At the close of my first week of research (memorably characterized by blazing heat, no wireless internet, and fire alarms in the library of a Massachusetts-University-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) I am finally ready to beginning communicating and synthesizing the information I have gathered. First, I will give a more specific overview of the concepts and terms that will be discussed in future posts; this is essentially a continuation of my abstract, but it is a necessary step to prevent needless and repetitive clarification later on.
When thinking of Biblical Israel, most people conjure up an image of a hyper-masculine, patriarchal society. This is an well-founded analysis, but does this undeniably present male dominance mean that women were utterly powerless, merely pawns in the grand scheme of Israelite society and life? Hardly. The Hebrew Bible (which Christian tradition calls the Old Testament) in fact contains many female figures who exercise a great deal of power. The contrast between male and female roles in this ancient society lies in how the power manifests itself; by necessity, women often used subtler and less direct means to achieve their ends.