Hell hath no fury: Why women are responsible for Middle East hatred
The conflict in the Middle East-that ancient battle between Jew and Arab-is becoming a source of difficulty in teaching to today’s youth. Don’t believe me? Just try talking about the roots of this conflict without mentioning God and religion! The God of Abraham, the covenant child Isaac, the begetting of Jacob and his 12 sons and the birth of a nation named Israel-pretty near impossible to mention without a single reference to religion. On the lighter side, I suppose it’s become quite humorous to watch one’s teacher sweat it out in history class.
To refresh my memory of the genesis of this now present-day conflict, I re-read the sections in-well, Genesis-about the original five players in this story–Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac–and came to a conclusion: the Arab-hating-the-Jews thing–the loss of life, the hatred, the bloodshed, the suicide–all smack of the kind of energy and fury that you only see in a woman scorned. Knowing my sex as I do, I know that one thing that will make us go mental-to our shame-is being one-upped by another woman, and this ancient story has that in spades. Think about it; out of the five people involved in that story, only one was filled with jealousy, spite, and hatred. Abraham loved Sarah, and she him. They both adored Ishmael and Isaac, and the two brothers did love each other in the beginning. There was only one person in this equation who was filled with rage and hatred: Hagar.
Now Abraham adored Sarah, but she could not bear him a child. To understand why this was so important, you must think with the mind of ancient times, not modern. Women, while loved by their men, were considered by these men to be creators of a man’s posterity, and Abraham had been promised a son who would be a great posterity, and through whom the Messiah would be born. This was OK by him, but as time went by, no son was born. Talk about a confusing message from God! You’ll have a son with whom I’ll make my covenant, but you and your wife are too old to bear him! But Abraham knew that God kept his promises…he just didn’t know how it could be accomplished…yet.
Enter his wise wife Sarah. In this ancient time, the stigma of a wife who could not bear children was a terrible one, so the law had made provisions for such things. At that time, a wife could give her servant to her husband to act in her stead, a “proxy” as it were. Under the law, any child born to the servant was legally recognized as the child of the servant’s mistress-in this case Sarah. So it was that in an attempt to fulfill the promise of Abraham’s son, she gave him her servant Hagar as her proxy. (This should stand as a great example to women NOT TO INTERFERE-there would have been no Ishmael had Sarah not taken matters into her own hands. Can you imagine? No Islam, no red-hot hatred for the peaceful land of Israel. God had planned all along for Isaac’s miraculous birth…the monkey in the wrench was Sarah’s impatience and desperation, and for this, the world has paid a dear price. Sarah has a less-than-flattering role in this as well, I’m afraid. But nothing compared to Hagar.)
Upon conceiving, this Egyptian slave knew she had accomplished what her mistress could not, and she lauded it over Sarah, who was already taken in grief by her inability to give her husband his promised son. In her grief-and I’m sorry to say, in typical female fashion (admit it, girls, you know we do this)–she raged at her husband that it was his fault that this woman was being so bitchy to her-after all, he had gotten her pregnant! (Go figure…it was all her idea, and she’s blaming Abraham? I swear, sometimes there is no using logic with my sex!) In typical male fashion (admit it, guys, you know you do this) Abraham through up his hands and said, “She’s your slave; deal with her!”
And Sarah did…a bit harshly for Hagar’s tastes. Hagar ran off, determined to get back at Sarah-and perhaps get Abraham’s attention–with an “I’ll-show-you” mentality rampant when a woman must submit to another woman. But God himself chastised Hagar, telling her to return to her mistress, and that she would bear a son and call him Ishmael, meaning God hears. God was telling this daughter who was hurting that He would not forget her; that He recognized the unfairness and frustration of the situation, and that He would make it right. But I think Hagar took that to mean much more.
We all know what happened from here. Ishmael was born, recognized by law as the child of Sarah and Abraham, but growing to know both women as “mother,” and loved by all three in this strange family unit. It was here that they were thrown a curve, and the rage of Hagar explodes into a horrific evil.
At the age of 90, Sarah bears a child-a son named Isaac, which means to rejoice, laugh. Abraham is overjoyed; the woman he loves, his beloved Sarah gives him this son, and God makes it clear that it is Isaac, not Ishmael, with whom He will make His covenant. This is confusing to Hagar, who thought that it was a man’s firstborn child that gets the greatest privileges-birthrights, inheritances, covenants, etc-but what she chose to ignore is that the covenant was always intended for the child of the Hebrew wife-the first wife-Abraham’s chosen wife–not the slave. Abraham knows this…he waited 100 years for this promised son, born to the woman he loves. It is apparent that he will be obedient to God’s will-the covenant is Isaac’s.
In the wings, watching carefully, eyes narrowed, we see Hagar. Now given the circumstances, her feelings are at the least understandable. Here she was a slave, with no say in her life, given to an old man she didn’t even like, and basically forced by the society of the day to bare his only son. This was her one shining moment-the one thing she had over her mistress, and it has just been blown out of the water. Enter the wicked side of woman.
While the Old Testament is not as clear with the reasons, the Torah seems to indicate that Hagar began doing that thing that women are best at-planting little seeds of fear, anger, and hatred in her son’s ear. She takes rampant advantage of that most unique and special relationship between a mother and son-a relationship without definition, that seems to exist between no other parent/child bond. She knows that the tears of a mother will work like nothing else to invigorate-and enrage-a son into action. While Ishmael loved his little brother Isaac, Hagar knew that Ishmael was young enough and tender enough to be shaped to her end, and shape she does with her lies.
“The child of that woman seeks to steal your birthright, Ishmael.” “By law it is yours, but that woman uses her wiles to tempt your father to give it to her child.” “You are the firstborn, the one promised by God-that justifies you in fulfilling the prophecy.” “Wouldn’t it be easy for an accident to befall Isaac while out among the sheep? The wilderness is a dangerous place…”
I had long wondered how Abraham could send away his own wife and child. The Torah clears up that confusion, but again, it had to come through his wife Sarah. Abraham dearly loved both sons, and ignored the promptings of the spirit that Hagar was up to no good. It was Sarah’s maternal instinct and distrust of Hagar that made her acutely aware of what was going on. I am sure that Sarah agonized over this; after all, Ishmael had been born through her legs as Hagar sat on her lap, so that in all ways-not just under the law-Ishmael would be her son too. She loved him from day one, but she could not deny what her eyes saw, and the ominous warnings the spirit was whispering. It would take her to convince the old prophet of what he had to do…he would not be able to bring himself to first recognize and admit the truth of it on his own; it was far too agonizing.
Even after his wife spoke the truth to him, it took God Himself telling Abraham to listen to the words of his wife for him to mournfully take up a day’s worth of bread and water and send away the wife he had tolerated for the sake of the wife he loved, and the son he adored. Again, God listened, and preserved Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness, because God is fair, and recognized how harsh-even if it was necessary, and a result of Hagar’s mischief-such a mandate was.
But Hagar would not forget this sleight, and she saw to it that Ishmael never did either. Over the next years, any suffering she endured was blamed on Sarah and her son, and this carried over to Ishmael, who grew to despise the woman he once knew as “mother”, and the brother he had once loved.
Ishmael went on to have 12 sons-each of whom were taught the hatred of his mother. What those in this country who support the Palestinian/Islam types will never understand is what Hagar made sure her son did understand: they will never be happy getting the land of Israel, because this is notabout land. This is not about Jews. This even ceased long ago to be about a birthright. In order to right this wrong that Hagar convinced Ishmael had been unjustly heaped upon them, their modern-day descendants must obliterate every descendent of Isaac-and that goes way beyond the Jews. They must justify and legitimize this woman scorned. When that suicide bomber is preparing to die, he may be thinking of the stolen birthright, but that is the ultimate lie. This whole thing-all the suffering, the agony, the destruction-when you get down to it, is all about a woman scorned.
Because they were preserved in the wilderness, Hagar was convinced they were ordained of God. What Hagar chose to ignore was that while God may hear, it doesn’t mean God approves.
Keep the faith, bros, and in all things courage.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”