May 5th, 2020
And now it’s the turn of the women to enter the story, most significantly Sarai.
I love the characters of Genesis and particularly the women. Despite the cultural context into which they were born, they were obviously strong personalities. My personal favourite is Rebecca, but Sarai is right up there too. Rarely are the women overwhelmed by their partners, but rather they complement and often seem to complete the men in their lives, as well as being very able to stand on their own two feet, when they needed to. Their relationships are complicated but true love is normally very evident. None more so than in the case of Abram and Sarai. If you’re not familiar with the story, you might need to take my word for it at this stage in the telling, but you’ll soon see what I mean.
The problem with characters in a story set millennia ago in a land, for most of us, far far away, is that we struggle to appreciate their humanity- their fears, hopes, dreams, and above all their loves. So stop reading the story through the stained glass window you saw in church, but rather through the bathroom mirror. Then even if your appreciation of the characters will still be flawed, it will still be significantly more real, down to earth and human.
Sarai was obviously a very beautiful older lady, but at the time that mattered little, while she was still childless. As with Abram, her value, purpose and identity was limited. She was a failure. Of course it might not have been her fault, but she was still to blame. The fertility test of the day was simple- get a second wife and see if it goes differently. And yet Abram didn’t do this. You can only believe his desire for his wife trumped his desire for a son. And that is extraordinary. It suggests a very very special bond between Abram and Sarai, albeit one that was to be sorely tested and probably broken. But that’s down the line, Right here right now, that bond was strong enough to compensate for what was glaringly missing.
Patriarch isn’t just a story of God’s revelation of His love for a man, but also a man’s love for his wife and her’s for him. It bumbles and stumbles along, as Abram and Sarai’s flaws are exposed but the soundtrack which constantly recurs in the background has a melodious depth and romantic rich refrain.
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