In Matthew 22: 23-33, Jesus had a theological discussion with the Sadducees on the matter of resurrection and the power of God over the living and the dead. They asked Jesus about a woman who married seven brothers, one after another after each one died without producing an heir. The question of the Sadducees was, “In the resurrection, whose wife will she be?” It was a discussion among men, about the resurrection of men, and about the ownership of the woman. The woman in the text is voiceless and nameless.
I cannot imagine the burden of marrying seven brothers, the torture of reproductive labor to produce an heir and the hopelessness of barrenness. Nevertheless, I wanted to cry out for her. This is what I imagined she would say. She begins with resoluteness but ends with hopelessness.
The Woman with Seven Husbands
“I could not believe my fate. My God has forsaken me.
He has allowed my husband to be killed in battle.
He has left me without a son.
What does the future hold for me?
No husband and no child.
Should I resign at my loss and accept my fate like a mendicant?
No! My husband will not be without a descendant!
His sole hope is in me and I will not be deterred.
His brother will have to marry me”
He pities me but has no affection for me.
He is with me only because his father compelled him.
He respects me and cares for my welfare
But when he lays with me, he does not care if he satisfies me.
Still, I will not be deterred. My husband’s fate rests in me.
I will endure and I will do my part in God’s design.
I did not want this union.
They threatened me so I would do my duty.
My husband hardly looks at me
And when he does he is filled with loathing.
He does not want to bed me and he humiliates my pain.
I am alone and I feel more alone with a husband like him.
My God, my God, I did not mean to ask
that you take him away.
But I could not help but curse
This man who had to be my husband.
He beat me up when he was drunk.
He spoke no kind word to me.
He called me ‘barren’ to my face
And took me against my will.
I moved among the shadows.
I wished they would not see me.
His family said I am a curse.
They are the curse – on me!
Do they not see that I am barren?
My God, why did you make me so?
My womb is empty.
I have no worth.
Can you not end my pain?
You gave and took away my seven husbands, God.
And still no child in me.
I live in the land of the living,
But dead I might as well be.