Sisters, op. 100
Copyright 1984 by Leonard Lehrman
1. The Wife of Lot
All right, Lot, I'm coming. But for goodness' sake, what's the rush?
I still don't understand why we had to leave. Just as we get settled in a place, "Bam!" you get in a fight with someone, and we have to go.
Why did your herdsmen have to quarrel with Uncle Abraham's? "Separate yourself from me," he said. If we hadn't been separated from him then maybe we wouldn't have had all that trouble with Shinar, Ellasar, Elam and the Goiim!
So now where do we live? In a cave? In tents? Or do we go crawling back to Uncle Abraham again? I still don't understand why we had to leave.... Where will our daughters find husbands now?
Sodom wasn't Eden, but we did have our pride, plenty to eat, and the freedom to do just about whatever we wanted ro... And then these men come along and say
"Get out! Get out! Everything - everything is going to be destroyed!"
No wonder my brothers laughed when you repeated that!
"Ridiculous! These beautiful cities of the plain - our home - destroyed? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! This has been our home for generations! Who's going to destroy it?"
All right, yes, I'm coming, I'm coming.
You know the load that I'm carrying is heavy. Not just my own weight - there's all those precious stones, and jewels - ah! and ornaments and things I couldn't leave. How could I? So many years it took to amass a fortune, and now, at one fell swoop, to give it all up? No.
Where would we ever find such things again? Where would we ever find such things again? Out here in the desert, where the sand smells like sulphur?
Look at the sky - it's all hazy and yellow. But Sodom shines through. Doesn't it? Look!
I know those "angels" who "rescued" us said "Don't look back!" But how can I help it, Lot, remembering the happy years we enjoyed there together? Look, Lot! Look! Look!
Wait a minute, Lot, you're going too fast! Help me - help me, Lot, I can't keep up. I can hardly see you through the cloud of dust. The smell of sulphur and salt is getting worse! I can't stand it any longer! Help! Help, Lot! Help, my husband! Help! Help! Don't leave me behind!
Sources: Gen. 11:27 & 31, 13:7-10, 14:1-16, 18:2-23, 19:1-38; Ezek. 16:49-50.
What have I done? Where did I go wrong?
What sin could I have committed to have provoked such a curse? Stricken, as a leper, I am now the bane of all people. They scoff at me. I, who was to lead, am now to be the cause of at least a week's delay. Who will follow me now? Who will ever again listen to what I have to say?
Was it because I chose to speak out?
When we crossed the Red Sea, I led the rejoicing in song: "The Lord has triumphed gloriously! Gloriously!" And my brother Moses proclaimed me a prophetess! Was it wrong of me to question his authority now? I said he might not be the only one to receive divine guidance, might not be the only one questing after Truth. Aaron was with me; and the women listened, but no one followed me. Was I wrong to persist? Shunned as a leper, I shall never lead again - all respect for me has been destroyed; whatever power I did possess is gone.
A new generation of men, and of women, will have to enter the land of promises - promises of freedom, and of justice. Let them remember, and, in memory of Miriam, never allow the self-righteous complacence - no matter how masked in meekness - of any would-be Moses to go unchallenged!
Sources: Exod. 2:1-9, 15:20-21; Num. 12:1-16, 20:1-2, 26:59; ISam. 18:7; Habakkuk 3:7; Micah 6:4
3. Zelophehad's Daughters
We did it, Sisters! We challenged them, and we won!
Now at last a woman's rights must be recognized.
When our father Zelophehad died, we asked of the elders: "Why should our father's good name not be remembered? Just because his wife had borne him no sons? We his five daughters - Mahlah, and Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah - we should have the right to cherish, to honor, to inherit and to possess what was his. We are his legitimate heirs. Why should his name be lost for all time, simply because his children are all women?"
The captains of tens would not hear our plea; likewise did the captains of fifties refuse; and so on to he captains of hundreds, and of thousands, until we approached the very highest authority. And then, Moses, taking divine counsel, granted the righteousness of our plea:
Henceforth a woman shall not count for naught. Sisters, it is a beginning. The path has been long, and stretches far into the distance. There will be, there must be, many more struggles to come, before the Promised Land is reached - and even then!
But for now, let us rejoice in the victory that is ours - rejoice in the victory for justice, rejoice in the victory for all Israel, rejoice in the victory not just for women alone, rejoice in the victory for all humanity!
Sources: Num. 11:1, 14:1, 14:44, 15:32, 26:33, 27:1-11, 36:1-12; Zohar 3:157a; Josh. 17:3-6; Job 42:14-15; Chron. 7:15; BB 18b, 119a&b, 1201, 122b; Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Bible (1911) v. 3 pp. 391-5.
recorded by Helene Williams on Songs of Conscience
cassette 3/91; re-issued on CD, 6/03
posted online at amc.net:
1. The Wife of Lot
3. Zelophehad's Daughters