Dec 17 – Sarah the Matriarch

illumination-sarah-matriarch

Sarah
Matriarch
17 December BCE

click here for books on Sarah the Matriarch


From My Jewish Learning

Biblical Sarah, Abraham’s wife and the matriarch of the Jewish people, is a strong and independent character.  When she cannot have children, Sarah takes the initiative and gives her maid-servant, Hagar, to Abraham so that he can have children through Hagar on Sarah’s behalf.

Hagar becomes pregnant, and Sarah sees that she “is diminished” in Hagar’s eyes (Genesis 16:4). 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. Do to her what is good in your eyes” (Genesis 16:6).

Sarah abuses Hagar, and Hagar flees.  Hagar comes across a spring, where an angel of God appears to her.  The angel promises her that her descendants will become a great nation, and he orders her to return to Abraham.  Hagar returns and gives birth to a son, Ishmael.

At Isaac’s weaning ceremony, Sarah sees Ishmael “playing” (it is unclear exactly what he was doing) and again, Sarah takes the initiative.  She asks Abraham to send Ishmael away. 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.

 In this story, Sarah acts independently, taking the initiative to decide the future of her family, even against her husband’s wishes.  How can we account for Sarah’s independent behavior in the patriarchal biblical world in which she lived? Why does Sarah, the woman, act to determine her family’s future while her husband, Abraham, is passive?
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s