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A Gender Perspective on the Daughters of Zelophehad: Bible, Talmudic Midrash, and Modern Feminist Midrash

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image of Biblical Interpretation

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.

Affiliations: 1: Bar-Ilan University


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