Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let me not see the death of the child

So there I was listening to a sermon on Hagar -- and sermons on Hagar are typically sermons I do not listen to-- but I kept telling myself to hope that the minister wouldn't slip into the kneejerk scapegoating of supposedly "bad" Bible characters and the making into sacred cows of supposedly "good" characters like Sarah. (Do not even let me go on about how racist and classist Sarah was with her "The son of this slave will not be heir with my son!" crap. Moses pretty much telegraphs how he feels about Sarah and Hagar by using the same phrase to describe the cruel treatment Hagar endured with the treatment the Israelites endured under the Egyptians.)

But anyway, there I was and the minister says, "Can you imagine what a horrible woman this is? Her son and her are in the desert and they're thirsty and dying and this woman is so selfish she puts her son away from her and says, 'I don't want to see my son die.'" Genesis 21:16

Okay, first of all, Ishmael was probably about thirteen.
Second, we all know Hagar is a bit emotional. She tried to throw herself off a cliff. This is not a particularly stable young woman.
Thir, Hagar's young. She was probably a kid when Pharoah gave her to Sarah. (It seems that Pharoah was the one who gave her to Sarah. Possibly as a wedding gift.) Heck, for all she knew her new mistress was going to be one of Pharoah's queens. She was probably brought up in the palace as a slave and then bingo all of a sudden she is given as a gift to a lying nomad and his wife.

But to this main point: How many of us could see the death of our child? At times when Gabe is very sick and in pain, I can't sleep. I'm so afraid for him. But I send my husband to look at him in his bed. Cause I just can't bear to see him suffer. So I don't know if one can judge a flaky emotional young girl who simply feels her heart will break if she sees her son die. Trust me... my heart felt --literally-- as if a knife had gone through it when I sat at my mother's side as she died in the hospital.
So then, who are these strong men of the 21st century to judge a dying girl in the desert?

I honestly don't know why Christians don't look at what Jewish rabbis say about these passages. As I've said before, In Judaism many rabbis have historically believed that Hagar and Keturah are the same person.
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