7 Aug 2005

SHEBA's RIDDLE

'Seven depart & nine enters; two give succor but only one partakes.' What are they?

This is a riddle, according to the jewish historical sources, posed by Queen of Sheba who chose to be dressed in white, upon her first visit to Solomon.

As witty & intelligent as she was known to be, this riddle was not said to occupy time but it had implication. Some would go as far as turning this visit from a international politics to politics of gender.

The riddle is a suggestive of the jewish tradition and society that dedicate essential importance to sexual relations that only lead to bearing and nurturing children. The white garment worn by Sheba was a symbol of her impurity, a period during which men are not supposed to be in contact with women. The deeper symbolic of menstruation is a missed oportunity for reproduction. That being the case, sexual relation with women during this period would thus be a waste of semens.

According to the jewish traditions & culture, bearing children was not to be taken lightly. It has its own history that is directly related to the convenant given by God to Abraham and His promise to have the children of Isra'il become the chosen people. God's blessing was similarly granted to Isaac, to Jacob, and by extension to the people of Israel. The survival of the species, a matter of universal concern, thus became a special concern of Israel's society. Thus, producing offspring was not only pleasurable and desirable but had become incumbent on Jewish men and on Jewish women.

The queen's riddle suggest that children bearing and nurture are the proper role for women. There is a lesson in that for any woman who denies sexual hierarchy and prefers to rule men instead, especially among the daughter of Israel.

So, did anyone figure the riddle out?

Simplified excerpts from Jacob Lassner's research on 'ritual purity and political exile'. The reading of Islamic historiography in the lights of Jewish narratives. Brillant work!

5 Comments:

Blogger Alina said...

Haal, everything you read sounds so interesting! And somehow reminds me it's high time to get my hands on a book...

8/08/2005 04:41:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

I have been reading this book for the past 3 months or so! Have been super lazy. Maybe it is a virus.

And yes, Kay, there are lots of interesting stuff out there. The queen of Sheba (you know the story, right) is so interesting. what I wrote is just a summary of way too interesting stuff...more so to us Muslims!

Glad that you enjoyed it.

8/08/2005 04:49:00 pm  
Blogger TARFAH said...

Banu Isra'il and their ongoing problem to preserve their species and geneology. Somethng the muslims kinda took from them (ahl al-bayt) and the 'tafakhour of the prophet with his people... Of course, the shallow meaning of the hadith translated as the large number.

Interesting post!

8/08/2005 11:03:00 pm  
Anonymous zoss said...

Days give to months -- the common say, in common, swings are common. The days are those in which approach is reproached. The months are those in which bearing is between bearable and unbearable.

The one, who had nine shut and one open, will now have one shut and nine open, one of which will have to take over the job of the shut one. The two, be rest assured, don't only have this one job.

Wasted opportunities are immense -- especially in hindsight.

8/09/2005 04:56:00 am  
Blogger zoss said...

(I appologize if my playful mood ticks you off.)

(Seven) Days (of menstruation per month) give to (nine) months (of pregnancy) -- the common (people) say, in common (between the two periods), (mood) swings are (very!) common. The days are those in which approach is reproached (quran - verse 2:222). The months are those in which (child-) bearing is between (physically and emotionally) bearable and unbearable.

The one (child), who had (in the womb) nine (orifices) shut and one open, (from which it fed,) will now have (this latter) one shut and (the other) nine open, one of which (namely the mouth) will have to take over the job of the shut one. The two (breasts), be rest assured, don't only have this one job (of nursing).

Wasted opportunities are immense -- especially in hindsight. (ah, if only there were parentheses wide enough!)

8/11/2005 04:58:00 am  

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