Chapter

The Hebrew God and Gender

Rosemary Radford Ruether

in Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780520231467
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940413 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520231467.003.0004
The Hebrew God and Gender

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Studies of early Israel have suggested that the Hebrews in the period of the judges and early monarchy did not believe that Yahweh was the only god and that all other gods were simply nonexistent. In Israel, female deity is eliminated, with motherly qualities taken over by a divine father. This creates a dilemma for the appropriation of sacred marriage symbolism. This chapter looks at the gradually diminishing presence of the female consort of El/Yahweh in Hebrew thought, as well as the re-creation, after the exile, of a new Hebrew Goddess in the figure of Wisdom. Instead of the expected story line in which patriarchal religion suppresses all female imagery of the divine, what we see in some lines of Jewish and Christian history is a periodic reinvention of goddesses by men to serve male interests. In order to have them become resources for feminism, we need to come to terms with the way these goddesses and female divine symbols reflect male constructions of the female.

Keywords: Yahweh; female imagery; goddesses; feminism; divine symbols; Hebrew Goddess; patriarchal religion; Israel; Hebrews; marriage

Chapter.  11184 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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