[Part 1] Part 2
Some Objections Considered
We resume our discussion and analysis of women in the Holy Bible by considering some common Muslim objections that are often presented to try and prove that Gods true Word degrades women. They do this in the hopes of proving that the Bible is not Gods word, or at least not all of it is from God. As the Lord Jesus permits, if any new objections come up we will systematically dissect them and present our responses here in this paper. For now we will be considering eight major objections and demonstrate that none of them undermine the exegesis we provided in the first part of our paper to show that the Holy Bible honors and dignifies women.
Muslims twist Genesis 3 to mean that Eve is held primarily responsible for plunging humanity into sin for eating from the forbidden tree first and tempting Adam. Women are supposedly cursed with pregnancy and labor pains as a consequence of this sin. It is then argued that the Quran, unlike the Holy Bible, doesnt put the blame primarily on Eve, but holds both parties equally responsible. Neither does the Quran say that she ate from the tree first, or so they claim.
In the first place, the Holy Bible does not say that childbearing or pregnancy is the result of Gods curse upon the woman. In fact, the opposite is true since God had already decreed that childbearing would be the means of propagating the human race long before the fall:
"And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day." Genesis 1:28-31
The Scriptures speak of children being a blessing from God, and a means of salvation for women:
"Sons are a HERITAGE from the LORD, children a REWARD from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:3-5
"Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. YOUR WIFE WILL BE LIKE A FRUITFUL VINE WITHIN YOUR HOUSE; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD." Psalm 128:1-4
"But women will be saved THROUGH CHILDBEARING - if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." 1 Timothy 2:15
We therefore see that childbearing was not a sign of the curse. Rather, the curse was that women would suffer labor pains as a consequence of Eves sin. The pain was the curse, the punishment, not the act of conceiving and bearing children.
Second, Genesis 3 also blames Adam, not just Eve, and punishes him as well:
"To Adam he said, Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, "You must not eat of it," Cursed is the ground BECAUSE OF YOU; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17-19
The Hebrew is even more emphatic in showing that both Adam and Eve were held equally responsible for their actions:
The concept of pain in childbirth, the so-called curse of Eve, cannot be traced to Scripture in the original languages, or to early Judaism. Genesis 3:16 is used as proof that pain is inevitable, ordained by the Creator as punishment for Eve's sin. The word translated as "sorrow" or "pain" is the Hebrew word etzev. However etzev is used for Adam in the following verse, Genesis 3:17, a fact most translators have overlooked! The Hebrew Bible with English translation reads as follows: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow (etzev) and thy pregnancy: in pain (etzev) thou shall bear children And unto Adam he said, cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil (etzev) shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." (Hebrew Bible, 1965)
When the word is translated as "pain" for the woman and "toil" for the man, it is clear that the translator's cultural beliefs have biased his judgment as a scholar of the text. The best description of giving birth is toil, or labor. When Eve's first child Cain was born there is no mention of pain or any kind of difficulty in the birth, but only the joyful statement, "I have obtained a man [from] the Eternal" (Genesis 4:1). In the Talmud, Eve's "curse" is divided into 10 parts, embracing the whole of a woman's life. Adam's "curse" is paired with Eve's, and divided into 10 parts also. (Helen Wessel, "Biblical and Talmudic Images of Childbirth", in "The Encyclopedia of Childbearing", ed. Barbara Katz Rothman, 1993, p. 29)
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made by 70 scholars nearly 300 years before Christ uses the Greek word lupe to translate the Hebrew word etzev in Genesis 3:16. The word lupe refers only to an emotion. Three Greek words are used to translate chul and yalad. These words are gennao, tikto, and odino. Gennao means to have a child and is used of either parent. Tikto simply means "to give birth." Odino means to labor in birth. These same three simple words are found in the Greek New Testament. But again, translators have too often imposed on them the false assumption of pain or anguish in birth, even though the Bible describes the bearing of children as one of the most rewarding and joyous experiences of a woman's life. (Source)
As far as the Quran not saying that Eve ate first or that she was the one who tempted Adam to eat is concerned, this doesnt vindicate the Quran in the least. In fact, it actually backfires against the Muslim view that the Quran is a complete guidance.
For instance, the Quran is unlike the Holy Bible in that it leaves out important details which makes it unclear and vague regarding who actually ate the forbidden fruit first. In fact, not only does the Quran not come out and say who ate first, it also fails to mention Eve by name!
Due to the Quran's lack of clarity and incompleteness, Muslims were forced to consult the Biblical story in order to make sense out of the Quranic account. They too realized that the Quran was unclear and vague. One such person who sees the problem is Mahmoud M. Ayoub who, in his comments on S. 2:30-38, openly admitted that:
The story of Adam (30-38) is told in earlier surahs belonging to the later Meccan period. His creation, the obeisance of the angels to him, his dwelling in the garden and subsequent expulsion are all told in some detail. These verses may be seen as a commentary on an already well-known story, because they raise new issues and because they are placed before other and more explicit verses. These nine verses have raised many questions and controversies: Why did God tell the angels of His plan to establish a representative for Himself on the earth? How did the angels know that Adam's progeny would act wickedly? How could they question the will and wisdom of God? How was this vicegerent of God created and why did he soon disobey God's command against eating the forbidden fruit? What sort of fruit did the forbidden tree bear? Who was Satan and how was he able to enter the garden in order to lead the innocent Adam and his spouse astray? Adam's stay in Paradise, the creation of a mate for him, and their sin and expulsion are but briefly mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an leaves many other questions UNANSWERED. It does not, for example, MENTION EVE BY NAME, or the manner in which she was created. For the answers to these and other questions, commentators HAD TO RESORT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters - Volume 1 [State University of New York Press, Albany 1984], p. 73; bold and capital emphasis ours)
When one consults the Muslim authorities in relation to the story of Adam and Eve, we find them largely agreeing with the Biblical account:
(35) Tabari preserves a wealth of tafsir tradition going back to the earliest authorities on this science. He relates on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, and others of the Prophet's Companions that "Adam was lonely in Paradise, having no mate to keep him company. He went to sleep and when he awoke he found a woman beside him whom God created from his rib. He addressed her, saying, 'Who are you?' 'I am a woman,' she replied. 'Why were you created?' Adam asked. 'So that you may have companionship,' she said (Tabari, I, p. 513). There are traditions going back to the early authorities of tafsir such as Ibn 'Abbas asserting that God created Eve from Adam's rib, which he took from his left side. This information they claimed to have transmitted from the People of the Book, and more specifically the Jews. They differed, however, as to whether she was created before or after Adam was made to dwell in Paradise. Tabari also relates, concerning the name of Adam's spouse, "The angels, wishing to test Adam's knowledge, asked, 'What is her name, O Adam?' He answered, 'It is Hawa' [Eve]. They said, 'Why did you call her Hawa?' and he answered, 'Because she was created of a living thing'" (Tabari, I, p. 518). (Ayoub, p. 82; bold emphasis ours)
Notice the marked difference between the origin of Eve's name with that of the Holy Bible. Here, she is named Eve because she is created of a living thing (Adam putting himself above her, he is the source, she is only the recipient or result, deriving her life from his). Yet the Holy Bible states that her name was given as a result of her being the mother of all the living:
"The man called his wife's name Eve, BECAUSE she was the mother of all living." Genesis 3:20
Clearly, the degree of honor given to Eve in the Holy Bible is vastly superior to that shown by Islam.
Sunni historian and commentator al-Tabari goes further and says that Allah made women stupid as a result of Eves sin!
According to Yunus- Ibn Wahb- Ibn Zayd (commenting on God's word: "And he whispered"): Satan whispered to Eve about the tree and succeeded in taking her to it; then he made it seem good to Adam. He continued. When Adam felt a need for her and called her, she said: No! unless you go there. When he went, she said again: No! unless you eat from this tree. He continued. They both ate from it, and their secret parts became apparent to them. He continued. Adam then went about in Paradise in flight. His Lord called out to him: Adam, is it from Me that you are fleeing? Adam replied: No, my Lord, but I feel shame before You. When God asked what had caused his trouble, he replied: Eve, my Lord. Whereupon God said: Now it is My obligation to make her bleed once every month, as she made this tree bleed. I ALSO MAKE HER STUPID, although I had created her intelligent (halimah), and must make her suffer pregnancy and birth with difficulty, although I made it easy for her to be pregnant and give birth. Ibn Zayd said: Were it not for the affliction that affected Eve, the women of this world would not menstruate, AND THEY WOULD BE INTELLIGENT and, when pregnant, give birth easily. (The History of Al-Tabari: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal [State University of New York Press, Albany], Volume 1, pp. 280-281; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Hence, this once again demonstrates that the Holy Bible is far more coherent and vastly superior to the Quran since where the latter is lacking key information the former explicitly fills in the details.
Muslims complain that the ritual purification of a woman who conceives a baby girl is twice as long as that of a baby boy. Admittedly, this is a difficult passage. Yet, the text itself provides one of the reasons why a mother would be declared unclean only for seven days in the case of male children:
"Say to the Israelites: A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the EIGHTH DAY the boy is to be circumcised." Leviticus 12:2-3
The length of uncleanness is interrupted by the command to circumcise the male boy on the eighth day. Being ceremonially unclean on the eighth day may have prohibited the mother from witnessing her own sons circumcision.
The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary provides another (possible) reason for the command in counterbalancing cultural influences:
"In many countries girls are less desired than boys. Thoughtless husbands might have taken better care of baby boys and their mothers; so a longer time at home might have been positive help for a mother with a baby girl. No difference is made in the temple ritual between the birth of a boy or a girl. The only difference is in the periods of uncleanness and seclusion." (Kenneth L. Barker & John R. Kohlenberger III, ed. Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary - Volume 1: Old Testament [Zondervan Publishing House; Grand Rapids, MI 1994], p. 139; bold emphasis ours)
Furthermore, the context clearly shows that no implication of female inferiority can be inferred from the prolonged period of uncleanness:
"When the days of her purification for a son OR DAUGHTER are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy OR A GIRL. If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean." Leviticus 12:6-8
Please observe that the sacrifices for male and female infants are identical, supporting the point that both infants, as well as all males and females in general, have equal value in the eyes of God. This conclusion becomes inescapable if one reads Leviticus in the overall context of the Pentateuch since, according to Genesis 1:26-27 and 5:1-2, the female is just as much an image-bearer of God as the male, a fact reiterated in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:11-12; Galatians 3:28). See part 1 for additional details.
Finally, the ceremonial laws regarding male and female infants are less difficult to accept than the following purification rite that Muhammad enjoined on Muslims:
"Ali narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: 'The urine of a baby boy should have water sprinkled upon it. The urine of a baby girl is to be washed off.' Says Qatadah, 'This refers to a male baby that has not yet begun to eat. If he already eats, then the garment is to be washed.'
This hadith is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. In al-Fath, Ibn Hajar says its chain is sahih.
Sprinkling is sufficient as long as the boy is still nursing. If he eats solid food, his urine must be washed from the clothes and body. There is no disagreement on this latter point. Perhaps the reason for this exemption to the male baby's urine is that people have a tendency to carry their male babies around, and it would have been difficult to clean the clothes after their frequent urinations." (Fiqh us-Sunnah Volume 1 Purification and Prayer [American Trust Publications, Indianapolis Indiana 1991], pp. 9-10; bold emphasis ours)
The explanation given above doesn't work since infant girls are also carried around. So why the difference? We know why since the Quran says women are inferior to men (cf. this article).
The next Muslim site, while commenting on similar narrations regarding the urine of male and female infants, was more honest since they admitted:
If it is said, What is the reason why the urine of a boy who is not eating food is sprinkled and not washed like the urine of a girl? The answer is that the reason is that this is what is enjoined in the Sunnah, and that is sufficient reason. Hence when 'Aa'ishah was asked why a woman has to make up fasts that were missed because of menstruation but she does not have to make up prayers missed for the same reason, she said, "That used to happen to us at the time of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and we were commanded to make up the fasts and we were not commanded to make up the prayers."
Nevertheless, some scholars have tried to come up with the reason for that.
Some of them said: the reason for that is that it is easier, because usually the male is carried a lot, and people rejoice over him AND LOVE HIM MORE THAN THE FEMALE, and his urine comes out from a narrow opening, so when he urinates it spreads. Because he is carried a lot and washing his urine would be too difficult, so this concession was made.
They also said: his nourishment which is milk is soft, so when he starts to eat regular food it becomes necessary to wash his urine.
The apparent meaning of the words of our companions (the Hanbalis) is that differentiating between the urine of boys and girls is something that is prescribed in the Sunnah, so we follow it ...
Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com) (Question #36877: The age at which a baby boys urine must be washed off; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Muhammad made a further differentiation between boys and girls in his prescription of sacrifices on their behalf:
Narrated Salman bin 'Amir Ad-Dabbi:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "'Aqiqa is to be offered for a (newly born) boy, so slaughter (an animal) for him, and relieve him of his suffering." (Note: It has been quoted in Fateh-Al-Bari that the MAJORITY of the Religious Scholars agrees to the Hadith narrated in Sahih At-Tirmizy that the Prophet was asked about Aqiqa and he ordered two sheep for a boy and ONE SHEEP FOR A GIRL AND THAT HIS TRADITION "SUNNA".) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 66, Number 380)
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As:
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was asked about the aqiqah. He replied: Allah does not like the breaking of ties (uquq), as though he disliked the name. And he said: If anyone has a child born to him and wishes to offer a sacrifice on its behalf, he may offer TWO resembling sheep FOR A BOY AND ONE FOR A GIRL. And he was asked about fara'. He replied: Fara' is right. If you leave it (i.e. let it grow till it becomes a healthy camel of one year or two years, then you give it to a widow or give it in the path of Allah for using it as a riding beast, it is better than slaughtering it at the age when its meat is stuck to its hair, and you turn over your milking vessel and annoy your she-camel. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 15, Number 2836)
Perhaps there is a Muslim out there who would like to make an attempt to answer why the urine of male babies should be sprinkled in contrast to the washing of the urine of female babies, and why the sacrificial offering made for baby boys is different from that of girls.
Some Muslims point to Leviticus 15:19-30 so as to show that Gods true Word claims that women are physically defiling when they have their menses since anything they touch becomes unclean.
What many Muslims who cite this text conveniently do is to ignore the entire context so as to make it seem that the Bible specifically looks down upon women for having menses. They normally do not quote what immediately precedes this specific section since if they do a totally different picture emerges:
"IF ANY MAN has a bodily discharge, the discharge is unclean. Whether it continues flowing from his body or is blocked, it will make him unclean. This is how his discharge will bring about uncleanness: Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, and anything he sits on will be unclean. Anyone who touches his bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever sits on anything that the man with a discharge sat on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches the man who has a discharge must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. If the man with the discharge spits on someone who is clean, that person must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Everything the man sits on when riding will be unclean, and whoever touches any of the things that were under him will be unclean till evening; whoever picks up those things must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. A clay pot that the man touches must be broken, and any wooden article is to be rinsed with water. When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count off SEVEN DAYS for his ceremonial cleansing; he must wash his clothes and bathe himself with fresh water, and he will be clean. On the EIGHTH DAY he must take TWO DOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS and come before the LORD to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and give them to the priest. The priest is to sacrifice them, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he WILL MAKE ATONEMENT before the LORD for the man because of his discharge. When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. When a man lies with a woman and there is an emission of semen, BOTH must bathe with water, and THEY will be unclean till evening."" Leviticus 15:1-9
The entire chapter is addressing ritual impurity, not moral impurity or gender equality or lack thereof. It is quite clear that women are not being degraded here; otherwise we would have to conclude that men are also being degraded. A further indication that the passage is not degrading women can again be seen from the fact that the offering for atonement is exactly the same for both.
Apart from the ritual aspect, another possible reason why these laws were given was to protect others within the camp of Israel from contracting any possible disease or illness from the flow of blood or bodily discharges. After all, God did make the following promise to Israel:
"He said, If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you." Exodus 15:26
"The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you." Deuteronomy 7:15
Thus, Gods laws may have had the purpose of preventing others from contracting diseases which could be passed on by such blood flow and bodily fluids.
Astonishingly, these same Muslims ignore the fact that the Quran also has something to say about womens menses:
"They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as All‚h has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina). Truly, All‚h loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc.)." S. 2:222 Hilali-Khan
Here is a comparison of various translations:
"Say: They are a hurt and a pollution:" Y. Ali
"Say: It is an illness" Pickthall
"Tell them, "It is an ailment." Muhammad Sarwar
"Say, It is a harmful thing" Sher Ali
"say, It is harmful" Khalifah
"say, It is a hurt." Palmer
"Answer, they are a pollution:" Sale
According to one source, the word Adha,
" signifies a slight evil or anything causing a slight harm" (Abdul Mannan Omar, ed., Dictionary of the Holy Qur'an [Noor Foundation, 2003], p. 19)
There is even a hadith which may explain why menses are so offensive to Allah:
Narrated Grandfather of Adi ibn Thabit
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Sneezing, drowsing, yawning in prayer, also menstruation, vomiting and nose-bleeding are from (the acts of) Satan. Transmitted by Tirmidhi. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 315; ALIM CD-ROM Version)
This narration erroneously attributes menses to Satan! Is it therefore any wonder why Allah is so displeased by them?
Muhammad also believed that women were deficient in religion because of their menses:
Narrated Abu Said:
The Prophet said, "Isnt it true that a woman does not pray and does not fast on menstruating? And that is the defect (a loss) in her religion." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 172)
Muhammad not only insults women by attacking their religious piety due to something that is beyond their control, but also adds insult to injury by attacking their intelligence.
In light of the foregoing, we therefore have good grounds to say that it is the Quran, not the Holy Bible, which views womens menses as an illness, a hurt, and an evil that impacts religious piety. Obviously, the Quran is clearly wrong here since we know from medical science that menses are actually very good and healthy for women, and that menses do not originate from Satan.
Muslims mockingly cite Numbers 5:11-31 regarding Gods adultery test which was prescribed for an accused woman. This passage tells a suspicious husband who believes that his wife is guilty of unfaithfulness to go before the priest in order to see if whether his suspicions are valid or not. The priest will then give the woman a drinking jar consisting of a mixture of water and dust from the tabernacle floor. According to this text, if the woman were guilty the mixture would cause her thigh to waste away and her abdomen to swell.
We really do not see the so-called problem behind this command since the reference presupposes a miraculous act of God in either vindicating or condemning the accused woman. What objections could a Muslim possibly have with this passage seeing that they take for granted that miracles do occur?
Furthermore, as the NIV Study Bible indicates this test was actually an act of mercy from God:
5:15-28 The actions presented here seem severe and harsh. But the consequences would have been worse for a woman charged with adultery by an angry husband if there was no provision for her guilt or innocence to be demonstrated. That she was taken to the priest (v. 15) is finally an act of mercy. The gravity of the ritual for a suspected unfaithful wife shows that the law regards marital infidelity most seriously. This was not just a concern of a jealous husband. The entire community was affected by this breach of faith; hence, the judgment was in the context of the community.
5:18 brings a curse. Or "curse-bringing water of bitterness." It is not just that the water was bitter tasting but that the water had the potential of bringing with it a bitter curse. The Lord's role in the proceedings (vv. 16,21,25) is emphasized repeatedly to show that this potion was neither simply a tool of magic nor merely a psychological device to determine stress. The verdict with respect to the woman was precipitated by her physiological and psychological responses to the bitter water, BUT THE JUDGMENT WAS FROM THE LORD.
5:21 your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. See NIV text note. The figurative language here (and in vv. 22,27) speaks of the loss of the capacity for childbearing (and, if pregnant, the miscarriage of the child). This is demonstrated by the determination of the fate of the woman wrongly charged (v. 28). For a woman in the ancient Near East to be denied the ability to bear children was a personal loss of inestimable proportions. Since it was in the bearing of children that a woman's worth was realized in the ancient world, this was a grievous punishment. (bold emphasis ours)
Thus, we see that this test was meant to prevent a woman from being falsely accused so as to maintain both her integrity and her right in bearing children. If anything, this shows that the man could not simply accuse his wife and expect that his testimony was good enough to get her condemned to death.
Compare this with the Qur'an where the husband has the right to beat his wife upon his mere suspicion of disloyalty (S. 4:34) even in minor issues. In the Torah, the husband who has the suspicion of infidelity of his wife cannot take matters in his own hand, cannot punish his wife. He has to wait on Gods judgment. This is true protection against injustice inflicted by fallible human beings so often guided by false suspicions. The Quran commands that adulterers are to be lashed with a hundred lashes (S. 24:2) upon conviction by fallible human judges, despite some precautions against misjudgment in the Quran, the judgment is made by fallible human beings (and 100 lashes are not only extremely cruel and painful, but often are a deadly measure, and the Qur'an even emphasizes, "let not compassion move you " [S. 24:2]). In the Torah, only the Lord God who alone knows the truth of the charge against the woman can make the harmless mixture of water and dust from the floor poisonous if the woman is indeed guilty. Otherwise she is free and unharmed.
Moreover, in Islam a womans witness is suspect from the start since her testimony is valued as half that of a mans:
O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man AND TWO WOMEN from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things. S. 2:282 Shakir
Muhammad is reported to have said:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allahs Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) on Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301)
This means that a woman accused of adultery really has no chance against her husband since her testimony is half of his, requiring another woman to testify with her so as to even have a chance against the witness proffered against her by a male!
Besides, despite the quranic demand on witnesses, in practice, as we all know, thousands of women die in honor killings all around the Islamic world. Their families kill them just because of some suspicion that they might have had indecent contact to a man. No witnesses, no proper court trial. The girls are just murdered and the Islamic authorities hardly ever prosecute or punish the murderers.
Some erroneously assume that the Holy Bible does not give women a share in their fathers inheritance. They even go so far as to assume that women only inherit when there are no sons, as stated in Numbers 27:8.
To begin with, if these persons had bothered reading the entire context of Numbers 27 they would have seen that the inheritance spoken of there is in reference to the LAND DISTRIBUTION. It has nothing to do with the bequeathing of money to family members:
"Then the daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, the son Joseph came forward. Now these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the leaders of the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of the meeting and said, Our father died in the wilderness, although he was not part of the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be lost from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among the relatives of our father. So Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord spoke to Moses: The daughters of Zelophehad have a valid claim. You must indeed give them possession of an inheritance among their fathers relatives, and you must transfer the inheritance of their father to them. And you must tell the Israelites, If a man dies and has no son, then you must transfer his inheritance to his daughter; and if he has no daughter, then you are to give his inheritance to his brothers; and if he has no brothers, then you are to give his inheritance to his fathers brothers; and if his father has no brothers, then you are to give his inheritance to his relative nearest to him from his family, and he will possess it. And it will be for the Israelites a legal requirement, as the Lord commanded Moses." Numbers 27:1-11 NET
As the reader can see this particular passage is dealing with a situation where a man died and left behind only daughters. According to the prior chapter God had given the following instructions regarding land distribution:
"These were those numbered of the Israelites, 601,730. Then the Lord spoke to Moses: To these THE LAND MUST BE DIVIDED AS AN INHERITANCE according to the number of the names. To a larger group you will give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group you will give a smaller inheritance. To each one his inheritance must be given according to his enumeration. The land must be divided by lot; and they will inherit in accordance with the names of their ancestral tribes. Their inheritance must be apportioned by lot among the larger and smaller groups. And these are those of the Levites who were numbered, after their families: from Gershon, the family of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites; from Merari, the family of the Merarites. These are the families of the Levites: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korahites. Kohath became the father of Amram. Now the name of Amrams wife was Jochebed, daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron, Moses, and Miriam their sister. And to Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the Lord. And those numbered of them were 23,000, all males from twenty years old and upward; for they were not numbered among the Israelites; no inheritance was given to them among the Israelites. These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the Israelites in the plains of Moab along the Jordan River opposite Jericho. But there was not a man among these who had been among those numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the Israelites in the Wilderness of Sinai. For the Lord had said of them, They will surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a single man of them, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." Numbers 26:51-65 NET
The land that God was going to give Israel was to be divided amongst the twelve tribes. Tribal affiliation was determined from the fathers side, i.e. if your father was from Judah than you were a Judean. Hence, ownership of the land was transferred over to the sons so that it would remain within the possession of that particular tribe and family. Zelophehads daughters were concerned about their fathers property being lost seeing that he had no sons to pass it on. God intervenes and permits his daughters to keep the land within his line.
Furthermore, the Holy Bible sets the precedence for daughters receiving an inheritance from their fathers wealth:
"And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemi'mah; and the name of the second Kezi'ah; and the name of the third Ker'en-hap'puch. And in all the land there were no women so fair as Job's daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers." Job 42:12-15
Job giving his daughters a portion of his inheritance demonstrates that the Holy Bible in no way denies the rights of daughters to receive a share of their fathers wealth. In fact, the next passage from Paul actually shows that it is the parents responsibility to save up for all the children:
"Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children." 2 Corinthians 12:14
The preceding passage presupposes that it was a custom for parents to save an inheritance for all the members of their family, including daughters, confirming the view that the Bible does not deny the womans right to receive an inheritance. Therefore, the only thing that the Holy Bible not giving specific instructions on the distribution of the inheritance to daughters shows is that God has left that open for family members to decide the portion each family member should be allotted, provided that the firstborn gets a double share (cf. Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
The Holy Bible is vastly superior to the Quran in this regard, and has advantage over it. Unlike Gods true Word, the Quran has forever fixed the shares that a woman is to receive, irrespective of the circumstances. Her share is to be less than that of the male:
Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion OF TWO FEMALES; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise. S. 4:11 Shakir
Thus, one can argue that since Islam has fixed the shares under the guise of a divine legislation, this means that in the case of a daughter she will always get less than her brother, even though it may be the case that the daughter is in greater need or has contributed more to the family than her sibling.
In fact, Muslim sources state that some women complained about receiving only half the share of the inheritance in relation to men, necessitating the following "revelation" from Allah:
And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others. Unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned. (Envy not one another) but ask Allah of His bounty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things. S. 4:32 Pickthall
Renowned Sunni scholar and commentator Ibn Kathir stated regarding the above reference:
Quoting Mujahid, Imam Ahmed narrated: "Umm Salama said: O Allah's Messenger! Why do men go to war and we do not, AND WHY DO WE RECEIVE HALF THE SHARE OF INHERITANCE? Then, Allah revealed: <And wish not for things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others.>" At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Abu Hatim, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Mardawaih and Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak also narrated a similar hadith on the authority of Mujahid, that the above verse was revealed concerning the following issue: "Umm Salama said: O Allah's Messenger! We do not fight so that we dies as martyrs AND WE DO NOT RECEIVE FULL INHERITANCE!" Allah also revealed: <Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female.> (3:195).
<For men there is reward for what they have earned, for women there is reward for what they have earned.> In this verse, Allah advises that every person shall be rewarded according to his deeds. If he does good, he shall receive a good reward and if he does bad, he shall receive a bad reward. Ibn Jarir said: "It was said that the verse refers TO INHERITANCE, meaning that every person inherits according to the prescribed share." ... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Part 5, Surah An-Nisa', ayat 24 to 147, Abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London; First Edition, 2000], pp. 45-47; capital emphasis ours)
Thus, even Muslim women were not too happy with Allahs decision to give them only half the amount that men received from the inheritance!
For more on the unfair division of the inheritance amongst men and women, as well as the major problems in dividing the shares due to there not being enough to distribute to all the parties, we highly recommend the following articles:
Numbers 30 is quoted by Muslims to show that since a father or a husband can cancel a womans oath then this somehow means that women are inferior or that they cannot conduct business, because no one would trust them. Is this really what the text is saying? Not at all:
"Moses said to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, This is what the LORD has commanded. When a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Or when a woman vows a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house, in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her. And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he expresses disapproval, then he shall make void her vow which was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the LORD will forgive her. But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her. And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, and her husband heard of it, and said nothing to her, and did not oppose her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning her pledge of herself, shall not stand: her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her. Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows, or all her pledges, that are upon her; he has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them. But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity." Numbers 30:1-15
Several things to note from the text. First, as we saw in the first article God has designed it that man would be the head of a woman without this implying that one is inferior in essence to the other. Please see the first part for the details.
Second, the prohibition only applies to virgins and married women, not to widows or divorcees. In light of this, the reason for this prohibition should be obvious; a virgin or married woman comes under the headship of either the father or the husband. As such, making a vow or a pledge is a very serious issue with God, one that he doesnt take lightly:
"Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?" Ecclesiastes 5:2-6
Therefore, a woman who is under the authority and headship of the male figure is taking on a very serious responsibility that may bring grave consequences that not only affects her, but will affect her head as well. This is why God required the permission of either her father or husband since this would act as a precautionary measure allowing the head to know of the vows being made by the woman and whether he approves of it or not.
Seen in this light, Gods command is actually an act of mercy for women, as well as the household, since a womans vow can be nullified and made void if her head doesnt agree to it without this bringing her under Gods judgment, whereas a mans vow must be carried through and he cannot renege on it.
The Holy Bible is unlike the Quran in this area, since Allah allows Muslims a free pass for breaking their oaths:
God will not take you to task for a slip in your oaths; but He will take you to task for what your hearts have earned; and God is All-forgiving, All-clement. S. 2:225 Arberry
Those who forswear their wives must wait four months; then, if they change their mind, lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 2:226 Pickthall
God will not take you to task for a slip in your oaths; but He will take you to task for such bonds as you have made by oaths, whereof the expiation is to feed ten poor persons with the average of the food you serve to your families, or to clothe them, or to set free a slave; or if any finds not the means, let him fast for three days. That is the expiation of your oaths when you have sworn; but keep your oaths. So God makes clear to you His signs; haply you will be thankful. S. 5:89 Arberry
Clearly Allah, unlike Yahweh, is giving Muslims a licence to make oaths without requiring them to actually fulfill them. Muhammad exemplified this nonchalant attitude towards breaking oaths:
Once we were in the house of Abu Musa who presented a meal containing cooked chicken. A man from the tribe of Bani Taim Allah with red complexion as if he were from the Byzantine war prisoners, was present. Abu Musa invited him to share the meal but he (apologised) saying. "I saw chickens eating dirty things and so I have had a strong aversion to eating them, and have taken an oath that I will not eat chickens." Abu Musa said, "Come along, I will tell you about this matter (i.e. how to cancel one's oath). I went to the Prophet in the company of a group of Al-Ashariyin, asked him to provide us with means of conveyance. He said, By Allah, I will not provide you with any means of conveyance and I have nothing to make you ride on. Then some camels as booty were brought to Allah's Apostle and he asked for us saying. Where are the group of Al-Ashariyun? Then he ordered that we should be given five camels with white humps. When we set out we said, What have we done? We will never be blessed (with what we have been given). So, we returned to the Prophet and said, We asked you to provide us with means of conveyance, but you took an oath that you would not provide us with any means of conveyance. Did you forget (your oath when you gave us the camels)? He replied. I have not provided you with means of conveyance but Allah has provided you with it, and by Allah, Allah willing, if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 361)
Muhammads attitude is only a reflection of his gods since the Quran gave Muhammad this licence:
Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind), and Allah is your Protector. He is the Knower, the Wise. S. 66:2 Pickthall
Thus, Allah was in the business of helping Muhammad (and other Muslims) violate his(their) oaths!
The foregoing should show how vastly inferior Allah is to Yahweh in terms of holiness and righteousness.
Furthermore, the Holy Bible mentions women who conducted business and even provided financially for the ministries of the men of God:
"A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and tasks for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and SELLS THEM; she delivers girdles to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." Proverbs 31:10-31
In the above passage, the Godly woman isnt just one who provides for her family but is also a successful businesswoman!
"Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means." Luke 8:1-3
"One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyati'ra, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she prevailed upon us." Acts 16:14-15
The foregoing shows that Numbers 30 doesnt at all hinder a woman from engaging in business.
Finally, and more importantly, it is the Quran and Islam which makes it impossible for women to work and conduct business:
O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word. AND STAY IN YOUR HOUSES and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying. S. 33:32-33 Shakir
The above texts have been used to force Muslim women to stay home! Ibn Kathir commented:
<And stay in your houses> means, stay in your houses and do not come out except for a purpose. One of the purposes mentioned in Shariah is prayer in the Masjid, so long as the conditions are fulfilled, as the Messenger of Allah said
((Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from the Masjids of Allah, but have them go out without wearing fragrance.))
According to another report
((EVEN THOUGH THEIR HOUSES ARE BETTER FOR THEM)) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Surat An-Nur to Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 50), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri (First Edition: August 2000), Volume 7, p. 679; bold, underline and capital emphasis ours)
Now how, pray tell, can Muslim women conduct business if they are forced to stay home and can only go out by permission of their husbands?
For more on Islam placing women under a form of house arrest please read this article.
Muslims often point to Numbers 31:17-18 to show how the Holy Bible permits the raping of young girls. Here are the verses but with added context so as to help the readers see what exactly is going on:
"The LORD said to Moses, Avenge the people of Israel on the Mid'ianites; afterward you shall be gathered to your people. And Moses said to the people, Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Mid'ian, to execute the LORD's vengeance on Mid'ian. You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war. So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from each tribe, together with Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar the priest, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. They warred against Mid'ian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and slew every male. They slew the kings of Mid'ian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Mid'ian; and they also slew Balaam the son of Be'or with the sword. And the people of Israel took captive the women of Mid'ian and their little ones; and they took as booty all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods. All their cities in the places where they dwelt, and all their encampments, they burned with fire, and took all the spoil and all the booty, both of man and of beast. Then they brought the captives and the booty and the spoil to Moses, and to Elea'zar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. Moses, and Elea'zar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation, went forth to meet them outside the camp. And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. Moses said to them, Have you let all the women live? Behold, these caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Pe'or, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. Encamp outside the camp seven days; whoever of you has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats' hair, and every article of wood." Numbers 31:1-20
God commanded the Israelites to take vengeance on the Midianites, as well as the Moabites, for leading Israel into committing idolatry and sexual immorality:
"While Israel dwelt in Shittim the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Ba'al of Pe'or. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; and the LORD said to Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel. And Moses said to the judges of Israel, Every one of you slay his men who have yoked themselves to Ba'al of Pe'or. And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Mid'ianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting. When Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation, and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the inner room, and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman, through her body. Thus the plague was stayed from the people of Israel. Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand. And the LORD said to Moses, Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, "Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace; and it shall be to him, and to his descendants after him, the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the people of Israel." The name of the slain man of Israel, who was slain with the Mid'ianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, head of a fathers' house belonging to the Simeonites. And the name of the Mid'ianite woman who was slain was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the head of the people of a fathers' house in Mid'ian. And the LORD said to Moses, Harass the Mid'ianites, and smite them; for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Pe'or, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Mid'ian, their sister, who was slain on the day of the plague on account of Pe'or. Numbers 25:1-18
God spared the young girls as an act of mercy since they didnt partake of the sins of the other women who lured the Israelites into committing sexual immorality, thereby angering God. Yet the Lord didnt have to spare them and could have easily demanded that they too be destroyed with the rest. After all, from Gods perspective all flesh is born sinful which means that it is inevitable that all humans turn out to be rebel sinners who will grow up to defy God:
"Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done." Genesis 8:20-21
"Can mortal man be righteous before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth." Job 4:17-19
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and withers; he flees like a shadow, and continues not. And dost thou open thy eyes upon such a one and bring him into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with thee, and thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass," Job 14:1-5
"What is man, that he can be clean? Or he that is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not clean in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks iniquity like water!" Job 15:14-16
"How then can man be righteous before God? How can he who is born of woman be clean? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in his sight; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!" Job 25:4-6
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Psalm 51:5
"The wicked go astray from the womb, they err from their birth, speaking lies." Psalm 58:3
Therefore, all humans deserve to die from Gods perspective, that is unless God decides to act in mercy and thereby transform a rebel sinner into a righteous saint.
Now the assumption here is that the only reason why these young virgin girls were spared is so that the men could have sex with them. This erroneous understanding of the text is easily refuted when we realize that God forbade the Israelites from raping their captive women. God expressly stated that the only way the men could touch their female captives is by first marrying them:
"When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hands, and you take them captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall put off her captive's garb, and shall remain in your house and bewail her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. Then, if you have no delight in her, you shall let her go where she will; but you shall not sell her for money, you shall not treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her." Deuteronomy 21:10-14
Carefully pay attention to the fact that in this text we do not find the expression "young" used before woman like we do in Numbers 31. The reason why we do not is because the Holy Bible presupposes that the only time a maiden can engage in sexual activity is if she has attained womanhood, if she has reached an age past puberty:
"And when I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you in your blood, Live, and grow up like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine." Ezekiel 16:6-8
Thus, the foregoing conclusively shows that Numbers 31 did not permit the Israelite men to spare the young virgin girls so as to rape them. They were commanded to spare them as an act of mercy since they did not share in the guilt of enticing Israel into committing sexual immorality.
For more on this point please consult the following:
The fact of the matter is that it is the Quran, and Islam, which allows Muslim men to rape women and to violate young prepubescent girls (cf. Suras 4:24; 65:4). For more on this issue please read this article.
There are some who think that Revelation 14:4 teaches that women defile men. When we carefully examine the entire chapter of Revelation 14 we will see that this is the farthest thing that the inspired author was trying to teach:
"Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water. A second angel followed and said, Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine OF HER ADULTERIES. A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." Revelation 14:1-12
The inspired author specifically mentions the nations who partook of the adulteries of the false apostate world system RIGHT AFTER mentioning the 144,000 who had refrained from defiling themselves with women! Therefore, the claim that 14:4 is referring to adultery and fornication is actually correct. Yet the adultery spoken of here is spiritual in nature, i.e. idolatry and false religious worship. Putting it in another way, "women" in 14:4 is referring to the evil political and religious system of the devil and the antichrist, not to physical women.
As Jamieson-Fausset-Browns Critical and Explanatory Commentary on the Whole Bible states:
4. virgins - spiritually (Matthew 25:1); in contrast to the apostate Church, Babylon (Revelation 14:8), spiritually "a harlot" (Revelation 17:1-5, Isaiah 1:21; contrast 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27). Their not being defiled with women means they were not led astray from Christian faithfulness by the tempters who jointly constitute the spiritual "harlot." (Source)
The chapter preceding Rev 14, as well as that which immediately follows it, supports this interpretation:
"And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast - all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns LIKE A LAMB, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666." Revelation 13:1-8, 11-17
It is not a coincidence that Revelation 13 and 14 are juxtaposed. It is quite evident that John intended to contrast the true believers of Revelation 14 that followed the true Lamb by not defiling themselves with the false worship of the beast, from those in 13 who worshiped the beast and were deceived by the false lamb.
"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, Come, I will show you the punishment THE GREAT PROSTITUTE, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth COMMITTED ADULTERY and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine OF HER ADULTERIES. Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. Then the angel said to me, The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is THE GREAT CITY that rules over the kings of the earth." Revelation 17:1-18
The idea being conveyed here is similar to that stated by the apostle Paul:
"I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
The 144,000, much like chaste virgins, remained faithful to their espoused husband by refusing to embrace a false religious system spearheaded by the great harlot.
This leads us to our second point, namely that Revelation also uses the symbol of a woman in a positive sense to describe Gods covenant people and redeemed believers, as well as the bride of Christ:
"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: A WOMAN clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet AND A CROWN of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days ... When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12:1-6, 13-17
"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, These are the true words of God." Revelation 19:6-9
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." Revelation 21:1-2
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Revelation 21:8-14
Other inspired writers identify the heavenly Jerusalem as the mother of all true believers and, much like the book of Revelation, teach that it is the very dwelling of those who have been made perfect forever:
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother." Galatians 4:22-26
"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrews 12:22-24
NT commentator G.K. Beale masterfully sums up the intended meaning of Revelation 14:4. Speaking of the characteristics of the 144,000, Beale notes:
First, they are those who "who were not polluted by women, for they are virgins." The meaning of "polluted" and "virgins" has been hotly debated.
Literal Views. Some see in "virgins" a literal reference to a group of celibate Christian men or to celibate Christian men and women (cf. Matt. 19:12). One problem with these literal views is that nowhere else does Scripture view sexual relations within the bond of marriage as sinful. Furthermore, if the 144,000 is a symbol for the entire people of God, that would mean that John required celibacy for the whole church, which is improbable.
Neither does this verse more generally refer to those, whether married or unmarried, who have abstained only from literal sexual immorality. Closer to the intended idea, though still too literal, is Carringtons proposal that the notion concerns Christians who abstained from the sexual rites connected with the pagan temples and idolatry (though he remains open to a more figurative understanding)
In the final analysis, it is preferable to understand parthenoi ("virgins") as a metaphor of all true saints who have not compromised in various ways with the world because they have remained loyal as a virgin bride to her betrothed (as in 19:7-9; 21:2; 2 Cor. 11:2). Of course, this must be the case if the conclusion already reached above is correct that the 144,000 represent all true believers. Satake notes that in the only other places in the text where saints surround Christ (7:9, 17; 19:8-9), it is always the whole redeemed community that does so. Additionally, if the 144,000 is a figurative number for completeness, why should not the mention of "virgins" also figurative in like manner? Brutsch agrees, though he mentions the possibility that a literal group of virgins could be mentioned as metonymous for the whole redeemed community. That Jerusalem and the picture of a "prepared bride" are both figurative for the entire church in 21:2 enforces an all-inclusive symbolic interpretation of the "virgins" here.
This figurative view is enforced even further by the fact that not only is Jerusalem as a bride based on the OT (see on 21:2) but "virgin" is repeatedly applied to the nation of Israel in the OT ("virgin of Israel" and similar phrases in 2 Kgs. 19:21; Isa. 37:22; Jer. 14:17; 18:13; 31:4, 13, 21; Lam. 1:15; 2:13; Amos 5:2). The Hebrew for "virgin" in the majority of passages is rendered in the LXX by parthenos. Possibly even in the background is Jeremiah 31, where the same word is used three times for Israels future purity in a context in which Israels restoration is predicated with themes similar to those of Rev. 14:1-4: (1) Israel is to "sing aloud" about its salvation (Jer. 31:7) and (2) "shout for joy on the height of Zion" (v 12), where they will be with God (v 6); (3) they have been saved as a "remnant" (v 7); (4) they are Gods "firstborn" (v 9; see below on the association of "firstborn" with "firstfruits"). That at least the broad background of Israel as "virgin" may well be in mind is further suggested by the fact that behind the notion of "defilement" in Rev. 14:4 is OT Israels defilement with idolatry (see below) and that the same notion is ready at hand in 14:8-11. Additionally, "virgin" as a veiled allusion to the new Israel in 14:4 fits admirably with the temptation to commit immorality with national Babylon, which is also figurative in context (14:8).
Parthenoi is masculine to conform to the preceding houtoi and hoi egorasmenoi, which themselves may have been changed from a feminine "144,000" because in the OT the representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel were men (1QSa 2.11-17 says that Ps. 2:7 will be fulfilled when the Messiah comes to Qumran and the male "heads" of the "tribes of Israel sit before him"). Parthenoi could also be masculine as part of a picture of those have not had (figurative) illegitimate intercourse with "the great harlot" (17:1). "Babylon the Great ... who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality" (14:8). Also included is the idea of abstaining from imperial and regional idolatries. That the metaphorical description of Babylon as a harlot is developed further in 14:8, right after 14:1-4, and in 17:1-5 shows that the portrayal of virgin saints is also figurative. The harlot metaphor in 14:8 is a development of the immoral "women" (gunaikon) of v 4 with whom Christian virgins have not been defiled. The two metaphors of an immoral "woman" (gune) and "harlot" (porne) are repeatedly equated in 17:1-9, 15-18 in continuation of the pictures in 14:4, 8. Alford argues against this connection on the basis that gune is plural in 14:4 and singular in ch. 17, but this disregards the corporate nature of images in Revelation (e.g., gune in 12:1; 19:7; and 21:9 is certainly corporate) and the description in 17:5 of the Babylonian woman as "the mother of harlots." (Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary - The Book of Revelation [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. & Paternoster Press, 1999], pp. 738-740; bold emphasis ours)
In light of the foregoing, how could anyone so blatantly distort Revelation 14:4 to mean that the Holy Bible considers women as defiling?
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