The Defense Has Become the Prosecution:” Ezrat HaNashim, a Thirteenth-century Response to Misogyny
Jacobs, Jill (Jewish Theological Seminary of America)
Women in Judaism:A Multidisciplinary Journal (2003)
The debate about the nature of women—and the parallel debate about the nature of men—take many forms. This paper will not attempt a comprehensive study of these debates, but rather, will examine the manifestation of the debate over women in two thirteenth century texts, Judah Ibn Shabbetai’s Minhat Yehuda Sone HaNashim and Ezrat HaNashim, a response to this work written by Isaac. Minhat Yehuda Sone HaNashim, written in Castile in the late twelfth/early thirteenth century purports to be a misogynist work although, as we will see, it is probably a parody of misogynist literature. Ezrat HaNashim, probably written in Provence in 1210, understands Minhat Yehuda as a serious misogynist work and sets out to defend women against the charges that Ibn Shabbetai levels against them. As much has already been written about Minhat Yehuda, we will focus on Ezrat HaNashim and explore the defense of women that this text presents.