“If Both are Equally Good”: An Unusual Depiction of Marriage and Women in a Midrash from the Cairo Genizah
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 38, Spring 5781/2021
- pp. 69-92
- Additional Information
This article offers a critical analysis of one section of a previously lost midrashic text found in the Cairo Genizah, termed Midrash ḥad-shenati (MḤS) by Louis Ginzberg and Jacob Mann. We examine the section on the parashah of Toledot and demonstrate how various traditions have been brought together in it to form a composition with its own literary and thematic concerns relating to marriage, procreation and lineage. MḤS: Toledot is distinct in centering on an active female protagonist, portraying her in an exclusively positive light, and idealizing a mutual (and monogamous) marriage relationship between Isaac and Rebecca. Aside from uncovering forgotten perspectives that diverge from what is generally found in the rabbinic canon, the textual and thematic analyses offered here enable us to identify the literary placement of this unique midrashic collection in the history of midrashic activity and its larger geographical and cultural context.