Design By Humans

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Genesis 16. Slave-rape and Angels

Genesis 16.

1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

    I wonder if Hagar had been a gift from Pharaoh when Sarai married him under false pretences.

2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

    Sarai offers up her maid to Abram for the purpose of bearing him children. Does Hagar have any choice in this?

3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

    So, after ten years of living in Canaan, I'm guessing this is ten years after being kicked out of Egypt, Sarai gifts Hagar to Abram for a wife. Again, does Hagar have a choice in this?

4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

    It seems not, after Abram 'went in unto her' she got very upset with the woman who had handed her over. Reading this, I'm not certain that Hagar wanted to have sex with Abram, in modern times one might call this rape.

5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.

    Sarai blames herself, but instead of apologising to Hagar, she becomes jealous of that fact that she has been able to conceive.

6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

    Being the good man that he is, Abram placates his jealous wife by handing over the slave he had raped and made pregnant to her so that she can deal 'harshly with her' and thence kick her out. Now it may be far from my place to comment on morality but Abram is supposed to be the most blessed by The LORD, one would hope his actions reflected that. So, is it moral to accept a gift from your wife of an unwilling slave-girl, rape her and make her pregnant and then when your wife becomes jealous, let her beat her and kick her out? I don't think these are very nice people.

7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

    Ooh, an angel. The LORD hasn't come down but an angel has come to speak to Hagar. One point; *the* angel of the lord? is there only one?

8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

    it asks her where she's been and where she's going. Hagar says she's fleeing from her mistress, it doesn't say but she might have added that she had been raped and beaten...

9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

    ...and rather than protecting her the angel tells her to go back to her abusive mistress and submit to her hand, effectively telling her to go back and accept her fate as a raped and beaten slave.

10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.

    But as a reward, her seed will multiply.

11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.

    He kindly names her unborn child for her...

12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

    ...and condemns him to being a hated, embattled wild-man

13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?

    Now, either Hagar isn't able to tell the difference between The LORD and and his Angel or they are actually the same thing. Thinking about it though, Hagar might just be concussed from her beating.

14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

    Why does this line give me the impression I'm on a guided tour of biblical sites, "and that's why this well is called Beerlahairoi and still stands here between Kadesh and Bered to this very day." Was this written significantly later than the story is set? Was it written as an attempt to explain landmarks that no-one actually knows anything about?

15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

    OK, not from Abram's bowels then?

16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

    Ishmael is born in 2034AE.

So where does this all leave us?

Well, it's definitely worth noting that Ishmael wasn't issued forth from Abram's bowels so there is at least that, however he was the product of Abram raping his wife's slave girl and is cursed to be some sort of wild-man.

What does this all say about The LORD's views on Slavery?

It's pretty clear that the LORD is pro-slavery, or at least his angel is. After Hagar has been raped and beaten and has fled from her mistress, the angel of The LORD comes and tells her to go back and to submit to whatever she gets. So not only is The LORD in favour of slavery but The LORD is fully supportive of beating your slave, even when pregnant.

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Book Index

GENESIS

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