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Author: Yael Shemesh

The biblical story of Zelophehad's daughters (Numbers 26 and 36, Josh. 17:3-6) and its avatars in talmudic midrashim and modern feminist midrashim are studied from a gender perspective. The biblical story is shown to be ambiguous, in that, on the one hand, its heroines are five impressive women who bring about a change in the law that bene ts certain women, while, on the other hand, it is firmly set in an androcentric patriarchal context whose focus is the survival of the father's name. Even though the biblical story is not feminist, it includes elements that made it possible for the feminist aspect to be raised in the talmudic midrashim (which other general praise for women as compared to men or recognition and acknowledgement of male discrimination against women)—and all the more so in modern feminist midrashim that present the five women as possessing a well-developed feminist consciousness and as a positive model of sisterhood.

In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Yael Shemesh

Abstract

One aspect of the principle of "measure for measure" is considered—the idea that the offending organ is punished. This concept can be found in all the biblical genres: narrative, law, the prophetic literature, poetry, and the wisdom literature. The organs that are punished run almost the full length of the body, from head to toe. Sometimes the concept is invoked literally, sometimes only metaphorically. In most cases the punishment is heaven-sent; but there are no few incidents where human action is involved and even animals (twice). In every case, the principle serves a theological function, in that it corroborates the existence of reward and punishment in the world.

In: Vetus Testamentum
Author: Yael Shemesh

Abstract

In a fascinating article, Michael L. Barré noted the topos of “wandering about” as a symptom of depression and mourning in world literature in general, and in the literature of the ancient Near East and the Bible in particular. Building on his insights, this paper argues that the phrase “he went there” (וילך שם) from Ezra 10:6 builds another instance of the topos of “wandering about.” Thus, there is no need to emed MT to “he spent the night there” (וילן שם), as has often been suggested.

In: Vetus Testamentum
In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism
Author: Yael Shemesh

Abstract

The biblical presentation of David's ostensible willingness to fight on the side of the Philistines against Israel (1 Sam. xxvii-xxix) is examined. Through a literary analysis it is shown that David is not depicted as intending to betray Saul and Israel. On the contrary, the narrator provides many hints that the Philistine commanders' assessment of David is correct and that had he not been sent away he would have fought against the Philistines and for Israel. His dismissal, instigated by the Philistine commanders, is compatible with the divine plan for Israel's defeat, the destruction of the House of Saul, and David's succeeding Saul on the throne of Israel (1 Sam. xxviii 16-19).

In: Vetus Testamentum