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Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew BibleA Subversive Collaboration$
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Melissa Jackson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656776.001.0001

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Trickster Matriarchs: Lot's Daughters, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Tamar

Trickster Matriarchs: Lot's Daughters, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Tamar

(p.41) 2 Trickster Matriarchs: Lot's Daughters, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Tamar
Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Melissa A. Jackson

Oxford University Press

The matriarchs and patriarchs of Genesis pass down through the generations a special family trait: trickery. Lot's daughters, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Tamar all exhibit the characteristics of the trickster, a humorous figure who prevails through alternative means such as deception, cunning, and sexuality, as power and position are not available to these marginal figures. These matriarchs maintain an ambiguous relationship to patriarchy, as they both preserve and undermine established society. This ambiguity creates difficulty for feminist critique in that the narratives celebrating these boundary‐crossing, subversive, survivalist figures are the same ones that reduce them merely to wombs whose ‘success’ is to bear sons. Comedy, serving its revelatory function, shows the incongruity between what is and what ought to be, so that viewing the trickster tales through the lens of comedy opens up interpretative options that themselves can aid in subverting established interpretations.

Keywords:   comedy, Genesis, Leah, Lot's daughters, Rachel, Rebekah, Tamar, trickster

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