Bib­li­cal Seduc­tions: Six Sto­ries Retold Based on Tal­mud and Midrash

San­dra E. Rapoport
  • Review
By – August 30, 2011
The Bible’s approach to sex and sex­u­al mat­ters is not timid and presents us with sto­ries that, even as mod­ern read­ers, we strug­gle to under­stand and ques­tion what wis­dom we can dis­cern from these ancient tales. San­dra E. Rapoport, a lawyer and inde­pen­dent schol­ar, has exam­ined anew six sto­ries of seduc­tion, betray­al, and, some­times love, that are famil­iar to the read­er. She retells the sto­ries and weaves in tra­di­tion­al inter­pre­ta­tions from Tal­mud and Midrash to help us delve fur­ther into the char­ac­ters and the moti­va­tions for their actions.

The book begins with one of the most con­tro­ver­sial and dis­turb­ing sto­ries, Lot and His Daugh­ters, then moves on to the famil­iar sto­ries of Dinah and Shechem, Judah and Tamar, David and Bat­she­va, Ruth and Boaz, and the less known sto­ry of Amnon and Tamar.

This well-writ­ten book is more than a retelling, but rather, a re-posi­tion­ing of the sto­ries and how we have under­stood them in past schol­ar­ship, and how we might view them today. Re-posi­tion­ing in the sense that they are tak­en out of the bib­li­cal text and explored as moral tales that stand on their own, and with­stand the test of time.

Rapoport has done an extra­or­di­nary job of research­ing the com­men­tary and pre­sent­ing a coher­ent analy­sis of flawed char­ac­ters, often try­ing to do the right thing, and, the con­se­quences of their actions, or inactions.
Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions