[b-hebrew] daughters jacob never spoke of

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Jun 21 15:33:04 EDT 2006

Dear Shoshanna,

>"coloring the truth" - my words, not Rashi's or Abraham's, I could 
>have used different phrases but - I thought this was a list about 
>semantics in Hebrew, not English.
>The point being, that for whatever reasons Avraham thought he needed 
>to "lie" (which is not the point of this discussion, but we can cite 
>that, too...commentaries explain that in verse 2) - he did his best 
>to remain as close to the truth as possible.

HH: You see, I have always been taught and find more credible, in terms 
of the narrative, that Sarah was Abraham's half-sister. This was before 
God prohibited marriages within families, and we know that Adam's 
children had to marry within the family. Here is part of an online article:

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


  sa'-ra, sa'-ri:


We are introduced to Sarai in Genesis 11:29. She is here mentioned as 
the wife that Abraham "took," while still in Ur of the Chaldees, that 
is, while among his kindred. It is immediately added that "Sarai was 
barren; she had no child." By this simple remark in the overture of his 
narrative, the writer sounds the motif that is to be developed in all 
the sequel. When the migration to Haran occurs, Sarai is named along 
with Abram and Lot as accompanying Terah. It has been held that the 
author (or authors) of Genesis 11 knew nothing of the relationship 
announced in 20:12. But there can be no proof of such ignorance, even on 
the assumption of diversity of authorship in the two passages.

  Sarai's career as described in Genesis 11 was not dependent on her 
being the daughter of Terah. Terah had other descendants who did not 
accompany him. Her movements were determined by her being Abram's wife. 
It appears, however, that she was a daughter of Terah by a different 
mother from the mother of Abram. The language of 20:12 would indeed 
admit of her being Abram's niece, but the fact that there was but 10 
years' difference between his age and hers (Genesis 17:17) renders this 
hypothesis less probable. Marriage with half-sisters seems to have been 
not uncommon in antiquity (even in the Old Testament compare 2 Samuel 

  This double relationship suggested to Abraham the expedient that he 
twice used when he lacked faith in God to protect his life and in 
cowardice sought his own safety at the price of his wife's honor.

Harold Holmyard

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