Lessons from Exodus – “two women”

Continuing reflections after reading Michael Walzer’s Exodus and Revolution, who suggests that the Exodus story is the template for revolutionary movements throughout history. I think there are some lessons here for us today.

Lesson #4—“two women”

The Exodus story celebrates Moses’ leadership, but is sometime critical of the leadership role of the elders of the Israelites. In my previous post, I commented on Isaiah’s comment [59:16] that when Moses and Aaron looked around, prior to entering their audience with Pharaoh, “there was no man” [KJV] willing to step forward and take responsibility to confront their oppressor. Of course, a key element in the Exodus story [see chapter 1] was the two women who defied Pharaoh’s orders and, as mid-wives, refused to kill the Hebrew male newborns.

One rabbi, mindful that God’s prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had only been delivered to Adam, attributed this sentiment to God: “If I do not now call the women first, they will nullify the Torah.” Wow!

Whenever a patriarchal system acknowledges the key role of women, society is enhanced and moves forward.

We think ourselves to be advanced in our ethical/moral thinking and behavior. And yet, while having no problem providing medical coverage for vasectomies and viagara, politicians are constantly finding new ways to prevent funding to primary clinics providing care for women, placing restriction after restriction on the ability of women to make medical decisions in consultation with their doctors. A few politicians have even been so bold as to suggest that rape (which is a crime of violence imposition) is really caused by women.

How do we move American society beyond patriarchal control? I have no idea1 What I do know, however, is that until women are adequately represented among our primary decision-makers (legislators, judges, mayors, governors, presidents), progress will be exceedingly slow.


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