.. nger (25:23), whenever women in Genesis take assertive actions that ramifications, strife always ensues.
Just because Rebecca received a prophecy, there is no indication that she was in any position to actively seek its fulfillment. Jacob, as a result of his mother’s initiative, is forced to flee his home for fear that Esau will kill him. The enmity between the brothers endures, and just as Sara’s infertility caused familial dissension, Rebecca’s actions likewise cause divisiveness in the House of Isaac and its descendents. Unlike the instances where the men in Genesis take the fate of their families’ lives into their own hands under explicit direction from God, the rare occasions when women, such as Sara and Rebecca, take assertive action, the result is battles and feuds.
As in the case of infertility, a woman’s inheritance with the divine scheme can be seen as a multiple threat to the thematic framework of Genesis. Rebecca takes assertive, independent action with regard to her family’s development, and this action clearly crosses over the rigid boundaries of the prescribed female role. She also threatens to shake the patriarchal foundations that are so essential to the divine value system in Genesis. Furthermore she does not act exclusively as a wife or mother, but as an agent of change, an actor in the course of history. The unfolding of God’s plan depends on the male actors.
God reveals himself to humans and shares his vision of the world with humans. Rebecca steps outside her limited role, becomes a primary actor, manipulates the divinely initiated course of history, and causes fraternal hostility and the jealousy which becomes one of the ongoing plagues for her children and their future generations. Passive manipulation is more ambiguous but similarly problematic in regard to the first marriage of Jacob. The text explains that it was Laban who took Leah, his daughter (29:23) and put her into the marital bed instead of Rachel, the bride of Jacob was expecting. However, whether she willingly, or even complicity, fulfils Laban’s plan, Leah is nonetheless the key agent in a plan to divert the family history as it is anticipated by the text.
For seven years, Jacob toiled for Sara. She was his intended bride. And, as the text later demonstrates, it is Rachel who gives birth to the heir of the Abram blessing, proving that she is the real matriarch destined to produce the next generation of leadership for God’s select people. However, Leah supplants Rachel and becomes a stumbling block to Jacob’s destined union.Though it is her father who is portrayed as the villain, Leah is not blameless and she receives retribution.
She is forever unloved by her husband, and her children are denied the divine blessing. Her role may only be of passive conspirator but she is still the faulty link in this ordained history. And, like Eve, Sara, Rebecca, and Rachel, Leah has the potential to ruin the human universe that God, in Genesis, is painstakingly trying to build.
Leah’s trickery might be overlooked as a daughter’s compliance to a cunning father if it did not indirectly produce one of the most controversial episodes in the book of Genesis: the rape of Dina.Of all the mothers of Jacob’s children, it is Leah who gives birth to Dina. The text suggests that complications arise when divinely ordained roles are tampered with.
Leah, the usurper of her sister’s nuptials, is not only weak eyed (20:17) and unloved (29:31) in the text, but also the mother of Jacob’s only daughter, the one that turns out to be a source of family shame and provocation for tribal warfare. These uncomplimentary attributes and associations negatively characterize Leah and allude to her illegal manipulation of God’s blueprint for the course of human history’s development. While Leah subtly triggers a course of events that threatens the goals and values in Genesis, Dina, in contrast, directly challenges her society by her unconventional behavior and troublesome predicament. Firstly, as it has been noted, a woman’s worth in Genesis is measured by her subservience to her husband and her fertility. Dina, a defiled and unmarried daughter, is not only an affront to the greater divine plan, based on female subordination and fertility, but also a burden to her family because she subverts societal expectations. She is reduced to being damaged goods and brings shame to her entire clan.The behavioral codes and moral principles in Genesis continually reinforce the patriarchal nature of the society and the carefully defined parameters designated for a female’s contribution. Dina represents still another model of a woman who threatens the Genesis community by her deviant actions.
All the women encountered in Genesis are either dwelling or journeying under their father or husband’s jurisdictions. They never travel or venture out by themselves under any condition. By going out to look over the land (34:1), Dina, like Rebecca, violates the female role by taking independent action.She transgresses the norm of total subjugation to male dominance. This is threatening to the patriarchal structure, wherein women are restricted to a role of complete subservience.
Then to compound her transgression, she is raped, an incident that not only makes her into a victim, but also a burden to her family. Once violated, her sexual purity is destroyed, her future is doomed, and her family is plunged into disaster. Indeed, following the rape, the annals of Dina’s life are totally absent from the remainder of Genesis.
She is mentioned only once more when she enters Egypt with the rest of her family.Whereas her brothers are discussed at great length right through to the conclusion of Genesis, Dina, after losing all her potential worth as a bride, and therefore as a wife and mother, is completely neglected. However, the aftermath of her rape continues to reverberate. When Dina’s brothers slaughter Shechem, the entire house of Jacob is forced to flee and relocate their encampment. Thus, by rejecting the role of passive female as it is construed in Genesis, and then suffering the results of her assertive action, Dina defies God’s intentions, circumvents societal demands, and throws her family, the family chosen by God to be a blessed nation, into precarious flight. In the beginning, God invests in a peaceful world governed by a patriarchal hierarchy. It is a world destined to be a model of harmony and a perfect domestic domain for human existence.Then, when the Eden experiment fails and God is compelled to recreate the world through the flood episode, this investment expands into an effort to produce a populous world for extensive human habitation.
In the remainder of genesis, god directs his efforts toward the development of Abraham’s family; the representatives of God’s select nation and an expression of the divine ideal of human existence. Building this blessed nation is the chief value in the post-Flood Genesis, and this nation, as the nation devoted to the God of Genesis, is the only value that remains relevant right through to the end of the text. At every juncture in Genesis, women primarily serve as hurdles to be negotiated so that the text’s values may be actualized. They destroy paradise, delay the propagation of the human species, defy the patriarchal structure, and endanger the proliferation of God’s blessed nation.Clearly, there are patterns to the forms of this female subversiveness, such as unreliability, infertility, and disobedience. But, since there is not one single paradigm for female insubordination, the problem of women in Genesis is a narrative device that is integrated into the text to create subversive tension.
They are the hurdles that God overcomes in order for the text to prove God’s boundless and all-encompassing power. With their actions, they draw attention to the Genesis value system, prevent its immediate success, and allow for eventual divine triumphs that dramatically reinforce those values and their consequences. Religion Essays.