By Michal Lemberger

Foreword by Jonathan Kirsch

Paperback | $16
ISBN 978-1-938849-47-3

ebook | $9.99
ISBN 978-1-938849-48-0

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Michal Lemberger’s nonfiction and journalism have appeared in Slate, Salon, Tablet, and other publications, and her poetry has been published in a number of print and online journals. Stories from After Abel have appeared in LitroNY and Lilith Magazine, and she was a Visiting Scribe of the Jewish Book Council in 2015, as well as an invited lecturer at the Limmud Conference at the end of 2015. She holds a BA in English and religion from Barnard College and a MA and PhD in English from UCLA, and she has taught the Bible as literature at UCLA and the American Jewish University. Michal lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughters. Learn more at


Now, mother and mourner both, I finally understand. To be mother of the living is also to be mother to all the dead.


How did Eve feel about Cain’s fratricide? What did Lot’s wife think and do after Lot offered their virgin daughters to strangers? Frankly feminist, Michal Lemberger’s stories give voice to silent, oft-marginalized biblical women: their ambition, their love for their children, their values, their tremendous struggles and challenges. Informed by her deep knowledge of the Bible, each of Lemberger’s stories vividly re-imagines a biblical saga from the perspective of a pivotal woman.

Read Michal Lemberger’s three insightful blog pieces in the Jewish Book Council, written for the Visiting Scribe series—Looking Back at Lot’s Wife, How Can You Make King David into a Villain?, and What the Lifetime Adaptation of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent Missed.

With a foreword by Jonathan Kirsch, author of A History of the End of the World and Moses: A Life.

Download the Readers’ Group Guide here.


“Michal Lemberger liberates the voices that are trapped beneath the text. A reimagining of the biblical tales done with artistry and erudition.”
RABBI DAVID WOLPE, Rabbi of Sinai Temple and author of David: The Divided Heart and Why Faith Matters

“Through intuition and art, Michal Lemberger opens our hearts to the powerful women of the Bible. They come alive in her magical prose, and their wisdom, long stifled and marginalized, echoes across the millennia to warm our hearts and to illumine our turbulent age. They teach us not only how to survive, but how to thrive.”
RABBI BRADLEY SHAVIT ARTSON, Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University and author of God of Becoming and Relationship: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology

“These short stories about biblical women are moving, often ingenious, and even gripping! Lemberger combines an insightful knowledge of biblical women and their stories with an acute ability to more fully imagine their lives in ways that feel true to the biblical text.  She answers many of the questions readers have long wanted to know. What did Lot’s wife think about her husband’s plan to offer his daughters to the men of Sodom? What about Haman’s wife? Lemberger writes extremely well with a touch of humor and plenty of compassion.  This is a great read and the perfect choice for book groups and sisterhoods of all sorts.”
ADRIANE LEVEEN, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and author of Memory and Tradition in the Book of Numbers

 “The Bible is predominantly a set of books by and about men, with women usually mentioned only peripherally. In After Abel Michal Lemberger portrays biblical women in a way that makes them come alive as real people, with perspectives, concerns, and emotions of their own. Her modern midrash is true to all the biblical stories but enhances them in a way that I never thought possible. This may not have been how these biblical women actually thought and felt, but it probably was!”
RABBI ELLIOT DORFF, Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the American Jewish University and author of The Unfolding Tradition: Philosophies of Jewish Law

“The Hebrew Bible tells only the outline of most of its stories and over the centuries many have filled in the white spaces with their own notions of back stories and behind the scenes drama.  Yet rarely have those voices included those of women. In Lemberger’s book, these blank spaces are filled in by the stories of women: brave, frightened, loving, and taking extreme measures to protect their children. The women are real, their stories are heartbreaking, their courage undeniable.  After Abel and Other Stories is a truly welcome addition to understanding what the Bible could mean by looking at a side of the story rarely considered: the story of women.”
TAMMI J. SCHNEIDER, Professor of Religion and Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at Claremont Graduate University and author of An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion

 “Imaginative leaps, the stories in After Abel transport the reader into fully realized biblical landscapes where we discover the experiences of characters whose shadowy presence in Hebrew Scriptures inspire Lemberger’s creative speculation.  Like the classical midrashist, Lemberger elaborates the spaces between the text’s choices, and by giving fullness of life to female presences merely hinted at in the bible, Lemberger participates in the contemporary enterprise of bringing gender balance to the world of our mythic origins.”
LORI LEFKOVITZ, Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies, Northeastern University

Finalist, 2015 National Jewish Book Award

Honorable Mention, Sophie Brody Medal, American Library Association

One of the Jewish Book Council’s “15 fiction books that shaped Jewish literature in 2015” 

“Lemberger’s diction gives cogent voice to all her underestimated or overlooked narrators. Original and thought-provoking.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Lemberger imbues her characters with a consciousness that, although taking place in ancient times, seems contemporary, because she brings such empathy to her characters… It is this act of empathy that shines through…. The stories are, in their own way, a respectful and learned commentary on the Bible, an alternative dialogue that reminds us that it is the stories that we tell that are civilization’s true heritage.”

“Eve here gains a voice, putting into words the turbid emotions she experiences upon leaving the Garden of Eden as an exile. Updating the midrash tradition for twenty-first-century readers, Lemberger brings Eve—and eight other biblical women—back to life in stories endowing scriptural narratives with new imaginative resonance.”

After Abel and Other Stories will appeal to readers with even the most basic introduction to the Biblical canon, but especially those whose imaginations are piqued by the mystery of an untold story.”
Jewish Book Council

“Her knowledge of the Bible is evident and her creativity shines through as she weaves nine thoughtful and layered accounts of distant, complicated times.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Riveting and well written.”
— The Canadian Jewish News

“In disarmingly simple yet powerful prose, she limns the lives of these Bible women, and we come to understand them — even love them — in new ways.”
— Lilith Magazine


“This is a beautiful book of modern midrash—the ancient Jewish tradition of telling the stories between the Hebrew bible’s lines. The women I thought I knew have come alive in these gorgeous and captivating stories, and they are unlike anything I expected. Their bravery and radiance remained in my mind long after I finished reading.”
DARA HORN, winner of the National Jewish Book Award and author of A Guide for the Perplexed and The World to Come

“What struck me most about these stories is their clear, assured confidence—as if Michal had pulled apart some of the lines in the old story, spied a new story tucked in there way off in a corner, shimmied in a fishhook and pulled it out.  They make their cases very convincingly!”
AIMEE BENDER, author of The Color Master and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

“Michal Lemberger’s stories are marvelous compounds of scholarship, imagination and empathy. Brought to life with rich historical detail, these biblical women, sidelined and silenced for centuries, prove to be audacious, utterly relatable, and spellbinding companions.”
MICHELLE HUNEVEN, author of Blame and Off Course

“Michal Lemberger is a wonderful writer—empathetic and heartbreaking, generous and fierce. The searing beauty of these stories is matched only by the passion and intelligence of the women who inhabit these pages. After Abel is a stunning book.”
MOLLY ANTOPOL, author of The UnAmericans

After Abel and Other Stories is a gem. For readers who enjoy the Bible as literature and compelling storytelling, Michal Lemberger’s exploration of the biblical women who are mentioned but then left without their own narratives is welcome and deeply engaging.”
SUSAN STRAIGHT, author of Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon

“A gorgeous book of inspired reimaginings, full of heartbreak and courage and piercing beauty.”
BEN LOORY, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

After Abel brings biblical women from the sidelines to the center of the story, in a compelling narrative reminiscent of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. These beautifully written stories feel like meeting Eve, Lot’s wife, and many other compelling characters for the first time. Michal Lemberger—more, please!”
LAUREL CORONA, author of The Mapmaker’s Daughter, Finding Emilie, and Penelope’s Daughter

“This is such an unusual book—how shall we begin to think of women behind the stentorian voices of the men who rule the scriptures—to think of them cooking slaughtered animals and caring for the children, to think of them being instructed constantly about how to behave, to live, to obey … who can possibly guess now what their real-time lives were like?  Michal Lemberger does a heroic job, given her brilliant credentials, and given the great arc of her imagining/guessing/ and even imposing emotion and intention upon those shadowy figures of women in the guarded mysteries of scripture. What she gives us is an idea of what real women— women not unlike us—might have felt and thought in those times.”
MERRILL JOAN GERBER, author of The Hysterectomy Waltz and The Kingdom of Brooklyn

“[Michal Lemberger’s] exercise in empathy is more than a literary conceit. . . . She has given [these biblical women] a new birth as figures of flesh and blood, heart and brain.”
JONATHAN KIRSCHJewish Journal book editor and author of The Harlot by the Side of the Road (from the foreword)

“Lemberger, in After Abel, deepens our understanding of the stories we have heard many times and thought we knew. The women of the Bible come alive in all of their vulnerability and power. The stories in this book are a work of modern midrash—so necessary and so beautifully done.” —RABBI SUSAN GOLDBERG, Wilshire Boulevard Temple

 “With a delightful play of the imagination, Michal Lemberger has brought to life biblical characters and episodes that the Bible authors never dreamed of, while remaining gracefully faithful to the cultural ‘atmosphere’ of biblical times.”
OSCAR MANDEL, California Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus of Literature and author of Otherwise Fables