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.

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60 COMMENTS

  1. Im so grateful to God for the life i have and for who i am. I admit that often it is very challenging, troublesome and difficult, but it is Christ who gives me the strength to persevere through these troublesome times in a world ruled by satan. Without the Armour of God (ephesians 6) we are naked, vulnerable, easy targets for that old devil and his fiery darts. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Thankyou Lord Jesus for your mercy and grace. Praise God

    • God does not listen to Prayers from Jews.Since it is a Made up word to start with.Really what is a Jew.It was never in the Bible before 1750.I have been asking that question for years.He listens to the Prayers of His People Israel.ALL Israel will be saved says the LORD.

      • Shalom Mr. Fred Reo, With all due respect, please read the whole Bible again and perhaps this online course from the Israel Bible Center will help you understand where the words: “Jew”, “Hebrew”, “Semite” among other things, originated from. All wisdom come from Hashem. May Hashem grant you wisdom. Shalom!

        • The word “Jew” is English, and derives, through a long and winding journey, from the ancient Hebrew word “Yehuda” or Judah, in English. In Latin, the same word is Iudea. The English name “Judith” means “a woman of Judah.” The word is not “made up” any more than any other English word that derives from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, or French is “made up.” All languages constantly change, adding new words, borrowing words from other cultures when the language doesn’t have the word within itself. This has gone on for thousands of years. So we now all know what tacos and burritos are, for example, but 50 years ago, only people of Hispanic heritage in the southwest used those words or ate that food. I’m sure you know what sauerkraut is– but that’s purely German. Nonetheless, it’s also part of the English language now. Learn more about language before talking about “made-up words!”

      • Shalom Fred. As you would obviously know that Jacob (Israel) had twelve tribes which Judah was one of. Now not all Israelis are Jews, but all Jews are Isrealites. In the same way America has 50 states, now not Americans are Californians, but all Californians are Americans. GENESIS 49:10 Jacob’s blessing to his son Judah, that the scepter will not depart from Judah (Jews) or rulers staff from his descendants. Our Mashiach Yeshua comes from the line of Judah (Jews). To say that God doesn’t listen to His prayers, then He wouldn’t listen to yours either. Salvation is for all.

      • Fred Reo, your given name, Frederick, is “made up” from two German root words, “frid” and “ric.” So before you start another display of your truly amazing ignorance, think about that. “Jew” is simply the English word for a person whose ancestors came from Judea, which in turn is the Latin version of Yehudah, one of the sons of Yaakov (Jacob) whose tribal land, later a province, was located in the central part of what is now the State of Israel. By Greco-Roman times, all Israelites were referred to by the Greeks and Romans as if they all came from that province, which of course was not the case at all. But Judea, since that is where Jerusalem was, was the center of religious practice for the Israelites, so from a Greco-Roman perspective, all people who followed that religion were Judeans. Did you know that the popular English name Judith means “a woman of Judea?” We still call Native Americans “Indians” though they never came from India. Language is constantly changing, borrowing, and adapting. For your information, when Jesus walked the earth, English as a language did not yet exist. The native Britons who then lived on the island we now call Briton spoke various types of Gaelic, because they were Celts. Your name, Fred, is short for Frederick, in turn made up of two German roots, “frid” and “ric.” So your own name is “made up” from German root words. Think about that before making an ignorant statement like “Jew is a made-up word.”

        • It’s call etymological fallacy. Jews are a word used the way people use it now (since the great diaspora). ‘The Jews’ is not in TaNaKh. It is not in the New Testament; what is translated as ‘the Jews’ is the Yehudim, the people descent from Yudah; not Judean.

      • Fred Reo – God listens to the prayers of all who are willing to turn to Him in prayer – Jew and Gentile alike. And only 1/3 of Israel will be saved – not all.

  2. I give God praise and glory that he made me a woman . His child to obey and serve Him. Though I am weak He gives me strength and the words to magnify His name through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

    • It’s interesting that the order of Creation in Genesis goes from lowest to highest. Man was made next to last; Woman was the last creature made on earth. Therefore, logically, Woman is of a higher order than Man! Just saying… 🙂

      • Shalom, Johanna; Creation, categorized:
        1 – The heavens, earth, and all within them created when God spoke them into being.
        2a- Man was created from earth dust & breadth of God.
        3b- Woman was created from Adam’s rib.

        DNA richness & preeminence always resides in the original “2a”.

  3. Gen15:5 says Abraham believed the promise of sons and was granted righteousness but he doubted the inheritance of land(15:8), which offended God, so He asked to be pacified through a sacrifice. Abraham’s wobbling faith earned him a test of obedience via circumcision only. Abraham was no Israelite. It was the Israelites that were given the Law ,due to transgressions (Gal 3:19) and the Law does not nullify the Promise which the Gentiles inherit(Gal 3:9,14).So, how much of the Law does the God of Abraham require of the Gentiles? Same goes for women and for slaves.

  4. Linda is walking the Middle Path. Irasel included 12 tribes who also scattered among other nations around the world. King Joesph is known as the thirteen tribes of Israel, however, King Joseph brought people over here to America when Egypt was overpopulated. Linda is very thankful for Apostle Paul teaches. Apostle Paul never let the early Chruch of Rome baptist his wife. Linda picks up her holy books from a very early age loving the Apostles and Virgin Mary but she could not walk into the Chruch of Rome. Amen, Amen, Amen, and Amen

  5. These were blessings (to kneel) so their strength would have come from God, not law. Since the leader recited the blessings to the congregation, it makes sense that he included all audiences. I dislike sermons that pretend I was the audience. I was unchurched, I was not the audience! It also makes sense that waking up and going about daily affairs is individualized since different people had different laws. We speak to an audience locally. I wonder if they spoke globally.

  6. There are subtle nuances, though. Jesus severely chastises the pharisee who says to the Lord, thank you for not making me THAT man. So I suppose Lord Jesus circumscribes the ritualistic prayer so that it means gratitude and willingness to serve rather than to feel superior. It isn’t ego that washes feet. It is God.

    • Good catch, Maria. There’s just no good save for this one. The prayer is very offensive in obvious ways, and is neither a scriptural suggestion for how we are to think, nor is it a mandate of prayer. Even if the prayer were all about submission to God’s will rather than the obvious expression of having the given the more desired setup for life (ACCURATE in manmade patriarchy, but not proscribed by the Lord in this way), why is there no prayer for how grateful the *woman* is for not being a man?

    • I suppose that a woman doesn’t have to bother her pretty little head with prayer and study in the patriarchal trappings of Judaism. It doesn’t matter whether or not she is properly submissive to the LORD as long as she is properly submissive to a man. I appreciate this forum for its superior grasp on the history and scholarship necessary to understand and interpret G d’s word. The phrase in question today, though, is from a man-made prayer that is being parsed with an attempt at scriptural justification, and the sources of authority just don’t match— or even compare.

  7. Had a professor talk about this so I did some research. Ended up writing a small book titled ‘ABBA’S GIRLS. How are we to he from a Biblical Perspective?’ Conclusion: Abba (Daddy) loves His girls.

    • Our pastor was just talking about it at our prayer meeting. All who will receive the promised inheritance in the kingdom of heaven are the “spiritual” sons of God, coheir w our Lord Christ Jesus. This includes all women in Christ & we were laughing because he said, we don’t even have to be men. Thanks be to God in the name of Yeshua. Do all words of Christ you’ve learnt & also ask for the Holy Spirit from God. Pr 9:10 the knowledge of the All-Holy is understanding JPS. Peace be w you.

      • Spiritually there’s no gender or nationality, it is only in the flesh that such thingsexist.
        Rom 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

  8. Interesting! When I read the heading I thought, ‘Well, I guess, I’m in BIG TROUBLE!’ But HE used Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Rahab, Naomi, Ruth, Mary, Miriam, Deborah, Esther, and many others. I am very happy with this BLOG! I’m Abraham’s descendant, heir according to promise! Thank you JESUS! El Shaddai! Shalom indeed! LOL Including HIS National Security! I”m sooo excited! LOL

  9. This prayer sounds just like Luke 18:11. I disagree with your assessment. There is no Jew, Greek or Women, we are one in Christ. For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift? Those prayers are very selfish and come from the Pharisee way of thinking, not Christ. Blessings, Rusty

  10. My heart is BURSTING with joy for finding Dr Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. I’m devouring your Commentary on John. May Jesus bless your ministry.

  11. As far as I have been able to determine, the earliest written evidence for such a Jewish prayer is Tosefta to Berakhot 6:16 (using “uncouth” rather than slave). Is there something earlier? also, thaere is a much earlier Grecian saying … Hermippus in Lives refers to Thales the story which is told by some of Socrates (470-399 BCE), namely, that he used to say there were three blessings for which he was grateful to Fortune: ‘first, that I was born a human being and not one of the brutes; next, that I was born a man and not a woman.

    • Well, Hermippus has heard from Thales, Thales had heard from someone else, and Socrates is said something about blessings – very reliable, I think a kind of Pseudepigraphia….. As somebody already mentioned, it is similar to Luke, 18,11 : “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” – officially Jesus’ words.

  12. Eli, I love this item, and especially (as a Presbyterian minister) that you note that Paul is writing as a Jew. Whether you agree with me or not, I try to tell my more “evangelical” members that we (Christians) are part of Israel.

    • As Rabbis Sacks once put it (correctly I must add) that Calvinism (not the 5 points, but the whole idea/the reformed worldview) is the closest Christianity ever got to Judaism.

      • With all due respect to Rabbi Sacks, the closest Christianity ever got to Judaism was obviously the early Church which was comprised of Jews on the day of Pentecost. Upon the entrance of gentiles to the early church, the gentiles began calling the Jewish believers in Christ, “Christians” (Acts 11:26), or in more modern vernacular, today the might have been referred to as Messianics.

    • The new national law explicitly states that Israel is a homeland of the Jewish people. What it does not say is being protested against almost by anyone I know from left and from the right (politically). Right now as I write this comment at the Rabin squire in Tel Aviv there goes on a huge protest with LGBT, ARAB and DRUZE communities along side with a lot of other freedom-loving israelies who don’t like this law. There reason this is not convincing to you (and I think this below the belt hit), is because you’ve been thought that Judaism is

  13. If the Jews had it all right, the Messiah would not have needed to come to the Jews as to the lost sheep of Israel. To be lost means to have some things, the more important ones, wrong, like one’s way home to his Father. As we return to understand the Jewish roots of Christianity, there is also a need to understand the errors of the Judaism of that age. Else we may inadvertently totally discount the controversy of Zion.

  14. Consider Mashiakh’s reproof to the Judaism of the day: Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [Just and example of traditional errors.] 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? …

    • I had written “[Just and example of traditional errors.]” in the above comment. The error was not in washing hands, etc., but in condemning those that were not part of the tradition. But in prayers, the tradition of thanking God for not making one like some others, as in the prayer of the Pharisee that thanked God that he was not like the sinner, was lampooned by Mashiakh (Luke 18:10-14). And Paul added that those that compare themselves with themselves are not wise (2 Cor 10:12).

  15. Then Mashiakh continued: 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. We therefore ought not attempt to justify even errors in Jewish tradition in prayers.

  16. shalom. Amen Nicholas Sunol. Linda the Apostle Paul was not married so there is no wife for him to have baptized. I can understand a Man being thankful for being a man. I grew up in the 1950’s and there was still very much a double standard for men and women especially in Alabama, USA. When I was young I envied my brothers privileges that I did not have. But, I love being a woman. My brother has been such a blessing to me. If a man upholds his responsibilities. it is no easy task.

  17. Dr. Thanks be to God Almighty, who gave me time to glance on this course, but due to my work I couldn’t participate…

  18. Dr., the prayer you referenced; that Jewish males prayed every morning, is not ordained by GoD in The Law (TORAH), The Prophets, The Writings (Wisdom, Psalms). That became a tradition practiced over time. An “extra-Biblical” prayer not found in Scripture and does have a flare of superiority. Fallen Human nature.

  19. Returning to the original issue of the prayer. It is similar to believing God meant we must take an “eye for an eye”, that he endorsed retribution. God was saying that in our anger we should not sin by taking two eyes. It was limiting not permissive. Context is everything.

  20. “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.” This shows Jews pray wrongly every day. That happens when you are 2000 years behind the news.

  21. This is again a trend am noticing – this is not the teaching of Bible, this is purely if any a local invention that’s not originated in the scripture. So, we will do well to call it as ‘unnecessary’ and wouldn’t justify like the author seems to have!

    • Maybe you missed the point. Jewish culture and history, although not always found explicitly in the Bible, still often helps to clarify the context of the Bible. This is what IBC is all about.

  22. English is not my native language and I have problem to understand some sentences using these words: “conclusively prove” sounds like they are right having solid proofs.

    “right standing” before God? What’s that?

  23. With this attitude we could say, bible is fully inclusive… There is no man and woman… Inclusion of gentiles into the membership of God’s people means duty to obey God and all words of Torah. Now we need to distinguish what is for gentiles and what is for jews.That’sNot easy.

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