The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Tal Ilan

Tal Ilan is currently a professor of Jewish studies at the Free University, Berlin (Germany). She was born in Israel and received all her degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a historian who specializes in Jewish women’s history in antiquity.

Articles by this author


Married thrice, Salome spent her life plotting against a myriad of people. Her scheming is viewed negatively, but it is revealed later in her narrative that she was constructed into this monster by the historian who recorded Salome’s story.

Shelamziyyon Alexandra

Queen Shelamziyyon Alexandra ruled Judea in the 1st century BCE. During her reign, which was the only time a woman inherited the throne from her deceased spouse, she deposed the ruling party that had supported her husband. In the place of that party, she appointed the Pharisees, whose heirs portray her positively in the rabbinic literature they composed.

Rachel, Wife of Rabbi Akiva

Rachel is the name given to the wife of Rabbi Akiva in medieval sources. Various stories in rabbinic literature depict her as supporting her husband in his efforts to study Torah with great personal sacrifice.

Post-Biblical and Rabbinic Women

IIn antiquity, the treatment of women drew from patriarchal biblical traditions. Despite a few notable exceptions, women had minimal legal rights but were active participants in alternative Jewish sects and could hold office. As rabbinic material was codified, control over women increased, although the literature was not exclusively restrictive towards women.

Mariamme I The Hasmonean

Mariamme, granddaughter of the last Hasmonean rulers, was the wife of King Herod of the new dynasty. After bearing him five children, she was executed by the king in 27 B.C.E.

Herodian Women

The Herodian dynasty produced a large number of seemingly impressive women, whose stories are recorded in Josephus’ writings. This article summarizes the lives of Cyprus (I), Pheroras’ Wife, Doris, Mariamme, Glaphyra, Berenice (I), Herodias, Salome (II), Cyprus (II), and Drusilla.

Helene, Queen of Adiabene

Helene was the sister and wife of Monabazus Bazaeus, king of Adiabene at the beginning of the first century CE. She converted to Judaism with other members of her family.

Hasmonean Women

Though few of their names were documented, the women of the Hasmonean family were important figures in political and familial affairs during the second and first centuries BCE.

Hannah Mother of Seven

The mother of seven is a nameless figure from II Maccabees who was arrested and died along with her seven sons for defying the decree of the Seleucid monarch to transgress the commandments of the Torah. Her death is retold in rabbinic and medieval literature, where she is named both Miriam and Hannah.

Female Personalities in the Babylonian Talmud

Beyond the articles within this Encyclopedia that pertain to specific women in the Babylonian Talmud, six others are also mentioned repeatedly in the text. Some are described as respected and wise, while others are used as cautionary tales against female autonomy. Ultimately, the women’s stories are used to supplement the narratives about the men around them.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Tal Ilan." (Viewed on November 30, 2023) <>.


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