The Impatience of Sarai...



…Had unimaginable consequences.

“And Sarai said to Abram: 'Behold now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing; go in, please, to my handmaid; it may be that I shall have children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai” (Genesis 16:2).

Sarai wanted to have children, however when she realised that it wasn’t happening, she offered her servant (Hagar) to her husband (so that he’d impregnate the Egyptian).
Was this a well thought out plan? Did Sarai think of the consequences of her decision?

A Thoughtless Plan
Sarai’ emotions (shame for not being able to bear; fear and despair since infertility was a reason to be returned to her family) clouded her reason, and her alarm system urged her to do something, anything...which she did. However, she didn’t allow reason to show her that her quick solution would bring her nothing but humiliation: first, her husband was quick on following the suggestion (mind you, had she suggested they’d move their tent a bit to the left a lot of negotiation would’ve been involved; but since the deal was to have sex with the servant...Abram was game “what else is there to negotiate?”); second, once Hagar had Ishmael she saw herself as being far superior to Sarai (and this is true up to the present days: most women who have born children look down on those who either can’t bear or choose not to); she despised her mistress and she was presumptuous enough to believe that she was more loved than future Sarah.

The Consequences were overlooked
God had already made a pact with Abram: He would give his seed the Land (from the River of Egypt to the great River Euphrates) and rule over the people living there. Sarai certainly knew this (at this point, it can be said ambition led her to be hasty) and since she did, why didn’t she use her gray cells and think “If God promised this to Abram, it’s because there is a plan. I must not be impatient.”? Why didn’t she bother to see the broader picture? Ambition blinded her and she failed to weigh the consequences: 1st God delayed her pregnancy (until she was at least 90) for having had the nerve to “lead” Him to re-adjust His plan (the birth of Ishmael changed the future). 2nd since Sarai is the mother of the Chosen People and she was stubborn, impatient, ambitious and wanting of vision (of God’s plan) she condemned her chosen children to eternal stubbornness, impatience, ambition, lack of vision (of God’s plan) and therefore to sufferance. 3rd Ishmael (the uncle of Jacob) is claimed to be the father of Muslims and look at the troubles existing between them and Israel since the day the latter left Mitzrayim (Egypt) until our present days.

How would today’s political and religious scenarios look like if  Sarai hadn’t been so thoughtless?



Image: Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness by Karel Dujardin

Comments

  1. Certainly God knew that Ishmael would be born. In fact, I do think this was part of the plan. God made a covenant with Abram, and changed his name to Abraham. In that covenant, he was promised that through his loins, all the earth would be blessed, and that his seed would be innumerable. Fathering Ishmael was a fulfillment of part of that covenant. Truly, the seed of Abraham, through Ishmael alone is innumerable.

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  2. It is hard to imagine a world otherwise, since so much is shaped by this. Certainly Islam is legalistic, violent, and shows no interest in technological advancement. At the same time, I feel that without this threat much of the world would have descended into anarchy based on decadence.

    How much have you studied this story?

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  3. Hi Max…

    One of your best posts!

    Interesting…your use of the word “well” (“Was this a well thought out plan?”) invoked the following verse in my mind warning about adultery:

    Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.
    - Proverbs 5:15 TNIV

    The description you provide of Abram is apt in showing that he was not justified by being “good”…so I think we need to lay this mess at his feet as well as hers…and of course what could we say about Hagar in this scenario?

    This being said as God knows the past, present and future perfectly and infinitely including all possible and impossible outcomes so I would think that He was not caught by surprise when Sarai and Abram as well as Hagar participated in this sin….

    Excellent end question…I suppose we could ask the same when in the Book of Joshua they did not follow the directions of God…

    Not only was the material well presented you tweaked things nicely to provide good opportunities for thinking and conversation…great job Madam X….

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  4. Hey D :D!

    "Certainly God knew that Ishmael would be born. In fact, I do think this was part of the plan."

    God knows all things that are yet to be - no doubt there. However, He bestowed upon humans Free Will...how much does this gift change the course of His Plans?

    D, awesome: thanks :D.

    Cheers

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  5. Hi Looney :D!

    "Certainly Islam is legalistic, violent, and shows no interest in technological advancement."

    Unfortunately Islam (as a whole) allowed itself to be as such, yes...

    "At the same time, I feel that without this threat much of the world would have descended into anarchy based on decadence."

    I am inclined to agree with you...

    "How much have you studied this story?"

    Let's say that I have dedicated quite a bit of time to it.
    Do you agree that this was part of God's plan?

    Looney, loved your input, man: thanks a million :D.

    Cheers

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  6. Hi LSus :D!

    "One of your best posts!"

    Why, thank you *bowing*...

    "Interesting…your use of the word “well” (“Was this a well thought out plan?”) invoked the following verse in my mind warning about adultery: "Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well." - Proverbs 5:15 TNIV"

    But could this Hagar/Sarai event be considered adultery (at that time)? It could not, but it was certainly a folly...

    "The description you provide of Abram is apt in showing that he was not justified by being “good”…so I think we need to lay this mess at his feet as well as hers…and of course what could we say about Hagar in this scenario?"

    Abram was given a second chance to be good thus the name change (Abraham). By being good I mean doing things that would concatenate towards God's Plan. His Plan is our main mission on earth; and sinning is going against that Plan.
    About Hagar...she represented opportunism, vanity, contempt...

    "This being said as God knows the past, present and future perfectly and infinitely including all possible and impossible outcomes so I would think that He was not caught by surprise when Sarai and Abram as well as Hagar participated in this sin…."

    So, you would accept that there is Destiny (designed by God Himself)? Better yet, since God Knows everything in utter perfection what is the purpose of Free Will? And can Free Will change the course of God's foreknown events?

    "Excellent end question…I suppose we could ask the same when in the Book of Joshua they did not follow the directions of God…"

    I agree.

    "Not only was the material well presented you tweaked things nicely to provide good opportunities for thinking and conversation…great job Madam X…."

    *Bowing* thank you, LSus...

    Man, loved your comment, for which I thank you a billion times :D.

    Cheers

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  7. Max,

    "Do you agree that this was part of God's plan?"

    Certainly I do. I also believe that the plan is still unfolding before our eyes and in spite of the violence, there is a good plan that is being accomplished.

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  8. Looney,

    "Certainly I do. I also believe that the plan is still unfolding before our eyes and in spite of the violence, there is a good plan that is being accomplished."

    I agree.
    So, deep down there is Destiny...

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  9. Hi Max,

    Gorgeous photo as usual.

    I was going to do a post on patience this week, alas I didn't have the patience for it. ;D

    "How would today’s political and religious scenarios look like if Sarai hadn’t been so thoughtless?"

    Good question. How indeed? Hmmmm? (Cue intermission music while I think.)

    I actually don't know the answer. :-o

    Perhaps we would still be confounded by religious rhetoric, misinterpretations, illusions and fear. Like many are today. Perhaps we would live in a land of peace and prosperity like many hope. Perhaps we would live our final days wondering how things may have been?

    It is certainly something to ponder.

    Great job.

    Pondering Cheers!

    Btw, is LSX insinuating that you are the wife of Malcolm X? Just wondering?

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  10. Dear Max! Although this was a great and readable post with interesting analyses; you know I have a problem with "God's Plan"? Which God and who's Plan?
    To me it's much about you're perception and what you are taught when growing up.

    What came into my mind (since I am a Norwegian), was a similar question; What if Nora in Henrik Ibsen's play; The Doll House, Did not leave her husband and children?

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  11. Howdy Terella,

    I can't answer for Max, but I have been reading a lot of classical pagan philosophers along with the Bible, so I can provide some answer regarding providence and "who's plan?"

    Both the pagan polytheistic philosophers and Christians asserted God's providence and argued for creation based on design. Although they disputed, the disputes were about the nature of God, not what God had done or that God was working His purpose.

    Or to put it another way, we do not deny the plan, purpose and usefulness of the car because we don't agree on who the engineer was!

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  12. While the post was well worth reading, one of the comment caught my eye:

    "Certainly Islam is legalistic, violent, and shows no interest in technological advancement."

    It sounds a bit peremptory, doesn't it? No offense but many other religions also went through dark dark ages.

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  13. Zhu, have you spent much time studying the Dark Ages beyond what we get in standard history text books?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Lady A :D!

    "Gorgeous photo as usual."

    Thank you, girl!

    "I was going to do a post on patience this week, alas I didn't have the patience for it. ;D"

    LOL LOL that was a good one...

    "["How would today’s political and religious scenarios look like if Sarai hadn’t been so thoughtless?"] Good question. How indeed? Hmmmm? (Cue intermission music while I think.) I actually don't know the answer. :-o "

    It is a hard one indeed...

    "Perhaps we would still be confounded by religious rhetoric, misinterpretations, illusions and fear. Like many are today. Perhaps we would live in a land of peace and prosperity like many hope. Perhaps we would live our final days wondering how things may have been?"

    lol perhaps all that indeed...

    "It is certainly something to ponder."

    Isn't it? I am still thinking about it...

    "Great job."

    Thanks, girl *bowing*!

    "Btw, is LSX insinuating that you are the wife of Malcolm X? Just wondering?"

    LOL LOL LOL LOL I hope not. That brother was not fine...I like to think I have better taste than that LOL *nodding*.

    Lady A, thank you ever so much for your awesome comment :D.

    Reasoning Cheers

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  15. Hi Renny :D!

    "Although this was a great and readable post with interesting analyses; you know I have a problem with "God's Plan"? Which God and who's Plan?"

    There is only One God, Renny. Therefore, He's Plan.

    "To me it's much about you're perception and what you are taught when growing up."

    I would accept that argument if you knew in all certainty what each and one of us have been taught while growing up. And about perception...well, it is often used as an explanation when we do not understand something (I have used it myself).

    "What came into my mind (since I am a Norwegian), was a similar question; What if Nora in Henrik Ibsen's play; The Doll House, Did not leave her husband and children"

    I never read The Doll House, I confess...
    But can this book be compared with a Historical and Religious Book like the Bible (you know Sarah's tomb actually exists)? I mean (since I never read it), does it tell about a real story?

    Renny, thank you ever so much for you input :D.

    Cheers

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  16. Looney,

    "Both the pagan polytheistic philosophers and Christians asserted God's providence and argued for creation based on design. Although they disputed, the disputes were about the nature of God, not what God had done or that God was working His purpose."

    True. Well said.

    "Or to put it another way, we do not deny the plan, purpose and usefulness of the car because we don't agree on who the engineer was!"

    lol great example!

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  17. Hi Zhu :D!

    "["Certainly Islam is legalistic, violent, and shows no interest in technological advancement."] It sounds a bit peremptory, doesn't it? No offense but many other religions also went through dark dark ages."

    Ah, Looney's words, yes. I do not think it sounds peremptory at all; since Islam has been proving it to be true through the ages.
    Indeed, many religions (including pagans: remember when they fed lions with Christians?) have been through their share of less positive moments however they have evolved (in a positive way), and they do not encourage their members to kills innocent people just because they are viewed as infidels (for not following their religion).

    Zhu Zhu, thanks for your participation in the debate :D.

    Cheers

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  18. Looney & Zhu,

    "Zhu, have you spent much time studying the Dark Ages beyond what we get in standard history text books?"

    Standard history text books can be so bias and incomplete...

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  19. Ha Max, I just took a walk through the Old Testament at our church last Saturday which raised my interest in reading through the Bible from front to back, and,true story was reading in Genesis 16 last night!!!!

    This is what happens when we aren't trusting in God to fulfill his promises to us, we always rush ahead. Of course he foreknew what would happen, but just think of the possibilities if we do what he wants us to do and have enough faith in him that he will keep his promises no matter what common sense tells us.

    We usually give in to temptation taking matters into our own hands and interfere with God's best plans, who knows what might have been with no Ishmael, oh well like everything else when you screw up quote Romans 8:28, a verse I have memorized as I tend to be impatient a lot,lol.

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  20. If Sarah hadn't been impatient, instead of fighting Palestinians the 12 tribes would be at loggerheads with each other over petty stuff like: reform.

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  21. Hi Bob :D!

    "I just took a walk through the Old Testament at our church last Saturday which raised my interest in reading through the Bible from front to back, and,true story was reading in Genesis 16 last night!!!!"

    You are reading the Bible from front to back? Oh man, you will love it! I am telling you, it is one the best books I have ever read (if not the best).
    lol talking about "coincidence", eh? ;)

    "This is what happens when we aren't trusting in God to fulfill his promises to us, we always rush ahead. Of course he foreknew what would happen, but just think of the possibilities if we do what he wants us to do and have enough faith in him that he will keep his promises no matter what common sense tells us."

    *nodding in utter agreement*...oh yes, absolutely!

    "We usually give in to temptation taking matters into our own hands and interfere with God's best plans, who knows what might have been with no Ishmael, oh well like everything else when you screw up quote Romans 8:28, a verse I have memorized as I tend to be impatient a lot,lol."

    LOL LOL...I do not quote Romans 8:28, but I have other ways to stop me when I become impatient.

    Ah, Bob...I missed you, man...thank you so much for your outstanding comment :D.

    Cheers

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  22. Hi Dux :D!

    "If Sarah hadn't been impatient, instead of fighting Palestinians the 12 tribes would be at loggerheads with each other over petty stuff like: reform."

    LOL you know?

    Dux, I absolutely love your comments (they are as provocative as my words): no doubt a perfect complement of my articles :D! Thank you!

    Cheers

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  23. If it wasn't for Sarah's impatience, each time the Muslims terrorize "the infidels", Israelis wouldn't be wondering "what in the world was mom thinking when she had such gross idea?". Eager to be a mom, Sarah bought for her progeny, without realising it, a never ending war with Ismael's descendants.

    Great article, Max!

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  24. Hi Max! Dropped by to see how you are. Hope is well and that you had a great weekend.

    Me? Had a great but tiring one. Still with no help at the store, I have so little time to blog. :(

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  25. Max:

    This is so far over my head, I can't even begin to take a stance on the issue, assuming I know what the point is, or to debate the idea of whether or not God had a plan, and if so, was His plan carried out according to the steps He provided. Yikes! The whole idea contorts my brain to the point of pain. Of course, maybe that's my punishment for not reading the scriptures as much as He would have liked me to read.

    I can only say this: If God had a plan then it must have been conceived in wisdom beyond the ability of mere humans to debate, or for that matter, to alter. And if that was the case, then Sari took the right step at the right time. Abram was only an innocent vessel for its implementation. She commanded, and he abided.

    As to the weight of my argument, I fall back on the verse, "...the Lord has restrained me from bearing...."

    I usually give you two cents of lame brained opinion, but in this case, please accept a mere penny.

    Happy trails.

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  26. My dear Max,

    This is a question that I do not feel qualified to address.

    First, because I do not take the scriptures literally, not knowing how often they have been subject to the human hand and the subjectivity of the scribe. Nor am I well schooled in any particular dogma or in an array of viewpoints or dogmas.

    And secondly, because my general knowledge is simply not broad enough to make a sensible contribution to something of this scope.

    The way I look at it, there's plenty of room for God and for each of us to move closer to our Creator, without the specific dogmas and versions of history which so divide us. God is God, no matter what each religion calls the Creator.

    Maybe our species had to amass a certain amount of collective experience through the ages, before a concept of adultery-as- sin could become meaningful. Maybe different people, interpreting their personal experience in different ways, have different ways of pleasing their god? Maybe Sarah had other motives that are unknown to us.

    If, in order to save a loved one, I have to compromise the life of another loved one, am I committing a sin? I remember the movie "Sophie's Choice" with a knot in my stomach.

    Sorry for rambling. Your great strength is that with your power of articulation, you encourage us to THINK!

    You make wonderful connections and ask the best questions, lady. I'm just not sure how to formulate an opinion on this.

    Now, "free will" is another subject that calls for a discussion all its own....

    Have you read any of the works of CS Lewis?

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  27. Hi Lynda…

    I enjoyed your comment as I believe it represents a vast swath of the population…

    As a person that is informed about the biblical manuscript evidence I want to humbly suggest that your characterization about the reliability of the text is not accurate…I had started with your position when I was an atheist but once I studied it in depth my mind was completely changed on the matter…and indeed it is one of the reasons I became a Jesus follower (I don’t blog to evangelize so don’t think I’m going down that road…just informing about my life story)…

    I have studied all of the major religions in depth over many years…and they are not compatible…surely they can live in peaceful coexistence from a Christian point of view…but the character and nature of God or god is completely different in each of them…along with almost all other portions of the teachings…

    I have read all of the works of CS Lewis…do you like his writing?

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  28. Hi C.C :D!

    "If it wasn't for Sarah's impatience, each time the Muslims terrorize "the infidels", Israelis wouldn't be wondering "what in the world was mom thinking when she had such gross idea?". Eager to be a mom, Sarah bought for her progeny, without realising it, a never ending war with Ismael's descendants."

    Indeed, Indeed...

    "Great article, Max!"

    Thank you *bowing*...

    C.C, thank you so much for your input :D!

    Cheers

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  29. Hi Liza :D!

    "Dropped by to see how you are. Hope is well and that you had a great weekend."

    So sweet of you: I am well and the weekend was marvellous.

    "Me? Had a great but tiring one. Still with no help at the store, I have so little time to blog. :( "

    Oh, I am so sorry to hear that :(. I hope you get some help soon :D.

    Thank for having dropped by, darling :D.

    Hugs

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  30. Hi Swu :D!

    "This is so far over my head, I can't even begin to take a stance on the issue, assuming I know what the point is, or to debate the idea of whether or not God had a plan, and if so, was His plan carried out according to the steps He provided. Yikes! The whole idea contorts my brain to the point of pain. Of course, maybe that's my punishment for not reading the scriptures as much as He would have liked me to read."

    lol I appreciate your honesty, my friend.

    "I can only say this: If God had a plan then it must have been conceived in wisdom beyond the ability of mere humans to debate, or for that matter, to alter. And if that was the case, then Sari took the right step at the right time. Abram was only an innocent vessel for its implementation. She commanded, and he abided."

    LOL LOL "She commanded, and he abided" LOL excellent. So you believe in Destiny?

    "As to the weight of my argument, I fall back on the verse, "...the Lord has restrained me from bearing....""

    Aha, but He hadn't restrained her from bearing (since God had already told Abram that he'd seed a great People); that was HER perception. God had determined a time for her to bear, but she didn't grasp this (blinded by her impatience).

    "I usually give you two cents of lame brained opinion, but in this case, please accept a mere penny."

    Swu, I loved your comment, man. My appraisal of it is: a dollar :D.

    Thank you so much for your great comment :D.

    Cheers

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  31. Hi Lynda :D!

    "This is a question that I do not feel qualified to address."

    Thank you for the honesty *bowing*...

    "First, because I do not take the scriptures literally, not knowing how often they have been subject to the human hand and the subjectivity of the scribe. Nor am I well schooled in any particular dogma or in an array of viewpoints or dogmas."

    Hence the importance of reading originals. Nor am I schooled in any dogma (which makes things more interesting); however I like to read everything I can lay my hands on.

    "The way I look at it, there's plenty of room for God and for each of us to move closer to our Creator, without the specific dogmas and versions of history which so divide us. God is God, no matter what each religion calls the Creator."

    I agree that there is only One God.

    "Maybe our species had to amass a certain amount of collective experience through the ages, before a concept of adultery-as- sin could become meaningful. Maybe different people, interpreting their personal experience in different ways, have different ways of pleasing their god? Maybe Sarah had other motives that are unknown to us."

    I see what you mean...

    "If, in order to save a loved one, I have to compromise the life of another loved one, am I committing a sin? I remember the movie "Sophie's Choice" with a knot in my stomach."

    Ah, an ethical problem...I love it. No, I do not think one would be committing a sin; however one's conscience would accuse it of having sinned for life, based on guilt.

    "Sorry for rambling. Your great strength is that with your power of articulation, you encourage us to THINK!"

    Do not apologise, I loved listening to you :D. Thank you for your generosity *bowing*.

    "You make wonderful connections and ask the best questions, lady. I'm just not sure how to formulate an opinion on this."

    Aahhh, you will make me blush (wait, I forgot I don't blush lol). You formulated what you needed to formulate, and for that I thank you :D.

    "Have you read any of the works of CS Lewis?"

    I can't say that I have, darling. What does he write about?

    Lynda, grazie for your comment: I loved it :D!

    Cheers

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  32. LSus & Lynda,

    "I have read all of the works of CS Lewis…do you like his writing?"

    What does this individual write about, after all?

    ReplyDelete
  33. He wrote fiction as well as non-fiction and became known as a Christian writer in his later years. He was first an atheist, became agnostic, and over time, became a believer. He saw Revelation in everything, and in his books he addresses the nature of God and the eternal problem of suffering and pain, for one thing. He talks a lot about free will and how it effects life in the cosmos.

    He was extremely articulate and an incisive thinker, and his books give one much to chew on. He wrote the 'Narnia Chronicles" which were made into books and movies for kids.

    I read two or three of his books, and one day I will read more of them.

    ReplyDelete
  34. CS Lewis also wrote Mere Christianity and the Screwtape Letters…

    Many Protestant Christians look on Lewis as one of the great minds of the past century…

    …one point that is considered disconcerting about his theology is that it seems that in the last book of the Narnia series he suggests the all paths lead to God…however it seems some of his other writing would militate against this…

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  35. Lynda,

    Thank you for having explained me who CS Lewis was. You rose my curiosity now...
    First an atheist and then ultimately a Christian...hmmm...that could be LS.

    ReplyDelete
  36. LSus,

    "CS Lewis also wrote Mere Christianity and the Screwtape Letters…"

    Thanks for answering my question, darling :D. I will try to find his books.

    "Many Protestant Christians look on Lewis as one of the great minds of the past century…"

    And wasn't he?

    "…one point that is considered disconcerting about his theology is that it seems that in the last book of the Narnia series he suggests the all paths lead to God…however it seems some of his other writing would militate against this…"

    LOL you know that I say the same: ultimately all paths lead to God.
    So, he changed his mind. Intellectual people change their mind over time, this is called evolution. Change is not always a sign of inconsistency, but a sign of maturity.

    ReplyDelete

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