Way back in 1997, when considering whether to write about Rashi's
Daughters or Rav Hisda's daughter, one of my biggest concerns was that
while Rashi's daughters names were known to be Joheved, Miriam and
Rachel, nobody seemed to know [or care] what Rav Hisda's daughter was
called. Writing a novel about a nameless woman would be challenging, to
say the least, especially for a novice author. While I knew I would
have to create names for secondary characters no matter which of the
two subjects I chose, I was reluctant to invent a name for my heroine.
So I went with Rashi's Daughters.
Now that trilogy is finished
and I am back to planning a novel about Rav Hisda's nameless daughter.
But I'm [hopefully] no longer a novice writer, so I thought I could
solve my problem by writing her story in first person. If I'm using "I"
instead of "she," then I might not need to have a name for her. Her
parents could call her "daughter," her siblings "sister," her husband
"wife" [you get the idea]. I wasn't happy with that solution, but I
didn't see that I had any other options.
But after a day of
research at HUC's library in Cincinnati, I'm pretty sure I have the
name for Rav Hisda's daughter. In addition to the Talmud, a valuable
source of information about Jews in Babylonia are the thousands of "magic bowls"
between 300-600 CE. The names written in these bowls are matronymics,
i.e. son/dau of the person's mother. Going over all the women's names
from the magic bowls, I noticed that many of them end in "dukh
such as "Rasnendukh, Burzandukh, Barandukh. In Touraj Daryaee's book on
Sasanian history, he mentions two women's names, Sabuhrduxt and
Hormizduxt, who are daughters of Sabuhr and Hormizd respectively.
Following this logic, Rav Hisda's daughter would be named Hisdadukh
which means that the Talmud redactors merely dePersianized her name. In
other words, my heroine's name really is "Hisda's daughter." Hisda is a
Persian name [it's definitely not a Hebrew name], and his sons' names
[Mari, Pinchas, Chanan, Tachlifa, Nachman, Yenukah and Keshisha], are
Persian except for Pinchas. So it seems likely that Rav Hisda would
have given his daughter a Persian name as well.
So now that I have her name, do I still write her story in first person? I think I'll decide that later.