[b-hebrew] daughters jacob never spoke of

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Jun 22 08:15:59 EDT 2006

Dear James,

>Re Abraham's intentions:
>Whether what Abraham said can be construed as a lie or 
>not one thing is absolutely clear and that is that his 
>intention was to deceive. Deception is not necessarily 
>a morally bad thing and David's pretense at being crazy 
>is another example of one our ancient heroes getting 
>involved in not completely honest activities.

HH: I agree with everything you've said and think it makes a good 
distinction in the motives for which one distorts the truth. But I also 
see that David did not really lie. He acted in a certain way, and people 
drew conclusions on the basis of his actions. Likewise, Abraham did not 
really lie, though he withheld important information. Sarah was his 
sister, a half-sister, according to his later testimony.

HH: While I agree that he misrepresented the truth, I think it would 
have been worse if Sarah really was not his sister in any way. For then 
he would have had a policy of lying, since he said it was his policy to 
have Sarah say this wherever they went. And he would have asked his wife 
to lie as a policy. I see a difference between that and her simply 
giving a limited amount of information. Sarah's saying that she was 
Abraham's sister was not a full-fledged lie if she was his sister, 
although the limited data misrepresented the situation.

HH: We do see in Rahab's case the use of a clear lie. The way this has 
been justified to me is that it is the lesser of two evils. It would 
have been worse for Rahab to reveal to the people of Jericho that the 
spies were still in her residence. It would have been worse not only 
because the king of Jericho would have killed the spies. If he had done 
that, then Rahab could never have escaped the extermination policy of 
the Israelites when they captured the city. Rahab believed that God was 
going to give the city into the hands of the Israelites:

Josh. 2:9 and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to 
you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live 
in this country are melting in fear because of you.
Josh. 2:10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea 
for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, 
the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely 

HH: It was Rahab's faith in God that informed her of the necessity of 
receiving mercy from the spies. To tell the truth to the soldiers of 
Jericho would have meant that she and her family would lose their lives 
when the Israelites destroyed the city. She knew this by faith, so her 
faith itself prompted her to lie. It was wrong to lie, but she believed 
it was better to lie and live than to tell the truth and die. Her lying 
put her on the side of God's people and God's will. And, of course, the 
New Testament Book of James commends her for her faith:

James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered 
righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent 
them off in a different direction?

HH: James does not mention her lie explicitly, but saying that she sent 
the spies out "in a different direction" may allude to it. She sent them 
out in a different direction from the direction that the Jericho 
soldiers had taken. The soldiers took the direction they did because she 
told the king that the spies had left the city and she did not know 
where they had gone. The king's deputation of his soldiers was based on 
her false report, and because she saw where the soldiers headed she 
could tell the spies to escape to the hills to avoid the soldiers.

Harold Holmyard

>It is not deception in itself that is such a bad thing 
>it is the ulterior motive that makes deception bad. e.g. 
>In proverbs we are told that Yah hates dodgy scales. 
>Now the ulterior motive of dodgy scales is clear, and 
>that is to defraud hard working people of their hard 
>earned cash and such behaviour is clearly morally 
>incorrect from a biblical standpoint. The ten 
>commandments also tell us that to bear false witness 
>against an innocent man is also morally bad. Again, 
>in this form of deception we see the ulterior motive 
>of wanting to wrongfully incriminate another person 
>is clearly 'bad'.
>In the case of Abraham's and David's actions it is 
>clear that their intentions were to deceive. But it 
>is also perfectly clear that they had no morally 
>incorrect ulterior motives behing their deception 
>but merely wanted to save their necks. Seems fine to 
>All things considered, if one day I'm put in a 
>situation whereby a maraunding band of the latest 
>version of Nazis bursts into my house and demands the 
>secret location of my Christian and/or Jewish brethren 
>then you can rest assured that I will quite proudly 
>lyingly say I don't know where they are or provide 
>a false location and you can also rest assured that 
>I won't be losing any night's sleep over my dishonesty.o tell us that to bear false witness 
>against an innocent man is also morally bad. Again, 
>in this form of deception we see the ulterior motive 
>of wanting to wrongfully incri
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