Miriam the Prophetess as Guardian and Healer by Jill Hammer

jill hammer cropped

The biblical traditions of Miriam the prophetess have captured the imaginations of Bible-readers throughout the ages.  Miriam, Moses’ sister, watches over Moses in his cradle (Exodus 2), and leads the Hebrew women in dance at the shore of the Sea of Reeds to celebrate redemption  (Exodus 15).  Rabbinic lore identifies Miriam with Puah, the midwife who saved Hebrew babies from Pharaoh, and depicts her as the herald of Moses’ birth (Exodus Rabbah 1:13; Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12a). Contemporary Jewish feminists have established traditions of singing to Miriam the prophetess on Saturday night, parallel to the tradition of singing to Elijah the prophet at that time.   It has also become popular among some feminist/egalitarian Jews to place a cup of Miriam on the seder table at the time of Passover.  This cup is usually filled with water in order to recall the ancient legend that a well of water followed Miriam through the wilderness, quenching the thirst of the wandering people (cf: Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 9a).  It was even said that healing herbs grew near this well, so that Miriam’s prophetic power became a source of healing.

The veneration of Miriam is especially deep in Sephardic Jewish traditions—those Jewish traditions stemming from the Spanish Jewish diaspora, which may be found everywhere from North Africa to Holland to Greece and Bulgaria.  Sephardic women used incantations along with various rituals involving salt, herbs, and other substances, as healing for various ailments and troubles; women skilled in these practices were called precanteras or precantadoras.  Some of their healing incantations invoke Miriam as the ancestress of all women healers, as in the following prayer:

Continue reading “Miriam the Prophetess as Guardian and Healer by Jill Hammer”

The Barren Woman Bible By Monica A. Coleman

As I mourn the loss of my miscarried babies, it’s easy to see that the Bible’s stories of barren women were written by men.

I know that men wrote the Bible. That’s no surprise to anyone who has had a brush with feminism or biblical scholarship. But there are times when one is more aware of this than at other times. As I mourn the loss of my miscarried babies, I think of how the Bible tells the stories of barren women.

When I read about Sarai, Leah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth, the story is always the same. The woman cannot have children.

Like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, the story goes like this:

Option A: You give your husband your maidservant, who then gives him a male child or two or three, and then, later, God opens your womb so you can bear a male child yourself.

Option B: You pray to God about how much you want children, and then, later, God opens you womb so you can bear a male child yourself. Continue reading “The Barren Woman Bible By Monica A. Coleman”

%d bloggers like this: