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Document Details :

Title: Infant Israel Growing Up
Subtitle: The Theme of Breastfeeding in the Hebrew Bible
Author(s): BERGMANN, Claudia D.
Journal: Biblica
Volume: 102    Issue: 2   Date: 2021   
Pages: 161-181
DOI: 10.2143/BIB.102.2.3289497

Abstract :
This article investigates the contexts in which the theme of breastfeeding occurs in the Hebrew Bible in order to determine to what extent these texts carry a literary function that goes beyond historical information, biological facts, and descriptions of human emotions. It finds that references to breastfeeding are often located in narratives about changing circumstances for individuals as well as in texts that reference the deity’s involvement with human beings. It is the thesis of this article that the theme of breastfeeding directs attention to infant Israel as it goes through the early stages of life and overcomes many difficulties while it can claim both a firm ancestry (symbolized by successful, strong, and long breastfeeding relationships) and the enduring attention of its God. In the end, it is the deity — albeit through human and especially female involvement — that nurses Israel into being and ensures its ongoing strength in past, present, and future.

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