggestion of the law of
primogeniture responsible for so many of the evils that perplexed our Saxon
-- E. C. S.
[Elizabeth Cady Stanton]
Genesis vi- 1-8 , 14-22.
1 And it came to pass, when men
began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they
were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with
man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty
4 There were giants in the earth in those days: and also after
that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they
bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the
earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only
6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth,
and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the Lard said, I will destroy man whom I have created
from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing,
and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
13 And God said unto Noah,
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make
in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The
length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty
cubits and the height of it thirty cubits.
16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt
thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side
thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon
the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under
heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant: and thou shalt
come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons wives
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort
shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee: they shall
be male and female.
20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind,
of every creeping thing of the earth, after his kind; two of every sort
shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and
thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for
22 Thus did Noah: according to all that God commanded him,
so did he.
The Jews evidently believed the males the
superior sex. Men are called "the sons of God,"
women "the daughters of men."
From the text it would seem that the influence
of the wives was not elevating and inspiring, and that the sin and misery
resulting from their marriages, all attributed to the women. This condition
of things so discouraged the Creator that he determined to blot out both
man and beast, the fowls of the air and the creeping things on the earth.
How very human this sounds. It shows what a low ideal the Jews had of the
great first cause, from which the moral and material world of thought and
action were evolved.
It was in mature life, when chastened by
the experiences and trials of her early day, that Seth was born to Eve.
It was among the descendants of Seth that purer morals and religion were
cultivated. Intermarriage with the descendants of Cain had corrupted the
progeny, perplexed the Creator, and precipitated the flood.
The female of each species of animal was
preserved; males and females all walked into the ark two by two, and out
again in equal and loving companionship.
It has been a question with critics whether
the ark was large enough for all it was supposed to contain. Commentators
seem to agree as to its capacity to accommodate men, women, children, animals,
and the food necessary for their preservation. Adam Clarke tells us that
Noah and his family and the birds occupied the third story, so they had
the benefit of the one window it contained.
The paucity of light and air in this ancient
vessel shows that woman had no part in its architecture, or a series of
port holes would have been deemed indispensable. Commentators relegate
all difficulties to the direct intervention of Providence. The ark, made
by unseen hands, like a palace of india rubber, was capable of expanding
indefinitely; the spirit of all good, caused the lion and lamb to lie down
To attribute all the myths, allegories, and
parables to the interposition of Providence, ever working outside of his
own inexorable laws, is to confuse and set at defiance human reason, and
prevent all stimulus to investigation.
In several following chapters we have the
history of Abram and Sarah, their wanderings from the land of their nativity
to Canaan, their blunders on the journey, their grief at having no children,
except one son by Hagar, his concubine, who was afterwards driven from
their door, into the wilderness.
However, Sarah in her old age was blessed with
a son of her own, which event gave them great joy and satisfaction. As
Sarah did not possess any of the heroic virtues, worthy our imitation,
we need not linger either to praise or blame her characteristics.
Neither she nor Abraham deemed it important
to speak the truth when any form of tergiversation might serve them. In
fact the wives of the patriarchs, all untruthful, and one a kleptomaniac,
but illustrate the law, that the cardinal virtues are seldom found in oppressed
-- E. C. S.
[Elizabeth Cady Stanton]
A careful study of
the Bible would alter the views of many as to what it teaches about the
position of women. The trouble is too often instead of searching the Bible
to see what is right, we form our belief, and then search for Bible texts
to sustain us, and are satisfied with isolated texts without regard to
context, and ask no questions as to the circumstances that may have existed
then but do not now.
We forget that
portions of the Bible are only histories of events given as a chain of
evidence to sustain the fact that the real revelations of the Godhead,
be it in any form, are true. Second, that our translators were not inspired,
and that we have strong presumptive proof that prejudice of education was
in some instances stronger than the grammatical context, in translating
these contested points.
the word translated obey between husband and wife, is in but one instance
in the New Testament the word used between master and servant, parent and
child, but is the word that in other places is translated defer. The one
instance states Sarah obeyed Abram. Read that history and you will find
that in both instances in which she obeyed, God had to interfere with a
miracle to save them from the result of that obedience, and both Abram
and Sarah were reproved. While twice, once by direct command of God, Abram
obeyed Sarah. You cannot find a direct command of God or Christ for the
wife to obey the husband.
It was Eve's curse
that her desire should be to her husband and he should rule over her. Have
you not seen her clinging to a drunken or brutal husband, and read in letters
of fire upon her forehead her curse?
But God did not say
the curse was good, nor bid Adam enforce it. Nor did he say, all men shall
rule over thee. For Adam, not Eve, the earth was to bring forth the thorn
and the thistle and he was to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow.
Yet I never heard
sermon on the sin of uprooting weeds, or letting Eve, as she does, help
him to bear his burden. It is when she tried to lighten her load
that the world is afraid of sacrilege and the overthrow of nature.
-- C. B. C.
[Clara Bewick Colby]
In the story "of
the sons of God, and the daughters of men"
- we find a myth like those of Greek, Roman and Scandinavian fable, demi-gods
love mortal maidens and their offspring are giants. Then follows the traditional
account of some great cataclysm of the last glacial epoch.
According to the
latest geological students, Wright, McGee and others; the records of Niagara,
the falls of St. Anthony and other glacial chasms, indicate that the great
ice caps receded for the last time about seven thousand years ago; the
latest archeological discoveries carry our historical knowledge of mankind
back nearly four thousand years B.C., so that some record of the mighty
floods which must have followed the breaking of great glacial dams might
well survive in the stories of the nations.
Abram who came from
Ur of the Chaldees brought with him the Chaldean story of the flood. At
that time Ur, now a town fifty miles inland, was a great seaport of the
Persian gulf. Their story of the flood is that of a maritime people; in
it the ark is a well built ship, Hasisadra, the Chaldean Noah takes on
board not only his own family, but his neighbors and friends; a pilot is
employed to guide the course, and proper provision is made for the voyage.
A raven and a dove are sent out as in the biblical account, and a fortunate
[Lillie Devereux Blake]
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