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image of Vetus Testamentum

In this study, the intertextuality of the Hagar narratives (Gen. xvi and xxi 8-21) is explored by way of comparison with three other biblical stories: Abraham's ordeal on Mt. Moriah (the Aqedah), Hannah's story, and Joseph's expulsion from Potiphar's house. The purpose is to demonstrate how the many linguistic, literary, and even redactional links between these texts point to a rationale for the prominence of Hagar and Ishmael as literary figures in Genesis, despite their role as the antagonists of Sarah and Isaac. Like Abraham, Hagar receives a promise of a child but must undergo the ordeal of almost losing that child; and like Hannah, she is persecuted by a rival wife but finds hope when visited by God's messenger. Ishmael in like manner can be compared to Joseph's character in that both are unjustly expelled from their advantageous positions because of their masters' wives, yet prosper in exile. Consequently, despite Hagar and Ishmael's negative status as Sarah's rivals, they are portrayed with literary attributes and motifs which set them apart as heroic figures, no less than the Israelite patriarchs and heroes.


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