Bilhah


Also found in: Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Bil•hah

(ˈbɪl hə)

n.
the mother of Dan and Naphtali. Gen. 30:1–8.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
The commanders and their wives often repeat the Old Testament story of Rachel and Bilhah: Rachel thought she could not have children and forced her handmaid Bilhah to have sex with her husband Jacob, claiming the children as her own.
In turn both of them gave their respective slave girls Zilpah and Bilhah to Jacob to bear children for them (cf Gen 30:3-13).
As an example, Genesis 35:22 describes an apparent sexual encounter between Jacob's oldest son Reuben and his father's concubine Bilhah, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine.
Aside for Dinah's story, it also tells the story of Jacob and his four wives Leah (Dinah's mother), Zilpah, Bilhah and Rachel.
Jacob is not compassionate--he "doesn't get it" and says, in effect, "don't blame me, blame God" and she turns him over to Bilhah who bears Dan and Naph'tali.
16) ) There is no story of mother-son incest in the Bible; the nearest approach to this would be the brief mention of Reuben sleeping with his father's wife Bilhah (Genesis 35:22), though even this is sometimes explained away by the rabbis (see Kaplan, The Living Torah and Rashi on this verse).
63) Other famous polygamous men from the Genesis narrative include Abraham (married to Sarah, and later, Hagar the concubine (64)), Abraham's brother Nahor (married to Milcah and his concubine Reumah (65)), Jacob (married to Leah and Rachel, along with the concubines Bilhah and Zilpah), Esau (married to Judith, Basemath, Mahalath, Adah, and Oholibamah), and Esau's son Eliphaz.
Judeo-Christian texts reference Hagar, Bilhah, and Zilpah, three handmaids who bore children on behalf of Sarah, Rachel, and Leah (respectively).
The specific idea of using a handmaid when the wife is infertile due to global disasters has been probably inspired by the biblical citation that appears in the first epigraph: "And [Rachel] said [to Jacob], Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
Its macroscopic narrative, however, fails to delineate the evolution of servants and handmaids who are first introduced in their relations to Abram/Abraham and his servant, Eliezer of Damascus; Sarai/Sarah and her handmaid, Hagar of Egypt; and, Sarah's grand-daughters-in-law, Leah and Rachel, and their maids, Zilpah and Bilhah, respectively.
Although censure is not the only conceivable explanation for anonymity, it makes sense also with Potiphar's wife in Genesis 39 and contrasts with many major and minor female characters who are named in Genesis: Eve (Genesis 1-4), Adah wife of Lamech (4:19-23), Zillah (4:19-23), Namah (4:19-23), Milcah (11:29, 22:20-23, 24:15-47), Sarai/Sarah (17-18, 20-21, 23-25, 49), Hagar (16, 21, 25), Rebekah (24-29, 35, 49), Keturah (25), Judith (26:34), Basemath (26:34, 36:3-17), Mahalath (28:9), Rachel (29-31, 33, 35, 46, 48), Leah (29-31, 33-35, 46, 49), Bilhah (29-30, 35, 37, 46), Zilpah (29-30, 35, 37, 46), Dinah (30, 34, 46), Adah wife of Esau (36:6-16), Oholibamah (36:2-41), Timnah (38:12-14), Mehetabel (36:39), Tamar (14, 38), and Asenath (41, 46).