Faith and Mental Health, Recovering Humanity

What Did She Really Want?!

1 Samuel 1: 9-11

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

Hannah wanted a child.

She desperately wanted a male child.

She wanted him so bad that she was willing to give him up.

And, in her despair made a lifelong decision for him, give him up to the priest.

WAIT?!

She wants a child, a male child, but she promises to give him away to God?!?!?! 😱

If the child is really what she wants, then why does she make the decision not to keep him?! 🤔

Maybe it’s not the child she really wants.

Maybe it’s the status that comes with the child.

What does it mean for Hannah, or any woman to have a son, or any child?!

In Hannah’s time, a woman’s worth as a wife was based on her ability to have children, in particular a male son.

A barren woman was looked down upon and almost cast aside and cast out.

To have a child meant you could bring value to the family.

A daughter could be used as a bargaining tool for property and cattle when arranged to be married.

But, a son would continue the legacy of the father and the family.

A son would increase the wealth of the family as he worked and as he married.

And, a son inherited the land of his father.

So, it was important for a woman to bare a male child.

If Hannah had a male child, she would feel like a real wife, a real woman.

Now, that is all fine and dandy, but her husband put forth double effort to make sure she felt like his wife, so why did she still feel inadequate?

Here’s a dynamic we have overlooked.

Her husband had a second wife.

And, not only was that wife producing his children,

That wife was her sister. Her sister-wife.

Hannah was competing with her sister.

Here she was in a marriage with a man whom she couldn’t give the one thing she was supposed to but another woman could.

While her womb was empty, her sister’s was constantly filled with life.

It is safe to say that Hannah was jealous.

She was envious of her sister.

She wanted what she had.

She wanted to experience what her sister experienced.

This was not about the child.

This was about being able to compete with the sister.

This was about being able to compete as a wife.

This was about satisfying a longing, a craving, a desire that was routed in envy.

This is why she was able to promise him away.

This is why she could say she would give him to God.

It really wasn’t about the child.

It was about restoring her place within the family and value within society.

She didn’t really want the child.

She wanted the benefits that came with having a child, in particular, a male child.

#Igotquestions #Ineedanswers #quriouschronicles #qurioustheologian

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