By Artist Hannah Omer and Cyber-Architect Yitzhak Hayut-Man.
Faces of the Shekhinah (prophet/ess):A prophet is not necessarily a man. Scripture records the stories of seven female prophets, listed below, and the Talmud reports that Sarah's prophetic ability was superior to Abraham's.
A prophet is not necessarily a Jew. The Talmud reports that there were prophets among the gentiles (most notably Balaam, whose story is told in Numbers 22), although they were not as elevated as the prophets of Israel (as the story of Balaam demonstrates). And
some of the prophets, such as Jonah, were sent on missions to speak to the gentiles.
According to some views, prophecy is not a gift that is arbitrarily conferred upon people; rather, it is the culmination of a person's spiritual and ethical development. When a person reaches a suffici
ent level of spiritual and ethical achievement, the Shechinah (Divine Spirit) comes to rest upon him or her. Likewise, the gift of prophecy leaves the person if that person lapses from his or her spiritual and ethical perfection.
The greatest of the prophets was Moses. It is said that Moses saw all that all of the other prophets combined saw, and more. Moses saw the whole of the Torah, including the Prophets and the Writings that were written hundreds of years later. All subsequent prophecy was merely an expression of what Moses had already seen. Thus, it is taught that nothing in the Prophets or the Writings can be in conflict with Moses' writings, because Moses saw it all in advance.
The Talmud states that the
writings of the prophets will not be necessary in the World to Come, because in that day, all people will be mentally, spiritually and ethically perfect, and all will have the gift of prophecy.
|Sarah||Gen 11:29 - 23:20|
|Miriam||Ex. 15:20-21; Num. 12:1-12:15, 20:1|
|Deborah||Judges 4:1 - 5:31|
|Hannah||I Sam 1:1 - 2:21|
|Abigail||I Sam 25:1 - 25:42|
|Huldah||II Kings 22:14-20|
Image of Feminine Spirit Holding the Twin Flames, the Rising Sun and Setting Sun
Thirteen Archetypes of the Priestess from Jewish Tradition by Jill Hammer
The Hill of the Sun, "Tel Shemesh",
Modern Jewish feminists and shamans have expanded and changed this concept of the Shekhinah to reflect a non-dual and non-hierarchal model of God and gender. A great deal has been written about the reclamation of the Divine feminine in a Jewish context (Raphael Patai’s The Hebrew Goddess and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb’s She Who Dwells Within are good places to learn about the Goddess in Judaic tradition). This re-shaping provides an opening for a model of female spirituality that embodies the Shekhinah, just as ancient priestesses embodied the Divine feminine in other traditions.
In contemporary times, work has also been done to imagine what the role of a priestess might be or have been in Jewish life: Savina Teubal hypothesizes biblical priestess-matriarchs in her book Sarah the Priestess. In her book Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue, Bernadette Brooten writes of the occasional elusive inscriptions on Jewish tombstones of the Roman period, such as “Maria, hiereia” (that is, Maria the priestess). Women in the Jewish Renewal movement have invented the title “eishet chazon” (woman of vision) in recognition of women’s spiritual achievement. And Deborah Greniman writes of claiming the term kohenet (the female term for priest in Hebrew). But what would be the function of a kohenet? The term is used in the Talmud solely to mean “the wife or daughter of a priest” (and it is still used that way today among Yemenite Jews). Could there be a place for a priestess in Jewish ritual?