Matrices of motherhood in Judges 5
Thelle, Rannfrid I.
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Thelle, R. I. (2019). Matrices of motherhood in Judges 5. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 43(3), 436–452
In Judges 5, patterns of motherhood weave throughout the poem, forming an intrinsic component of the fabric of the text. In pursuing these threads, I focus on the construction of Deborah as ‘mother in Israel’, both through this plain attribution and through the intriguing ordering of the Israelite tribes. A focus on Deborah as Israelite matriarch—a counterpart to Jacob—brings into sharp relief the counterpoint between the tribes of Deborah and the Canaanites. The imagined anxieties of the mother of Sisera serve to implicate mothers in a justification of violence against women. The poem thus prods readers/audiences to consider Israelite and their own perceptions of their enemies. The striking climax of the poem comes with the blessing for Jael and her killing of Sisera, the captain of Israel’s enemy, with the figure of Jael forming a point of triangulation in the intriguing interplay between these pivotal mothers.
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