Every male Jew as part of his daily prayer recites: “Blessed are you, LORD our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has not made me a woman.” Prior to that he also blesses God for not making him “a Gentile” and “a slave”. To many people these statements conclusively prove Judaism’s anti-gentile and anti-female posture. But is this conclusion correct?
While the entire Torah was given to Israel, many of its important laws were meant for the nations. But even within Israel the laws applied differently to different groups (men, women, priests, Levites, kings and slaves among others).
Even though there are Torah commandments that the nations must obey, they are not responsible to observe the same number of commandments as the Jews. Therefore, thanking God for “not making one a Gentile” is not a statement of Jewish superiority; but indicates a ready and willing attitude to obey a greater number of commandments (the same principle applies in the case of women and slaves).
The Apostle Paul taught that Torah’s laws were never designed as a mechanism for placing anyone in a position of right standing before Israel’s God. He argued that, with the coming of King Jesus, inclusion of Gentiles into the membership of God’s people must follow the original Israelite method that was at work in Abraham’s justification by grace through faith. Abraham believed God; then he was declared righteous, and only then was he circumcised (Gen.15:1-6; Rom.4:1-3; Gen.17).
It is in this Torah context that Paul explained how Gentiles become full members of God’s family, through belonging to the Jewish Christ, without proselyte conversion:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Gal. 3:27-28)
It is remarkable that not only the three groups (Jews/Gentile, slaves/freemen, men/women) mentioned in the Jewish prayer are practically the same, but also that they are mentioned in the same order! Among other things, it shows that at some modern Jewish traditions trace back to the first century; and that the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the nations from within, not outside of Judaism. This fact in turn highlights importance of our studies.