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Gender

Woman: Helpmate No Longer

Eve was created as Adam’s עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּו ʿezer ke-negdo (Genesis 2:18). What is the meaning of this enigmatic phrase?

Prof.

Gary Rendsburg

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Women’s Connection to Shabbat

Israelite women are conspicuously absent from the Decalogue’s Shabbat law. Three stories in the Prophets featuring female characters—Rahab the prostitute, the great woman of Shunem, and Queen Athaliah—each tie to Shabbat in some unconventional way.

Prof.

Hagith Sivan

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Israel’s Wood Choppers and Water Drawers

Moses extends the covenant to all of Israel, “from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water” (Deut 29). The midrash connects this group with the Gibeonites of Joshua 9, creating an anachronism which later rabbinic commentators try to resolve.

Dr.

Wendy Love Anderson

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A Woman Who Seizes a Man’s Testicles During a Fight, Her Hand Is Cut Off

A wife who intervenes in a fight to save her husband by grabbing his opponent’s testicles is punished by having her hand cut off (Deut 25:11–12). What is the nature of her offense? Why isn’t her intent to save her husband a mitigating factor? What is the relationship between the punishment and the crime?

Dr.

Hilary Lipka

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Marrying a Beautiful Captive Woman

If an Israelite wishes to marry a woman taken captive in war, she becomes part of the Israelite polity and is protected from future re-enslavement. Uncomfortable with the Torah’s permitting this marriage, the rabbis declare it to be a compromise to man’s “evil impulse,” an idea reminiscent of Jesus’ claim that the Torah allows divorce as a compromise to humanity’s “hard heart.”

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Shaming Women Suspected of Adultery - What About Men?

The Mishnah adds further humiliation to the biblical sotah ritual for a suspected adulteress. Other rabbinic texts from the same period critique this expansion, as well as the gender inequality inherent in the ritual itself.

Prof.

Ishay Rosen-Zvi

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Postpartum Impurity: Why Is the Duration Double for a Girl?

Compared to the birth of a son, Leviticus 12 requires a double-period of purification upon the birth of a daughter. Interpreters in antiquity offered two basic models to explain this. The first approach was to utilize biological “knowledge,” the second was to ground the law in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Gendering a Child with Ritual

A child’s mother remains impure for forty days after the birth of a boy and eighty days after a girl. A comparison of this procedure with similar ones in Hittite birth rituals suggests that this gender-based differentiation serves as a kind of ritual announcement of the child’s gender.

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

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The Gender of God

What is the gender of the God of creation? Of YHWH in general?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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A Feminist Literalist Allegorical Reading of Shir Hashirim

Finding gender equality in the Song of Songs without compromising God and meaning.

Prof. Rabbi

Wendy Zierler

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Why Are There No Israelite Priestesses?

Hittite texts show us that in the ancient Near East, women, including the queen, served as priestesses. The biblical authors, in their fervor for YHWH, monotheism, and centralization of worship through one Temple and one priesthood, strongly objected.

Prof.

Ada Taggar-Cohen

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The Immortal Myth of Adam and Eve

Prof.

Shawna Dolansky

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Looking Through the Window: A Gendered Motif

Abimelech, Michal, Sisera’s mother, and Jezebel all look through a window, but their experience is not the same.

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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Non-Gender Equality at Creation

The “Other” Benefits of Partners

Prof. Rabbi

Tamara Cohn Eskenazi

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Yael and the Subversion of Male Leaders in Judges

The Canaanite general Sisera is killed by Yael in her tent but in an older version of the story, he died in battle at the hands of the Israelite general, Barak. The story was revised as part of a broader theme in Judges, to weaken the image of male military heroes through women and give the power to God.

Prof.

Jacob L. Wright

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The Prohibition of Cross-Dressing

What does Deuteronomy 22:5 prohibit and why?

Dr.

Hilary Lipka

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The Making of Adam

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Re-Encountering Miriam

The biblical portrait of Miriam can leave the feminist reader with a lingering bitterness but a literary rereading may help highlight her prophetic leadership role.

Prof. Rabbi

Wendy Zierler

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The Shunammite Woman and the Patriarchy Problem

Virtually all biblical scholars—even feminist biblical scholars—consider the Bible and ancient Israelite society patriarchal.[1] But is that a valid designation?

Prof.

Carol Meyers

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Gender Equality at Creation

A methodologically rigorous reading of the account of the Woman's creation reveals a fundamentally egalitarian view of the sexes that is both nuanced and psychologically sensitive.

Dr.

Raanan Eichler

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