Chapter

Five Women of Moses' Infancy: Shiphrah and Puah, Moses' Mother and Sister, Pharaoh's Daughter

Melissa A. Jackson

in Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656776
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742170 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656776.003.0004

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

Five Women of Moses' Infancy: Shiphrah and Puah, Moses' Mother and Sister, Pharaoh's Daughter

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The beginning of Exodus relates, in two narratives, how the survival of one infant was ensured by five women: first by Shiphrah and Puah, then by Moses' mother and sister and Pharaoh's daughter. Several comic elements enhance a reading of these episodes, and comic characterization particularly heightens the narrative's boundary‐drawing ‘us’ and ‘them’ function, a function of comedy that here subverts power and enables survival. The challenge in these narratives for feminist interpretation, however, is that, regardless of how positively and prominently women are portrayed, all their activity moves in one direction: towards the benefit of a single male. Furthermore, while comedy is delighted at being launched as a weapon against foreign power, feminist critique remains dismayed at seeing women strapped to that weapon as it is being launched.

Keywords: comedy; Exodus; Moses; Moses' mother; Moses' sister; Pharaoh's daughter; Puah; Shiphrah; survival

Chapter.  7143 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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