A ho-hum investigation of the Bible’s leading ladies.
The Bible often says little about women, or says it tersely—not indicating, for example, how a woman might have felt about having her only son nearly sacrificed. There’s now something of a cottage-industry in retelling these women’s stories, filling in the gaps, doing, if you will, modern-day Midrash.Here, marriage counselor and psychoanalyst Rosenblatt offers reflections on 17 women from Hebrew Scripture, all cast in an encouraging second-wave-feminist light. Think the Matriarchs are doormats? Think again—they’re crafty, wise women, keeping their wits about them to promote their own interests and those of their households. Eve (who does appear, despite the book’s title) is a “trailblazer,” Delilah independent and resourceful. Abigail, one of King David’s wives, thinks being a woman is really cool, as does the Queen of Sheba. Bathsheba, another Mrs. David, is courageous and strong. In the main, Rosenblatt’s readings tend toward the predictable, and they’re more simplistic than they might have been had the author made fuller use of the treasures of rabbinic lore on these women. Unfortunately, neither is there much literary flair in evidence—and too-clever asides can leave you cringing (after musing, in the chapter on the Song of Songs, that we moderns know less about sex and intimacy than our grandparents, Rosenblatt continues with, “Now that we’ve broken through the crass ceiling . . . ”). Efforts to give advice about marriage as gleaned from the biblical stories result mainly in banalities. In a chapter on Bathsheba, for example, Rosenblatt councils husbands and wives not to break up a marriage over a one-night stand, and Adam and Eve lead readers to realize that “Spouses in a healthy. . . relationship praise and appreciate the strengths. . . of their mates.”
If you like Anita Diamant and Vanessa Ochs, you may be tempted to pick up this book. But don’t—it’ll disappoint you.