Monday Mull: Genesis 16:1-16

It is very hard to find attributable art of Hagar and Ishmael in which they are not, somehow, very Caucasian despite Egyptian and Semitic heritage. (Jean-Charles Cazin, Agar et Ismael; from Wikimedia Commons.)

Through July 5, I’m preaching on some of the names of God found in Scripture, and what we are saying when we talk about God, both in the general sense–how can we contain the essence of the Creator of the Universe in our ridiculous grunts and inflection–and in the specific.

Hagar is a slave to Sarai, the wife of Abram–Sarai will become Sarah; Abram will become Abraham; they are one thousand years old, or so, combined, and there’s fertility issues despite God’s promise to Abram and Sarai that they will be the progenitors of many nations.

And Hagar is given to Abram by Sarai–there is not any word of consent in the text–and Abram impregnates her–again we miss consent in this text–and then Sarai gets mad because she believes Hagar is getting uppity. And Sarai complains to Abram, and Abram tells her to do what she will, and Sarai “dealt harshly with her,” and Hagar bolted to the wilderness.

I guess I don’t have to write out so much in the Monday Mulls, but I’ve done only one other, so there aren’t really a lot of rules, are there?

In the wilderness, a messenger of the Lord sees her, calls her by name and asks her where she has come from, and where she is going–he does not tell her these things. And she’s sent back, promised to begin a line of multitudes that cannot be counted, and she names God.

She is the only person in the Hebrew Scriptures to name God–one could argue in the whole Bible depending on one’s Christology–and she calls him, “El-Roi,” the God who sees. God sees Hagar, not the slave, not the womb, not the person trod for the promise sought. God sees.

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