An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Posts Tagged ‘handmaiden’

Genesis 16

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on February 7, 2008

Hagar and Ishmael

I bet you never knew there were vikings in the bible

OK, a bad joke, but I couldn’t help myself … sorry about that.

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar;
2 so she said to Abram, The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her. Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

Hands up those people who think Abram’s wife actually told him it was OK to go and sleep with the maidservant … nobody? … Bueller? Didn’t think so, and does poor Hagar get no say in this?

3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.

Without duress? I’m surprised Abram didn’t go all out and just ask for a threesome.

4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.

I’m pretty sure the despising started before she found out she was pregnant.

5 Then Sarai said to Abram, You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.

“O husband mine,” complained Sarai, “this lowly wench is giving me lip. Do something about it.”

6 Your servant is in your hands, Abram said. Do with her whatever you think best. Then Sarai ill-treated Hagar; so she fled from her.

And Abram, having had his way and getting a little concerned about what the neighbours would say about him getting the maid pregnant, replied, “look, she’s your servant, you deal with her.”

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.
8 And he said, Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going? I’m running away from my mistress Sarai, she answered.
9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, Go back to your mistress and submit to her.

Hearing the pitiful story of a maid who has been forced into sleeping with the man of the house and becoming a surrogate mother for his child, then subsequently abused by the wife, god’s messenger tells her to get the hell back to the household and be meek and submissive.

Later on he popped over to africa and started suggesting to the tribal chiefs they might want to start selling their war prisoners to those funny looking white men that showed up from time to time.

10 The angel added, I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count

Oh, well that’s OK then.

11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility towards all his brothers.

Why does the fact that god knows she’s miserable mean she has to name her kid Ishmael? What she really needs following rape and abuse is a good counsellor, possibly an abortion clinic, and a relocation package.

And for the moment I’ll refrain from making any comments about Ishmael being a wild donkey. I’m sure they didn’t have innuendo in those days. Doesn’t sound like he’s going to have a very good life either though. I imagine Sarai’s wondering what the hell god’s picking on her for.

13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: You are the God who sees me, for she said, I have now seen the One who sees me.
14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.
16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Beer Lahai Roi is Hebrew, meaning “the well of the living one who sees me”. Doesn’t do much for the plot but then the bible seems to be full of filler and we’re only on the 16th chapter of the 1st book.

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