Wednesday, April 27, 2005

doubt under backfire

“5-Then Sarai said to Abram, "My wrong be upon you!
I gave my maid into your embrace;
and when she saw that she had conceived,
I became despised in her eyes.
The LORD judge between you and me.
6-So Abram said to Sarai,
"Indeed your maid is in your hand;
do to her as you please."
And when Sarai dealt harshly with her,
she fled from her presence.” (emphasis mine)

One would assume that Abram would have communicated to Sari by this time that they were going to have a child. Based on her response in Genesis 18 it’s not completely clear. Abram may have told her, but due to the lapse of time, she may have begun to doubt that Abram’s child would indeed be through her. It could have been this doubt that inspired her to offer Hagar, or perhaps she was asking the same question Abram was in 15:2, regarding who would be their heir. Nevertheless, Sari offered Hagar to Abram. What seemed to be a logical idea turns into quite an entangling of emotions and even physical consequences.

First of all, God had promised a son, even a multitude of descendants. Immediately following that initial promise, God establishes a covenant with Abram in Chapter 15. The covenant that was formed differed from the typical covenant. Typically, both parties would bring an animal or such to the sight where the covenant would be consecrated. Both parties would walk through the cut open heifer, ensuring that the blood of the animal was on both of their feet. This act symbolized both parties individual commitment to the covenant at hand. Both took upon themselves responsibility to uphold their part of the negotiations and agreements. If one party violated the established agreement, the blood on the feet represented they death that person would face. In other words they bound themselves to the other party to fulfill the covenant, guaranteed by death. This covenant differed in that only one of the two parties walked through the spilled blood of the heifer, God. The Lord put Abram in a deep sleep and proceeded to walk through the blood alone. God was communicating in this act that He was taking full responsibility of the covenant between Abram and Himself. He would complete the agreements, all by Himself. In other words, there was no great energy to be exerted by Abram to fulfill the promise God gave, only believe.

This act of God was also a prophetic foreshadowing of the Eternal Covenant God would make with mankind. While mankind was in a deep sleep, even dead in sins, God cut a covenant with him. A covenant initiated by God, provided by God, completed by God, and carried out by God – Himself. There was nothing that man could do to expedite or make this covenant more complete, only believe. Nonetheless, Abram began to somehow and to some degree waver in his understanding of God’s covenantal follow through. Thus, he conceded to “go into Hagar.”

This seems to have been more than a one time occurrence and perhaps a little more than strictly “business as usual.” Meaning, their relationship may have not been void of emotion, passion, and extended embrace. Could it be that in the initial attempt to conceive a child, something deeper was being conceived deep within Hagar, even Abram. Suddenly this insignificant lonely Egyptian maid begins to feel a subterranean sense of worth deep within. Could it be, that as Abram wrapped his embracing arms around her that something awakened deep within – beauty, worth, passion, even love? Perhaps, she even began to imagine what life would be like with Abram if she were to conceive. “After all, his wife had produced no such child. Maybe after years of unfulfilled intimacy, frustration, even disappointment that follows Abram would begin to love me as his wife- his true wife, the one who produced an heir.” She conceives…

Now the stage is set. I wonder how long she waited before she told Abram? Did she announce it to all? Or did she wait until just the right moment? Possibly, she waited for them to be together again – alone and intimate. Laying there next to him, still warm from his embrace she gently, yet passionately kisses him and then looks deep into his eyes and says, “Abram, inside my womb, lies the fruit of our love.” The moment had arrived, the news had been shared, surely now, he will love me as his wife.

But, there was still the nagging image of Sari. “If only Sari wasn’t around, he could be all mine,” she thought. Deeply, she longed for Abram, yet everyday she saw the one who would always stand in the way – the inept wife. Secretly, more and more each day Hagar began to despise Sari. Sari wasn’t immune to these undercurrents of emotion. She could feel it everyday as she passed Hagar in the morning, something had changed between them. At times, Sari would, out of the corner of her eye catch Hagar staring at her with deep envy, rage, even jealousy. Shamefully, secretly, Sari felt that same envy, rage and jealously towards Hagar. After all, “I should have been the one to conceive a child.” Sari thought. She could distinctively remember the day her and Abram’s intimacy cracked, giving way to waning passion and what seemed like waning love as well. It had been so long. They had tried so hard, but conception was never the news of the day. Before long, it was a lost hope, an empty dream – loneliness began to settle deep within Sari.

“And now, this bread-crumb servant is glowing with passion and beaming with pride, as she carries my husband’s child.” Sari, began to release the emotions that had been held deep within for so long. She increased Hagar’s duties, prolonged her days, intended to wear away at the pride, bringing her back to reality – “you are a slave, nothing more – the child you bear is mine, not yours!” Try as she may, extra labor didn’t seem to quench the fire in Hagar’s eyes. Rage increased like a violent forest fire within Sari. She began to deal more and more harshly with Hagar, even to the point of punishing remarks, perhaps even backhands. Anything that would instill affliction, oppress the pregnant glow, silence the passion and weaken her hopes. “Sari dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.”


Anonymous said...

This all happened before God changed Abram and Sarai's names. Remember the discussion of Yahweh's name being like breath? I wonder if all this intrigue would have happened after the covenant and the "ah" was breathed into their names?

Lee said...

That's an interesting thought about the "ah" being breathed in... humm. It is amazing what happens when His "breath" (spirit) get breathed on us and our situations -- our perspective changes...similar idea was posted April 12th. The "breathing of 'ah'" makes for a cool connection between the two passages...