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Societies in the ancient Near East were of the patriarchal type Israel no less than other nations was a patriarchal society Characteristic in those societies was the lower status of women The basic social and economic unit for Hebrew society was the family headed by the father it was called beith-ab literally the fathers home The federation as a whole was organised around male heads of families In turn the religious community consisted of circumcised males This community shaped the laws that aimed to preserve the principles of the family the male headed family Laws protected the mans rights and rarely those of his dependants The tenth commandment with the you and your neighbour both men protecting each others property house wife servants and animals Ex 2017 portrays women as objects The other laws sometimes gave women and men equal treatment Laws declared that all human life is sacred Mothers and fathers could not be hit or cursed and generation took precedent over gender Other cases show clear inequality a man servant is set free after seven years a woman servant is not In this society the primary role for women was child bearing In the Pentateuch to be a woman portrayed in a positive light she would have to be a wife or a virgin If a bride was not a virgin she would be executed A woman did assume role of leader only to have it overshadowed by her male counterparts If a married woman committed the act of adultery it was punishable by death The same act committed by a man was not a crime unless he committed it with a married woman Moreover divorce was a male prerogative Yet despite Israels overwhelming androcentric and patriarchal orientation there were women in the Pentateuch that emerged to testify of the essential and active role that women played in the formation of Israel Property was passed down from father to
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