“I Arose a Mother in Israel”: Motherhood as a Liberating Power in the Biblical Stories of Miriam and Deborah



The chapter studies the stories of Deborah and Miriam, as representing a cultural tradition of a maternal-feminine force of leadership and salvation in Israel’s legacy. The two heroines are portrayed as the “Great Mothers” of the nation—life savers, warriors and trailblazers through leadership and vision. The study aspires to shed light on their motherhood as breaking beyond the traditional definition of motherhood, one that is defined as an institutional role by the male culture. Their motherhood, as a female culture, is presented as engendering a powerful, subversive and bold revolutionary feminine vision in the culture and religion of the Ancient World.


Feminist Criticism Biblical Text Alternative Vision Maternal Emotion Folk Tale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Selected Bibliography

  1. Ardner, Edwin. 1978. Belief and the Problem of Woman. In Perceiving Women, ed. Ardner Shirley, 1–27. New York: Halsted Press.Google Scholar
  2. Benaya, Yafa. 2011. Leadership as a Source of Life: Yocheved and Miriam. In A-Mythical: Social Justice and Gender in Jewish Sources, ed. Henriette Dahan Kalev, Dafna Horev-Betzalel, Eli Bareket, and Avigdor Shinan, 43–56. Tel Aviv: Chemed Books.Google Scholar
  3. Exum, Cheryl. 1993. Fragmented Women: Feminist Subversions of Biblical Narratives. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Gilbert, Sandra. 1984. From Patria to Matria: Elizabeth Barrete Browning’s Risorgimento. Publication of the Modern Language Association of America 99(2): 194–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Inbar, Raveh. 2013. They Let the Children Live: The Midwives at a Political Crossroads. Nashim: A Journal of Women’s Studies and Gender Issues 24: 11–26.Google Scholar
  6. Lerner, Gerda. 1979. The Majority Finds its Past: Placing Women in History. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Meyers, Carol. 1988. Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Neumann, Erich. 1991. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Pardes, Ilana. 2000. The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Rich, Adrienne. 1995. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. New York: Norton and Company.Google Scholar
  11. Ruddick, Sara. 1989. Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Showalter, Elaine. 1986. Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness. In The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory, ed. Elaine Showalter, 243–270. London: Virago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Skidmore-Hess, Daniel, and Candy Skidmore-Hess. 2012. Dousing the Fiery Woman: The Diminishing of the Prophetess Deborah. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 31(1): 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Spronk, Klaas. 2001. Deborah, a Prophetess: The Meaning and Background of Judges 4:4–5. In The Elusive Prophet: The Prophet as a Historical Person, Literary Character, and Anonymous Artist, ed. Johannes C. De Moor, 232–242. London: Brill.Google Scholar
  15. Van Dijk-Hemmes, Fokkelien, and Athalia Brenner. 1996. On Gendering Texts: Female and Male Voices in the Hebrew Bible. New York: E.J. Brill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.David Yellin Academic College of EducationJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations