Friday, April 29, 2016

Zucker on the matriarchs of Genesis

The Matriarchs of Genesis: Seven Women, Five Views

Women’s voices in the Bible are limited, but they are not absent. Where they do appear they come in three forms. The most common is through the omniscient voice of the narrator, or where someone describes something about women, or women’s actions. “Sarah shall bear you a son” (Gen 17:19). “Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man” (Gen 24:61). Secondly, women speak, sharing basic factual information. “Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘I heard your father say . . .’” (Gen 27:6). Thirdly, and most infrequently, women describe their feelings. Sarah explains, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me” (Gen 21:6). When suffering through her pregnancy, Rebekah cries out, “If this is so, why do I exist?” (Gen 25:22). Later she will say to Isaac, “I abhor my life . . . if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of the Hittites . . . what will my life be worth?” (Gen 27:46). Rachel plaintively says to Jacob “Let me have children; otherwise I am a dead woman” (Gen 30:1). Yet even with these examples, there remains the ultimately unanswerable question, are these women’s voices speaking, or are these examples of men representing women’s voices?

See Also: The Matriarchs of Genesis: Seven Women, Five Views (Wipf and Stock, 2015).

By David J. Zucker, PhD
March 2016