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IRJ-Reflection#20 February 2, 2010

Posted by andrewg2013 in Reflection.
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Within the Child: Looking Beyond the Source

In Chapter 21 of Genesis, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, sees the child Ishmael of Hagar playing with her son Isaac. She decides to kick out the slave woman and her son so that they may not inherit along with her son. Sarah acts contrary to what she said earlier.

Before Sarah could have Isaac, she told Hagar to have the child Ishmael as Abraham’s heir. Now that she has given birth to a child, she decides that the other child no longer matters.

The birth of Isaac and childbirth in general influences Sarah’s decisions. Sarah’s views of how the covenant God made with Abraham will continue have changed drastically. Childbirth, because of the immense pain and joy, distorts a woman. The fun she has playing with him bringing her wishes or a son’s inheritance to live, leaving Ishmael behind.

The names of both of the son’s also show a slight difference about the way people treat them. Ishmael means “God has heard” while Isaac means “he laughs”. Isaac refers to the way he receives attention, while Ishmael, whom Sarah had paid interest to before, doesn’t receive notice.

All this favoring occurs because of the differences between the classes in the story. The slaves at the bottom lead to the women and then to the men. Sarah overpowers her slave, and therefore her son overpowers her slave’s son. These tensions between the different classifications of people lead to rash decisions that seem rational. Sarah decides that, if she thought about more, she would have realized that Ishmael could inherit from Abraham just as Isaac would. Sadly God agreed with her side and so Sarah must follow through.

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