The literalists pedal frantically backwards
with explanatory excuses,
but fail to justify the misogynist cruelty
of the Hagar story.
The great Patriarch’s wife
is portrayed as complicit in the abuse,
even the initiator;
it compounds the betrayal.

The girl is a slave, property
of an aged and desperate couple.
She is a foreigner,
with none to look out for her interests.
Her body is not her own, nor her fertility;
it is theirs to do what they like,
and they do.

Hagar gives birth to the child of hope,
and then, when circumstances change,
out of jealousy and fear they cast the girl aside;
her child too, driven out into the wilderness.
Somehow they survive.
The Patriarch’s god, we are told,
tacitly approves of the ill-treatment,
having promised to fix things up in the end.

Not one of his better moments.

© Ken Rookes 2014

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