Struck by the role that women and women's bodies play in this weeks Torah portion, Vayera.
Here is a recap:
- One of the three divine visitors announces that Sarah will have a son in a year. Sarah, listening from the entrance of the tent (the furthest she can go) laughs to herself. Gd asks Abraham why Sarah laughs, Sarah denies it and this section ends with Gd saying "No. You did laugh." (Gen 18:11-15)
- Lot offers his daughters bodies to the crowd gathered around his house in exchange for the safety of his divine guests. Later, his wife turns to salt and his daughters have sex with him. (Gen 19)
- Version #2 of the wife-sister story, where Abraham passes Sarah off as his sister in Gerar. At the end of this story we read that the wombs of Avimelech's community are opened again, they were closed "on account of Sarah, Abraham's wife." Because Abraham lies about Sarah, she is blamed for the infertility of the community. Whoa. (Get 20)
- Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Sarah is afraid of being ashamed. I wonder how her shame or fear of embarrassment shapes her response to Hagar. (Gen 21)
- Hagar and Ishmael are banished. Hagar cries out and Gd responses. (Gen 21)
Not to mention the absence of women in negotiating with Gd about Sdom and Gomorrah, and the near sacrifice of Isaac.
I don't know what to make of it yet. Each instance has its own nuance, its own place in this communal myth, and its own issues. Combined they show women taking power and being assigned blame, men using women's bodies as shields, and a general sense of women as tools.