Week 1: The nature of prophecy and its women receivers
All prophetic books in TaNaKh are named for men. Very few women are identified by the title “neviah”—prophet—yet Jewish tradition identifies many women as receivers of prophecy. In this introductory session we will examine the prophetic experience as it typically applies to women in Biblical tradition.
Week 2: Shifrah and Puah the rescuers
Who are these enigmatic women? Appearing only in the opening passages of Exodus—their story is relatively brief—yet they had a profound impact on the survival of the Israelites in Egypt. Their faith was unwavering, but were they prophets or quiet warriors? We will examine their stories and legacy.
Week 3: Miriam, the first woman prophet
Miriam is the first woman in the Torah to be specifically identified with the title, “neviah.” Legends abound about her role in the Exodus story. She is a central figure in both traditional Jewish texts and contemporary feminist exegesis. We will explore Miriam’s significance in biblical, midrash, and contemporary contexts.
Week 4: Deborah: Judge, warrior and prophet
Deborah was both judge and national leader of pre-monarchy Israel. She endures as an inspiration to Jewish women to this day, yet her status as judge and national leader is the subject of debate in classical rabbinic texts. We will examine her role as both a political and prophetic figure.
Week 5: Yael and Judith: Women of war and faith
We will examine two stories—one biblical, one apocryphal—of women caught up in Israel’s battles and delivering deadly blows to the enemy. We will discuss their stories within the context of women in battle in ancient times and examine how their actions are interpreted and understood in rabbinic tradition.
Week 6: Huldah, the forgotten prophet
Were it not for this woman, the Torah would only contain four books. Nevertheless, many are unfamiliar with her story; no biblical book is named for her. We will explore the life and times of court prophets in the ancient Israelite kingdom and the singular role of this lesser-known woman.