Today was a day of grand achievements and productivity. Yes, I actually sat down and did something academic for the first time in a long time -- I worked on my entries to an upcoming Bible Dictionary that will be published (out of Canada, I believe). There was a call for entries and the Kosher Academic was kind enough to pass along the info to me, so I signed up to write the entries for Tzipporah, Mara, and Naomi.
For those in the know, you'll note that Mara and Naomi are essentially one in the same. However, while there is plenty to write about Naomi, writing about Mara -- by which Naomi asks to be called after losing her sons, husband, and her long sojourn in a foreign land -- which means "bitter," has been much harder. For starters there isn't much content, which means I need to fill in elsewhere with interesting facts and tidbits. For Naomi this includes paintings and pieces of artwork or literature in which her story has shown up.
I thought I had it in the bag with Mara, seeing as Tova Reich has a book called "Mara," and the character also appears in Reich's newest (and controversial) book, "My Holocaust." Then I started investigating the proper name "Mara," only to find that the name has many, many meanings and significances in many different cultures around the world. There are folklores with mara, there are goddesses and evil spirits by the name of mara, there is even a Mara people located in India. (For what it's worth, I e-mailed the latter to find out if their identifiying name had anything to do with the biblical Mara. The administrator of the peoples' website got back to me really quick and let me know that no, there is no relation. Blast!) I also e-mailed Tova Reich's publicist in the hopes that Reich can verify whether her book title and character have anything to do with the biblical Mara. In truth, I almost think the character Mara *is* the biblical Mara -- the name meaning bitter, as the Almighty had dealt bitterly with Naomi. Of course, I imagine it'll be days, perhaps weeks, before I hear back from Reich or her publicist.
At any rate, it was a good, productive day and I got most of my entries written. Tzipporah ended up being the longest, and even includes a little tidbit about Michelle Pfeifer doing the voice of Tzipporah in "The Prince of Egypt" -- the 1998 film by DreamWorks. Fascinating, no?