Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Vol. 1: Comments on
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
Copyright © 1895. All Rights Reserved.
1. And there went a man of the house of Levi and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2. And the woman bare a son: and when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3. And when she could not longer hide him she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.
4. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
5. ¶ And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side: and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
6. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
7. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
8. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.
9. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me. and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
10. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
15. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
16. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
17. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
18. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?
19. And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.
20. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.
21. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
22. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershon: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
THE account of the birth of Moses, his mother's anxiety in protecting him from the wrath of Pharaoh, and the goodness of the king's daughter, make altogether an interesting story, and is almost the first touch of sentiment with which the historian has refreshed us; a pleasant change from the continued accounts of corruption, violence, lust, war and petty falsehood, that have thus far marked the history of this people. The only value of these records to us is to show the character of the Jewish nation, and make it easy for us to reject their ideas as to the true status of woman, and their pretension of being guided by the hand of God, in all their devious wanderings. Surely such teachings as these, should have no influence in regulating the lives of women in the nineteenth century. Moses' conduct towards the seven daughters of the priest at the well, shows that there were some sparks of chivalry here and there in a few representative souls, notwithstanding the contempt for the sex in general. These Hebrew wooings and weddings were curiously similar, alike marked for the beauty and simplicity of the daughters of the land, the wells, the flocks, the handsome strangers, the strong, active young men who will prove so helpful in cultivating the lands. The father-in-law usually gets the young husband completely under his thumb, and we hear nothing of the dreaded mother-in-law of the nineteenth century. If we go through this chapter carefully we will find mention of about a dozen women, but with the exception of one given to Moses, all are nameless. Then as now names for women and slaves are of no importance; they have no individual life, and why should their personality require a life-long name? Today the woman is Mrs. Richard Roe, tomorrow Mrs. John Doe, and again Mrs. James Smith according as she changes masters, and she has so little self-respect that she does not see the insult of the custom. We have had in this generation one married woman in England, and one in America, who had one name from birth to death, and though married they kept it. Think of the inconvenience of vanishing as it were from your friends and, correspondents three times in one's natural life.
E. C. S.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
In helping the children of Israel to escape from the land of Egypt the Lord said to Moses:
19. ¶ And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
20. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
21. And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
22. But every woman shall borrow of her neighhour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
The role assigned the women, in helping the children of Israel to escape in safety from bondage, is by no means complimentary to their heroism or honesty. To help bear the expenses of the journey, they were instructed to steal all the jewels of silver and gold, and all the rich raiment of the Egyptian ladies. The Lord and Moses no doubt went on the principle that the Israelites had richly earned all in the years of their bondage. This is the position that some of our good abolitionists took, when Africans were escaping from American bondage, that the slaves had the right to seize horses, boats, anything to help them to Canada, to find safety in the shadow of the British lion. Some of our pro-slavery clergymen, who no doubt often read the third chapter of Exodus to their congregations, forgot the advice of Moses, in condemning the abolitionists; as the Americans had stolen the African's body and soul, and kept them in hopeless bondage for generations--they had richly earned whatever they needed to help them to the land of freedom. Stretch the principle of natural rights a little further, and ask the question, why should women, denied all their political rights, obey laws to which they have never given their consent, either by proxy or in person? Our fathers in an inspired moment said, "No just government can be formed without the consent of the governed."
Women have had no voice in the canon law, the catechisms, the church creeds and discipline, and why should they obey the behests of a strictly masculine religion, that places the sex at a disadvantage in all life's emergencies?
Our civil and criminal codes reflect at many points the spirit of the Mosaic. In the criminal code we find no feminine pronouns, as "He," "His," "Him," we are arrested, tried and hung, but singularly enough, we are denied the highest privileges of citizens, because the pronouns "She," "Hers" and "Her," are not found in the constitutions. It is a pertinent question, if women can pay the penalties of their crimes as "He," why may they not enjoy the privileges of citizens as "He"?
E. C. S.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
May the Wisdom Force
be with You.
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