Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Genesis 16-21

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Chapter 16 - This chapter chronicles the birth of Ishmael. Since Sarai could not bear children she gave her slave girl, an Egyptian named Hagar, to Abram as a wife. Abram came into Hagar and she conceived. When she realized she was pregnant she looked upon Sarai with contempt. When Sarai saw this she was upset with Abram because she had given Hagar to him, and Abram reminded her that Hagar was only a slave girl and Sarai could do what she wished with her. Sarai delt harshly with her and Hagar fled.

An angel of God found Hagar at a spring in the wilderness. The angel asked her what was wrong and Hagar told him she had run away from her mistress. The angel told her to go back to Sarai and submit to her and God would reward her with more children and progeny than she could count. The angel also told her to name her son Ishmael and that he would be a wild man, at odds with all of his kin. Hagar named God El-roi (God who sees) and bore Abram his son Ishmael.

17:15-19 - God renames Sarai, now calling her Sarah. God will bless Sarah and give Abraham (fka Abram) a son by her. Sarah will give rise to nations, kings and people shall come from her. Abraham scoffs, disbelieving that a man who is one hundred and a woman who is ninety could bear children. Sarah's son shall be called Isaac and she shall have him the next year.

18:6 - Abraham tells Sarah to make cakes for three visiting angels.
18:9-15 - Angels ask Abraham where his wife is. Abraham tells them she is in the tent. An angel tells him that he will return in due season and that Sarah shall have a son. Sarah overhears and laughs to herself, saying that she and her husband are both too old to have children, how can this be possible. God asks Abraham why Sarah laughed, the Lord is great and that she will bear a son. Sarah denies that she laughed because she was afraid of God and God replies "Oh yes you did."

19:8 - A mob of men demand that Lot give them the angels who have come into his home. Lot pleads them not to take the angels and offers up his two virgin daughters for the mob to do with as they please. The mob may do whatever they want with the daughters but nothing to the men since they have come under the shelter of Lot's roof.
19:12 - The angels urge Lot to take his sons, son-in-laws, daughters and anyone else he may have in the city and leave Sodom.
19:14 - Lot goes to his son-in-laws who are to marry his daughters.
19:15-16 - Angels tell Lot to take his wife and daughters and leave the city. When Lot hesitates the angels grab them all and lead them out of the city before it is destroyed.
19:26 - Lot's wife looks back at Sodom and turns into a pillar of salt.
19:30-38 - "The Shameful Origin of Moab and Ammon." Lot and his daughters live in caves outside of Zoar. Since there are no men for the daughters to have children with, they get Lot drunk and have sex with him. Lot has no idea when they laid with him or when they arose. Both daughters bore children, the oldest bore Moab and the youngest Ban-ammi.

20:2-7 - Abraham and Sarah reside in Gerar. Abraham once again tells everyone Sarah is his sister, and King Abimelech decides to take her as his wife. God comes to Abimelech and tells him that unless he wants to die he will restore Sarah to Abraham because she is his wife. Abimelech explains that he did not know, Abraham said she was his sister and Sarah said he was her brother. God said he knew that Abimelech didn't know this so that is why he is giving him a warning before he brings harm on Abimelech.
20:11-18 - Abraham tells Abimelech that he lied because he was afraid he would be killed for his wife, and that he was not technically lying since Sarah was his step-sister. He explains that he and Sarah had agreed to call her his sister wherever they went after they had left his father's house. Abimelech gave Abraham sheep and oxen and male and female slaves and restored Sarah. Abraham gets to settle wherever he pleases. Abimelech gives Abraham a thousand pieces of silver and tells Sarah that she is vindicated. After this God healed Abimelech and his wife and female slaves so they could again bear children.

21:1-7 - Sarah has Isaac just as God promised. She is very pleased.
21:8-20 - Sarah sees Ishmael playing with Isaac. She asks Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael because she does not want Ishmael to inherit along side Isaac. God tells Abraham to do this and that Ishmael will still be blessed with a nation because of his promise to Abraham. The next morning Abraham gives Hagar supplies and sends her away with Ishmael. In the desert Hagar runs out of water. She hides Ishmael under a bush and weeps. God hears the voice of the boy (?) and told Hagar to not worry because he is going to make a great nation with Ishmael. God opened her eyes and Hagar sees a well of water. God was with Ishmael as he grew up in the desert and Hagar found him a wife from Egypt.

My Comments

A pleasantly woman heavy section of reading, though it is not without its issues.

I'm not surprised at all that Hagar was displeased with her pregnancy. She was basically raped and will be forced to bear Abraham's children. And then Sarah punished her because she is unhappy, which would make any woman want to escape, I think. But of course the angel tells her to go back to the abuse and have the child. And then the angel adds that Ishmael will basically be at odds with his kin after his birth. After all she's been through basically the angel just tells her to go back, deal with even more abuse and a pretty horrible life for her son, and to just trust that it'll be okay? I don't think that's a very good deal. And then to top all that off Ishmael is basically negated by God giving Sarah Isaac. Hagar just seems to get the short end of the poop stick here.

And chapter 17 and 18 offer up two more contradicting stories. It wouldn't be all that bad if the stories were even remotely similar. In one it's just God and Abraham, and the other there's visiting angels and Sarah makes cakes and overhears and God mocks her. It's just weird.

And then my favorite story, chapter 19. The judgment of Sodom. Especially 19:8. Were his daughters not under the shelter of his roof? The visitors were under the protection of his roof but apparently his daughters WHO LIVE THERE are under no such protection. And then we get the lovely story about how the daughters shamefully trick their father into having sex with them. Just such a wonderful family. Edit about verse 19:26: I did not add the part about God saying to not look back at the city because it is unclear exactly who this was told to. I was not sure if it was told to everyone or just to Lot, so I only included the verse that mentions his wife. So yes, God commanded to not look back at the city but we are not sure to whom he said this specifically, so it cannot be said for sure that Lot's wife looking back was a conscious action against God or just a curious woman looking back at a destroyed city.

And then another tale about Abraham and Sarah pretending (although technically not pretending) to be brother and sister. God still punishes Abimelech's and his women (wives and slave girls) but warns Abimelech to give Sarah back to Abraham before God kills him. Why does Abimelech get a warning? The pharaoh before got no warning, just instantly plagued.

And then we get Sarah being catty again. She gave Hagar to Abraham so that Abraham could have a son, and then when Ishmael is playing with Isaac Sarah gets pissed. This seems to be God's fault, since he intervened and gave Sarah a son of her own. So does God just like to stir up drama? Did he not realize that Hagar was already going to have Abraham's child? Though I assume he did since an angel spoke with Hagar about Ishmael. And predicted Ishmael would be at odds with his kin, so maybe Isaac was already being planned? But couldn't God have just called the whole Isaac thing off and saved Hagar and Ishmael all that suffering (Hagar more than Ishmael). So this whole Isaac v. Ishmael thing is just a bit off to me. Maybe God just REALLY wanted to show off how he could make a one hundred year old man and a ninety year old women have a child.

And at least now we have women speaking directly to God or with his angels. And the women acting, more or less, actively. A very nice change of pace. I take back my earlier comments about a lack of women interacting with God.

Tomorrow: Genesis 22-26

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