Cover of Rabbi Rayzel's CD - Bible Babes a Beltin'

Stories of Biblical women in a unique folksy, bluesy, earthy voice; a resource for Jewish education in an entertaining style.

BIBLE BABES SONG LYRICS

Miriam Took her Timbrel OutShifra and PuahBatyaBat Yiftach
JudithDevorahWho Were the Women?RivkaDaughters DancingRitzpahTiftachi RachmiTamarTzlophanit and the Angel

 

Miriam Took her Timbrel Out

BY THE SHORES/1984 Exodus 25:22

This song is dedicated to people—both women and men—who are helping the dance of the feminist transformation of Judaism

By the shores, by the shores,
Of the Red, Red Sea,
By the shores of the Red, Red Sea;
The light of day lit up the night

CHORUS: And Miriam took her timbrel out and all the women danced. (2X)
Va-te-kach Miriam ha-nivea et ha tof b'ya-da, va'taytzneh-na col ha-nashim

They danced, they danced
Oh, how they danced
They danced the night away
Clapped their hands and stamped their feet
With voices loud they praised.
They danced with joy
They danced with grace
They danced on nimble feet
Kicked up their heels, threw back their heads

CHORUS

They danced so hard, they danced so fast;
They danced with movement strong
Laughed and cried, brought out alive
They danced until the dawn.
Some carrying child, some baking bread
Weeping as they prayed
But when they heard the music start

CHORUS

Enticed to sing, drawn to move
Mesmerized by such emotion
The men saw us reach out our hands
Stretching across the ocean.
As they watched, and they clapped, they began to sway
Drawn to ride the wave
and all our brothers began to dance
They dance with us today!
They danced, we dance
Shechinah dance
They danced the night away
And all the people began to sing
We're singing 'til this day!!

Final Chorus: And Miriam took her timbrel out and all the people danced. (2X)
Va-te-kach Miriam ha-nivea et ha tof b'ya-da, va'taytzneh-na col ha-nashim ah-cha-re-ha.

Coda: and the children were rockin’ just as far as you could see; by the shores, My God, we were free.

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Shifra and Puah*

1986 Exodus 1:15ff

It started out in Egypt
Such a long, long time ago
When women had the power
to tell ole Pharaoh "NO!"
Was the power of the right to birth
Our heroes had the art
Of saving the Hebrew children
Defying Pharaoh's heart.

CHORUS: Shifra and Puah, sitting stride the birthing stool
Shifra and Puah, bravely flouting Pharaoh's rule

Singing and cooing the cause of disobedience
Guaranteeing civil independence!
Summoned once before the court
Before the mighty king
Pharaoh said "I want them dead,
"I had a frightening dream.
Kill all their male babies and
Bury fast their bones
For the Hebrews need a leader
To take them to their home." (Chorus)

The midwives returned
To Pharaoh's court to say
"Pharaoh, we've tried
But these women have their ways,
Of birthing their children
Fast and in the fields
For with Shechinah's** helping hand
To you they'll never yield.

CHORUS

*One of the interpretations of these names is singing ( Shifra) and cooing (Puah).
**The feminine Divine Presence

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Batya*

April 1996/Nisan 5756 Exodus 2:5ff

Long ago in Pharaoh’s time a princess felt alone
Longing and praying for a child to call her own
One day by the riverside—while washing her hair
Looking down she saw—a basket floating there.

CHORUS: She drew him from the water, water, water
She drew him from the Nile
Today she sits in Paradise
underneath God's smile


Mother and sister watched as the princess held him near
Breathing sighs of relief, fighting back their tears
Batya now knew her task, she must stand up to the hate
Confront her own father, and she must not hesitate. Chorus:
As the princess looked across the banks at the women standing by
Knowing of their sacrifice, the child she held might die
Woman to woman they gazed, eyes locked in embrace
Not a word was spoken, yet a covenant was made.
The silent bond of sisterhood is stronger than the chains
For arms linked through the ages, soothe the knots of pain
To nurse each others children, and listen with a willing ear
Creates a legacy of love, defiant in the face of fear.

CHORUS

When it came her time to leave the earth
Batya did not die
Because of her goodness, she entered Paradise alive
They say she teaches Torah to the women in the heavenly scene
And as a stranger is welcomed, she bestows the blessing.

CHORUS

*Batya means daughter of God.

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Bat Yiftach*

Jan 1989 Judges 11:1-40

In the days of war
when the judges judged,
there was no king
and every man did as he pleased.
A child was born
A harlot's son was he
Driven from his home
Cast out from his family.
Yiftach, the Giladi, was a valiant warrior
Yiftach, the Giladi, was soon to be so sorry.

CHORUS: We weep our bitter tears for our sisters who have no names,
Restore their histories, or our fate will be the same.

He was begged to lead
against the Ammonites,
But instead of peace
his armies began to fight.
Then he vowed his vow
to his G!d on high,
"To sacrifice—the first to leave my house will die."
The daughter of Yiftach, was a graceful dancer,
Yiftach the Giladi, will soon be called to answer.

CHORUS

She ran and greeted him
with the sound of timbrels
She was the only one
she hadn't any siblings.
He tore his clothes and wept
but blamed the innocent one.
For the oath he swore
that couldn't be undone.
Bat Yiftach replied, "Do what you must do!"
Then Yiftach replied, "If I only knew!"

CHORUS

"Grant me one request,
let me be free
for two months to mourn
my virginity."
She went away to weep
with her women friends
They were her comfort
until the bitter end.
The daughter of Yiftach, never knew a man,
Bat Yiftach, mourned throughout the land.

CHORUS

No, we'll never know
if the fires did burn
Or did he lock her up?
What lessons did we learn?
That the daughters
of Israel
Leave home every year
to mourn lament and wail.
Bat Yiftach, loved to sing and dance.
Bat Yiftach, never had a chance!

CHORUS

*Bat Yiftach means: “the daughter of Yiftach”—she is unnamed in the Biblical text.

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Judith

(Kislev 5749) Book of Judith

It happened in the eighteenth year of his reign
Nebuchadnezzar of Assyrians
He sent his general, Holefernes
To bring the Jews down to their knees.
Charging with their chariots from Nineveh
Soldiers with their horses on the long way
They raped, pillaged, destroyed the towns
Riding to burn Jerusalem down.

CHORUS: Hey, ho Where you going Judith?
Hey, ho where you going to?
You're dressed to kill to meet the enemy
And he'll be dead if he's messing with you!

The Jews, they prayed and fasted through the night
with ashes on their heads
and the enemy in sight
Surrounded by army, the water jugs were dry
Crying to their G!d, "We're not prepared to die"!

CHORUS

A woman arose with a plan to save the day
Beseeching her people, "Join me now and pray!"
"For tomorrow I go to turn the evil tide
We can not loose with our G!d on our side.!"
So she dressed with jewels and a turban on her hair
Perfumed, anointed, she took her food for fare.
The gates were opened, she marched to set them free
This woman changed the course of our Jewish destiny.

CHORUS

She knelt before him, charmed him with her smile
Saying, "Listen to me, General, I'll make it worth your while.
I'll tell you when they're helpless, the Jews, your enemy."
He fell for her beauty and her subtle trickery.
Three days she prayed to the One up above,
Crying, "Heaven, help me! Guard me with your love."
When he tried to seduce her
She cut off his head
A triumph for Israel, Holefernes was dead.

CHORUS

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Devorah

June 1988 Judges 4:4ff

Dwelling underneath the palm,
Devorah sat wise and calm
Judging the children of Israel
They came from far and wide
to sit by her side
On the road from Ramah to Bethel.

CHORUS:
Where she said,
"I am the mother of Israel
Hear Ye Children of Israel
Awake! Awake! Awake!"

Ruled by Yavin
A mighty and sinister king
The Jews did evil in the land
They prayed to Ba'alim
It angered Elohim
Until Devorah issued her command.

CHORUS

The captain of the guard
Oppressed the Jews so hard
They cried out for their salvation
Devorah called Barak
Said, "We must attack,
I've had a revelation:
For today I prophecy—
Sisera must die!
By the hands of Yael
She'll feed him milk to eat
He'll fall into a sleep
His plans for domination will fail.

CHORUS

So today we praise
The glory of G!d be raised
We dance and sing to the One
Who guides us with Her might
Who brings us to the light
Strong and bright like the sun.

CHORUS

*Devorah, or Deborah, means bee. She is also called the women of flames.

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Who Were the Women?*

Who were the women
and where were their voices?
What were they doing
and what were their choices?
Who were the women
and what what they saying?
When were they singing
and why are we praying?

Dina! Dina! Dina went out to the land, to the land, Gen 34:1
Dina! Dina! She went out to meet the women
of the land, of the land.
She was raped by the hand of Shechem, Shechem
She was never heard from again, again;
She was never heard from again.

Hulda! Hulda! A prophetess of Josiah, Kings 22:14
Hulda! Hulda! Proclaimed the law for Judah.
To her we owe Deuteronomy;
The story of our people, our history
She was never heard from again, again
Not a word from her again.

Rahav! Rahav! A harlot of old Jericho, Joshua 2:3
Rahav! Rahav! Hid Joshua's spies so the king wouldn't know.
She gave them room and she gave them board,
Binding the sign of a scarlet cord
She was never heard from again, again
Not a word from her again.

Daughters! Daughters! Daughters of Tzelophehad, Numbers 36:6
Daughters! Daughters! Wanted the land for their own blood;
Married among the tribal brothers
Women of inheritance unlike the others
They were never heard from again, again
Not a word from them again.

Yael! Yael! Put her hand to the tent spike, Judges 5:24
Yael! Yael! Struck Sisera with all her might.
She saved the Jews with bravery
Sporting the head of the enemy.
She was never heard from again, again,
Not a word from her again.

Women, women, we’ve found our voices, let’s join hands
Sisters, sisters, we know our choices, let’s take this stand,
Our Biblical mothers were strong and bold
Let's learn their stories they must be told
They will be heard again.

*This song was written for those women in the Bible who are only mentioned in passing and their complete story is not told.

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Rivka*

July 1993 Gen 24:27

Rivka—bride to be of Yitzchak
Watered a thousand camels at the well
When asked to leave she said, "I'm going"
Rivka, you leave us the mystery of the veil.

CHORUS: And Rivka said three times;
"Listen to my voice, Sh'ma b’Koli
Listen, listen, listen
Listen to my voice, Sh'ma b’Koli"**

Rivka—sought an oracle for bearing children
G!d answered with a sign of twins inside her Well.
Rivka—mastermind of subversion
Dressed the youngest as the oldest so Yitzhak couldn't tell.

CHORUS

Rivka—knew the legacy of her bloodline
She claimed her rights as a mother in Israel
Rivka—seized the power of the moment
All she touches falls under her spell

CHORUS

*Rebecca
**Listen to my voice

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Daughters Dancing

1993

Summoned from the hillsides
answering the shofar's blare
Calling, calling, calling
it was the time to be there
Carrying belongings, gathering their fare
Kinorot commenced a'lilting
Strains of music in the air.

CHORUS: Gi-li Bat Tzion, Ha'ri-i Bat Yerushalayim
* Zech 9:9

The daughters came dancing to the Holy City.
Grasping their bundles,
piled upon their heads
along the paths they wandered
sunset gold and red
Wildflowers waving,
stepping stone over stone
Arms linked one another
Her Spirit called them home.

CHORUS

Baskets for the harvests Judges 21:21
grapes upon the vine
Rings and earrings jingled Is 3:16
garlands intertwined;
Women set for dancing
flowing with the wine
Stamping out a rhythm
keeping sacred time.

CHORUS

A cloud lit up the daytime Is 4: 5
pillar of fire by night
Guiding the dancing maidens
streaming towards the light
Moon began a'singing
Beaming as the sun
Proclaim the first reign of the Daughter! Micah 4: 8
Her festival had begun!

CHORUS

Drawing water from the wells Gen 24:13
of wisdom running deep
Scaling Har Bat Tzion Isa. 10:32
no more time to weep
For the Temple is paved with love SS 3:10
with the daughters radiance
The time of joy is upon us
time for us to dance.

CHORUS

*Rejoice daughters of Zion and be glad Daughters of Jerusalem

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Ritzpah*

Jerusalem 1989
Ritzpah was the concubine of old King Saul 2 Sam 3:7

The legend of her beauty, she stunned one and all;
They say that she was the power behind the throne
Yet many words are missing, her deeds won't be known.

CHORUS: She was on the ground,
But she was not down
Her sons were bound
But she was not down
Such pain profound
But she was not down

Ritzpah! Eyes burning hot like coals.
After King Saul died, his son desired her 2 Sam 21:1
Yet she turned for comfort to General Abner;
Yes, many men they wanted to possess her soul
But Ritzpah was fiery, dangerous to hold. (Chorus)
Then came a famine in the reign of David
So he went before the Lord to inquire and to plead;
’twas the sins of Saul on the Gibonites
So the sons of Ritzpah—doomed to death on that night

Bridge: They were hung on the hill, before the harvest began 2 Sam 21:8
Left to rot and dangle in the wind;
Ritzpah spread her sackcloth upon the rock
Guarding those bodies, till the water dropped.

CHORUS

She shielded them from the buzzards that flew by day
Awake through the night to scare wild beasts away;
David heard of her kindness and gathered the bones
Claiming Ritzpah for concubine, her final home.

CHORUS

*Ritzpah means “floor” in modern Hebrew—hence the pun: ” she was not down” and it also means “burning coals” in the Biblical text, ( Isaiah 6:6)

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Tiftachi Rachmi

A Prayer of Longing 1989

When we were young, we were often told
Having children was the goal.
"Find yourself a man and
A family will be planned"
Fantasies that won't release their hold;
Be we married or divorced
Single, widowed, gay, of course—
Longings that ache the soul.

CHORUS: Oh, Holy One Above!
Fill my womb with your love
Complete my dreams of laughing children,
Tiftachi Rachmi!
Moshivi Akeret, Habayit, Em Habanim S'maycha, Halleluya !* Ps 118

Sarah waited for her children ninety years Gen 17:18
Stoically choking back her tears.
Or did she choose to lead?
Hoping every month to bleed
The light within her tent glowing strong;
Each cycle that we wait
We wrestle with our fate
Wondering if something's going wrong.

CHORUS

Mother Rachel cried her painful words Gen 30:1
Yaakov's heart, was disturbed.
"Oh, give me a child
Or I will surely die,
I need to see my flesh and bones!"
"Am I in G!d's place?
Its your anger you must face!"
Trust your destiny and you’ll not be alone.

CHORUS

Hannah, the wife of Elkanah 1 Sam 1 ff
Was taunted by her rival, P'nina.
Yet with prayer she was soothed
Silently she moved
To fill a void so deep and wide;
For our own tribulation
May yet be jubilation
Finding courage, hope and faith way down inside.

CHORUS

We ask these questions of ourselves
Seeking a answers that may help.
For we don't always understand
Why things don't work as planned
Like others, we must search for stronger roles;
More than mother, more than wife
Putting richness in our life
Laughing, loving, helping others be our goals.

CHORUS

*Return the childless one home, a happy mother of children.

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Tamar*

1992 Genesis 38

She was the wife of Judah's first born
The second one as well—
She was promised the third
But she never heard a word
That's why Tamar rebelled, Yeah!
That's why Tamar rebelled.

CHORUS: Tamar connived, Tamar survived, Tamar she did defy!
She took aim, felt no shame, of having Judah's child.

She stood by the road as Judah went by
Widows clothes no more
Covered by a veil
So he couldn't tell
Judah thought she was a whore, yeah!
Judah thought she was a whore!

CHORUS

But she was a smart lass and she covered her (ass)
Takin' him to pledge
Then she disappeared
and she had no fear
This woman had the edge, yeah!
This woman had the edge.
Then, she had a baby kickin' inside her belly
A baby kickin' inside
She was almost burned
She almost died
They thought Tamar had lied, yeah!
They thought Tamar had lied!

CHORUS

Then they dragged her out to stand for trial
Accused of harlotry
But she had the last laugh
For his ring and staff
Were there for all to see, yeah!
Were there for all to see!

CHORUS

*Tamar means date tree

Tzlophanit* and the Angel

Jan 1995 Judges 13

CHORUS: I said, "The wife of Manoah heard an angel!"
I said; "Tzlophanit harkened to the call."

She was walking in the field, minding her own business
When an angel did appear, calling her to witness
Saying to her very clear, "A son will be born this year."

CHORUS

She ran into the house, looking for Manoah;
He said, "What's this all about?" she said; "I've got something to show ya."
He said, "I don't believe what I hear, there are no angels, dear.
"Yes, oh, yes, there is, for this is what he told me, "
"Don't drink any wine, or eat foods unclean,
Don't put a razor to his head, it'll bring about his death."

CHORUS

They ran back to the field, Manoah oh, so shocked
For sitting there quite calmly, an angel on a rock
Manoah said, " my, oh, my , I think we're gonna die."

CHORUS

They asked the angel's name, with an offering to eat
but he rose into the flames, ascending through the heat;
Manoah was quite alarmed, Tzlophanit knew he wouldn't harm.
She was strong and brave, not at all afraid,
She knew that they'd been blessed, by the heavenly guest,
While Manoah was a little dense, Tzlophanit had common sense.

CHORUS

*Tzlophanit means “in the shadows”. Her name is not found in the Biblical text but appears in the Talmud. (BB91A)

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