3: "Deborah," engraving by Gustave Doré, 1866, and biblical source sheet.
One of the dominant images in “The New Colossus” is “A mighty woman with a torch.” This image reaches back to Deborah, the biblical hero whose story can be found in the book of Judges. Nineteenth-century American Jewry often turned to the biblical figure of Deborah as an ideal image of maternal power. But Lazarus offers a different interpretation by representing Deborah not so much as a domestic goddess, but as a powerful public figure.
Suggested Activity: Read the source sheet and examine the image with students and ask: How do these excerpts about and this image of Deborah influence your understanding of the Statue of Liberty and your interpretation of Lazarus’s poem?
Sources: Doré, Gustave. 1886. The Holy Bible: with illustrations by Gustave Doré. London: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin.
Judges 4:4, trans. Jewish Publication Society, 1917. Rashi on Judges 4:4, Metzudat David on Judges 4:4. Source sheet compiled by Alexis Aaeng using sefaria.org, 2017.