Seeing and Hearing: The Interrelated Lives of Sarah and Hagar

David J. Zucker


For about three decades, the lives of biblical Sarah and Hagar overlap (Genesis, 12, 16, 18, and 21). In that time, as women they form a relationship, they contend for the affection of Abraham, and each bears him a child. On occasions, their interactions are fraught with emotional issues as they compete for power or status within the Abrahamic family. The focus of this article suggests that a close reading of the biblical texts involved shows many parallels in language between the narratives that deal with Sarah and Hagar, as well as parallel language describing events in Abraham’s life. This article centers on the crucial words “see,” “hear,” and “eyes/sight” in their various forms as they are found in the four relevant chapters. The repetition of these words is a purposeful literary device and connects Sarah to Hagar, and both women to Abraham.

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