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The Pharaoh's Handmaidens by John Collier

A handmaiden, handmaid or maidservant is a personal maid or female servant, or someone whose primary role is to serve or assist.[1] The term is not commonly used nowadays; the terms maid or domestic worker being more commonly used.

In the Hebrew Bible, the term handmaid is applied to a female slave who serves her mistress, as in the case of Hagar being described as Sarai's handmaid,[2] Zilpah being Leah's handmaid[3] and Bilhah as Rachel's handmaid.[4] In each of these cases, the mistress "gave" their handmaid to their husbands "to wife", to bear his "seed" (children). The use in the Torah of the prefix "to", as in "gave to wife", may indicate that the wife is a concubine or inferior wife.[5] The text repeats that these people remain handmaids (ie., slaves) of their mistress though they are also the mistress's husband's concubine.

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