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Mothers in the Jewish Cultural ImaginationJewish Cultural Studies Volume 5$
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Jane L. Kanarek, Marjorie Lehman, and Simon J Bronner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764661

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764661.001.0001

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The Biblical Root ’mn: Retrieval of a Term and Its Household Context

The Biblical Root ’mn: Retrieval of a Term and Its Household Context

(p.327) Fifteen The Biblical Root ’mn: Retrieval of a Term and Its Household Context
Mothers in the Jewish Cultural Imagination

Deena Aranoff

Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes the maternal figure's connection to the etymological development of a key religious term, the Hebrew root 'mn, which is commonly translated as 'faithfulness' or 'constancy'. It talks about the abstract meanings of faithfulness and constancy as outgrowths of concrete maternal associations and provision of an infant's physical needs. The chapter recovers cultural traces of the maternal activities involved in childrearing in biblical terminology and traces maternal disappearance through the ways in which the meanings 'to rear, nurse' become muted abstractions. The chapter emphasizes how culture is embedded within language and how the physical activities of childrearing had a linguistic impact on the elite literature of ancient Israel. It then examines the subjectivity of mothers over their bodies and their own physical experiences as mothers.

Keywords:   maternal figure, faithfulness, constancy, childrearing, biblical terminology, ancient Israel

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