This article offers a reading of two Hebrew liturgical poems by Yannai, a sixth century C.E. poet, from the perspective of contemporary gender and literary studies. The poems vividly and elaborately retell the story of Sarah's (and Abraham's) barrenness and their wish to have a child. The unique nature of these compositions lies in their delicate treatment of gender roles as well as in their surprising portrayal of Sarah as an active and self-conscious agent. Yannai draws on rich exegetical tradition (biblical, patristic and rabbinic) regarding Sarah's infertility but offers his own insights and contributions. The article also comments on the relevance of Christian hymnography to the study of Jewish poetry in Late Antiquity and on feminist readings of poetic texts from this formative period.
- Abraham -- (Biblical patriarch) -- In literature
- Sarah -- (Biblical matriarch) -- In literature