Gender Roles In Genesis

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The society in Genesis seems to be one in which men and women have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The men, keepers of covenants with God, seem to have greater control in the public sphere as they lead their families, fulfil religious, moral and divine duties, work for wealth and trade with each other. On the other hand, the women, seem to control the private sphere as they bear and raise children, care for their husbands, brothers and fathers and preserve family relationships. Naturally, this difference in dominance in the two spheres seems to suggest that men are more powerful in society. However, although it may seem that Genesis is set in a patriarchal society where the men dominate the public sphere, in reality, the women have…show more content…
Sarah, one of the most influential women in Genesis not only holds an important position in Abraham’s household, single-handedly deciding on Hagar’s fate, but also presents a powerful position in directing God’s covenant which is passed down to her son, Issac. Sarah is an epitome of beauty and dearly loved by her husband, but unfortunately, is barren in her early years. Therefore, Abraham’s first offspring, Ishmael is borne by Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant. Once Hagar is pregnant, she mocks Sarah’s inability to conceive as “her mistress was lowered in her esteem” (GEN, 16:4). Insulted by Hagar’s mockery, Sarah asks Abraham to choose between her and Hagar, but Abraham, Abraham tells Sarah to “Deal with her as you think right” (GEN 16:6). His reply indicates how he is aware of Sarah’s position in his life and her autonomy in the household where she can make independent decisions and treat Hagar as she pleases. Hagar tries to escape from Sarah’ punishments but is instructed by an angel to return and raise her son Ishmael. Ishmael is Abraham’s first-born son and because Hagar has suffered, God blesses Ishmael to be “a wild ass of a man; His hand against everyone” (GEN,…show more content…
She not only favors Jacob, but also plays an important role in implementing His plan for her sons and fulfilling His prophecy. When she is pregnant with the twins, Rebekkah faces discomfort in her womb and addresses this to God. In response, God reveals His unconventional prophecy of Jacob, the younger son, dominating over Essau, “One people shall be mightier than the other, And the older shall serve the younger” (GEN, 25:22). Interestingly, the birth-order of her sons does not seem too significant as they are twins. However, as Rebekkah’s sons differ significantly in their personalities and skills, Essau is physically strong and muscular while Jacob is intelligent and witty, God’s prophecy about them may indicate a different form of dominance, independent of birth order. He only confesses His foresight to Rebekkah and because she is aware of this, she favors Jacob even though he is the younger son. Meanwhile, Issac is unaware of God’s conversation with Rebekkah, he favors Essau because he is older and “because he had a taste for game” (GEN, 25:28). One of Rebekkah’s greatest contributions to implementing God’s prophecy is when she helps Jacob earn Issac’s final blessing despite Issac favoring Essau. She overhears Issac, in his deathbed, asking Essau to hunt and
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