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).

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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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44 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

  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… 🙂

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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? …

  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.

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