Friday, November 5, 2010

Nehemiah 1-5

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Nehemiah 1 - No mention of any women.

2:6 - The queen sat beside the king.

Nehemiah 3 - No mention of any women.

4:14 - Nehemiah tells the people to not be afraid of those hostile to them. They must remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for their kin, their sons, their daughters, their wives and their homes.

5:1-5 - Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish kin. For there were those who said, "With our sons and our daughters, we are many; we must get grain, so that we may eat and stay alive." There was also those who said, "We are having to pledge out fields, our vineyards and our homes in order to get grain during the famine." And there were those who said, "We are having to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay the king's tax. Now our flesh is the same as that of our kindred; our children are the same as their children; and yet we are forcing our sons and daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been ravished; we are powerless and our fields and vineyards now belong to others."

My Comments

Regarding Nehemiah 4:14, I love it when the Bible just lets you know that the people God addresses are just the adult men. Not the sons or daughters or wives. Just the men. Which is nice, I do like to have a reminder here and there that the Bible is actually NOT speaking to me, a woman, in the slightest. Most of the time even when the Bible is telling a story about a woman it isn't meant to be addressed to other women but to more men, either has a cautionary tale (ie. don't trust women they will only get you into trouble with God) or as a tale of how women are supposed to behave (ie. subservient and will stop at nothing to have their husband's sons). Sure, I guess us women could take SOMETHING out of these stories, but most of what you can take out of it is just "Good women should be in the kitchen, bare foot and pregnant" drivel that I find more harmful to women than good. I guess maybe I just like being a person more than being a piece of property.

Of course it makes total sense to direct the Bible only towards men. Men are the owners and pretty much anyone else in the society is property. And really, do you care if your chair or television or cat has a say in your holy book? Or if they are even addressed in it? Your cat is never gonna learn how to read, nor is your chair's feelings a priority. They are your things, you pretty much treat them as you will. Which is pretty much how I think many men back in those times viewed their children and wives. And also why the Bible never addresses them. Why address someone who is never going to read what you've written?

Also note that women and children apparently take no part in protecting themselves or their homes and land. I'm sure they cared about their homes and land and people just as much as their husbands and fathers did, but they don't get to do anything about it. All they could do, I guess, is sit back and wait to be slaughtered by the invading forces.

I'm not certain if Nehemiah 5 is anti-taxation or just a general anti-kings being douche bags who take advantage of their people. It also kind of sounds like it's trying to say that because the king is taxing them then the people of God are becoming like the other people of the kingdom? Does that sound right? I'm getting that kind of feeling mostly from the "Now our flesh is the same as that of our kindred; our children are the same as their children" line. I'm not exactly sure what it is really about other than these people are having a rough time paying for food during a famine because they are poor and are having to sell off their children and land in order to pay for food. Sounds like there is some subtext in there... maybe I'm just not quite seeing it right now... any ideas?

Monday: More Nehemiah


  1. My take is that the people are suffering from famine, but the government isn't lowering their taxes. This means people are having to borrow just to pay the tax and they're calling on the king to help in a time of hardship.

    What bothered me is this: "there was a great cry of the people and of their wives". Wives are counted separately from people? That's wrong.

  2. Yep, the separation of women from normal people is everywhere in the Bible. It just can't stop reminding us of our second class position in life.

    And yeah when I went back to read Chapter 5 again I think I was reading too much into at the time, lol. But it isn't helped by the fact that the verses really just read horribly and because of that the ideas and what's going on get jumbled around. Understandable why so many people can interpret verses in so many different ways.


Anyone posting anonymously is very likely to not have their comment published. If you do not have a Google/Blogger account you can use the Name/URL option to attach a name to your comment. And remember to try and stay on topic. :)