Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Genesis XXXI

[Ten sections to go...]


Then deed-bold Abraham answered his own Lord:
“What have you given me, Sovereign of Souls, of free-men
as a comfort, so that I am now thus miserable? I have no need
to build a heritage-seat for any sons of mine, yet after me
my kinsmen must distribute my wealth. You have not given
me a son, therefore sorrow troubles me greatly in my mind.
I myself cannot devise counsel. My reeve goes rejoicing
in his free children; he safely supposes in his inward thoughts
that after me his own sons shall be my inheritors.
They recognize that from my bride no child has been conceived.” (2173-86)

Immediately then God answered him: “Never will the sons
of your reeve possess your heritage, yet your proper children
will keep your treasures when your flesh lays down in death.
Look at the heavens and the count of its ornaments, the stars
of the sky, these now share out their glory-fast splendor
both wide and far, shining brightly across the broad waters.
Such will be the numbers of your family, your bold descendants.
You should not allow your spirit to be impaired with grief.
For yet your son shall honor you, bairn of your bride
come through birth, who will be the warden of your heritage
after you, well-known to God. Lament no longer! (2187-2200)

“I am the Sovereign who led you out of the city of the Chaldeans
many winters ago, a certain four of you*—I promised you a wide country
to rule. Now I give to you, son of the Hebrews, another promise
that the earth, many broad lands, shall be established by your progeny,
the corners of the world until the River Euphrates and from
the boundaries of Egypt just as the Nile separates
the broad realm between peoples and the sea will turn your lands
back again.* Your sons shall possess all that, each human land,
as those three waters, foamy floods, encircle the high cities of stone
in their streams, the dwelling-places of your people’s kin.” (2201-15)

Then was Sarah sore at heart, so that with Abraham there was not
any noble children between them by conjugality to comfort them.
Soul-anxious, she then began to speak to her husband by her own words:
“The Wielder of Heaven has denied me this, that I may increase
the count of your lineage under the sky with your sons.
Now I am hopeless that the root of this nation will ever be
granted to us together. I am sadly old! My lord, do as I ask you!
Here is a maiden, a beautiful woman, an Egyptian lady,
alone in your power. I bid you to climb into her bed right away,
and find out whether the Lord will allow any heirs in this world
to come to you through that woman.” (2216-33)

Then the blessed man followed his wife’s advice, commanding
that handmaiden to go to his bed by Sarah’s instruction.
Her heart gladdened when Hagar was made pregnant with child
by Abraham. But the neck-bound woman was soon scornful
to her mistress with spite, and she carried herself proudly,
she was hostile and would not willingly endure her enslavement,
but she began to struggle strong and bold against Sarah. (2234-43)

Then, as I have heard, that woman made known wordfully
to her husband the sorrow of her mind, saying pained at heart
and speaking strongly: “You don’t do what is fitting and right by me.
Since you consented to me that Hagar, my handmaiden, would
mount your bed, just as I requested, in my tracks, she has afflicted
me daily and dishonorably with her deeds and words. I must own that one
if I am allowed to rule my servants on your behalf
my dear Abraham.* May the Almighty, the Lord of Lords,
be judge between us two.” (2244-55)

The wise-minded man quickly answered her then
with his words: “I will not allow you to be deprived
of honor so long as we both shall live, but you may
manage your own servant as your heart sees fit.” (2256-60)

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