Daddy's Little Girls?: An Examination of Daughters in the Hebrew Bible
Russaw, Kimberly Dawn
RELIGION Dissertation under the direction of Professor Herbert R. Marbury Biblical daughters - female members of the household who are not yet mothers - execute particular tactics to navigate antagonistic systems of power in their worlds. In a patriarchal world fathers, male offspring, wives and mothers enjoy privileges unavailable to daughters. Institutions and power structures favor the father as the male head of household, and sons inherit those benefits. Wives and mothers are ascribed special status because they ensure the patrilineal legacy by birthing sons. Instead of privileging daughters, systems and institutions control their bodies, restrict their access, and constrict their movement. Laws and customs regarding virginity control daughters’ bodies in order to increase the financial position of fathers. Traditions restrict daughters’ access to wealth vis-à-vis inheritance practices in order to maintain real property in the patriarchal household. The notion that spatial positioning determines safety constricts daughters’ movement in ways that limit their access to power. This dissertation concludes that despite systemic challenges, daughters often navigate antagonistic systems of power in very fluid ways. Socio-historical methods connect understandings of the lives of daughters in the ancient world to the ways they are represented in the biblical narrative. Additionally, both philological insights and studies of daughters in the broader ancient Near Eastern world inform this work which employs both ideological and narrative critical methods to analyze the daughters’ stories.