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The Lot Complex: The Use and Abuse of Daughters in the Hebrew Bible Open Access


Other title
Hebrew Bible
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Sabo, Peter J
Supervisor and department
Landy, Francis (Religious Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Gay, David (English and Film Studies)
Braun, Willi (History and Classics, Religious Studies)
Claudia Camp (University of Texas)
Zelyck, Lorne (St. Joseph's College)
Ben Zvi, Ehud (History and Classics)
Religious Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This study explores the daughter stories of the Hebrew Bible from literary, psychoanalytic, structuralist, and deconstructionist perspectives. In seeking to understand how daughters and daughterhood are presented I provide close readings—paying attention to the rhetorical strategies, themes, motifs, and symbols—of discrete narratives of daughters and consider how they function within the biblical text at large as well. Because the biblical text assumes that a woman must always be defined in subordinate position to her patriarch, this is also a study about the daughter-father pair. These two family members are the most juxtaposed to each other in terms of gender, authority, and cultural privilege, and thus provide rich insight into the gender ideology of the Hebrew Bible. The story of Lot and his daughters serves as a paradigmatic example. The daughters are initially presented as passive objects, fully under the control and power of their father—by the end of the narrative, the daughters are active agents while the father is the object of their seduction intended to preserve his seed. In between the mother and sons-in-law are introduced and erased, typifying the absence of biblical mother-daughter relationships and the fraught triangular affinity between fathers, sons-in-law, and daughters. Full of ambivalence and irony, this story reveals many of the symbols and patterns, projections and (repressed) desires, and fears and fantasies that characterize biblical daughter stories. From the Lot story, I proceed to analyze the narratives of the first woman of the Hebrew Bible (eventually named Eve), Rachel and Leah, Dinah, the daughters of Judges (Achsah, Jephthah’s daughter, the Timnite daughter, the Levite’s pilegesh, and the daughters of Jabesh-Gilead and Shiloh), Tamar (Gen 38), Ruth, Merab and Michal, Tamar (2 Sam 13), and the Daughter of Zion. Each story is read on its own but also in regard to how it corresponds and contrasts to the other stories and the broader themes and concerns that are associated with biblical daughters. Like Lot’s daughters, these women display how biblical daughters both affirm the patriarchal ideology of the biblical text while disturbing and problematizing it as well.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
Peter J. Sabo, “Blurred Boundaries in the Lot Story.” Pages 433-44 in History, Memory, Hebrew Scriptures: A Festschrift for Ehud Ben Zvi. Edited by Ian D. Wilson and Diana Edelman. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2015.Peter J. Sabo, “Drawing out Moses: Water as a Personal Motif of the Biblical Character.” Pages 409-36 in Thinking of Water in the Early Second Temple Period. Edited by Ehud Ben Zvi and Christoph Levin. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentlische Wissenschaft. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.Peter J. Sabo, “Poetry Amid Ruins.” Pages 141-57 in Poets, Prophets, and Texts in Play: Studies in Biblical Poetry and Prophecy in Honour of Francis Landy. Edited by Ehud Ben Zvi, Claudia V. Camp, David M. Gunn, and Aaron W. Hughes. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.

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