How then can we understand the active, independent role of Sarah and the other matriarchs in directing they and their family’s lives? Sarah abuses Hagar, and Hagar flees.

Savina J. Teubal, in Sarah the Priestess, and Tikva Frymer-Kensky, in Reading the Women of the Bible, both draw on historical evidence from the ancient Near East in order to address this question, but come to different conclusions. Deborah is unique in that, as one of Israel Judges, she led an army against the Canaanites. But when Hagar realized that she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. If she has not borne sons, her mistress may sell her. Abraham and Sarah were quite old when Sarah was pregnant. She asks Abraham to send Ishmael away. ... Sarah lived to be 127 years old and her burial is the first one to be mentioned in the Bible. Why does the Bible portray women in such a positive light? Home. The forefathers and foremothers of the Jewish people.

Frymer-Kensky argues that although the Bible portrays a patriarchal social structure, it has a gender-neutral ideology.

Frymer-Kensky provides a different theory to explain Sarah’s behavior. 1 Samuel 1:6-8 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb…. That proved doubly distressing for her because God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

Sarah brings this problem to Abraham, and Abraham, rather than deciding himself what to do, lets Sarah choose how to deal with Hagar, saying: “Here, your slave-woman is in your hands.

For Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had told him. Hagar comes across a spring, where an angel of God appears to her. Once Sarah arrives in Canaan, argues Teubal, she struggles to preserve the matriarchal traditions of her homeland against the patriarchal society in Canaan. And clues from the larger realm of ancient Near Eastern history can help us understand biblical characters. Hagar becomes pregnant, and Sarah sees that she “is diminished” in Hagar’s eyes (Genesis 16:4). Proverbs 30:20,21,23 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness…, Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - third person masculine singular, Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - third person feminine singular, Verb - Qal - Perfect - third person feminine singular, Noun - feminine singular construct | third person feminine singular.

Just as God tells Abraham that He will multiply Abraham’s progeny, but first his descendants will be degraded slaves, so too God promises Hagar that He will multiply her progeny, but first she must return to Abraham to be exploited as a slave. Teubal argues that Sarah is asserting her traditional role as Mesopotamian priestess, while Frymer-Kensky argues that both Sarah and Hagar serve as paradigms for Israel: one exercising great influence despite her secondary social status, the other beginning a journey to redemption. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, OT Law: Genesis 16:4 He went in to Hagar and she (Gen. Ge Gn) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools. My Jewish Learning is a not-for-profit and relies on your help. The angel promises her that her descendants will become a great nation, and he orders her to return to Abraham. Read. M ost people who are familiar with the Bible are familiar with the fact that Sarah was the wife of Abraham. Sarah brings this problem to Abraham, and Abraham, rather than deciding himself what to do, lets Sarah choose how to deal with Hagar, saying: “Here, your slave-woman is in your hands. Teubal argues that Sarah, in taking this active role in the Hagar story, is preserving the ancient Mesopotamian tradition of priestesses, a privileged class of women who play a greater role than their husbands in directing their families’ lives.

Abraham and Sarah provide an inspirational tale of how trusting in God will lead to favor in life. Abraham is reluctant to do so, but God tells him: “Whatever Sarah tells you to do, listen to her” (Genesis 21:12), and he agrees and sends Hagar and her son away. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Hagar’s story shows that the path to redemption leads first through degradation. Frymer-Kensky argues that Hagar, too, symbolizes Israel. Worship of goddesses did not lessen the actual social subordination of women. Although Teubal cites an impressive array of circumstantial evidence for her theory that Sarah is a Mesopotamian priestess, there is no direct evidence in the biblical text. For Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had told him. Three ancient Near Eastern marriage contracts state that if the wife remains barren after a specified number of years, she gives her husband her slave to have children on her behalf.

Teubal draws on historical evidence from the ancient Near East to prove that, in the Hagar story, Sarah asserts her traditional role as priestess.

Why does Sarah, the woman, act to determine her family’s future while her husband, Abraham, is passive?

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5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be upon you!

Five books of story, law, and poetry divided into 54 weekly portions. Frymer-Kensky and Teubal’s differing interpretations of the Sarah-Hagar story provide two ways to understand the strong and independent women of the Bible in the context of the patriarchal world in which they lived.

For Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had told him. This Bible Story features Abraham and Sarah, two prominent characters from the Old Testament. How can we account for Sarah’s independent behavior in the patriarchal biblical world in which she lived?

Sarah, she explains, was a priestess in Mesopotamia, before she chose to leave her family and homeland behind and journey with Abraham to Canaan. Archaeological evidence shows that both Ur and Haran, the cities from which Sarah and Abraham emigrated, were centers of goddess worship; pictures of Mesopotamian goddesses appear on pottery plaques unearthed from both areas. Biblical Sarah, Abraham’s wife and the matriarch of the Jewish people, is a strong and independent character. Frymer-Kensky explains that women serve as a paradigm for the people of Israel after the destruction of the Temple and the expulsion from the land of Israel. Psalm 23:1-4. Like Teubal, she cites historical evidence from the ancient Near East in her interpretation. The Birth of Ishmael … 3 So after he had lived in Canaan for ten years, his wife Sarai took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to Abram to be his wife. Is there another way to account for Sarah’s active role in the Hagar story? The women in the Bible are socially subordinate but not essentially inferior; they have strong, independent personalities, and they often act to guide the course of events. At Isaac’s weaning ceremony, Sarah sees Ishmael “playing” (it is unclear exactly what he was doing) and again, Sarah takes the initiative. Genesis 21:2 - So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. She explains that Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham in keeping with ancient Near Eastern tradition. Frymer-Kensky and Teubal both use historical evidence from the ancient Near East to come to different conclusions regarding the Sarah-Hagar story. Teubal cites Paragraph 146 of Hammurabi’s Code, an ancient Mesopotamian legal code: If a man has married a priestess [of a certain rank] and she has given a slave girl to her husband and she bears sons, if (thereafter) that slave girl goes about making herself equal to her mistress, because she had borne sons, her mistress may not sell her; she may put the mark of a slave on her and count her with the slave girls. Their story can be found in the book of Genesis and serves an important role in the later stories of the Bible.

Women who governed include Deborah (Judges 4:4), the Queen of Sheba (1Kings 10:1 - 13) and Queen Candace (Acts 8:27).

The Genesis narratives thus form a bridge between the matriarchal pre-historic world and the patriarchal historic world.

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