This website is made possible by generous donations from users just like you. $18 helps keep JWA online for one day. Please consider making a gift to JWA today!
Close [x]

You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Bible

Rachel: Bible

The younger daughter of Laban and wife of Jacob, Rachel is the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, who become two of the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen 35:24; 46:15–18). Rachel, who died young, becomes an image of tragic womanhood. After the biblical period, “Mother Rachel” continued to be celebrated as a powerful intercessor for the people of Israel.

Queen of Sheba: Bible

Sheba, despite the mystery of her origins, presents us with a valid memory of women who managed to carve out high-ranking positions for themselves in worlds dominated by men.

Puah: Bible

The first chapter of Exodus relates that, as the Israelites in Egypt begin to proliferate following the death of Joseph, the Egyptian king seeks to curb the Israelite population lest its numbers threaten the security of Egypt in time of war. When enslavement of the Israelites fails to achieve Pharaoh’s goal, he commands the Hebrew midwives, of whom only two are known by name—Shiphrah and Puah—to kill at birth all the male Hebrews, but to permit the females to live. Since, however, the midwives stand in awe of God, they violate Pharaoh’s command and permit the boys to live.

Peninnah: Bible

Peninnah represents a woman who accepts social paradigms without examining them, thus acting out the type of jealousy between co-wives known from the matriarchal texts of Genesis. Unlike the fecund second wives in Genesis, Peninnah has no voice in the text and is mentioned only in three capacities: as second wife to Elkanah, as mother of an unspecified number of daughters and sons, and as tormentor of Hannah.

Naomi: Midrash and Aggadah

The midrash is generally quite positive in its appraisal of Naomi, who is called “a righteous woman” in various places, and is included among the upright women outstanding in their righteousness with whom Israel was blessed throughout the generations (Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], p. 474).

Naomi: Bible

The Book of Ruth is one of two in the Hebrew Bible that bears a woman’s name (the other is Esther). Ruth depicts the struggles of Naomi and Ruth for survival in a patriarchal environment.

Miriam: Bible

Negative as well as positive traditions about Miriam testify to her prominence, power, and prestige in early Israel. She participates with Moses and Aaron to lead the Israelite community during the exodus and the wanderings. Her role in saving her baby brother and in celebrating the crossing of the sea highlights her concern for her people.

Michal: Bible

Michal’s appearances in 1–2 Samuel reflect her confinement as a woman caught in the fierce struggle over the kingship between her father, Saul, and her husband, David.

Michal, daughter of Saul: Midrash and Aggadah

Michal was Saul’s younger daughter, who fell in love with David and married him for one hundred Philistine foreskins. According to the Bible, Merab, Saul’s older daughter, was to have married David, but she was given in matrimony to Adriel the Meholathite, while David married Michal.

Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis identify Mahalath with Basemath (based on the exchange of names between Gen. 28:9 and 36:3; cf. “Esau’s Wives”). Some of the Rabbis maintain Esau’s marriage to Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael reflected his desire to repent of his evil deeds and act in accordance with the wishes of his parents Isaac and Rebekah for a proper mate (JT Bikkurim 3:3, 65c–d). Mahalath’s name indicates that the Holy One, blessed be He, pardoned (mahal) Esau for all his wickedness. Her other name, Basemath, also teaches that by this marriage Esau’s character improved (nitbasmah; Gen. Rabbah 67:13).

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bible." (Viewed on December 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/bible>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs