23 January 2011
Abraham and the Family Feud
After The Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother by Gustave Doré
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. Genesis 21:14
The story of Abraham and his sons is one of those long and winding soap-opera kinds of Bible stories. Abraham, who we might call the first monotheist, was married to Sarah who was barren. Sarah, knowing that 86-year-old Abraham longed for a son, offered her servant Hagar to Abraham as a surrogate and Hagar gave birth to Abraham's first son, Ishmael.
Thirteen years later, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to Abraham's second son, Isaac. After the birth, Sarah became angry and jealous of Hagar and Ishmael and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." Abraham reluctantly did so after God promised him that both of his sons would be made into great nations.
Thus began what Bruce Feiler, author of Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths calls "the greatest family feud in the history of the world and the defining feud of our time." Isaac would become the father of Jacob, who would become Israel, while Muslims would revere Ishmael as their original ancestor and their line of direct descent from Abraham. Christians too have claimed Abraham as their spiritual ancestor and so, as Feiler says, "One man is at the heart of the religions that suddenly seem to be at war: Abraham. Abraham. Abraham."
I also added a contemporary image of a woman and her children being detained at an Israeli checkpoint to this section of the print.