Bedouin Meets Europe by Piotr Pastusiak.

Bedouin Meets Europe by Piotr Pastusiak.

It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you (1 Peter 3:4-5).

I have one question about these verses: Who is this Sarah Peter is speaking of? Because this is not the Sarah I have encountered in the Old Testament. Here are some viginettes of the Sarah we find in Genesis:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.

He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her (Genesis 16:1-6).

But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring” (Genesis 21:9-13).

Now Sarah also did obey Abraham when he wanted her to say she was his sister, so Abraham would not be killed by Pharaoh or Abimelech. Sarah obeyed and in both cases was taken into both rulers’ harems. But we don’t see Sarah submitting in all ways to Abraham as complementarians would have wives to submit blindly to their husbands today. It was her idea to give Hagar to Abraham as his concubine, so they could have children.  When Hagar started looking at Sarah with contempt, it was Sarah who blamed Abraham, who returned Hagar to being Sarah’s slave instead of his concubine.

It was Sarah who told Abraham that Ishmael would not inherit with her son, Isaac, and to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Godde sides with Sarah on this and tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Godde will honor the covenant to both women: their sons shall become nations, but Sophia-Yahweh’s covenant would go through Isaac.

1 Peter would have us believe that Sarah was always submissive. But she wasn’t. Genesis gives a very different picture of this brave, strong woman who left all she knew to follow Sophia-Yahweh and find the land Godde had promised to her and Abraham’s descendants. She told Abraham what she thought, and she made decisions that affected God’s covenant for millenia to come. Sarah was not always a nice person, and she was definitely wrong in the ways she dealt with familial problems, but she was not a submissive wallflower who blindly followed her husband.

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Woman of the Week: Sarah