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Midrash and Aggadah

Art: Representation of Biblical Women

In narratives or abridged cycles more or less faithful to the biblical text, art has portrayed biblical women as role models and reference, occasionally adding exegetical elements both Christian and Jewish. Although the text of the Bible became fixed at different dates and in various versions, these images are not fixed, but reflect the ebb and flow in society’s attitudes towards women and their role.

Zipporah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis ascribe many traits to Zipporah, whom they considered as differing from other women, in a positive sense, in both appearance and deed.

Zilpah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis count Zilpah among the six Matriarchs (Cant. Rabbah 6:4:2) and an aggadic tradition relates that she was the niece of Deborah, Rebekah’s wet nurse.

Zillah: Midrash and Aggadah

There are two contradictory traditions regarding the marriage of Zillah.

Zeresh: Midrash and Aggadah

The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] portrays Zeresh as being even more wicked than her husband Haman (Midrash le-Esther, Ozar ha-Midrashim [ed. Eisenstein], p. 51).

Women in Samson's Life: Midrash and Aggadah

The three women in Samson’s life were Gentiles. The first was the woman from Timnah whom he married, the second was the whore from Gaza, and the third was the only woman mentioned by name, Delilah, with whom Samson “fell in love.

Wise Woman of Tekoa: Midrash and Aggadah

The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] includes the wise woman from Tekoa among the twenty-three truly upright and righteous women who came out of Israel (Midrash Tadshe, Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], 474).

Wise Woman of Abel-beth-maacah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis praise the wisdom of the woman from Abel-Beth-Maacah, to whom they attribute rhetorical skill, persuasiveness and knowledge of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] and its laws. Their esteem is evident in the fact that the Rabbis expound almost every word that she uttered and ascribe significance to her statements far beyond what the Bible relates. The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] applies to her the verse (Prov. 31:26): “Her mouth is full of wisdom,” since she saved the entire city with her wisdom (Midrash Eshet Hayil, Batei Midrashot, vol. 2).

Wife of On Ben Pelet: Midrash and Aggadah

The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] makes no mention of the wife of On Son of Peleth, but the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] speaks highly of her, as having saved her husband from death.

Wife of Manoach; Samson's Mother: Midrash and Aggadah

Manoah’s wife, the mother of Samson, is included among the twenty-three truly upright and righteous women who came forth from Israel ([jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]Midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Tadshe, Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], 474) and among the twenty-two worthy women in the world (Gen. Rabbati, Hayyei Sarah, 100–101).

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Midrash and Aggadah." (Viewed on July 4, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/midrash-and-aggadah>.

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