Friday, August 13, 2010
The Surrogate Mom
With God promising Abram more heirs and descendants than there are stars in the sky, you can imagine the pressure that would put on his wife Sarai who is still barren.
So now in Genesis 16, Sarai takes the desperate step of offering one of her slaves, Hagar, to sleep with Abram in her place and bear him a child. The world’s first surrogate mom!
Now Abram — who is supposed to be the most faithful of men — rather than reassure Sarai that God will keep his promise, readily accepts her offer and immediately jumps in the sack with Hagar.
The result is a family drama worthy of the best soap operas today. Hagar becomes pregnant, Sarai becomes jealous and Abram is caught in the middle.
Sarai thinks Hagar is becoming uppity and she complains to Abram. Abram washes his hands of the affair and throws Hagar under the bus - telling Sarai to do what she wants with the slave. So Sarai begins to mistreat Hagar to the point that she flees.
At this point, God decides to intervene and sends an angel down to find the pregnant Hagar and orders her to go back and submit herself to Sarai. This is disturbing because it comes across as a sign that God condones slavery.
As a consolation of sorts, the angel tells Hagar that her descendants will be “too numerous to count.” The angel also tells her to name the child Ishmael.
The purpose of this story seems to be to link Ishmael and the 12 tribes that descend from him back to Abram - but in a way that makes them a step below the people who will be direct descenandants of his son Isaac through Sarai.