Deborah and Jael

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:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

Deborah and Jael

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Judges 4 introduces two women who become the story's comic ‘not heroes’: Deborah and Jael. Sexuality and violence are significant elements of the comedy of Judges 4. Sexual situations are not inherently humorous; however, when paired with the incongruity that is inherent in comedy, humour emerges. In this narrative, incongruity takes the form of gender‐bending, and humour is created when men and women behave contrary to expected roles for their gender in their context. Furthermore, while the violence of the text leaves many readers on edge, violence is a frequent and effective tool of comedy. As for the functions that comedy serves, the characters and the comedy in Judges 4 are boundary‐breaking and subversive, yet they are also contained and preserve the established order. Thus feminist critique has a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ response to the narrative, able to affirm aspects of it while unable to resolve fully other feminist‐critical concerns.

Keywords: comedy; Deborah; gender; Jael; Judges; sexuality

Chapter.  6937 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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