Book: Women of the Bible
Author: H.V. Morton
Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, pp. 204
Excerpt from Introduction:
Watching an Arab girl (on my visit to Beersheba) who seemed to symbolize all the women of the Bible, I thought that I would like to try and sketch a gallery of portraits that includes such magnificent contrasts as Ruth and Jezebel, Abigail and Delilah, Salome and Mary Magdalene.
I have stressed their common humanity and their modernness perhaps more than might have been considered proper in the last century, but that, in my opinion, is their distinctive quality. Most of us have had the opportunity of studying Martha and Mary in our own families, or among the ranks of our friends and acquaintances, some of us, no doubt have known the devoted, firm-minded Sarah, and many are well acquainted with that monument of fierce and doting motherhood, Rebekah, or the "well-favored" Rachel, whose easy charm vanishes into an envious and petulant middle-age. Potiphar's wife moves through the newspapers in a variety of guises, and Delilah is a character known to the police and the legal profession: the female Judas who is always willing to entrap a Samson for silver.
It is indeed the whole of womanhood which is presented to us in the women of the Bible, unchanging, unvarying from age to age: a feminine portrait gallery drawn with a marvelous stark economy and unsurpassed in its variety in the whole of literature.
Excerpt from Book:
Ruth is unique in the history of woman because her story is not primarily that of her love for a man, but of her passionate devotion to a character which modern humor has claimed as its own: her mother-in-law. Only the greatest writer would dare to take this as his theme.
It is an axiom in modern life that a man's mother and his young wife do not always agree. We all know a few brilliant exceptions to this rule, but I cannot think of any literature other than the Book of Ruth, in which this relationship is exalted.
The character of Ruth is intensely interesting. There is nothing to suggest that she was beautiful, as Rebekah and Rachel were beautiful, or that she was competent, as Sarah was competent. Ruth's outstanding quality was a beauty of heart, a generosity of soul, a firm sense of duty, and a meekness which often goes hand in hand with the gifts of decision.
Her desire to follow Naomi into poverty was no sacrifice. She loved the older woman and asked only to be able to help and to make life easier for her, to work for her and to share her life.
Thus, to my mind, Ruth is not an abnormal character, although she is an unusual one. One must know very little of human nature if one has never met Ruth. But, at the same time, the world does not consider her spectacular or heroic. But the Bible, casting the floodlight of its revelation on her portrait, has placed her among the immortals.
Table of Contents:
3. Lot's wife
6. Potiphar's wife
7. Pharaoh's Daughter
12. The Witch of Endor
15. The Queen of Sheba
18. The Woman of Samaria
19. Martha and Mary
22. Pilate's Wife
23. Mary Magdalene