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Sex And The Jewish Woman

By David Yeagley
July 8, 2002

Jewish women have the greatest sexual power, according to ancient Hebrew scripture. Men are like slaves to sexually attractive women.  

A Jewish female friend of mine in Manhattan was having a conversation with me about Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton.  Sherri Adler insisted that Clinton was powerless. “When a woman throws herself on you that way, don’t tell me you would resist.  No man would!”

I thought of the old story of King David’s adulterous fall with Bathsheba, in II Samuel (ch.11). I always considered Bathsheba the aggressor. And Solomon’s renown spirituality was trashed by sensual women (II Kings ch.11), then came his proverbs warning against women and subversive sex.  

Jewish tradition places an incredible power in the female, no question about it. A millennium later, the name of “Bathsheba” was unmentionable. In the genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1), which curiously mentions four women, Bathsheba was referred to as “she that had been the wife of Uriah.”   Jewish tradition never forgave her aggression. 

And it seems ironic, since Jewish society, particularly the ancient society, has always been criticized for being so patriarchal, and even chauvinistic.

Thus many modern Christian feminists justify their flagrant transgression of Biblical traditions. For example, Christian feminists hate the New Testament writings of Paul. Paul admonishes women to be silent in religious services, and to discuss religious matters with their husbands at home.  (I Corinthians 14: 33-35; I Timothy 2:11)   Feminists say that was just the patriarchal custom of the times. Times have changed.  “You’ve come a long way, baby!” they tell themselves, especially those who smoke Virginia Slims or hold pastoral positions in churches.

But even if Jewish tradition is accused of patriarchalism, it certainly attributes profound importance to women.  The matter of childbirth, for example, always played critical roles in Jewish history. Childbirth can have long range sociological and national effects, as in the birth of Isaac, Moses, and even the birth of Jesus. These prophetic births can result from a divine time table, or from the simple, personal female desire to give birth, which turned up such characters as Samson, Samuel, and even John the Baptist. 

And Jewish tradition always expressed a healthier attitude about sex than the early Christian fathers.

The early Christian centuries were “an ascetic age,” says Peter Brown, biographer of St. Augustine (Augustine of Hippo, 1969).  People like Augustine believed sexuality was the penalty of sin, or, the consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve. In rabbinical tradition, however, sexuality was considered a divine blessing from the day of creation (Genesis 1:27, 28), and had nothing to do with sin.   Paul, a Jew, warned against anti-sexual asceticism (I Timothy 4:1-3).

David Biale’s Eros And The Jews (1992) is the best account of the historical attitudes of Jewish authority on the subject of sexuality. He says all the attitudes developed from the Bible. “Sexuality was a central issue in Israel’s self-conception, with adultery and fidelity the dominant metaphors both for Israel’s relationship to God and for national identity.”

But sexuality itself is inevitably personal. In a curious study by Jacqueline Wiseman (The Social Psychology of Sex, 1976), great emphasis is placed on the social circumstances one must hazard in order to procure a sexual partnership. A sexual liaison is reached by “a truly rocky road,” says Wiseman. Wiseman believes most analysts acknowledge the male leadership and initiative.

On the other hand, Mary Batten says the female is the engine behind the relationship.  It’s quite obvious, from the behavior of animals, that the female is the nest maker, and all responsibility for continuing the species are hers. In Sexual Strategies (1992) she acknowledges, however, that among humans, the female often has less influence over the choice of a mate, as in older societies where parents chose the mate. 

But these are mere cultural circumstances. In democracies like America, the woman has freedom to choose that which in more primitive societies is chosen for her, namely, economic stability, genetic strength, and environmental safety. 

In primitive Comanche society, there were odd flukes of modernity when it came to mate selections.   It was actually the girl’s choice, and her responsibility to make her choice known.  So, Comanche men became vain, arrogant, yet romantically shy by consequence. 

But the ultimate patriarchalism is in the final, apolcalyptic word of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The doomed masses standing outside the gates of the New Jerusalem include sorcerers and whoremongers (Revelation 22:15). Whoremongers are women dealers, or pimps. Men are held more responsible for whoredom than loose women.

 


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