Male Obstetric Competence in Ancient Israel

A Response to Two Recent Proposals

in Vetus Testamentum
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.

Help

 

Have Institutional Access?

Login with your institution. Any other coaching guidance?

Connect

According to two recent sociological studies on childbirth in the OT, the (androcentric) OT displays both insensitivity to the parturient and ignorance of the basics of parturition. One of the studies specifies that the biblical authors were unaware of the normally presenting fetal member, the head. The present article, however, comes to decidedly different conclusions: 1) the position that the Israelite male was insensitive to women experiencing childbirth either goes beyond the available evidence or is a distortion thereof; 2) both studies overlook information that undermines their conclusions; and 3) the OT authors were sufficiently aware of the fundamentals of childbirth.

Sections
References
  • 3

    PhilipMenstruation pp. 92 97 104.

  • 4

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688. So Philip Menstruation pp. 81 97-98 103.

  • 5

    Viezel“Realia” p. 689.

  • 6

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688. See also Isa 13:8; 21:3; 26:17; Jer 6:24; 13:21; 22:23; 49:22 24; 50:43; Mic 4:9-10; Ps 48:7 (Eng. 48:6).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688.

  • 9

    Cf. R. Melzack et al.“Labour is Still Painful After Prepared Childbirth,” Canadian Medical Association Journal 125 (August 1981) pp. 357-363.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688.

  • 12

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688 n. 9.

  • 14

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688. It should be noted that for a biblical author to ridicule men by attributing female characteristics to them (Isa 19:16; Jer 51:30; Nah 3:13) falls short of him ridiculing women for whom the same behavior is natural.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15

    Viezel“Realia” p. 688.

  • 20

    PhilipMenstruation pp. 88 92 103 104.

  • 21

    PhilipMenstruation pp. 91-92.

  • 22

    PhilipMenstruation p. 92.

  • 23

    PhilipMenstruation pp. 91-92 104.

  • 25

    Cf. HamiltonGenesis 18-50 p. 384.

  • 26

    PhilipMenstruation p. 92. With respect to the twin births in Genesis (25:24-26; 38:27-30) Philip likewise points out the texts’ failure to provide “details on any possible difficulties in giving birth to twins” (p. 89). But what of Rebecca’s disclosure that her sons “hit and kicked one another [ yitrōṣăṣû] inside her” (Gen 25:22)? Moreover if the risks of twin deliveries were presupposed—as they probably were—Philip has no case. Finally both deliveries come across as anything but routine. See J. Makujina “The Semantics of יצא in Exodus 21:22: Reassessing the Variables that Determine Meaning” bbr 23 (2013) p. 311.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27

    See Makujina“The Semantics of יצא” p. 312; R. W. Klein 1 Samuel (2d ed.; wbc 10; Nashville 2008) p. 44; P. K. McCarter Jr. i Samuel (ab 8; New York 1980) p. 115. The motif of bad news triggering death occurs elsewhere in 1 Samuel (4:18; 25:37-38).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29

    PhilipMenstruation p. 88.

  • 30

    PhilipMenstruation pp. 82-87. On the vocabulary of birth see also Makujina “The Semantics of יצא” pp. 305-321.

  • 31

    PhilipMenstruation p. 88.

  • 38

    StolBirth in Babylonia p. 120; Philip Menstruation pp. 93-94; P. J. King and L. E. Stager Life in Biblical Israel (Library of Ancient Israel; Louisville 2001) p. 52. Contra D. K. Stuart who demonstrates no familiarity with Stol’s or Beckman’s research. D. K. Stuart Exodus (nac 2; Nashville 2006) pp. 77-78.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39

    PhilipMenstruation p. 86; Klein 1 Samuel p. 44; McCarter 1 Samuel p. 115.

  • 40

    Cf. King and StagerLife in Biblical Israel pp. 52-53. See also Wis 7:3-4 “And when I was born I drew in the common air and fell upon the kindred earth crying out the same first sound like everyone else. I was nursed in swaddling cloths and cared for.”

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 41

    StolBirth in Babylonia p. 177; so Philip Menstruation p. 95. The ancient gynecologist Soranus of Ephesus (early 2nd cent. ad) provides a detailed description of the procedures in Gynecology 2.11-15; these practices persisted in Palestine into the twentieth century. E. W. G. Masterman “Hygiene and Disease in Palestine in Modern and in Biblical Times. (Part iii)” pefqs 50 (1918) pp. 118-119.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43

    Viezel“Realia” p. 685 n. 1.

  • 48

    BeckmanHittite Birth Rituals p. 85.

  • 49

    BeckmanHittite Birth Rituals p. 86. For intrapartum flatulence in Akkadian texts see Stol Birth in Babylonia pp. 203-204. Also Soranus mentions the presence of flatulence during labor (Gyn. 4.5) and the disorder of air in the uterus (Gyn. 3.31-33).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 50

    StolBirth in Babylonia pp. 162 n. 98.

  • 51

    Cunningham et al.Williams Obstetrics p. 496; Gibbs et al. Danforth’s Obstetrics p. 431. See Soranus’ extended discussion of dystocia and its remedies in Gyn. 4.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 53

    Gibbs et al.Danforth’s Obstetrics pp. 434-435 438-439; Cunningham et al. Williams Obstetrics pp. 496 498-500.

  • 54

    Cunningham et al.Williams Obstetrics pp. 513-517.

  • 55

    Cunningham et al.Williams Obstetrics p. 515.

  • 64

    Cf. StuartHosea-Jonah pp. 206-207.

  • 65

    Cunningham et al.Williams Obstetrics pp. 37 500; Gibbs et al. Danforth’s Obstetrics pp. 436-437 439-440. D. A. Garrett evidently unaware of this type of complication suggests a breech presentation instead. D. A. Garrett Hosea Joel (nac 19A; Nashville 1997) pp. 263-264.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 66

    StolBirth in Babylonia p. 132.

  • 67

    StolBirth in Babylonia pp. 132 163 203.

Index Card
Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 46 44 3
Full Text Views 138 138 0
PDF Downloads 18 18 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0