Sex Rewarded, Sex Punished: A Study of the Status "Female Slave" in Early Jewish Law

Sex Rewarded, Sex Punished: A Study of the Status "Female Slave" in Early Jewish Law


Diane Kriger

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781934843482 (hardcover)
Pages: 424 pp.
Publication Date: May 2011

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A masterful intersection of Bible studies, gender studies, and rabbinic law, Diane Kriger explores the laws pertaining to female slaves in Jewish law. Comparing biblical strictures with later rabbinic interpretations as well as contemporary Greco-Roman and Babylonian codes of law, Kriger establishes a framework whereby a woman’s sexual identity also indicates her legal status. With sensitivity to the nuances in both ancient laws and ancient languages, Kriger adds greatly to our understanding of gender, slave status, and the matrilineal principle of descent in the ancient Near East.

A lawyer by training, Diane Kriger (PhD University of Toronto, 2001) had a strong interest in the classics, ancient languages and Talmudic studies. Dr. Kriger wrote or contributed to several articles on slavery and the status of women in ancient Judaism and in the surrounding societies. In 1997-1998, she co-founded and served as associate editor of Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal, an academic journal published electronically. Dr. Kriger edited texts and articles on biblical studies, and–most recently–she edited a new Siddur for Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. Dr. Kriger died in December 2008.

Diane Kriger’s theoretical foray into the thick of the debate on how to study the legal systems of antiquity, how to compare them, and how to distinguish external influences from internal development, will prove to be a landmark in academic discourse. The work is also a testament to her personal courage, integrity, and pursuit of justice.
— Harry Fox, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto
Diane Kriger’s work offers a dynamic model of the range of female status from slave to free found in classical and late antiquity. Her legal training and her expertise in ancient law and rabbinics combine to demonstrate functional equivalence between legal systems, clarify legal oddities and promote a new theory of the transition from patrilineal to matrilineal decent in Jewish law.
— Tirzah Meacham, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto
Diane Kriger’s scholarship was meticulous and perceptive. Her unique academic background in both law and the ancient Near East provided her with unparalleled means to understand the alwa and the position of slave women in ancient Israel. Her work not only fills a vital space for studies in ancient Jewish law, but also has a place in the interpretation of modern Jewish law.
— Jennifer Hellum, Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Auckland

Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION: The Construction of Status
What is a “Slave”? 
Sex Right as a Status Marker
Sex Rewarded: Marriage and the Matrilineal Principle
Sex Punished: Adultery as Property Crime or Sex Crime? 
Methodological Issues
I. A Word on “Representativity”: Are We Dealing With Legal Texts? 
II. Philology and Functional Equivalence
III. The Use of a Pluralistic Model
Slave Status in Biblical Law: A “Common Law”? 
Slave Status in Postbiblical Law: A Unified Tradition? 
Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 1: What is a “Female Slave”? Context and Comparison
1.1 The amah and the shifḥah: Breeder, Drudge, Concubine or Wife?
1.1.1 The Terms are Biblical Synonyms Indicating a Servile Status
1.1.2 North-East Semitic Versus North-West Semitic? 
1.1.2.A The amah as a Secondary Wife
1.1.3 Conclusion: On the Slave-Wife Continuum
1.1.4 Conclusion
1.2 Are There Biblical Terms for Second Generation Slaves? 
1.2.1 ben amah
1.2.1.A Ishmael
1.2.1.B Avimelekh
1.2.1.C As Parallel to eved in Psalms and Sabbath Law
1.2.1.D Conclusion 62
1.2.2 yelid bayit - Houseborn Slave? 
1.2.2.A The Form and Meaning of yelid and the Akkadian wilid bītim
1.2.2.B Other Akkadian Equivalents
1.2.2.C Post-Biblical Occurrences
1.2.2.D Conclusion
1.2.3 ben bayit
1.2.3.A Akkadian mār bīti
1.2.3.B Post-Biblical Sources
1.2.3.C Conclusion
CHAPTER 2: The Pilegesh: Status or Topos?
2.1 On the Wife-Slave Continuum? 
2.2 Foreign Loanword? 
2.3 The pilegesh as a Literary Topos?
2.4 Biblical Examples of Three Instances of pilegesh as Topos
2.4.A The Male pilagshim of Ezekiel 23:20
2.4.B Genesis 35:22: Bilhah as pilegesh
2.4.C The ishah pilegesh of Judges 19
2.5 Conclusion
CHAPTER 3: The Amah of Exodus 21:2-11
3.1 Exodus 21:2-11 and its Relation to Other Manumission Rules
3.1.1 The Significance of the Different amah Rules
3.2 An Analysis of Exodus 21:2-11
3.2.1 Is the Passage to be Read as a Unity? 
3.2.2 Akkadian Parallels
3.2.3 Specific Textual Issues in Exodus 21:7-11
3.2.3.A Ketiv (לא (Versus qere (לו) in Verse 8and the Significance of bQiddushin 18ab
3.2.3.B “If He Takes Another” (לו יקח אחרת אם) in Verse 10
3.2.3.C “These Three Things” (אלה שלש) in Verse 11
3.3 Conclusion
CHAPTER 4: The Shifḥah Neḥerefet of Leviticus 19:20-22
4.1 Treason and Trespass
4.2 The Issue: Mixed Ownership
4.3 The Relationship: The Meaning of neḥerefet la-ish
4.3.1 Prior Opinions
4.3.2 The Semantic Range of the Biblical ḤRP I
4.3.3 A Possible Akkadian Cognate
4.3.4 Proposed Meaning of neḥerefet la-ish
4.4 The Outcome: The Phrase biqqoret tihyeh
4.4.1 Prior Opinions
4.4.2 Biblical Instances of BQR as “Claim for Trespass” 
4.4.3 BQR/PQR as “Claim” in Akkadian Sources
4.4.3.A San Nicolo’s Study of BQR in Old Babylonian Sources
4.4.3.B The Scholarly Debate on the Relationship of biqqoret to Akkadian BQR/PQR
4.4.3.C “Non-Narrow” Uses of BQR/PQR in Process Documents and Warranties
4.4.3.D Conclusion
4.4.4 BQR/PQR as “Claim” in Postbiblical Hebrew
4.4.4.A The iggeret biqqoret
4.4.4.B Sanctified Property and biqqoret: Tosefta Arakhin 4:3
4.4.4.C PQR in Other Formulary Documents
4.4.4.D The Association of hevqer/hefqer with “Claim” 
4.4.4.E The Proposed Meaning of biqqoret
4.5 Conclusion
CHAPTER 5: The “Inheritance” of Slavery in Rabbinic Law: The Non-Linearity of the Matrilineal Principle
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Freeing of the Hebrew amah at Puberty
5.2.1 Pentateuchal Rules on the Acquisition and Manumission of Slaves
5.2.2 The Mishnaic Manumission Scheme for Hebrew Females
5.2.3 The “Manumission List” in Midreshei Halakhah
5.2.4 The Manumission List in bQiddushin 18a
5.2.4.A. “Against His/Her Will” (כרחה בעל – כרחו בעל (231
5.2.4.B Diminution of Purchase Price (גרעון) or Death of Master (האדון מיתת (235
5.2.5 Conclusion
5.3 The Interaction of Slavery and Nationality
5.3.1 Levitucus 25 and the “Ethnic” Differentiation of Slaves
5.3.2 Sifra Behar parshah 6 and its Parallels
5.3.3 Conclusion
5.4 Tosefta Qiddushin 5:11: “Symmetrical” Inheritance of Mamzerut? 
5.5 Variability in Genealogical Thinking
CHAPTER 6: Rabbinic Interpretations of Leviticus 19:20-22
6.1 The Significance of Parallel Baraitot
6.2 Mishnah Kereitot 2:4b-6
6.3 Tosefta Kereitot 1:16-18
6.4 Sifra Qedoshim pereq 5
6.4.1 Overview of the Text
6.4.2 Sifra’s Interpretation of Leviticus 19:20
6.4.2.A The Age of the Parties
6.4.2.B The Nature of the Offence
6.4.2.C The Identity of the shifḥah neḥerefet (the “Intermarriage Baraita”) 
6.4.2.D The Creation of a “Half-Slave” 
6.4.2.E The Punishment of the Woman
6.4.2.F The Necessity of a Deed of Manumission
6.4.2.G The Punishment of the Male
6.4.2.H Further Specification of the Nature of the Offence
6.4.2.I The Summary Section
6.5 Assessing the Parallel Texts
6.5.1 General Considerations Between Mishnah and Tosefta
6.5.2 General Considerations between Sifra and Tosefta
6.5.3 The “Intermarriage” Pericope
6.5.4 The Priority of the Tosefta Passage
6.5.5 Conclusion
6.6 Excursus: The Existence of a Half-Slave, Half-Free Status
CHAPTER 7: Literature in Support of Law: The Problem of Bilhah and Zilpah
7.1 The Dilemma
7.2 Biblical References to Bilhah and Zilpah
7.3 Early Postbiblical References
7.3.1 לחנה in Onkelos as a Cognate of the Akkadian laḫḫi/anatu, “Female Subordinate” 
7.3.2 The Relationship between Targum Onkelos and Josephus
7.4 Bilhah and Zilpah as “Matriarchs” 
7.5 The Genealogy of Bilhah and Zilpah
7.5.1 The Aḥiyot Tradition
7.5.1.A The Naming Speech
7.5.1.B Channels of Transmission
7.5.2 The Lavan Tradition
7.6 Conclusion