Judging Moriah: gendered narratives of sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible
This study examines the function of a patriarchal ideology in the episodes of human sacrifice narrated in Genesis 22 and Judges 11 and 19. The Akedah, or "the binding of Isaac" story, is discussed in terms of the midrastic literature it has historically generated, and a feminist, poststructural approach is used in the analysis of the Jephthah's daughter and Levite's concubine narratives. While traditional theology locates the significance of Genesis 22 in Abraham's faithful obedience and the cessation of human sacrifice, midrash documents the extent to which readers both ancient and modern have found not only God's command but also Abraham's silence in and Sarah's absence from the narrative problematic. On the other hand, scholars have previously interpreted the violence of Judges 11 and 19 in terms of their textual setting "when there was no king in Israel" and the Israelites' corresponding apostasy or in terms of the tension experienced during times of social/cultural transition. However, underlying both the Genesis and Judges episodes are the tensions created by God's unrealized promises of descendants, land, and nationhood to his chosen people and by the patriarchal hierarchy the biblical text at once asserts and indermines. Exploring these gendered narratives both contextually and intertextually affords the reader another way of understanding these troubling texts, reframing them from stories of ritualized human sacrifice to narratives of deferred promise and sacrificed inheritance.