A Woman on the Border: A Feminist-Structuralist-Deconstructive Reading of the Character of Miriam in Exodus 2:1-10; 15:20-21 and Numbers 12:1-16.

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  • Kirsi Cobb


Miriam is a character within the Hebrew Bible who is surrounded by conflicting descriptions. On the one hand, she is Moses’ sister, a leader and a cult-musician (Exodus 2:4, 15:19-20); on the other hand she is a rebel and an example of ritual uncleanliness (Numbers 12:1-16). Amidst such a wide variety of views we wish to produce a reading, a ‘counter-voice’, in order to illustrate how the description of Miriam as a subservient female/ a rebel is both established as well as questioned in the three texts chosen for the present study (Exodus 2:1-10; 15:20-21; Numbers 12:1-16). We approach this endeavour with the aid of feminist, structuralist and deconstructive aims. The stand of poststructuralist feminism is stated to be the vantage point brought to bear upon the texts under analysis with specific interest given to any issues related to the treatment of Miriam and/or other female character(s) within the passages. Structuralist critique is used in order to establish a normative reading of the texts in question with the aid of more traditional research, which is then questioned by the means of deconstructive critique in order to illustrate how the depiction of Miriam in the first reading is at tension with the one uncovered in the limits and inconsistencies of biblical texts. Through the above observations we wish to portray Miriam as a woman who constantly breaks through any predisposed characterisations imposed on her by the biblical text and/or previous interpretations. We present her as a ‘woman on the border’, disturbing the perceived stability of male domination in the texts in which she appears.


Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Sefydliad dyfarnu
Goruchwylydd / Goruchwylwyr / Cynghorydd
Dyddiad dyfarnuIon 2011