Essay about Sarah, the Evil Mistress

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Sarah, the Evil Mistress

Although Hagar flaunts her pregnancy with Abraham in the face of Sarah who is barren, Sarah is ultimately responsible for generating trouble in Abraham’s household. Through Sarah’s decision to give Hagar to Abraham, Sarah’s jealousy and anger towards Hagar’s reaction to conception, and also Sarah’s harsh treatment of Hagar, we are able to understand why Sarah is truly the one accountable for the negative circumstances throughout her relationship with Hagar.

Initially, in Genesis 11:30 we feel remorse for Sarai in her barrenness. Repeatedly it is expressed that Sarai is barren. Sharon Jeansonne explains, “Indeed, Sarai’s childlessness is predominant in most of the scenes that concern her” (15). Sarai’s
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Now, let us look at Hagar’s position in the situation. Looking at her status we see that she has no authority and no control over her future. She is wholly under the demands of her mistress Sarai (Jeansonne 43). Hagar is not even introduced as a person, but merely as a maidservant. She is only referred to by titles such as, “Sarai’s maidservant” or “her” or “your slave-woman.” Sarai and Abram do not even give her the status of a person who deserves a name. Due to her lack of power and control, Hagar was given no choice in having a son for Sarai and Abram. The verse reads in Genesis 16:4, “He cohabited with Hagar and she conceived…” This is all we are given; none of Hagar’s opinions or feelings are shared with the readers, the narrator remains silent about Hagar in the situation (Jeansonne 44).

Barrenness was always blamed on the woman in ancient near eastern times, although it was not always the case. Since Hagar becomes pregnant, it is obvious that Sarai is in fact, the sterile one. After conception, Hagar realizes her status has changed and Frymer-Kensky puts it clearly saying, “Hagar knows that she has something Sarai doesn’t have, a child in her womb, and this knowledge makes her cease to consider Sarai’s status above her own” (228). In fact, there were three ancient Near Eastern marriage contracts that stated after a certain number of years, the wife must give her slave to her husband (227). Almost inevitably then, this change in attitude
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