I have been thinking a lot about Kurk’s post on Joseph and motherly instincts. Of course, this shows how little of the original culture shows through in English. The two women were both female, but only one had a biological link to the child. Joseph was Benjamin’s only brother of the same mother. The link is by the womb, but refers to a biological relationship, not a motherly relationship. Men had the relationship also, brothers had it, brothers and sisters had this relationship.
In Greek, the brother and sister are adelphos, and adelphé, of the same womb, biologically related. This is the supreme relationship in ancient times. The spouse, unless a passionate lover, as in Song of Songs, the spouse could be a throw away. Here is an instructive story,
Taking precautions against further resistance, Darius sent soldiers to seize Intaphernes, along with his son, family members, relatives and any friends who were capable of arming themselves. Darius believed that Intaphernes was planning a rebellion, but when he was brought to the court, there was no proof of any such plan. Nonetheless, Darius killed Intaphernes’ entire family, excluding his wife’s brother and son. She was asked to choose between her brother and son. She chose her brother to live. Her reasoning for doing so was that she could have another husband and another son, but she would always have but one brother. Darius was impressed by her response and spared both her brother’s and her son’s life.
Who was closer to her womb, apparently her brother. It was not about motherly feelings, but about family solidarity. But then even the eunuch has these feelings for Daniel. God for his people, mothers for children, brothers for brothers, these are the wombly feelings we find in the Hebrew Bible. I would suggest that sisters and brothers for each other, children for parents, parents for children, all the natural family ties, are the wombly feelings, not “motherly” feelings.
I don’t mean to downplay the difference in circumstance between men and women in Bible, but I do believe that in emotional makeup, men and women both, were to have wombly feelings, family loyalty. Here are a few examples,
And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there. Gen. 43:40
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: Zec. 7:9
And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: 1 Kings 8:50
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. Dan. 1:9
Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: Amos 1:11