RSS

Tag Archives: Sarai

Mothers of the Bible — Sarai/Sarah

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent, ” he said. Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”…Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”…Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her. Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead. ” The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”
Genesis 18:9-15, 21:1-10, 23:1-6

Dear God, I’m obviously skipping two major aspects of Sarah’s story this morning, and it’s mainly because I’ve already discussed them when talking about Abraham and Hagar. The first is her suggestion to Abraham that he have a child with Hagar. The other is the fact that Abraham sold her out at least twice (to Pharaoh and Abimelech). Both were terrible decisions on everyone’s part. The really odd part about Abimelech is that it happened when she was older and past childbearing years. She must have been very beautiful.

No, today, I want to focus on her and Isaac. She became pregnant in an improbable way. I’m sure she felt like you would never fulfill your promise to Abraham through her (see Hagar). Like she wasn’t part of the equation and was useless. Then when she hears the prophecy she laughs. Of course she laughs again after Isaac is born. Isaac’s life and just his being brought laughter to her. It’s a reminder to me that there are some things that money cannot buy, but this story is also a reminder to me to not try to be in such control of things. I don’t know what the relationship between Ishmael and Isaac was like, but it seems that the older Ishmael taunting Isaac at the celebration for his weaning was too much for her to bear. Any mother of two children will tell you that the older will tease the younger often. For Abraham, this was just his older son teasing his younger son. But for Sarah, it was totally different. It was the child of that woman teasing her precious child. This was her chance to get rid of both of them, and Sarah took it. I wonder how this served Isaac. How would he have been different if Ishmael had been around while he grew up? We saw that they joined together to bury their father later, so they certainly at least knew of each other. It’s a hard story.

Finally, we get Sarah’s death and burial. I am sure her life did not go as planned. On the one hand, she was rich. She was given to not only Abraham in marriage, but she was beautiful enough to be given in marriage to Pharaoh and Abimelech too. I’m sure that, to a large extent, she felt used–like Abraham’s property. Just one more possession to serve him. We aren’t told about her relationship with you. Did she worship you alongside Abraham? Did you find her special as well? She obviously hoped to be a mother, but gave up on that dream. And then you brought her laughter. I suppose that means she hadn’t had much laughter before that.

Father, I’m not sure what there is to learn from Sarah when it comes to motherhood, but this little focus on her has been a good opportunity to think more about who she was and what we know about what she did and what was done to her. For me, just help me to let go of my expectations and my attempts to plan things. You have been particularly good to me lately and blessed the fruits of my labor. Help me to continue to simply labor as unto you. Help me to serve you through my marriage, my parenting, and my work. Help me to bring a piece of you into the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 3, 2020 in Genesis, Mothers of the Bible

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Mothers of the Bible — Hagar

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born. So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” When God had finished speaking, he left Abraham. On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then he circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins, just as God had told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and Ishmael, his son, was thirteen. Both Abraham and his son, Ishmael, were circumcised on that same day, along with all the other men and boys of the household, whether they were born there or bought as servants. All were circumcised with him. When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!” This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.” So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.
Genesis 16:1-16,17:18-27,21:8-21

Dear God, this was such a difficult situation, and I can’t help but think that Hagar was set up for failure in some ways. Was she mean to Sarai? Maybe. But was she basically trafficked when she was given to Abram as his “wife.” Yeah, maybe. And since I’m looking at parents of the Bible, and, specifically, Hagar, right now, I’ll skip the whole discussion of what a mess Abram created by not waiting on you to fulfill your promise. Right now I want to see what I notice about Hagar in all of this.

  • She was a slave, which, in my mind, is abhorrent. I don’t know that she was given any kind of a choice when it came to having a child with Abram. Of course, in that culture, I don’t know what kind of choice any woman had, including Sarai. But I don’t know that she would have volunteered for this duty.
  • I think she saw her opportunity for advancement when she got pregnant. This was her chance to be treated as more than a slave. This translation says that after Hagar became pregnant she began to treat Sarai with contempt. Well, yeah. And she probably didn’t feel like she should be at the servant level either. I’ve seen employees treat supervisors with contempt when they felt they were mistreated in the workplace. And I’ve see those supervisors get really mad about it. There were a lot of emotions happening here, and I think it’s probably been pretty easy for a lot of people to trash Hagar without maybe seeing this from her perspective.
  • The conflict with Sarai gets to the point where Hagar runs away and it takes an angel visit to get her to go back. If she hadn’t gone back, she and Ishmael (who wasn’t yet born) would likely have died, and you obviously didn’t want Ishmael to die. It also appears that you wanted Hagar as well.
  • She goes back and submits to Sarai (I’m sure that was awkward). Then she has the baby. He grows and then Isaac is born. As there is between any children, there is conflict between Ishmael and Isaac, with Ishmael teasing Isaac. This resulted in Hagar having water and food strapped to her shoulders and being sent away. Man, this seems brutal. As they were dying in the wilderness, Hagar was in despair. But you encouraged her with another angel visit, gave her access to water, and she pressed on in caring for her son.
  • Ultimately, she raised him and arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.

This slave girl/woman lived a difficult life and she really had the cards stacked against her, but she was actually very faithful, especially to her son. I think people have probably been unmerciful towards her over the last thousands of years because she was mean to Sarai at the beginning and because she and Ishmael got sent away. But as I read this story, I see a slave forced into pregnancy who loved her child and spent her life trying to provide for him.

Father, thank you for mothers. Thank you that you instituted something within most women that is innate in caring for and loving their children. Yes, sometimes it goes too far. Sometimes it is unhealthy. And sometimes they can’t let go when the time comes. But mothers are such a critical part of the provision you give to us, especially when we are young. Thank you for the instincts you give them to love us so well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Genesis, Mothers of the Bible

 

Tags: , , , , ,