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

  • Author / Creator
    Sabo, Peter J
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. 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.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Claudia Camp (University of Texas)
    • Braun, Willi (History and Classics, Religious Studies)
    • Zelyck, Lorne (St. Joseph's College)
    • Gay, David (English and Film Studies)
    • Ben Zvi, Ehud (History and Classics)