The Bible both prizes Sarah and disparages her. Her high valuation is reflected by the following events:
- In Egypt, Abraham does not order Sarah but pleads for her to pretend she is his sister;
- Sarah demands that Abraham impregnate Hagar for the benefit of building up Sarah;
- Abraham complies with Sarah’s demand for the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael;
- God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah;
- Sarah’s name was changed from Sarai, just as Abraham’s was from Abram, with the accompanying promise that “she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her” (17:16) – in other words the covenant blessings and promises apply to her (Evans);
- a whole chapter is devoted to Sarah’s burial.
In addition, the rabbinical tradition was eager to see Sarah as a prophetess whose spirit of prophecy was even greater than Abraham’s!
“The Israelites arrived in a body at the wilderness of Zin on the first new moon, and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.” Numbers 20:1
Many feminist commentators have noted that after the incidence where Miriam is struck with leprosy for unclear reasons, she never speaks again and in fact she disappears from the narrative until the mention of her death. It appears that there is a vendetta against her for later we are warned, “Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came forth out of Egypt.” (Deut. 24:9) On the other hand, “[h]owever much the detractors of Miriam have tried, they do not control the story… Beyond the Exodus and wilderness accounts, fragments of a pro-Miriamic tradition surface still later in the Hebrew Scriptures” (Trible, p. 181). In this article I will explore the evidence for this pro-Miriamic tradition, some of which is embedded in the same narrative that condemns her. Continue reading
Artist: Felice Ficherelli
“Most blessed of women be Yael, wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of women in tents. He asked for water, she offered milk; in a princely bowl she brought him curds. Her left hand reached for the tent pin, her right for the workmen’s hammer. She struck Sisera, crushed his head, smashed and pierced his temple.” Judges 5:24-26.
Judges 4 and 5 comprise both a prose and poetic account of the Battle of Kishon wherein the judge Deborah led the Israelites to victory against their Canaanite oppressors. When the Canaanite general Sisera fled on foot he found himself at the tent of a lone woman, Yael (Jael) who then killed him a hammer and a tent peg. Continue reading