A little bit of exegetical-religious background for this Sunday lectionary reading from Matthew 25:1-13. I am convinced that function of bridesmaids goes back to lower-goddesses of fertility, which are attending and sponsoring the marriage, and guarantee its marital blessing, fertility and happiness. Below I quote a delightful piece from Ugaritic mythological literature (XII. century B.C.E.). In this text bridesmaids still preserve their divine character. I translate/interpret their names in order to highlight their character and functions. In a similar way names of famous midwives from Exodus could also be translated as Fertility-bringing and Labour-groans. Could their origins be also associated with Koŧarat?
Song of Koŧarat The Canaanite fertility lower goddesses
(From the Weding of Nikkal and Ib KTU 1.24.40-50)
I sing about goddesses, about Koŧarat,
daughters of Hallel, the Bright-Ones,
daughters of Hallel, lord of Gamlu,
who descend to the garden-beds
and among the olive-groves,
who lead to success
with the blessing of Compassionate,
of El, who is merciful.
In my mouth is their number,
on my lips is the sum of them:
Dowry, and Dower,
Love-Flame, and Womb-Opener,
and Goodness, the youngest of Koŧarat.