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Shared Stories, Rival TellingsEarly Encounters of Jews, Christians, and Muslims$
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Robert C. Gregg

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190231491

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190231491.001.0001

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Sarah and Hagar

Sarah and Hagar

Jewish Portrayals

(p.120) Chapter 4 Sarah and Hagar
Shared Stories, Rival Tellings

Robert C. Gregg

Oxford University Press

The story of Abraham’s two women and their sons is the basis for Israel’s self-understanding as God’s covenant people in the lineage from Isaac. Strife and competition between Sarah and Hagar, leading to the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael to the wilderness, drew the attention of rabbinic exegetes, storytellers, and of mosaic artists in the Galilean city of Sepphoris. How were the attitudes and behaviors of the two women and their sons to be assessed? Voices in Genesis Rabbah debate causes of the infertility of Sarah and the easy pregnancy of Hagar, the character and attributes of both women, and also what kind of “play” by Ishmael caused Sarah to force Abraham to send the boy and his mother away. The chapter concludes with consideration of the damaged mosaic floor of the Sepphoris synagogue and the relation of its images to both Jewish and Christian iconography of the era.

Keywords:   heir, harsh treatment, wilderness, Genesis Rabbah, Sepphoris synagogue

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