In Genesis 16 Sarai is in the place of Abraham, and he plays the role of the Pharaoh. In the face of a pressing need, childlessness this time, she presents an innocent, powerless woman to the powerful Patriarch in a painful echo of her experience in Gen 12.
Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant and gave her to her husband to be his wife. (Gen 16:3)
Just look at the complex of relationships his wife…her maidservant…her husband…his wife.
Has Sarai learned from her husband’s pragmatic, self-interested behaviour? Or is this revenge? When the trap is laid she turns on Abraham and blames him for her predicament. Has this resentment been stored up for years and years? In front of Abraham she claims to have ‘put my servant in your arms’, but earlier it was clearly stated she gave Hagar as a wife.
Just as in the previous example of spousal abuse Abraham is silent and it all happens around him. Is this because he had already surrendered the moral high ground by what he did in Egypt? Here, he limply hands the outcomes to Sarai to do as she pleases with Hagar. ‘Do what you think is best’ he says, but we already know that neither of them are prone to good judgment and decision making.
Past hurts and wounds are raw and continue to control present behaviour.
And what of Hagar in all of this?