Water From the Well: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah

Anne Roiphe
  • Review
By – November 11, 2011
Anne Roiphe has done a mas­ter­ful job weav­ing togeth­er mate­r­i­al about the bib­li­cal matri­archs. Tak­ing pieces from the midrash, Tal­mud, and Jew­ish leg­ends as well from the Bible itself, she has cre­at­ed a com­pelling por­trait of the four matri­archs. In these pages, the lives and per­son­al­i­ties of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah are brought to the fore­front. Roiphe adds con­tours to the well-known sto­ries and char­ac­ters, pro­vid­ing new per­spec­tives on these women and their real­i­ties. She uses insights from anthro­pol­o­gy and his­to­ry to make the bib­li­cal age feel famil­iar. At the same time, these women are pre­sent­ed like time­less Every­women, strug­gling with hus­bands and chil­dren, love and loss, just as women have through­out time. The style of this book is not nov­el­is­tic; rather it is an ongo­ing unfold­ing that con­tin­u­al­ly sheds new light and adds depth to sto­ries we think we already know. There is a self-con­scious­ness to the telling that con­tin­u­al­ly reminds the read­er that this is not mere­ly a fic­tion­al­ized retelling but instead a care­ful­ly cho­sen com­bi­na­tion of source mate­r­i­al and inno­v­a­tive new inter­pre­ta­tion. Water from the Well would be a wel­come addi­tion to any Jew­ish col­lec­tion. Bibliography. 
Hara E. Per­son was ordained by Hebrew Union Col­lege-Jew­ish Insti­tute of Reli­gion. She is a writer and editor.

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