The Arty Semite

Author Blog: The Values We Live By

By Debra Band

  • Print
  • Share Share

Earlier, Debra Band discussed how she visually expresses biblical stories and shared the back story behind “Arise! Arise!” Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


One of the remarkable things that I discovered early in the project was how these three stories, set in the earliest decades of the Israelite tribes’ appearance in the Land, together model the very set of values that would become central ideals for the Israelite kingdom, and indeed, forever after, in the lives of all women and men who derive inspiration from Tanakh.

Equally remarkable, in each of these stories set in what we commonly perceive as a thoroughly patriarchal era, it is the women rather than the men who lead in modeling these qualities. Deborah was, so far as we read, the first to unite the tribes (or at least many of them) to repel a common enemy since the settlement of the land under Joshua — she is the first leader to instill a sense of national purpose. Her efforts are characterized by her overall good judgment, her courage (in which she is joined by Jael), strategic shrewdness and faith in prophecy.

The third and fourth illuminations of the Deborah story present her listening carefully to the Israelites’ pleas for relief from Canaanite depredations, and her courageous leadership of the Israelite troops into battle, along with Barak. The overwhelming quality that suffuses Ruth’s idyll is of course, chesed, loving-kindness, in which her and Naomi’s care for one another inspires Boaz’s own decisive care for them. After the initial misdeeds of her father-in-law — typical of the disorganized period of the Judges — all three major actors and even the unheard, but fully involved Bethlehemites, do the right thing at the right time to guarantee their collective security and happiness as individuals, as a family, and (unbeknownst to them) as progenitors of the monarchy. In my sixth illumination of Ruth, which we looked at in an earlier post, Ruth expresses her loyalty and love for Naomi, which the rabbis interpreted not simply as human affection, but as an expression of Israel’s devotion to God.

In the tenth illumination of Ruth, imagery associated with divine providence, kindness, and Ruth’s own distinctive elegant comportment populate this scene of Boaz inquiring after her identity. Hannah’s faith in God’s providence leads her to invent Israelite prayer – depicted in Illumination 6 of that story, while her commitment to give her first child to divine service models fidelity to God in the face of self-sacrifice, and her annual gifts of clothing to this son she has given to the priesthood set, as you will see, a powerful example of devoted parenting and handing on wise values.

So, as you will see in the illuminations and literary analyses in “Arise! Arise!,” national leadership and courage, faith, loving-kindness, prayer and wise parenting, all modeled primarily by women in this formative period of the nation, become the guiding values, the moral foundation of the Israelite nation. Join me for this remarkable journey into the lives, hearts, and heritage of these extraordinarily, foundational women of Israel!


Visit Deborah Band’s official website here.


The Jewish Book Council is a not-for-profit organization devoted to the reading, writing and publishing of Jewish literature. For more Jewish literary blog posts, reviews of Jewish books and book club resources, and to learn about awards and conferences, please visit www.jewishbookcouncil.org.

MyJewishLearning.com is the leading transdenominational website of Jewish information and education. Visit My Jewish Learning for thousands of articles on Judaism, Jewish holidays, Jewish history and more.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Debra Band, Books, Author Blog Series

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.