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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Sarah

Biblical, Hebrew and Christian, also acknowledged in Islam, reputedly flourished circa 1800 B.C.E.

The Book of Genesis identifies Sarah (whose name means “woman of high rank”) and her husband Abraham (“father of many”) as the founders of the future nation of Israel. God proclaimed that she would be the “mother of nations,” but Sarah reached old age without having conceived a child. Determined to uphold her god-given duty and yet believing herself too old to have a child, Sarah recruited Hagar, her young Egyptian housemaid, as a surrogate and Hagar gave birth to Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Fourteen years later, God sent three angels in the guise of men to inform Abraham and Sarah of the impending birth of another child. Despite her disbelief, the ninety-year old Sarah gave birth to their son Isaac shortly thereafter.

Dutch School (in the style of Maerten van Heemskerck). Sarah Overhearing the Angels, late 16th century. Spaightwood Galleries, Upton, Massachusetts

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