Biblical Interpretation 16 (2008) 154-178 www.brill.nl/bi Biblical Interpretation orn © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI: 10.1163/156851508X262948 e Myth of Birthing the Hero: Heroic Barrenness in the Hebrew Bible Rachel Havrelock University of Illinois at Chicago Abstract Motherhood in the Hebrew Bible has been celebrated as indicative of female strength as well as derided as patriarchy’s primary entrapment. Somewhere between the two, birth ﬁgures as a moment of narrative focus on female characters during which they reformulate their status. Birth seems to travel with its companion theme of barrenness as most central biblical characters undergo a prolonged period of infertility and an attendant struggle to conceive. Employing theories of the hero pattern, this essay argues that the movement from barrenness to fertility is a mode of female initiation into a relationship with the divine. While an explicit covenant promises men innu- merable descendants and founder status, it is not realized until a parallel female cove- nant is forged. Where God makes the covenantal overture to men, women demand recognition through speech and deed. Barrenness motivates articulations that reveal concern with female memory and legacy and actions that distill the characters of indi- vidual women. Female volition draws divine
Biblical Interpretation – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2008
Keywords: WOMEN; MYTHOLOGY; MATRIACHS; HEROINES; FERTILITY; HEBREW BIBLE; HERO PATTERN
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