To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
06 Apr 2018 00:00
Women’s roles, and cultural values, have changed since biblical times, and we should read Scripture though that lens. (Tshepiso Mabula/M&G)
I was perturbed by Tshepiso Mabula’s article “Songs of the black matriarchs”. The caption, “The stories in the Bible about women are mostly of deceivers and betrayers”, and part of the blurb, “… the Bible doesn’t recognise women’s worth”, are inaccurate and misleading.
First of all, it should be noted that the Bible includes the New Testament, which contains many favourable accounts of women.
But Mabula seems to be referring to the Hebrew Scriptures only.
And consider for example the prophetess and judge, Deborah, strong ruler of Israel. The leader of the army, Barak, refused to go into the battle against the Canaanites unless Deborah herself accompanied them. During that same campaign, it was the woman Jael who personally executed Sisera, the Canaanite general. Then there was the harlot, Rahab, who is forever remembered with gratitude for having risked her life to hide the Israelite spies in Jericho.
There was Queen Esther. Although the story of Esther is quite sexist in parts, Esther herself is presented as a model of great courage and love for her people. And what about the philosopher Queen of Sheba (philosophy = love of wisdom) who travelled a long distance to put questions to King Solomon and test his wisdom?
Also there were other women of great faith and courage, such as Moses’s mother, who hid her son in the reeds in spite of Pharaoh’s decree ordering their death, the prophet Ezekiel’s wife “the delight of your eyes” (Ezek 24:16) and Hanna, the mother of the prophet Samuel, who offered her son to God.
One comment about Naomi and the Book of Ruth: people can be very sensitive today with regard to unfair judgments being made from outside a person’s culture, and often rightly so. But we must apply the same consideration to an ancient culture whose values differ from our own.
If this book were a South African story, the image of a scheming Naomi, desiring to enrich herself through Ruth’s bonding with Boaz, would be plausible. But that image is false.
From a biblical cultural perspective, sending Ruth to marry him (Boaz had her sleep at his feet until he had investigated his legal right to marry her) is in no way to be compared with instances of family rape. As a close relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Boaz was considered next in line to marry Ruth in accordance with Israelite Levirate law (after the man who had first preference had declined).
Naomi is revered for good reason. Her name should not be besmirched because of a lack of cultural understanding. — Reverend Joseph A Slattery, PhD, Port Elizabeth
Your March 29 editorial on Australia’s response to the Cape Town ball-tampering incident, headlined “Aussies, spare us the moral outrage”, concludes: “So, from what we can see from here in South Africa, this cricket cheating business is exactly what Australia stands for.”
Quite a breathtaking assertion from a leader writer living in a
country where — as is regularly reported in your fine newspaper — public and private sector cronyism, graft and corruption have been elevated to an art form.
Corruption (aka cheating), in which the fat cats enjoy wealth at the expense of millions of South African citizens who live in desperate
circumstances on the fringes of society.
Perhaps living in such an atmosphere has rendered your writer blind to the disparity between the slap on the wrist Faf du Plessis received from your cricket administrators for ball tampering on two occasions versus the rather stronger resolve of Cricket Australia in dealing with cheating. — David Marsden, Melbourne
Thato Rossouw, with reference to your article “This is why Steyn must fall”, it would be more productive if you used your energy to think of ways to build and develop, instead thinking of ways to knock down things from the past.
Put things in context, accept the path of history and then grow your university in the context of the 21st century. Perhaps if you had worked with Jonathan Jansen (former University of the Free State vice-chancellor) you would have a more proactive outlook.
Learn to put behind you (not forget) the negatives of the past. Don’t dwell in spite. Give and look forward. You find a fulfilling future by sharing the fruits of your education with joy and generosity. — Corinne Roy
Read more from Letters
Create Account | Lost Your Password?