Week 3 Story: The Burning Box

"Well, this doesn't bode well for the empowerment of women in the coming centuries."

Sarah sat huddled in the corner of a dark wooden box being pulled along by two donkeys. She and her husband Abraham were fleeing to Egypt, and as one of the original patriarchs of Judaism, Abraham's beliefs about women were deeply entrenched in the emerging pattern of patriarchal norms. Sarah made a mental note to talk to God later about how this was unfolding. 

Back in the present situation, Sarah bemoaned her husband's need to conceal her in a box. Abraham feared that when the Egyptians gazed upon her beauty, she would be snatched away for the king's harem. This was problematic for two reasons: firstly, because anyone who tried to mess with Sarah, be it a peasant or a king, would find themselves in for a fierce battle. She would not be dragged anywhere without a fight. The neighbors joked that her spirit was like Moses’ burning bush – endlessly fiery. Secondly, because Sarah might rather be snatched away by strangers than live with a husband who puts his wife inside a box like a sack of wheat. She could feel the smoke coming out of her ears as she sat fuming in the darkness; it was seeping through the cracks in the box and leaving a black ribbon trail in their wake.

As the hours passed, the heat and stuffiness inside the box grew worse. Every so often Abraham would come around to check on her and offer her water, which she begrudgingly accepted to keep up her strength. She would offer Abraham a smile and pretend not to hate the situation, secretly vowing to cut off her hair or splash acid on her face the first chance she had. Beauty was proving to be cruelty.

Finally, the box came to a halt. Sarah heard a kerfuffle outside; although she could make out Abraham exchanging words with foreign voices, she couldn’t hear exactly what was being said. The box was suddenly pried open to reveal Sarah in her humble wooden abode, and she could feel her body being pried open by the razing eyes of the foreigners. A hand reached in, and before she had a chance to resist, a strong grip locked around her wrist.

“She belongs to the king now,” the man holding her said to Abraham. “We shall take her to be made part of his harem.”

Sarah rolled her eyes. It didn’t matter how many miles she traversed; she could not escape the patriarchy. As the foreign man led her away, she glanced toward the sky and whispered,

“God, we’re about to have a very serious conversation.”


Authors Note:
Too often, the women of history (particularly religious history) are not given a voice. In this story, I hope to make light of Sarah's inner thoughts and explore her character more deeply. Also, while I enjoy reading biblical stories, I often cringe during moments where it is obvious that a woman is being repressed or subjected to history's silencing of women. By writing Sarah through the lens of a badass feminist, I want to contradict the perception of the submissive, powerless biblical woman.

Sarah is skeptical, because she knows her own worth. Source: Pixabay


Landa, Gertrude. (1919). The Higgledy-Piggledy Palace. In Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends.
Web Source


  1. Hi Joni! I really liked reading your story. I haven't read the original version so I can't compare it to your story. However, I think the way you portrayed Sarah to be this strong, badass feminist makes me like your version a lot more already. I also like that your story wasn't serious and had a comical tone to it. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hey Joni! I really enjoyed reading this alternate, often unheard, perspective of a Biblical woman. My favorite part, hands down, was the metaphor you used to describe how as Sarah was fuming, there was smoke coming out of her ears and traveling outside the box. This painted a vivid image of her condition in my mind. I could picture her cramped inside a small wooden box with the sweltering heat of Egyptian deserts and her own anger suffocating her. Given the fact that Sarah is so headstrong, I wonder how Abraham convinced her to get in the box in the first place. She seemed pretty adamant about her belief that this was unjust so it made me ponder the circumstances that led to her being forced into the box anyway. What if you also offered more of Sarah's thoughts on the foreigners that took her or even better, had her put up a fight? You're a great writer so I think that ending would have been interesting to see as well!

  3. Joni... I was really into this story! Not only did you make it flow really well, but you also made a story that I may not have thought was very interesting into something that I had to read!! You did a great job on capturing her thoughts and explore her character!! I wanted to read more haha! I am very impressed how well this was put together!!

  4. Joni, I really love this story! I agree, I love reading biblical stories but hate that they're all written through the eyes of men from a time that's even more patriarchal than it is now. I loved getting to hear Sarah's voice; I was always more interested in her than in Abraham, anyway, and I've always imagined her as the badass you made her to be! I wasn't as familiar with this story than I am with others about Sarah and Abraham, so I enjoyed that aspect of this, too.


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