Oct 16

Women should read the Bible for Themselves

By Elizabeth Cady Stanton — November, 1900

Elizabeth Cady StantonMany years ago we desired to establish a Homeopathic College for women. A friend of mine, having inherited a million of dollars, I urged her to make a generous contribution for this purpose. She said she would consult her pastor, as she did in all her charities. After a few days I asked her what her pastor said. She replied, “He said, ‘In all matters, consult your Bible; you will find there is no mention there of a college for women.'” I told her to read II. Kings 12, and there she would find the prophetess Huldah in a college in Jerusalem, thoroughly posted on all great questions of church and state. For a full account of her great services rendered in the reign of Josiah the King, read the third chapter in Part II of the Woman’s Bible, and there you will find a most interesting account of the great prophetess.

Again I asked the rich widow to contribute to the Woman Suffrage treasury, as we were holding conventions and having “hearings” before the Legislatures of several States, but her pastor said, “This movement is all opposed to the Bible and God’s laws; we have no account of women going before Legislatures to plead for their political and civil rights: again I say, be guided by your Bible in all such matters.”

“Tell your pastor,” I replied, “to read the 27th chapter of Numbers and there he will find that the five daughters of Zelophehad went before the Jewish Congress in Jerusalem to plead for their rights of inheritance.”

(A full description of this great occasion will be found in Part I. of the Woman’s Bible, Chapter 5.)

The arguments of these women made so profound an impression on Moses, the Great Lawgiver that he retired to his closet and communed with the Lord, who said, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right; give them their inheritance.” At that time family property descended only to sons, and went to the church when there were no sons; thus it was to the interest of ecclesiastics to ignore the natural rights of all in the female line.

The reader should take notice that on the first appeal of the daughters of Zelophehad their demands were approved by the Lord and answered by their rulers, while the daughters of Jefferson, Hancock and Adams have appealed in vain for their civil and political rights for half a century. It would be well for our rulers to enter into their closets and commune with the Lord as to their duty to the daughters of the Republic. Whether the daughters of Zelophehad were more logical and lucid in their arguments, we cannot judge, as we have no report of their speeches. As so many pastors are responsible for the action of women, it would be well for them to peruse their Bibles more carefully before thus misleading them.

As the widow above referred to soon after gave $20,000 to Princeton College, thus benefiting men instead of her own sex, we can appreciate the danger of ignorant advisers.

Watson Heston - Woman's Path from Servitude to Freedom