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Biblefic: The Women of Genesis

Title: The Women of Genesis
Author: voleuse
Text: The Bible
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't need one, do I? Public domain and all.
Summary: The stories told are often wrong.

Eve: Creation
Genesis 2:20-25

Her eyes flicker open. It is the first time her eyes have opened, ever, and she pauses to revel in the feel of it. Sight.

Everything is bright, so bright, and she blinks in the sun. Gasps at the vivid world around her, and discovers another thing. Smell. Sweet, alive, and delectable.

There is another person before her, and she sits up to see that person more clearly. She wants to catalog everything, every experience. He extends a hand to her, and she mirrors the gesture automatically. Their hands glance together, hesitantly at first, then they clasp together firmly.


Eve: Fall
Genesis 3

She steps through the gates of Eden, and experiences something new.


Never before has she felt this sharp, stinging ache in her bones, in her belly. She falls to her knees, whimpering. He halts his stumble forward, looks at her with creased brow. Kneels down and embraces her, murmuring into her ear.

She bites her lip to keep from screaming, knowing that he must bear his own burdens, as she endures this. He asks if they should stop to rest; she shakes her head and stands. Squares her shoulders, and as they walk, she discovers yet another thing.


Eve: Death
Genesis 4

Abel is her bright, gentle boy. A caring son, an able shepherd. Her son.

He was her son. Before her other son killed him. She can't breathe at the thought of it, at the idea of his blood, trickling through his brother's fingers.

She had once thought that this new life, this finite life, might be worth the joy of being able to patch her children's small wounds when they came running to her. Might be worth drying their tears.

Now she knows the truth. She knows death for what it really is.

She will never stop wanting to scream.

Noah's Wife
Genesis 7:12-14, 24

She fears she will die like this, huddled in a dark corner, retching at the perpetual rocking of their vessel, at the never-ending stench of the animals. She fears she will never hear a moment's quiet again.

She knows, has known bone-deep, that Noah was wise to listen to his god. She knows they would be drowned, otherwise, but at times she might prefer death to this cantankerous menagerie.

She's tired of caring for beasts she can't number, let alone name, and she just wants a moment's rest without fearing that the water will enfold her.

She misses her sisters.

Genesis 12:1-5, 10-20

She's never been so far from home.

They had been living peacefully, quietly, and prosperously on their own land only a few days ago.

Her husband has never explained, to her satisfaction, why they must live uprooted now. Why they wander through strange cities and new lands. Why she must, time and again, risk a king's brothel for her husband's safety.

She loves him, and she's given up everything for him, but she's starting to wonder why he won't give her any reasons for their new lifestyle.

All she wants is a family, but he won't even give her that.

Genesis 16

The desert is harsh, and the sand scours her skin, but it tastes of freedom to her, and of desperation.

Her master has been merciful in the past, affectionate, but she wouldn't hazard to guess what he might do to runaway slaves. Even then, she'd rather risk his wrath than bear another minute with his wife. That bitter, dried-up woman who handed her to the master with a smile.

The master's wife looks daggers at her now, and her son, whenever the master isn't around. Sometimes, even if he is.

She'd rather die than let that harridan harm her son.

Genesis 18:1-15

When she laughs, she can feel the rattle of her lungs. She is older than she ever expected to be.

Once, she would have been angry at her age, angry that she never had the chance to bear fruit. After so many years, however, she can only muster the dregs of her former bitterness.

Ishmael is, to all intents and purposes, her son. She has, in time, become content with that.

When she hears the three strangers prophesy a son, promise her renewed youth, she cannot stifle her reaction. Most would indulge an old lady her amusement.

They do not.

Lot's Daughters
Genesis 19

They think the world has ended, in a hail of ash and fire. As far as they are concerned, anyway, it has. Their world ended when their husbands died screaming.

They are worthless, now—daughters, long grown and childless. They are afraid this is the end of their family (their mother shrieked before she crumbled to powder), and they are ashamed to be the survivors. They are not much, not sufficient to wield the family's honor.

The world has ended, and it is only they and their father, half-crazed from the destruction.

They decide they need sons, so they plan.

Rebekah: Maiden
Genesis 24

She had dreamed of marrying close to home, of being able to see her friends on a daily basis, even after leaving her father's house.

Her sudden engagement feels something like exile, and her husband-to-be is merely a story, told by a faithful servant to appease a fretful young woman. They've been on their journey for weeks, and his consistent praise of Isaac is starting to sound suspicious.

She's been bartered away by chance, she thinks, and willingly. When she finally glimpses the man she is to marry, though, she doesn't mind the gamble.

Why should she, if she's won?

Genesis 25

She bore Abraham sons aplenty, and she watched him send them all away, along with the sons of all his concubines. Even Ishmael, his true first-born, she saw treated as second best to Isaac, the specter of a woman dead long ago.

She lived with Sarah's ghost, hovering over her. At times she thought she could hear the woman's cynical comments, snidely commenting on Abraham's stable of sons.

To her husband, there is only Isaac. She, herself, is merely a warm body. Her sons are an unasked for benefit.

She wonders where they will bury her, when the time comes.

Esau's Wives
Genesis 26:34-35, 27:46, 36:2-3

Rebekah hates them, they know. They were hurt at first, but over time, they grew resentful. Callused.

In time, they delighted in her discomfort, and in that of Isaac. Cowardly, in their eyes, they do not rebuke them, but look askance. Insult them sideways, to their husband's face.

He doesn't care. He laughs at the wit of his parents and brother.

As long as they provide him with sons and supper, he will never complain, and he will never defend them. Leave him to hunt, he scoffs, whenever they try to protest. They do, but they refuse to become prey.

Rebekah: Trickster
Genesis 27:5-17

She is not ashamed to admit she plays favorites. Jacob reminds her of her own family, clever and quiet and quick. They are traits she wants to encourage; they will keep him alive and prosperous where brawn will fail.

Her husband is of another mind, and she thinks he grows foolish as well as senile. He thinks the presence of hearty Esau will return his youth. When he begins to natter on about his final blessing, an idea occurs to her.

Instead of quashing the thought of deception, she nurtures it. She takes advantage, and will never apologize for it.

Genesis 35:8

Wherever Rebekah went, so went she. She followed her to this land, so many years ago, and never spoke against the journey. Never spoke against her husband, her sons, or her decisions. She spoke against Rebekah's daughters-in-law, because she wished it so.

Sometimes, she thought about home, and of the people she had left behind. Oftentimes, however, she simply reveled in her new family, the one into which she grafted.

When she was dying, they didn't notice at first, so used to her silence they were.

When she died, they bought a plot of land, and buried her as family.

Genesis 29:30-35

She craved that which she didn't have.

She had her husband's body, but not his heart.

He visited her tent as an afterthought, appreciative of her wiles, but never beguiled enough to converse with her afterwards. An aftereffect, perhaps, of their wedding night.

She bore Jacob many sons, but did not receive the honor she deserved as first wife.

He was pleased, wealthy with sons, but he refused her his respect. She was a hapless pawn in Laban's maneuvering, but she was a symbol of everything that went wrong.

She was unloved, but his love was exactly what she craved.

Genesis 31:19, 31-35

Jacob shared his plans for departure, and she wept after he left her tent. If they left home, left her family, all she would have left was Jacob. She loved him like rain, but he was not enough. He was not home.

She crept into her father's house and took the household gods, the very essence of their home.

When they ran away, she would carry home with her, and from that, she would never be parted. Not by Jacob, not by Leah, not by her ragtag nephews.

She was tired of feeling alone.

When they rode away, she smiled.

Bilhah and Zilpah
Genesis 30:3-13

He was, they knew, a compassionate man, if not always a loving husband.

For Rachel's sake, he lay with Bilhah, a gesture of appeasement, as he had sons already. Because he loved her, he dallied, turning maid to concubine.

For Leah's sake, he lay with Zilpah, bemused but willing, just as she was. Because he wanted peace, he dallied, and enlarged his household in kind.

Two sons he got, by each of them, and they marvelled at the roundness of ten, even as they lay their children on their mistresses' knees.

They were not mothers, neither were they his wives.

Genesis 34

Everything is blood to her.

A single glance at a young, handsome man, and she finds herself bruised, broken. He expects her gratitude. She can't look him in the eye.

She is borne by the indignation of her brothers. Her body is forfeit, but her honor saved, and she married.

They bestow the covenant upon the city, and she tries not to smile at the men's cries of pain and wounded pride.

The next day, their cries are replaced with screams, and she pictures her brothers, swords in hand, plying vengeance in her name.

She cannot bring herself to weep.

Genesis 38

Her first husband died of wickedness. Her second husband died of unwillingness.

She is denied a third, though she is entitled to one. Judah, her father-in-law, disgraces her by refusing her a place in his home. He believes their deaths are her fault.

She chooses to place blame on him, instead, exiled as she is to her own father's home. Disgraced.

She vows to claim that which is due to her. She veils herself, and waits by the side of a road.

When Judah encounters her, a deal is made, but it isn't the one she expects. Nor does he.

Potiphar's Wife
Genesis 39

It isn't anything out of the ordinary, to take one's slave as a lover. Certainly this one is more intelligent than most of the others, but he is still a slave. And she's never been refused before.

It's not out of fear that she acts, but humiliation, and some vengeance. How dare he spurn her?

She dooms him with little thought for his own feelings, aside from petty amusement. She expected her husband to outright execute him, at first, but imprisonment would do.

Later, when the truth of his importance becomes clear, she feels a little foolish, but that's all.

Genesis 41:45, 50

The messenger informs her that she is married to a stranger, and a foreigner, no less. He is new favorite of Pharaoh's, which does not bode well for her future—she's seen doom befall favored courtiers before. There was an execution just last week.

Pharaoh can be fickle, and she fears that capriciousness. She lives and dies in his name, but she would rather not die.

Truth be told, she would rather not marry a barbarian fresh from the prison, but Pharaoh decrees, and so she must obey.

She prays to several gods as she dresses to meet her husband.


The original post.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
Wow. This was absolutely fascinating. And reminded me that I'm so glad I wasn't born a woman in those times.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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