They called me kedeisha once. Prostitute. They reviled me. But the man who paid me for sex and impregnated me was a righteous man above blame, so they forgave me. Now, they revere me as the mother of a brilliant dynasty. I am the mother of kings. My grandsons rule by divine right.
My daughters give me far more maternal joy. But they don’t know about my daughters.
I was married once, to a righteous man above blame. When he died childless, I was married to his brother, as is the law and custom of his people. When my second husband also died childless, they all thought I was cursed.
But neither of my husbands was childless. True, I did not give birth. But they fathered children. My children. Everyone thought they were righteous, but they violated their own laws every night. They reached the cusp of pleasure, and then they withdrew from me.
I watched them convulse, pour out onto the ground. They didn’t look at me as they wiped off the residue of their pleasure, turned their backs, and slept.
I watched my daughters grow from their spilled seed.
I didn’t care how my children were born. But I could not forgive my husbands’ cruel hypocrisy.
They thought they were safe from seminal demons, my two husbands, because they recited the curse before bed every night: “I hereby pronounce a ban and excommunication upon the evil spirits and destructive forces created by the drops of seminal emission and my wasted seed – all of them are included in the ban. May they not touch me, my bier, nor my clothes, nor accompany me to the grave.”
But my daughters were not created by involuntary emissions and were not bound by this curse.
My spilled-seed daughters killed their fathers, and I am a proud mother of daughters.
Notes: I combined two Biblical / Talmudic / kabbalistic ideas in this story.
The first is the story of Tamar. She was married to Judah’s two sons, both of whom died childless, because they “spilled their seed on the ground” rather than risking impregnating their wife, Tamar. (The second brother’s name is Onan, which leads to the term “onanism.”) Tamar should have married the third brother then, according to Jewish law, but Judah was afraid she was cursed and so did not allow the marriage to happen. Tamar then seduced Judah, posing as a prostitute, and was almost executed for prostitution when it was discovered she was pregnant outside of marriage. But when she revealed that Judah was the father, she and her unborn children were allowed to live. One of the twins she bore became the forefather of the Davidic line of Jewish kings. I find the medieval and contemporary explanations for why it was okay (and even praiseworthy!) for Judah to engage in prostitution circular, apologetic, and misogynistic. I also find the reasoning behind the men’s deaths as a result of “spilling their seed” problematic.
The second is based on the prayer to guard against nocturnal emissions. The prayer / curse cited here arose from passages in the Zohar (a book of kabbalah) and Midrash Rabbah (commentaries on the Bible), which relate stories about Lilith. Lilith was Adam’s first wife, before Eve. According to these two sources, she was a succubus who seduced Adam at night. But rather than killing her “victim,” she caused him to have nocturnal emissions, and the “seeds” in those emissions became female vampires. Fearing nocturnal emissions’ vampiric potential, a prayer to prevent them from harming the man was created. The prayer / curse sounds to me more like disavowing any familial connection and obligation, and that’s just sad.
Linked to Beautiful Freaks Fest 2017.