I find a lot of tension in the story of Leah and Rachel. On the one hand, the (male?) narrator measured the women by the number of sons they bore and in the case of Rachel on her physical beauty as well. Continue reading
Hagar is the only person in the Bible to give God a name and the only woman to be promised a nation. “None of the mothers of Israel is her equal in this regard” (Fischer, p.18). Yet she is subjected to some of the greatest degradation in the scriptures. Her story has even been used to sanction slavery. White American slaveholders in the mid-1800s took God’s command to Hagar “Return, submit,” as legitimizing the slavery system. But the same text has been a source of hope for liberation by African American communities. Continue reading
The Bible both prizes Sarah and disparages her. Her high valuation is reflected by the following events:
- In Egypt, Abraham does not order Sarah but pleads for her to pretend she is his sister;
- Sarah demands that Abraham impregnate Hagar for the benefit of building up Sarah;
- Abraham complies with Sarah’s demand for the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael;
- God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah;
- Sarah’s name was changed from Sarai, just as Abraham’s was from Abram, with the accompanying promise that “she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her” (17:16) – in other words the covenant blessings and promises apply to her (Evans);
- a whole chapter is devoted to Sarah’s burial.
In addition, the rabbinical tradition was eager to see Sarah as a prophetess whose spirit of prophecy was even greater than Abraham’s!