By Keith Harris
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Additional resources for Sex, ideology, and religion : the representation of women in the Bible
Numbers 31:7-9 The taking of the women comes across as nothing different from the taking of the goods and the cattle. However, on this particular occasion the children of Israel were met with a reprimand: their action incurred Moses's wrath - but perhaps not quite for the reasons we might at first suspect. Moses wasn't upset that the women were taken; what concerned him was that they were taken too indiscriminately: And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children oflsrael, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
Next there is the case of Moses, which was settled even more easily, although in this instance Moses himself was at least present. Reuel's daughters tell their father how Moses helped them water their flock. Then: ... 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. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. Exodus 2:20-1 of Women I Finally there is the situation where a daughter is offered up as a prize by her father in return for a deed, virtually regardless of who it is that performs the deed and claims the prize.
According to the AV she 'played the whore against him', whereas in the NEB she had left him 'In a fit of anger'. Nevertheless, in each case it is reported that he went to her father's house and reclaimed her in a friendly exchange. No malice of intent is even hinted at; he seems to seriously want his wife back. However, on the way home the Levite is given shelter in Gibeah, and when the local hordes seek him out his host offers them his virgin daughter instead. This is not agreeable to the lustful crowd, so the Levite, in order to protect himself, throws his concubine/ wife out to them, in what appears to be a cold and calculated manner: So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses; and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.