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God’s Word to Women: 100 Bible Studies On Woman’s Place
In The Divine Economy (pdf)

LESSON 77.

SEX BIAS INFLUENCES TRANSLATORS.

616.  It is well known that when a man gets lost on the prairie, he begins to go round in a circle; it is suggested that one side (the right, generally), being stronger than the other, he pulls unconsciously with greater strength upon the corresponding guiding rein of his horse. Just so does the translator; he pulls unconsciously on the strong side of preconception or self-interest. This may not be intended, but it is none the less inevitable to the uninspired hand. For this reason, neither class nor sex should have an exclusive right to set forth the meaning of the original text…  What wonder that all versions, having for all time been made by men, should disclose the fact that, on the woman question, they all travel more or less in a circle, in accordance with sex bias, hindering the freedom and progress of women, since (in times past more than at present), the self interest of man led him to suppose that woman served God best as his own undeveloped subordinate?

619.     Luther once said: “No gown worse becomes a woman than to be wise.” Luther only held the prevailing views of his day as regards women. Such men could not easily perceive when Scripture expressed a different thought on the subject. Proverbs 14:1 says, in Hebrew, “The wisdom of woman buildeth her house,” but not being able to appreciate the advantages of female education, men rendered it: “Every wise woman buildeth her house,” that is, the woman who devotes herself to housewifely duties is pronounced “wise.” But this is not the thought; rather, wisdom itself, in woman, will build her own (not her husband’s) house,¾ elevate her to a place of honor. Every time there has been an opportunity for the use of option in translation, use has been made of that option, by this or that man of learning, to build up one sex and to depreciate the other, and so the result, through the ages, has been cumulative, and that without actual intention.

LESSON 49.

OUR FAITH MUST REPOSE IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT.

371.  We have called attention to some of these misinterpretations, as well as mistranslations of the Bible, as to women. But a certain type of mind is sure to reason: “What am I to believe, then? And whom am I to believe?”¾as though it were ever intended that our faith should rest in human beings,¾uninspired, as these translators are, as well! Let us hope, however, that the majority of those who will read these Lessons will rather say, “We must never rest until we have seen to it that a sufficiently large number of young women are kept in training in the sacred languages, so that women can always command a hearing, as to the precise meaning of such passages in the Bible as relate to the interests of women specially. Thus only will women’s temporal and spiritual interests receive their due consideration.” Better, far better, that we should doubt every translator of the Bible than to doubt the inspiration of St. Paul’s utterances about women; and the justice of God towards women: or, above all, to doubt that “Christ hath redeemed us” (women) “from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13).

372.  Recalling Dean Payne-Smith’s words about Bible interpreters, “Men never do understand anything unless already in their minds they have some kindred ideas,” it is not worth our while to complain that men have not always seen truths that had no special application to their needs, either in interpreting or in translating the Bible; we merely wish to point out wherein there is need of changes. Supposing women only had translated the Bible from age to age, is there a likelihood that men would have rested content with the outcome? Therefore, our brothers have no good reason to complain if, while conceding that men have done the best they could alone, we assert that they did not do the best that could have been done. The work would have been of a much higher order had they first helped women to learn the sacred languages, (instead of putting obstacles in their way), and then, have given them a place by their side on translation committees.

373.   The same writer says, again: “A bad translation of this book [the Bible] exercises a depressing influence upon a nation’s advance in civilization: a good translation is one of the great levers in the nation’s rise.” We believe that the very reason why we see so large a proportion of the women of Christendom, in our day, given over to fashion and folly, is precisely because they have never been given a proper and dignified work in the advancement of God’s kingdom,¾since the first century of the Christian Church. And the true value of woman’s powers will never be known so long as her self-respect is destroyed by teaching her that she rests under God’s curse, and is bound to remain in perpetual subordination to her husband, even when he happens to be a fool or scamp; and this is what the Church unconsciously teaches in its sweeping assertions as to woman’s “subordination” to her husband,¾never pausing to define (even if this were true), what sort of a husband is entitled to act as her superior and ruler.

LESSON 47.

CONCLUDING REMARKS ON THE HEADSHIP OF THE HUSBAND.

354.     If the headship of the husband, then, does not imply government by the husband, why is the wife exhorted to “be in subjection” to her husband, rather then the husband to the wife? Because the real meaning of the word “subjection” refers, not to servility, but to conciliation. Where wrong exists, or is supposed to exist, the Christian method is always to exhort the wronged one to efforts to keep the peace, if possible, until the wrongdoer learns the better way. Read 1 Peter 2:18-23 for light on this point: note the transition to 3:1, especially the word “likewise.” The “subjection” urged is toward a wayward, not Christian, husband. So the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians, fifth chapter, exhorts the wife, who is the one likely to suffer wrong, to one set of duties, summed up in the word “subjection;” and the husband to another set of duties, because he is the one inclined to oppress. The husband is to show that love which gives itself for the good of another.

355.     But the expositor wrongly interprets Paul’s intention, in the use of the word “subjection.” Let us illustrate: In China, for centuries past, mothers have felt compelled to bind the feet of their girls in order to prepare them for the matrimonial market. This custom is now yielding before the humane influences of the Christian religion, and mothers, with the support of the men of their families, refuse to bind the feet of their daughters, and often unbind their own. But the problem of having free feet is one thing to the daughter, whose feet have never been bound, and quite another to the mother, whose feet have been bound for years. The reason is, that the very bandages which have so weakened and crippled the feet, have, in the course of time, become an essential support to the weakened members; so that, when the woman medical missionary unbinds the feet of the Chinese mother, she must remove the old bandages, and then put on fresh bandages,¾this time, binding each individual toe to its individual splint,¾only until it can go free of all support.

356.     Now this latter is a process of binding, but it is done with an opposite view to the original foot binding. It looks to the restoration of lost freedom, while the old process aggressively deprived of freedom. It is, moreover, in the very nature of things, a process wholly unsuitable to the girl whose feet have never been bound. Would it be fair, now, or truthful, because of this temporary device, looking to eventual complete freedom, which the doctor adopts, to represent the woman doctor as favorable to foot binding? Yet, precisely after this manner has St. Paul been misrepresented by those wiling to justify male rule. They ignore Paul’s declared object; they are silent as to Paul’s clear utterances elsewhere, as to “the glorious liberty of the children of God;” they disdain the guards Paul puts about his words, and pervert his meaning.

357.     Such words as, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female,” convey small authority to their minds; but because Paul has twice reminded the wife that her husband is her “head” (“support,” see par. 282), therefore would these expositors permanently rebind upon women the very burdens of oppression which Paul would remove from their bowed backs. This false representation of the Apostle’s intention has led many people into irreverent ridicule of the Bible and Paul; and the perverters of Paul’s meaning are responsible for this. Paul does not speak as an “old bachelor,” but as the mouthpiece of God. Nor is he labouring under the blight of rabbinical training. Paul speaks under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and can be easily understood, with the Spirit’s help, by those who care to understand him rightly. Any other representation of his words is irreverent.

358.     The Apostle, then, realizing the difficulties under a pagan government, and under civil laws unjust to women, first declares that within the Church bandages of oppression must be removed, but that the bond of matrimony must be carefully conserved (“Let marriage be held in honor of all”); wives must be patient; and husbands be used as individual splints to each broken and crushed woman. The revolutionary ethics of a Christ-like love would shortly accomplish all the rest. Like his Master, Paul came “to proclaim liberty to the captive,” by his Gospel message,¾not to proclaim captivity to the captive. Paul’s goal for women, as much as for men, is “the glorious liberty of the children of God,” and he declares it in many ways, again and again; and when once that goal has been attained by women, the method is obsolete and meaningless. In Christian lands, in real Christian homes, special injunctions upon the wife to “be in subjection” to her husband, are out of place,¾the method has accomplished its work; oppression is gone; the liberty is wrought out.

359.     Let us turn now to Ephesians, fifth chapter in the R.V.Verse 22 reads, “Wives [be in subjection] unto your own husbands, as unto the lord.” Note first that the words we bracket are not in the original. The duty is the same one that was already laid upon all Christians by verse 21, and this does not design to extend the duties of the wife to indefinite proportions, but to limit them. The form is equivalent to Colossians 3:18, concerning the same set of duties, “as is fit in the Lord.” Subjection, to Paul’s mind, could go beyond what is “fit.” For when false brethren came to him and gave him bad counsel, he declares, “to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour.” Yes, this Apostle who taught all believers to “be in subjection” one to another, as did Peter also (1 Peter 5:5), declares even of Peter, “I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed,” (Galatians 2:3-5, 11). An unqualified subjection of one to another has never been enjoined upon man or woman Christian by the Bible.

360.     Very different is Milton’s teaching from the Apostle Paul’s, to women:

“To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorn’d:

‘My author and disposer, what thou bidd’st

Unargued I obey: so God ordains;

God is thy law, thou mine; to know no more

Is woman’s happiest knowledge, and her praise.’”

Such teaching as this puts man in the very place of God. It is the spirit of Antichrist who “sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4 R. V.). It also teaches woman that most hateful of all sins to God, idolatry.

361.     If the Apostle does not especially enjoin “subjection” on husbands, as such, it is because he has occasion to set forth more important duties on his part. Verse 23 of this passage in Ephesians tells him that, like his Lord, he is to be to his wife, “the savior of the body.” How free and chaste Paul intends her to be! Verse 25 teaches an utter self-renunciation, like Christ’s, for her sake. Verse 26, that by his own cleansed and sanctified fleshly nature, he is to “sanctify and cleanse” his wife’s body, so as to be prepared in the end to present her spotless (verse 27) to Christ,¾free from all moral injury by his conduct. Verse 28 teaches him to love his wife as he loves his own body, i.e., to nourish and cherish her. The opposite conduct¾the oppression of lust¾is to hate her. Verse 31: He (not she) is to forsake all others, and to cleave to her alone. (See pars. 45-64.)

362.      Woman’s only century, in the Christian Church, was during apostolic days, and a little while thereafter. Prof. Ramsay, in his valuable book, The Church in the Roman Empire, states: “The Universal and Catholic type of Christianity became confirmed in its dislike of the prominence and the public ministration of woman. The dislike became abhorrence, and there is every probability that the dislike is as old as the first century, and was intensified to abhorrence before the middle of the second century.” With the growth of this abhorrence, we may rest assured that every conceivable effort would be made to find a warrant for silencing and subordinating women; and the “Judaizer” was at hand to point the method of torturing and twisting Scripture, especially Paul’s words, into teaching the same. Here we have, in a few words, the history of that “tortuous special pleading” which enables conclusions to seem to be drawn from arguments presented by Paul; arguments which, if rightly read, and interpreted by unbiased minds, would lead to very different opinions of the Apostle Paul and his teachings on the “woman question.”

LESSON 87.

ADVICE FOR EMERGENCY.

708.     Turn to 1 Corinthians 7. This chapter has been used by the Church to combat the false teaching of the superior holiness of celibacy, to that extent that its natural sense is difficult to grasp. Paul did not have sacerdotal celibacy in mind when he wrote it, but he did have a tribulation in mind, as verses 29-31 and other verses prove.

Three of the Gospels (Matthew 24:19; Mark 13:17; Luke 21:23) record a warning of Christ’s, that no woman should be found pregnant or with little children when that Day came; and the fact that every account of Christ’s prophecy of this period repeats this “woe,” proves that the warning had taken deep hold on the hearts of the disciples. Nothing could be more natural to suppose than that the Corinthians had asked Paul in their letter some question like this: “If our wives are not to bear children, in view of the coming tribulation, shall we not separate altogether, husbands from wives?” (Read par. 111).

709.     Paul’s advice is suited to an emergency, but not intended for permanent conditions. This letter was written in A.D. 57, and sore tribulation began in A.D. 64 by the martyrdom of the Roman church (see Lessons 41, 42), and persecutions throughout the Roman Empire; and in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. (See also Luke 23:29). Expecting this tribulation under Rome, who knew but that it might prove to be the great tribulation?

Verse 1.  Paul’s answer to this unrecorded question is, that it is well for a person to have no intimate relations with his wife (the word translated “woman” is also the ordinary word for wife).

Verse 2.  But he does not recommend an actual separation, “because of fornications.” The A. V. does not render this accurately. There is no such word as “avoid” here. Corinth was an exceedingly wicked city. Profane history says that every other house was one for prostitution. There were over a thousand “religious” slave-prostitutes kept at the Temple of Venus in that city. Pagan religion and fornication went together, in worship. Men recently converted from a paganism which made a virtue of fornication, if thrown out of homes by the break-up of their domestic relations, from very loneliness might backslide into these corrupt conditions.  So each man should keep his home and wife, each woman her husband. Or, if this did not happen, separated wives and husbands might become estranged, and remarry without Scriptural grounds for divorce; and this would amount to fornication.

710.     Verse 3.  The expression “due benevolence” has been given the same vile translation, “duty of marriage” of Exodus 21:10. See our notes, pars. 603-606 in refutation of any such sense. Such a meaning, here, would make Paul teach, between these two verses, “It is good not to do so, but nevertheless be sure to do so.” It would not only put verse 1 at variance with verse 2, but also at variance more or less, in spirit at least, with the teachings of verses 5 (as we shall presently explain), 7, 8, 11, 26, 27, 29, 32, 34, 37, 38, and 40. In fact, it makes of the chapter a mass of contradictions. All Paul means by this verse is that the husband should continue to minister to his wife by performing his usual duties of support, protection, and heavy tasks about the home; and that the wife should continue her domestic ministrations. This is “due” from each to the other. It is doubtful whether “benevolence” belongs to the original text.

Verse 4 speaks of the power of restraint, not of self-indulgence, in view of the teaching of continence for an emergency, of verse one. The one can exert this over the other.

711.     Verse 5.  Dean Alford, in another passage (Mark 10:19), shows that the word rendered “defraud” is equivalent to “covet.” This “coveting” in the marriage relation brings about the defrauding of time that should go to prayer, and the “incontinency” spoken of at the end of the verse. Sexual union must be of mutual consent “as to time.” The expositors who make out that Paul is speaking of incontinent continence, lend themselves to cheap sophistry. The word “fasting” here is probably an unauthorized addition to the original text.

Verse 7.  “His proper gift.” If this meant, as is taught, “the gift of continence,” then we must believe that Paul taught that other men had from the Lord “the proper gift of incontinence!” (See par. 703).

Verse 9.  See Lesson 86. “Cannot,” here, is a corrupt rendering; the original says “do not.” Guilty couples should get married.

712.     Verses 12-16 teach that the matter of absolute avoidance of the matrimonial relation, in case one is married to an unbeliever, or else divorce, is not to be enjoined. There is but one cause for divorce, at least, as Christ taught; and the date of the approaching tribulation was too uncertain to found such rigid teaching as this upon it. This was emergency advice to believing couples expecting at any moment, what however might not occur for many years, ¾the close of the age and its attendant tribulation.

Verses 20, 24. The teaching of these verses has been much abused,¾for instance, to teach a slave that he should not struggle for his freedom. There is excellent reason for believing rather that Paul would direct attention to our one calling of eminence, our “high calling in Christ Jesus,” and teach us at all cost to abide in that calling, and do nothing which would mar our title to that high calling.

Verses 21 and 23 show that Paul did not instruct slaves to be contented with slavery.

Verse 25. Answers to another question from Corinth begin here, and the answers are somewhat obscure. Evidently the question relates to virgin persons of both sexes, as shown by verses 26, 27; the word “virgin” is applied to males in Revelation 14:4. In verse 28 the word is used in its more common female sense.

Verses 26-35. Paul makes it clear that he is not talking of what is “right” and “wrong” in the ordinary sense, but what is wise, or less wise, in the emergencies of the time.

713.     Verse 36. The sense is obscure. Most expositors think it refers to fathers disposing of their virgin daughters. Others think that it refers to a man disposing of his virginity in marriage, because he is getting older, than the usual time for marriage. My own belief is that Paul is speaking of affianced young men, and their duty towards their betrothed virgins. If marriage is delayed so long that he feels he is not treating her right in the matter (in those days it was a reproach to a maiden to remain long unmarried), then “let them marry.”

Verse 37. The word “nevertheless” is misleading, as though showing a contrast. The Greek word should have been given its usual rendering¾But the young man who has deliberately made up his mind not to marry, and with whom there is no (such) need to marry (as spoken of in the previous verse,¾on account of his betrothed), and has decided to keep his virginity (under the present stress of the times), does well not to marry.” This I believe to be Paul’s teaching.

Verse 38. Dr. Adam Clarke calls attention to the many ancient authorities who read, here, not “giveth her in marriage,” but merely “marries,” and “does not marry.” Note that the word “her” in the Bible is italicized; it does not occur in the original. “He that marries doeth well, and he that marries not doeth better.”

714.     As to that expression “giveth” in relation to the marriage of a woman: Such an expression occurs nowhere in the entire Greek N. T. The O. T. sometimes uses the word “give” of a woman’s marriage. She is often “given” or “sold” to a husband in the O. T. but no such idea is conveyed by any expression used of the marriage of a woman in the N. T. This is an English importation into both the A. V. and the R. V., because we have not two words which distinguish between the male and the female part in marriage, such as the Greek has.

621.     I think we find another case of prejudiced translation in Isaiah 3:12. The word translated “children” in this verse in Isaiah, is a plural masculine participle of the verb “to glean,” “abuse,” “practice.” It is translated “glean” in Leviticus 19:10, Deuteronomy 24:21, Judges 20:45, and Jeremiah 6:9. The word has no translation such as “children” anywhere else in the Bible, and it occurs 21 times. Another word altogether is used for “children,” and “child,” in verses 4 and 5 of this same chapter; the sense seems to have been fixed by the supposed context, to correspond with “women.” As to the word translated “women”: Two words, without the rabbinical vowel “points,” are exactly alike. One is pronounced nosh-im and the other na-shim. In appearance the only difference is a slight mark under the first letter of the Hebrew word na-shim. The first word means “exactors;” the one with a vowel mark under the initial letter means “women.” The entire decision, therefore, as to whether the word means one or the other depends upon OPTION. Those who pointed the word, evidently thought the nation could sink no lower than to pass under women rulers, and then translated the word “children” to match it. Commentators frequently call attention to the alternate reading. See Adam Clarke on the passage. The Septuagint translates: “As for my people, tax-gatherers (praktores) glean them, and exactors (apaitountes) rule over them.”

622.     There seems little in the context to support the translation “children” and “women.” But study the context as regards the other reading. After complaining of the “gleaners,” (that is, “tax-gatherers”) and “extortioners,” they are threatened in the following language: “The Lord standeth up to plead and standeth up to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgement with the elders of His people, and the princes (“rulers,” masculine, not feminine gender), thereof for ye have eaten up the vineyard (the conduct of extortionate tax-gatherers), and the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye crush (R. V.) my people, and grind the faces of the poor?” Because of this context, we believe that OPTION took the wrong turn when it decided to translate this verse as it stands in our English version; and that this translation would have had a strong showing up of its sophistries, had educated women been on the last Revision Committee.

LESSON 78.

SEX BIAS INFLUENCES TRANSLATORS.

(Continued.)

623. Before we proceed to exhibit other places in the O. T. in which an unusual meaning has been put upon a word that would not have been put upon the same word had it not specially related to woman, we must explain: Words in the Hebrew language are more difficult to set forth after this fashion, to those who do not understand the language, because of the great variety of uses to which a word can be put. The same form may do duty as a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb and even a preposition.

624. Next we will consider the Hebrew word cha-yil (HEB), which occurs 242 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “army” and “war” 58 times; “host” and “forces” 43 times; “might” or “power” 16 times; “goods,” “riches,” “substance” and “wealth” in all 31 times; “band of soldiers,” “band of men,” “company,” and “train” once each; “activity” once; “valor” 28 times; “strength” 11 times: these are all noun forms. The word is often translated as an adjective or adverb. It is translated “valiant” and “valiantly” 35 times; “strong” 6 times; “able” 4 times; “worthily” once and “worthy” once. We have now given you the complete list of the various renderings of this word excepting four instances in which the word is used in describing a woman. Please review the list, and get the usage of the word clearly in mind before proceeding further.

625. Now we will take the first of these four remaining cases, relating to women: Ruth, the Moabitess, was a woman of courage and decision of character. In her loyalty to her dead husband’s mother, she refused to turn back and re-marry in her own land, but forsook her country and kindred to accompany her mother-in-law to a (to her) foreign land, and undertook there, to keep them both from starvation by the labour of her hands. Boaz, who afterwards married her, said to her: “All the city of my people doth know that thou art a woman of cha-yil,” (Ruth 3:11). Now considering the girl’s courage and devotion, how should this word have been translated? You have the list of meanings before you, and are quite competent to form an opinion. How would “thou art an able woman” or “thou art a woman of courage” do? The Septuagint Greek says, “Thou art a woman of power” (dunamis).

626. But it almost looks as though our English translators took no care, as to the precise language here. The circumstances, when Boaz spoke the words, were peculiar, but not improper in Israel; but man was praising a woman, and “of course” here is a reference to her reputation for chastity, and so it is translated, “thou art a virtuous woman.” But glance over the various meanings given to this word elsewhere. Not once has it reference to any other moral characteristic than that of strength or force. What courage this foreign girl had shown in supporting her mother-in-law!

627. Now for the next mistranslation of this word, because it relates to woman. The last chapter of Proverbs describes an ideal woman for a wife. The description is a mother’s, to her son. It is quite different from the average man’s ideal of woman at her best. But the Bible describes her, in the language of Lemuel’s mother, as a woman whose “price is far above rubies:. Here are some of her striking characteristics: “She is like the merchants’ ships, she bringeth her food from afar.” “She considereth a field and buyeth it.” “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.” “Strength and honor are her clothing.” Surely this must be a “strong-minded” woman who is praised here.

628. Three times over the “strength” of this woman of Proverbs is referred to. Each line of the description speaks of efficiency. She is praised in turn for general goodness and trustworthiness, energy, efficiency, enterprise, far-sightedness, early-rising, business capacity, gardening, muscular strength, weaving, benevolence, fore-thought, embroidery work, elegant clothes for herself, tailoring for her husband, honor, wisdom, kindness, piety. But, as it happens, no definite reference is made to her purity, or to her faithfulness to her husband in the marriage relation.

629. Now what one word would best sum up such a character? The precise original expression is the same as in the verse we have quoted from Ruth,¾“A woman of cha-yil.” We must suppose that the translators hastily concluded that they knew, without looking closely at the original, what sort of a woman a mother ought to recommend to her son for a wife, and so they translated: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” That represents the undoubted sentiments of the translators; but it does not represent the teaching of the original text. “Virtue” is of priceless value to woman, to be sure; but her duty to her husband is not her only duty; all her life cannot be summed up in that one moral quality.

630. “But,” someone will reply, “virtue is often used in the sense of a summing up of all moral characteristics.” That may be; but it would not be so understood by the common folk, in this connection, and the Bible is supposed to be translated for them. The vast majority, reading this verse, would suppose the word “virtue” to refer to the woman’s chastity. The Septuagint translates here (“Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon,” lest the study of the sacred tongues be prohibited to woman!), “A masculine woman . . . more valuable is she than very costly stones.”[5]

And finally, the description of this ideal woman is summed up in the 29th verse, in the words: “Many daughters have done cha-yil, but thou excellest them all. “Worthily,” “valiantly,” are the only translations that we have in any other part of the Bible for this word, when used as an adverb. But after the same careless manner, the word is here translated “virtuously.” We suppose there was an instinctive distaste, disrelish, for showing that the Bible praised, in the inspired words of a woman writer, a “strong” woman, for doing “valiantly.”

631. Now for the fourth instance of the mistranslation of this word: Proverbs 12:4 reads, in the original, “A woman of cha-yil is a crown to her husband,” and there is no doubt that she is here again praised for her strength of character. But the English reads, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” Doubtless such a woman is a crown to her husband, but women prefer to know what the Bible says, rather than to be merely reminded of a favorite axiom among men. Here again, the Septuagint translates, “masculine.”

632. “But,” an objector will say “ ‘virtuous’ comes from the Latin word vir, which means ‘man’, and why is it not the proper word to use here, ¾in the sense of ‘manly’, ‘strong’?” Because “virtue,” while it has this literal sense, is not used to describe “manliness” in English, but “morality” in general, among men: and when used of woman, it is understood to refer to morality of one sort, more particularly, which happens not to be referred to in these extended descriptions in the quotations from Proverbs. If the translator had thought that this word “virtue,” or the word “virtuously” were likely to be understood in their literal sense by women,¾“manly” and “manfully,” who can believe that he would ever have employed those words here?

633. Virtue is a quality of great importance to women, and had they been more clearly taught from pulpit, and by a more careful translation of such passages as we have been considering, the obligation laid upon them in the Bible, to be strong, in body, mind and spirit; if these theologians themselves had learned this from the Bible, women would have been far better equipped to guard their virtue,¾since the ruin of girls is usually due to weak character and general unfitness to cope with the world. To sum up: This Hebrew word, cha-yil, used over 200 times in the Hebrew Bible, signifies “force,” “strength,” “ability.” But in every instance where it relates to women, and nowhere else, isit translated “virtue,” i.e. “chastity.”

619. Luther once said: “No gown worse becomes a woman than to be wise.” Luther only held the prevailing views of his day as regards women. Such men could not easily perceive when Scripture expressed a different thought on the subject. Proverbs 14:1 says, in Hebrew, “The wisdom of woman buildeth her house,” but not being able to appreciate the advantages of female education, men rendered it: “Every wise woman buildeth her house,” that is, the woman who devotes herself to housewifely duties is pronounced “wise.” But this is not the thought; rather, wisdom itself, in woman, will build her own (not her husband’s) house,¾ elevate her to a place of honor. Every time there has been an opportunity for the use of option in translation, use has been made of that option, by this or that man of learning, to build up one sex and to depreciate the other, and so the result, through the ages, has been cumulative, and that without actual intention.

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