In this article I analyze disbelief of the divine messages transmitted by female figures in the Jewish texts Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, Jubilees, and the Sibylline Oracles. After a careful reading of these passages I turn to the portrayal of the figure of Cassandra in ancient Greek literature. While Cassandra’s prophecies are truthful, she is not believed and instead is accused of being mentally ill. Significantly, Cassandra does not appear randomly in ancient Greek texts; her depiction invites the public to ask questions concerning truth and persuasion. This article considers the treatment of Cassandra as a possible model for understanding the characterizations of women prophets as unreliable in ancient Jewish texts. Finally I argue that whereas in Greek texts both men and women appear as unreliable prophets, in the Jewish texts unreliability appears to be a female characteristic.
Recent studies demonstrate the Dead Sea Scrolls attest to a wide variety of methods of technical divination. While scholars have analyzed these techniques, women’s involvement in them has not been addressed. I argue that by choosing a methodological perspective that allows women’s presence in the texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide an important witness to women’s involvement in various divinatory techniques. By focusing on three avenues to inquire about the divine will: the oracle of the lot, astronomy, and physiognomy, I suggest that apart from being objects of these methods, women were involved in their practice. Women’s participation in technical divinatory techniques is the most noticeable in inquiries that concern their own bodies and matters related to procreation.