Raphael Patai (1911-1996) was a prominent cultural anthropologist, historian, and biblical scholar of international reputation. He was the author of more than three dozen books on Jewish and Arab culture, history, politics, psychology, and folklore.
The Hebrew Goddessby Raphael Patai
The Hebrew Goddess demonstrates that the Jewish religion, far from being pure monotheism, contained from earliest times strong polytheistic elements, chief of which was the cult of the mother goddess. Lucidly written and richly illustrated, this third edition contains new chapters on the Shekhina.
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Patai presents a vast lore of the Hebrew goddess in all her names and legends - Shekhina, Sophia, the Matronit, the Shabhat Bride. As a classical scholar in Hebrew legends, he shows us a mythology rich in female powers. What does it mean, for example, that a traditional term for the Hebrew goddess was "the neglected cornerstone", and then Jesus spoke of building on the cornerstone which the builders neglected? The book touches on numerous sides of Jewish heritage. For example, concerning the underworld of old-fashioned demonology he explains: "At night, the female Liliths join men, and the male Lilin women, to generate demonic offspring. Once they succeed in attaching themselves to a human, they acquire rights of cohabitation, and therefore must be given a get, or letter of divorce, in order that they may be expelled. Jealous of the human mates of their bedfellows, they hate the children born of ordinary wedlock, attack them, plague them, suck their blood, and strangle them. The Liliths also manage to prevent the birth of children, causing barrenness, miscarriages, or complications during childbirth." (p. 225.) This old myth suggests a certain equality of male and female evil spirits. The spirits are of both sexes, and afflict both men and women equally. The human hosts of evil are innocent victims, who must be somehow saved from harm. This is roughly what Jesus believed about demonic possession. Patai's work gives an enriched view of the biblical heritage, exposing the massive contribution of Jewish mothers through the ages. --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization