The enigmatic Meyalledot Ha'ivriyyot: A history of interpretation of Exodus 1:15-21 from Antiquity to the Medieval Period

by Briah Cahana

Institution: McGill University
Year: 2017
Keywords: Jewish Studies
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2190202
Full text PDF: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile148397.pdf


The biblical narrative of the meyalledot haivriyyot (Exod 1:15-21) recounts the story of two heroic God-fearing midwives, named Shiphrah and Puah, who defy Pharaoh's order to kill Hebrew male infants. They are ultimately rewarded by God for their efforts and are given battim. From their portrayal in the biblical text and from the perspective of most commentators, the midwives are important figures who acted righteously. But who were they? And what exactly is their role in the Exodus narrative? This study will examine a large sample of mostly Jewish and some Christian interpretations of Exodus 1:15-21 from the ancient to the early medieval periods. Attention will be placed on how the midwives' identities and roles have been shaped and reshaped through the pens and visions of Bible commentators from the 4th century BCE to the 14th century CE. Le rcit biblique du meyalledot haivriyyot (Exod 1. 15-21) raconte l'histoire de deux sages-femmes hroques, Shiphrah et Puah, qui craignent Dieu et qui dfient l'ordre du Pharon de tuer les bbs hbreux. Elles sont finalement rcompenses par Dieu pour leurs efforts, et elles reoivent des battim. De leur reprsentation dans le texte biblique et du point de vue de la plupart des commentateurs, il est clair que les sages-femmes ont agi avec rectitude et qu'elles sont des personnages importants. Mais qui taient-elles? Et, quel est leur rle dans le rcit de l'Exode? Cette tude examinera un grand chantillon d'interprtations principalement juives et quelques commentaires chrtiens d'Exode 1. 15-21 de l'antiquit jusqu' l'poque mdivale. Une attention particulire sera accorde la faon dont les identits et les rles de ces sages-femmes ont t faonnes et remodeles travers les visions de commentateurs de la Bible.Advisors/Committee Members: B Barry Levy (Internal/Supervisor).