Esther and the Politics of Negotiation
Public and Private Spaces and the Figure of the Female Royal Counselor
Publication Year: 2013
Was Esther unique—an anomaly in patriarchal society? Conventionally, scholars see ancient Israelite and Jewish women as excluded from the public world, their power concentrated instead in the domestic realm and exercised through familial structures. Rebecca S. Hancock demonstrates, in contrast, that because of the patrimonial character of ancient Jewish society, the state was often organized along familial lines. The presence of women in roles of queen consort or queen is therefore a key political, and not simply domestic, feature.
Attention to the narrative of Esther and comparison with Hellenistic and Persian historiography depicting “wise women” acting in royal contexts reveals that Esther is in fact representative of a wider tradition. Women could participate in political life structured along familial and kinship lines. Further, Hancock’s demonstration qualifies the bifurcation of “public” (male-dominated) and “private” (female-dominated) space in the ancient Near East.
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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The book of Esther introduces the problem of gender relationships in the rstchapter. The private dynamics between the king and the queen, who refusesto do as her husband asks, quickly become a matter for which the royal sagesare consulted. Immediately, the counselors express their fear that this minordispute will set a national precedent, impacting the relationships between men...
Introduction to the Problem
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A brief survey of literature on the book of Esther quickly reveals that scholarshave subjected the title character to widely divergent interpretations.1 On theone hand, some have seen Esther as merely a beauty queen, a woman with littleelse but her appearance to recommend her. Lewis B. Paton, a scholar of theearly twentieth century, viewed Esther as remarkable for her looks rather than...
Theoretical Problems with the Language of Public and Private
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The previous chapter demonstrated the way that the narrative portrayal ofEsther has been greatly contested, which often leads to one of two very di erentconclusions: either that Esther is a passive gure or that she de es genderstereotypes and acts in a public way. Furthermore, these divergentinterpretations are often rooted in a distinction between public and private...
Narrative Representatives of Space, Gender, and Women’s Roles in Esther
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In this chapter, I will examine the narrative portrayal of Esther to determinewhether there is textual warrant for the use of the categories of public andprivate. Speci cally, does the picture presented in the literary world supportthe use of gendered and dichotomous language regarding public and privatespheres? In order to do this, there are several requisite steps. First, I consider the...
Esther and Representations of Persian Royal Women
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As we saw in the preceding chapter, the book of Esther represents a highlyctionalized account, one that deliberately employs exaggerations andabsurdities about Persian life for literary purposes. Thus, it is likely that there islittle correspondence between Esther?s narrative portrayal and the lives of actualPersian royals. There are, however, two signi cant reasons to look at various...
Esther the Politician
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This chapter will look to the particulars of the narrative context of the book ofEsther to see whether the view that Esther is an exception?that is, a womanwho overturns gender expectations by acting in the public sphere?iswarranted. It is my contention that one problem with seeing Esther as anexception to normative portrayals of women is that her characterization draws...
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The primary question that this study has sought to answer is, how might wecharacterize the narrative depiction of Esther?s political involvement in thea airs of the Persian state? Most scholars have tried to answer this question byfocusing on another question: Does Esther represent an aberration from gendernorms or an embodiment of male patriarchal values? The project undertaken...
Appendix: Suggested Reading
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Index of Authors
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Index of Biblical References
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Emerging Scholars
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