“Freud once asserted that mortals are not made to keep secrets;
what they would like to conceal oozes from all their pores.”
Psychoanalyst Theodore Reik
It’s remarkable how much female imagery there is in the Bible hidden within its wording. The more I delve into its passages, the more that I have found these hidden/not so hidden sacred feminine images, even deities. I have begun a project of digging in and rooting out these little gems. When people think about the sacred feminine or female deities in the Bible the most well known is the Shekinah. The Shekinah is a lovely presence. The word means “dwelling” and usually represents “god’s divine presence” or a place where the divine resides.
The problem is that the Shekinah as a feminine essence of the divine is never stated explicitly, it is an interpretation of how the word is used. I love the concept of the Shekinah but as an essence that upholds the entire weight of the feminine divine in the bible, I find it unsatisfying by itself. Luckily for me, Goddess Shekinah has lots of company. Sometimes they are indeed hiding in plain sight. Sometimes they hide in the translations. The passage I am presenting today has some of both going on. The following is the King James Version of Genesis 49:25. Jacob has been giving blessings to each of his sons and this is part of the blessing he gives to Joseph:
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee;
and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lieth under,
blessings of the breasts, and of the womb
I can’t get enough of this blessing. Just think about its importance. One patriarch of Judaism (Jacob), gives a blessing to his son (Joseph), another patriarch, that is based on female body parts; specifically breasts and womb. In other words, this is a Goddess blessing. But that’s not all just in this 4-line passage.
“Almighty” in Genesis 49:25 is the Hebrew word Shaddai. El Shaddai or Shaddai as a term for god appears 48 times in the Bible. It first appears in Genesis 17:1 when the LORD (YHVH) speaks to Abraham.
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine,
the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him,
I am the Almighty God;
walk before me, and be thou perfect.
El Shaddai is usually translated as “God Almighty” or “Almighty God,” sometimes as “God, the One of the Mountain.” The phrase is always paired with the pronoun “he.”
This is curious since Shaddai come from the root shad which means breasts or teats; certainly, a very different kind of mountain! Look how remarkable Genesis 17:1 is: A new and powerful deity arises named YHVH (which I have previously blogged about) whose name can be broken into the component parts of mother/father or male/female. YHVH then introduces themselves to Abram as “I am ‘the breasts.’”
To continue reading to go: feminismandreligionblog