Hagar's Role In The Bible

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Genesis sixteen serves to fulfill one of the fundamental pillars of God’s promise to Abraham, which is repeated throughout the biblical genesis text on numerous occasions. In the text we see Abraham troubled with the lack of a rightful heir due to the barrenness of his wife Saria. To resolve this issue Abraham and Saria jointly turn to the slave wife Hagar to produce a child. However, despite following traditional customs contempt is quickly bred in the story, as the characteristic kinship roles practiced by ancient Israeli society begin to fall apart. Hagar, whose role is clearly limited to providing offspring for Abraham, so as to fulfill Saria’s obligation in her marriage, comes to envision herself as something much more than a concubine…show more content…
However, a careful examination of Hagar’s importance in the continuation of the Abraham linage, helps to shine light on to the Hagar’s conflicting feelings of superiority, despite her traditionally inferior status. In ancient Israeli the existence of a barren wife was quite a common occurrence. Throughout the bible the notion is mentioned several times, partly as a literarily motif, but also in part because of the commonality of the issue for the Israelis. As a result, ancient Israeli custom came to accept the presence of a secondary wife for the purpose of childbearing, so as to ensure the continuation of family lines. The story of Abraham and Saria is a classic example of this barrenness, and as a result we see the couple follow tradition and take in Hagar as a secondary wife for the purpose of conception. This embracement of the common custom alleviates Abraham’s issue of the lack of an heir, while simultaneously allowing Saria to fulfill her obligation to the marriage, via the production of offspring. However, Hagar who is initially follows the tradition, begins to stray from it, causing strife among the family members. When she behaves in such a way as to seem superior to Sarai, despite her culturally inferior role, we see the

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