Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quote of the Day: One Amazing Woman

A prominent character in last week's parsha Lekh L'kha is Hagar.
(No, not that one.)

(Wrong again.)

Of course I'm referring to the Egyptian woman named Hagar, who was the slave-woman of Abram and Sarai.
(That's better.)

When we read this parsha, we naturally focus on Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac their son of promise.  But is it possible that we allow Hagar to get a bad rap?  Blogger Yael thinks so.  She highlights: 
Hagar is the only woman other than Eve who is spoken of as having seed, otherwise seed is a uniquely male thing.  I have also already mention about Hagar being the first woman in Torah to address God, but what I had not noticed is that she is the only person in Torah to name God!  Can you imagine?  A slave girl, not Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, nor Moses named God! 
 Read the whole article at Yael's Jewish World...then feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!


Anonymous said...

I couldn't comment there, so I'll do it here.

Hagar is a very special women with a blessing and a promise from YHWH. Prophetically (and naturally) seen is her offspring (her seed) the entire Arabic/Moslem world. I wonder that it isn't more studied.

I Wrote a lecture myself in Dutch on that topic. (https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AXfA6uKGGWZiZGR2Y3c2M2RfMjNnc2dndmczeg&hl=en_GB) Also an article on the beautiful poet of Da Costa about Hagar. (http://theologienet.nl/documenten/dacosta-hagar.pdf) Maybe Google will translate it a bit...

Da Costa saw a repentance of the Moslems along with the repentance of the Jews in the future.

Rashi explains that Ishmael did repentance when he together with Isaac buried their father. At the end there will be peace between this two brothers.

Samuel M. Zwemer (1867-1952) wrote some beautiful pieces about the topic.


Anonymous said...


It's interesting that you term Abraham's wife Hagar his "slave-woman". Yael, too, referenced her as a "slave girl". This is a rare and revealing looking look into the values of Christian culture. In Jewish society we have no analogue to considering wives the slaves of their husbands. I was wondering: do modern day Christian men also term their wives as "slave girls"? If so, that would go a long way to shedding light on some aspects of the equal rights movement that I may not have fully appreciated before.

Or, is it the case that Christians lost track of the status of Pharaoh's daughter Hagar, who was given as a servant to Sarah (not Abraham) when Pharaoh ejected the pair from Egypt after the incident of G-d's miraculous rescue of the abducted Sarah from Pharaoh. Because you ought to know that when Sarah gave Hagar as a wife to Abraham her servitude to Sarah ended. And Jewish men do not now and have never viewed their wives as slaves; rather, Jewish men view women as being on a higher spiritual level than man, and are commanded to treat them accordingly, with proper deference and respect.

Yahnatan said...


You're right--the way Isaac's and Ishmael's lives intertwine at the end is very powerful. Some friends of mine who work in Jewish-Arab reconciliation in Israel are very much aware of this story.


Yahnatan said...


You've highlighted an important additional point. Genesis 16:3 calls Hagar a wife of Abraham. I didn't mention this point, but it only heightens what I've written here, so thanks for bringing it out.

Side note: I'm not sure what makes you think that Yael's blog can give you any window into Christian culture!

Anonymous said...


Re. your "side note", above: point taken. Yael's is not a Christian perspective. It's a perspective she dresses up in Hebrew terminology, but which, like Christianity, ultimately clashes with the Jewish tradition from Sinai. I erred in lumping together two unrelated and disagreeing non-Jewish views. I'll try to be more careful in the future.