Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview

§57 Elizabeth Julia Hasell
(1830–1887)

Elizabeth Julia Hasell was the second daughter of Edward Williams Hasell (1796–1872) and his wife, Dorothea King. The Hasells were a wealthy family with large estates. Hasell was educated at home and taught herself Latin, Greek, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. She published numerous essays and reviews, demonstrating her expertise in classical and contemporary literature. She was also well read in theology and wrote a number of devotional works including The Rock; and other short lectures on passages of Holy Scripture (1867); Bible Partings (1883); Short Family Prayers (1884); Via Crucis; or, Meditations for passion and Easter tide (1884). In addition to her studies and writing, Hasell promoted education and worked for the welfare of those on her family's estates and in the district. She walked long distances to teach, often giving extempore addresses.20

Hasell's book Bible Partings consisted of essays that were originally published in the Day of Rest between 1845 and 1847. These essays focus on the theme of parting; the separation of Rebekah and Jacob narrated in Genesis 27 provided the focus for the selection reproduced here. Hasell struggled with the deceitful means Rebekah used to gain the promised end of Isaac's blessing on Jacob, invoking the notion of progressive morality to account for differences in the ethical standards between what she read in the text and her nineteenth-century context. Hasell examined two cases of Rebekah using the wrong means to gain a good end: the deception of Isaac so that he blessed Jacob, and the argument that Jacob needed to leave home to find a wife rather than admitting he needed protection from his angry brother. As well, Hasell noted that Rebekah did not pray or bless Jacob on their parting as Isaac did, inferring from this that Rebekah was out of favor with God.

Like Aguilar, Hasell drew parallels between Eve and Rebekah. The curse both women received was most fully realized in their children. The happiness or unhappiness of both women as mothers was found in the happiness or unhappiness of their children. This idea assumed women's power and responsi

20 Source: Norman Moore, "Hasell, Elizabeth Julia," in The Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography
, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, vol. 25 (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2004), 703.

-302-

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