Monday, December 08, 2008

A quick thought about Rivkah Imeinu

Rebecca our Mother was the only one of the biblical Matriarchs who had no competition. Sarah had Hagar to contend with, and Rachel and Léah seem to have spent most of their lives competing with one another to see who could make the most babies (directly, or through their handmaids). Only Rivkah had her husband's full attention. Marriage was no picnic for women, back then.


Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Marriage was no picnic for women, back then.

Don't think that it was for the men either.

Wed Dec 10, 01:47:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Point taken, but at least the men could get double the fun, in addition to double the trouble.

Wed Dec 10, 07:43:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you have to look at the big picture- in an agricultural society where you need lots of hands to work the land, polygamy makes economic sense, maximizing productivity for all! It's the original trickle-down economics!

Sat Dec 13, 10:05:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't about husbands: it was about kids. Sarah didn't have kids, so she asked her husband to take Hagar (Sarah's maid) as a concubine so that Hagar's child would count as Sarah's. Sarah resented Hagar, but Sarah only felt secure in expelling her rival after Isaac was born. Tamar's husband Onan was punished. Why? He wouldn't supply Tamar with a child. Tamar tricked Judah into impregnating her, and when she revealed her plot Judah confessed that she had done the right thing. She was entitled to a child!

Part of the reason for this is surely the fact that under Biblical law (and likely the traditional laws of the Middle East) widows did not automatically inherit from their deceased husbands. Without a child to inherit from the deceased husband the widows were practically in Limbo.

To modern eyes some of the rivalry between wives looks like a struggle for affection, but to these women it must have been a struggle for financial and social security. Without children their only claim on the family wealth was via a husband who might easily predecease them. That's the tragedy they labored under and that's what shapes the narrative.

Tue Dec 16, 05:49:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

woodrow, good point, & :)

joe, never thought of rivalry between wives as fight for financial security. seems likely

pardon poor typing--broke both wrists. see dec. 12 post.

Tue Dec 16, 06:39:00 PM 2008  

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