chapter  4
19 Pages

Jezebel and Ahab

The narratives I address in Chapters 1 through 3 invert the Bible’s preferred gender hierarchy which privileges its men. Adam obeys Eve; Deborah leads Barak into battle; Yael kills Sisera; Samson’s mother outshines her husband; and Delilah seduces Samson. I argue that though the subversion of the gender hierarchy emasculates the men in these stories, the women do not fully leave the confines of their gendered roles. Instead, they inhabit dangerous manifestations of these gendered roles to become murderous mothers and seductresses. They function in their narratives as women who register social and theological instability. These narratives, then, are more gender nonconformable for the men. The men of the gender-playing narratives embody female qualities such as weakness. They are associated with female experiences and positions, as evidenced by their depiction as sexual victims and as in the case of Samson, as performing tasks associated with women such as grinding grain. Thus far, it appears that the stories that play with gender are more concerned with emasculating the men than they are with manning the women.1