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When God Was a Woman By Merlin Stone.
This is a taste of this incredible book. Please buy a copy at your locally owned bookstore.

Perhaps the most shocking laws of all were those that declared that a woman was to be stoned or burned to death for losing her virginity before marriage, a factor never before mentioned in other law codes of the Near East, and that upon being the victim of rape, a single woman was forced to marry the rapist. If already married she was to be stoned to death for having been raped. Pg. 56

It may be helpful at this point to summarize the changes in the laws as they affected various aspects of the lives of women. In Eshnunna (in Sumer) at about 2000 BC, if a man raped a woman he was put to death. In the Old Babylonian period of Hammurabi, before the major incursions of the Indo-Europeans, though many of the northerners were in Babylonia even at that time, the same punishment was given. In the laws of Assyria, which are dated between 1450 and 1250 BC (when Assyria was under Indo-European control), we read that if a man rapes a woman the husband or father of that woman should then rape the rapists wife or daughter and/or marry his own daughter to the rapist. The last part of the law was also the law of the Hebrews, who added that a raped woman must be put to death if she was already married or betrothed…Pg 59

Observe thou that which I command thee this day; Behold I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Hittite and the Perizite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee; But ye shall destroy their alters, break their images and cut down their groves, for thou shalt worship no other god, for the Lord whose name is jealous is a jealous God (Exodus. 34: 11-16) Pg. 168

In Deut. 2:33, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron, the Israelites met a king name Sihon at the town Jahaz. The Levite accounts tell us, “The lord our God delivered him into our hands; we killed him with his sons and all his people. We captured all his cities at that time and put to death every one in the cities, men women, and dependents; we left no survivors.” Pg. 168

When they meet Og, king of Bashan, we are told in Deut. 3:3-7 “So the Lord our God also delivered Og king of Bashan into our hands, with all his people. We slaughtered them and left no survivor…in all we took sixty cities…thus we put to death all the men, women and dependents in every city.” Pg. 169

Aaron & Moses died in the desert. Joshua assumed command and the Israelites entered Jericho. We learn in Josh. 6:21, “Under the ban they destroyed everything in the city; they put everyone to the sword, men, women, young and old…”But in this same siege we are told, “All the silver and gold, all the vessels of copper and iron, shall be holy; they belong to the Lord and they must go into the Lord’s treasury.”(Josh 6:19) Pg. 169

In the book of Number (31:17) we read that after the battle against the Midianites, while still under the leadership of Moses and Aaron, the Israelites were told: “Kill every male dependent and kill every woman who has had intercourse with a man, but spare for yourselves every woman among them who has not had intercourse. In Num. 31: 32-35, we read a list of the spoils and war booty taken by the Israelites at this same battle. In this order, they list sheep, cattle, asses, and “thirty-two thousand girls who had no intercourse with a man.” Pg. 172

The Levite priests wrote that the destruction had been commanded by Yahweh:

“You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains and upon the hills and under every green tree you shall tear down their pillars and burn their asherim with fire.” (Deut. 12:2,3); “You shall not plant any tree as an asherah beside the alter of the Lord.”(Deut. 16:21) Pg. 176

The Levite laws of the bible ordered: “If our brother or son or daughter or wife or friend suggest serving other gods, you must kill him, your hand must be the first raised in putting him to death and all the people shall follow you.” (Deut.13: 60) Pg. 180

If the inhabitants of a town that once served the Lord your God, now serves other gods, you must kill all the inhabitants of the town.” (Deut. 13:15)

In both Hebrew and Arabic the terms for magic are derived from the word meaning serpent. In Brittany supernatural powers were said to be acquired by drinking broth prepared from serpents. Among the Sioux Indians in North America the word Wakan means both wizard and serpent. Indians in the Southwest United States had an initiation ritual in which a brave who had been chosen as eligible for the honor performed a dance in which he allowed himself to be bitten several times by a snake. As a result of this experience provided he did not die, he was said to gain great wisdom, insight into the workings of the universe and the meaning of all things. Pg. 212

Normally, when a person receives a venomous snakebite, and subsequently the venom is introduced into the system, there are various reactions, depending upon the species of snake, including swelling, internal bleeding, difficulty breathing and paralysis. These effects often prove fatal. But there are recent records of people who have immunized, thus preventing the venom of snakebite from causing death. When bitten after the immunization, especially krait, cobra or other elapids, the subject experiences and emotional and mental state that has been compared to the effects of hallucinogenic drugs. In an account kept by his wife, William Haast of the Florida Serpentarium (where venom is extracted from various medicinal uses) described his reaction to a krait bite, received after he had been repeatedly immunized for his work. The account was later recalled in H. Kursh’s Cobras in the Garden. Kursh writes; “Suddenly he began to feel pleasantly light and weirdly buoyant, almost gay, as though he were slightly intoxicated…he had developed an acute sense of hearing, most painfully acute. The air about him was a charivari, a veritable jungle of discordant noises. It was as if he was under the influence of a strange narcotic…He had one inexplicable sensation. It was a peculiar emotional reaction which he could not control. As he lay his eyes involuntarily closed he could “see” things. There were visions in front of him. In another report on this same incident, Marshall Smith of Life magazine quoted Haast as saying, “I found myself making up the most wonderful verses. My mind had extraordinary powers.” It may or may not be related, but oracles of the shrines in Greece were said to be given in verse. Pg. 213

 This may explain the title of the Egyptian Cobra Goddess, was at times known as the Lady of Spells. Pg. 214

A particular species of tree was continually mentioned as sacred in various ancient records, but deceptively under 3 different names, so that its singular identity has been overlooked. At times it was called the sycamore, at times the fig and sometimes the mulberry. This tree is actually the Near Eastern ficus sicomorus, the sycamore fig, sometimes denoted as the black mulberry. It differs from the common fig tree in that its reddish colored fruit grows in large clumps, something like a cluster of grapes. Pg. 214

References to this sacred tree are found in the writings of Egypt, while representations of it appears on Egyptian murals. The Goddess Hathor of Egypt, revered both as the Eye of Wisdom and the Serpent Lady, was known by another title- the Lady of the Sycamore. This tree was known as the Living body of Hathor on Earth. To eat of its fruit was to eat of the flesh and fluid of the Goddess. Egyptian murals depicted the Goddess within this tree, passing out its sacred fruit to the dead as the food of eternity, immortality and continued life, even after death. Pg. 215

The Asherah or Asherim of the Bible were planted or stood alongside the altar of the shrines of the Goddess. They were the despised pillars and poles which the Hebrew destroyed. The sycamore fig tree, described in Egyptian text as “the flesh and the fluid of Hathor,” may even have been eaten as a type of “communion” with the Goddess, perhaps giving rise to the custom of the communion of the “flesh and the blood” of Jesus, taken in the form of wafers and wine even today. Most intriguing is the line in the Bible that relates that, when Adam and Eve realized their nakedness as a result of having eaten the forbidden fruit of the tree, they then made aprons to cover their sexual parts- with fig leaves. Pg. 216

It is here that our understanding of the sacred sexual customs and matrilineal decent patterns enters the matter, further clarifying the symbolism of the forbidden fruits. In each area in which the Goddess was known and revered, she was extolled not only as the prophetess of great wisdom, closely identified with the serpent, but as the original Creatress and the Patroness of sexual pleasures and reproduction as well. The Divine Ancestress was identified as She who brought life as well as She who decreed the destinies and directions of those lives, a not unnatural combination. Hathor was credited with having taught people how to procreate. Ishtar, Ashtoreth and Inanna were each esteemed as the tutelary deity of sexuality and new life. The sacred women celebrated this aspect of Her being by making love in the temples. Pg. 217

Considering the hatred the Hebrews felt toward the asherim, a major symbol of the female religion, it would not be too surprising if the symbolism of the tree of forbidden fruit, said to offer the knowledge of good and evil, yet clearly represented in the myth as the provider of sexual consciousness, was included in the creation story to warn that eating the fruit of this tree had caused the downfall of all humanity. Eating of the tree of the Goddess, which stood by each altar was a dangerously “pagan” as were Her sexual customs and Her oracular serpents. Pg. 220

According to Egyptian texts, to eat of this fruit was to eat of the flesh and the fluid of the Goddess, the Patroness of sexual pleasure and reproduction. According to the Bible story, the forbidden fruit caused the couples conscious comprehension of sexuality. Upon eating the fruit, Adam and Eve became aware of the sexual nature of their own bodies; and they knew that they were naked. “So it was that when the male deity found them, they had modestly covered their genitals with aprons of fig leaves.” Pg. 220

But it was virally important to the construction of the Levite myth, that they did not both decide to eat the forbidden fruit together, which would have been a more logical turn for the tale to take since the fruit symbolized sexual consciousness. No, the priestly scribes make it exceedingly clear that the woman Eve ate of the fruit first upon the advice and counsel of the serpent. It can hardly have been chance or coincidence that it was a serpent that offered Eve the advice. For people of that time knew that the serpent was the symbol perhaps even the instrument of divine counsel in the religion of the Goddess. It was surely intended in the Paradise myth, as in the Indo-European serpent and dragon myths, that the serpents as the familiar counselor of women, be seen as a source of evil and be placed in such a menacing and villainous role that to listen to the prophetesses of the female deity would be to violate the religion of the male deity in a most dangerous manner. Pg. 221

We are told that by eating the fruit first, woman possessed sexual consciousness before man and in turn tempted man to partake of the forbidden fruit, that is, to join her sinfully in sexual pleasure. This image of Eve as the sexually tempting but God defying seductress was surely intended as warning to all Hebrew men to stay away from the sacred women of the temples, for if they succumbed to the temptations of these women, they simultaneously accepted the female deity Her fruit, Her sexuality and perhaps most important, the resulting matrilineal identity for any children who might be conceived in this manner. It most also, perhaps even more pointedly have been directed at Hebrew women, cautioning them not to take part in the ancient religion and its sexual customs, as they appear to have continued to do, despite the warning and punishment meted out by the Levite priests. Not only was the blame for having eaten the fruit of sexuality and for tempting Adam to do the same, laid heavily upon women, but the proof or admission of her guilt was assured was their eternal chastisement for teaching men such bad habits. Eve was to be severely punished as the male deity decreed; “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” Making use of the natural occurrence of the pain of the pressure of a human child passing from the womb, through a narrow channel, into the outside world, the Levite writer pretended to prove the omnipotent power of his deity. Not only were women to bear the guilt for sexual consciousness, but according to the male deity her pain in bearing a child was to be regarded as punishment, so that all women giving birth would thus be forced identify with Eve. But perhaps most significant was the fact that the story also stated that it was the will of the male deity that Eve would henceforth desire only her husband, redundantly reminding us that this whole fable was designed and propagated to provide “divine” sanction for male supremacy and a male kinship system, possible only with a certain knowledge of paternity. Pg. 222

We also are perhaps all to familiar with the last line of the decree, which announced that from that time on, as a result of her sin and in eternal payment for the defiant crime which she had committed against the male deity, her husband was awarded the divine right to dominate her, to “rule over” her, to totally assert his authority. And in guilt for what she had supposedly done in the very beginning of time, as if in confession of her poor judgment, she was expected to submit obediently. We may consider here the more practical reality that, once the economic security of women had been undermined by the institution male kinship, woman were forced into the position of accepting this one stable male provider as the one who “ruled the roost.” Once these edicts had been issued, the couple was expelled from the Garden of Eden, the original paradise where life had been so easy. From that time on they were to labor for their livelihood, a most severe warning to any woman who might still have been tempted to defy the Levite Yahweh. For hadn't it been just such a woman, listening to the advise of the serpent, eating the forbidden fruit, suggesting that men try too and join her in sexual consciousness, who had once caused the downfall and misery of all humankind? Pg. 223.