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Deborah's DaughtersGender Politics and Biblical Interpretation$
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Joy A. Schroeder

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199991044

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199991044.001.0001

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Mothers in Israel: Suffragettes, Women Preachers, and Female Roles in the Nineteenth Century

Mothers in Israel: Suffragettes, Women Preachers, and Female Roles in the Nineteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.139) 5 Mothers in Israel: Suffragettes, Women Preachers, and Female Roles in the Nineteenth Century
Source:
Deborah's Daughters
Author(s):

Joy A. Schroeder

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199991044.003.0006

From pulpits and speaker’s podiums, nineteenth-century women used Judges 4–5 to argue for their right to preach, lecture publicly, vote in elections, hold political office, and enter the political sphere as men’s equals. This chapter looks at the role of Deborah in the writings of African-American preachers Jarena Lee and Zilpha Elaw and white women such as Phoebe Palmer. Their opponents recommended that “mothers in Israel” should devote themselves to more feminine activities, such as raising money for missionaries and teaching the children in their own households. Jewish novelist Grace Aguilar used Deborah’s example to argue that Judaism elevated women’s roles. Social reformers and suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriet Beecher Stowe maintained that Deborah brought maternal, feminine virtues into the public sphere. Suffragists envisioned Deborah’s Israel as an idyllic land where a woman’s strong motherly rule brought peace and prosperity to her people.

Keywords:   Jarena Lee, Zilpha Elaw, Phoebe Palmer, Grace Aguilar, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, women’s suffrage, suffragists, mother in Israel

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