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View Diary: D'var Torah: Deborah, Jael, Miriam, and the problem with "Girl Power" (116 comments)

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  •  You Have to Include the Midrash Regarding Jael (9+ / 0-)

    From the wiki:

    According to the Midrash, Sisera engaged in sexual intercourse with Jael seven times, but because she was attempting to exhaust him in order to kill him, her sin was for Heaven's sake and therefore praiseworthy.
    It raises interesting issues of both sexuality and situational ethics.

    6/24/05: Charlie the Tuna Creator Dies En lieu of flowers, please bring mayonnaise, chopped celery and paprika.

    by LunkHead on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 12:57:24 PM PST

    •  i wonder if judith&holofernes is just reiteration (5+ / 0-)

      n of yael&sistera story, written later. always been intrigued by that...

      •  major difference (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mettle fatigue, Batya the Toon

        Judith is not a Prophetess, but a widow, who confronts Holofornes, and decapitates him, due to the lack of resolve of the men to defend thier city.

        In Holofernes' questioning the origin of the Hewbrews, he is told they are of Sumerian origin. which calls back Abraham and his origins.

        "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

        by theRoaringGirl on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:04:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes, long past prophet era. an intriging history (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eowyn9, ramara

          [in both meanings of the expression] per handiest source (

          ... likely written by a Jew during the Second Temple period ...  The Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible does not contain it, nor was it found among the Dead Sea Scrolls ...  Reasons for its exclusion may include the lateness of its composition, possible Greek origin, open support of the Hasmonean dynasty (to which the early rabbinate was opposed), and perhaps the brash and seductive character of Judith herself.[6]

          ...Judith, a daring and beautiful widow ... goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life....

          ...after disappearing from circulation among Jews for over a millennium, references to the Book of Judith, and the figure of Judith herself, resurfaced in the religious literature of French and Spanish Jewry in the 10th or 11th Century CE. [in] the form of "tales of the heroine, liturgical poems, commentaries on the Talmud, and passages in Jewish legal codes." ... it became customary for a Hebrew midrashic variant of the Judith story to be read on the Shabbat of Hanukkah. ... The textual reliability of the Book of Judith was also taken for granted, to the extent that Biblical commentator Nachmanides (Ramban) quoted several passages from a Peshitta (Syriac version) of Judith in support of his rendering of Deuteronomy 21:14.[11][4]

          Judith (which can be translated simply as "jewish woman") and her maid likely qualify by Bechdel in probably talking about strategy and purpose more than about boys.  

          it's fundamentally a reiteration of a realistic-minded, courageous woman.   who seems to've needed a man about as much as a fish needs a bicycle (to re-coin the phrase).   and given the tough life of servants, kol hakavod to her maid as well.  not girls, perhaps, but woman-power.

    •  Wow -- that's quite the story. (4+ / 0-)

      You have to wonder how the guy had enough energy for that -- I mean, he'd just been defeated in battle and fled to the tent of an ally, seeking shelter...

      I'm also intrigued by this bit: "the Talmud states that the descendants of Sisera studied Torah in Jerusalem and even taught children there." How did this tradition arise? Interesting that the story depicts the "bad guy's" kids as converting and even becoming teachers of the Law.

      "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." (Joni Mitchell)

      by Eowyn9 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:05:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  She wanted to be sure (5+ / 0-)

        he was exhausted?

        By the way, I find myself feeling sorry for Sisera's mother, impatient and making excuses for her son, who is already dead.

        Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

        by ramara on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 11:18:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sisera's mother -- basis for shofar calls (3+ / 0-)

          The word describing her wailing is used in the Talmud to derive the sound the shofar should make for Rosh Hashana.  Always seemed an interesting integration of the suffering of non-Jews into the penitential season.

          And I've always thought of the description of Sisera's mother's mourning in the Song of Devorah as coming very close to passing the Bechdel test.  Just missing the mother's name, though many, many figures in Tanach go unnamed, not just women.

      •  OT (off Torah) but this brings to my mind (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eowyn9, ramara

        "The Widow and the Devil"


        Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

        by raincrow on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 05:47:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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