Mistress Sarai


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“Go, sleep with my maidservant;

Perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Genesis 16:2

I went to see 12 Years A Slave, which is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free African American living in New York who was kidnapped and forced into slavery.

I won’t spoil the plot.  One subplot involved the master’s wife and a slave woman (Pats).  The Master was fixated on Pats, and his wife was jealous, angry, alone, childless, lonely, dependent – and impotent to change anything.  She tried an ultimatum, “You either sell that slave girl or I’ll leave you!”  It didn’t work.  The film left me thinking about Mistress.  In all the films I’ve seen about slavery, Mistress is a secondary character.  She deserves a primary place because her cruelty, hatred and insensitivity are equal to her husband’s.  She was like Sarah.

It’s important to me to reflect on the real Sarah.  Sarah was a barren, jealous, lonely, miserable woman; and Hagar was her slave and scapegoat.  Maybe Sarah was so evil because she thought she was being left out.  In Genesis 15, God promises children to Abram, with no mention of Sarah.  She figured her husband would have children with another woman while she would still be left barren.  It’s only after Sarai’s abuse of Hagar that God changes her name to Sarah, and tells her that she’ll be the mother of nations (Gen. 17).

I got angry and started arguing with my Bible study members because the New Testament (Galations 4:21-31; I Peter 3:5-6) treats Sarah like a hero.  She wasn’t.  Despite being chosen by God, Sarah acted more like Potiphar’s wife, an Egyptian non-believer, in her abuse of slaves.  The New Testament also makes Hagar guilty.  Hagar was a victim.  Joseph Prince explained that Christ forgets our sins.  Therefore, the New Testament does not record how horrible Sarah was.  He remade Sarai into Sarah and comforted Hagar by promising to make Ishmael into a great nation as well (Gen. 16:9-12, 17:20, 21:18).   As Christians, we should be grateful that God will forget the horrible things we’ve done and console the victims of our actions.

12 Years a Slave was about Solomon, so I don’t know what happened to Mistress or Pats.  Mistress was a professing Christian.  I hope God gave Mistress a new character and gave Pats some comfort in this world.   I hope Pats is in heaven.

I won’t spoil the plot for you.  Experience it for yourself.


 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day,

He refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

One day he went into the house to attend to his duties

And none of the household servants was inside.

She caught him by his cloak and said,

“Come to bed with me!”

Genesis 39:10-12





BOW is my first experience in blogging, and my writing has undergone an evolution since I started. I use If I Knew Then What I Know Now to think aloud about my Christian walk. When you read it, my hope is that WE (the BOW community & friends) then discuss how to apply God's word into our everyday lives in a practical manner. As Christian lay-theologians, we'll talk about our world, and how we can be in it but not of it. So whatever your thoughts are about what you read, PLEASE share.
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