Bible Review 2:1, Spring 1986

The Mothers of Israel

The patriarchal narratives from a feminist perspective

By J. Cheryl Exum

When one thinks of the narratives of Genesis 12–50, one thinks of the patriarchs, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of their special role as bearers of God’s promise to the chosen people. But what of the matriarchs—Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah—what place do they have in these dramatic sagas of Israel’s origins? They fill the familiar role of wife and mother, roles which so often defined and determined the meaning of a woman’s life in biblical times. What happens when we examine their role as Israel’s mothers from a feminist perspective? In what follows, I seek neither to defend the Bible nor to deny its patriarchal bias, but rather to subject the biblical narrative to a feminist critique.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.