Skip to main content

Matriarchs, The

MATRIARCHS, THE

The four "mothers" (arba immahot) of Jewish liturgy. In the Bible, *Sarah, *Rebekah, *Leah, and *Rachel are, somewhat asymmetrically, the wives of the three *patriarchs, *Abraham, *Isaac, and *Jacob. All except Rachel were buried in the Cave of Machpelah. Sarah is to be the mother of nations and kings (Gen. 17: 15–16), while Rebekah is to produce myriad offspring who will seize the city gates of the foe (Gen. 24:60). The matriarchs played significant roles in the Genesis story, especially to insure the succession of their sons to the divine promise first given to Abraham. Sarah insists on the expulsion of Hagar in order to eliminate Ishmael as a rival claimant to Isaac (Gen. 21:10). Rebekah initiates Jacob's deception of Isaac so as to ensure that Jacob receive the birthright (Gen. 27). In Jewish tradition, the names of the matriarchs are specifically mentioned in the Mi-she-berakh prayer after the birth of a child and in the parental blessing of a daughter on the eve of Sabbath. However they are not named in other Orthodox liturgy. In recent times, under the influence of feminism, they are mentioned in prayers alongside the patriarchs in many non-Orthodox liturgies. Jacob's lesser wives Bilhah and Zilpah have not yet attained matriarchal status even among the heterodox.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Matriarchs, The." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Matriarchs, The." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/matriarchs

"Matriarchs, The." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved November 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/matriarchs

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.