[b-hebrew] The Biblical politics of masculine and feminine

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Nov 18 13:10:47 EST 2006


On 11/17/06, Peter Kirk wrote:

> Some further thoughts about this: It took a lot of searching, but I did
> eventually find the Hebrew text of Sirach online, at
> http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/gopher/text/religion/biblical/parallel/27.Sirach.par.
> But unfortunately 25:25,26 seem to be missing, at least from the text
> used to prepare this. 25:24 apparently reads M)$H TXLT (WN WBGLLH GW(NW
> YXD, understood by the translator into Greek as ἀπὸ γυναικὸς ἀρχὴ
> ἁμαρτίας καὶ δι᾽ αὐτὴν ἀποθνῄσκομεν πάντες, literally "From woman
> beginning of sin, and through her we die all".

You can look at an image of the Genizah fragment that is used for these verses
here:
http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/GOLD/Or1102/AS213_4.html
and at parts of a newly identified Genizah fragment that contains parts of 26:
http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/GOLD/Or1102/TS12_867.html

You can see from the first fragment that the gopher site Hebrew text did not
incorporate the newly identified small triangular fragment at the top
left of the
recto.  Also that 25:25-26 is missing is not due to any poor quality of the
fragment itself but rather to an editorial choice.

On the face of it it seems wrong to compare a text such as this to one
saying that a husband must not divorce his wife, since the context of 25:26
is a "bad wife" while the context of the second is apparently a general case.
It appears to me that if Ben Sira has been left out of the canon in these
cases it was not due to any feministic attitudes.  Proverbs 31:10-31 also
highlights a different view of women, although it still identifies
separate roles
for women and men, the women being entrusted with the work that is
necessary to upkeep the home while the husband sits with the council
members in a political or religious role.  A rather negative view of a woman
is highlighted in Proverbs 7:3-27.  Compare also in this regard 4Q184:
http://www.utoronto.ca/wjudaism/journal/vol2n2/aubin.html
http://www.thirdmill.org/newfiles/sc_jones/OT.Jones.wisdom.proverbs7.pdf
(The second contains a Hebrew transliteration of 4Q184, and the first a
translation).

Yitzhak Sapir


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