[b-hebrew] Abraham, Sarah, Lot and Lot's Wife: Part I of II

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Dec 27 12:42:34 EST 2007


Stephen Shead:
 
Part I of II
 
1.  You wrote:  “Isaac's uncertain paternity?  Genesis 25:19 is your 
"unambiguous line of text": "These are the generations of Isaac son of Abraham. 
Abraham FATHERED (HWLYD) Isaac."
 
Yes, I agree.  But note how late in the text that statement comes.
 
The point I am making is that for many years after Isaac’s birth, Abraham 
himself is not certain that Isaac is Abraham’s blood son, as opposed to being 
Abraham’s adopted son.  I agree with you that, at the end of the day, it turns 
out that Isaac is Abraham’s blood son, but Abraham was not sure of that for many 
years.
 
2.  You wrote:  “[A]nyone reading the text without your preconceptions would 
never dream that Isaac were not Abraham's biological son.”
 
When Sarah is in Abimelech’s bedroom immediately before she gets pregnant, we 
all worry whether Abraham is Isaac’s biological father.  Abimelech’s 
self-serving claims that he did not touch Sarah should be given little or no weight.  
Sarah never is reported as saying that Abimelech did not touch her.  YHWH is 
not reported as telling Abraham that Abimelech did not touch Sarah.
 
Do you think it was pleasant for the author of the Patriarchal narratives to 
report that story about beloved Matriarch #1 Sarah?  Do you think the author “
forgot” to have YHWH tell Abraham unequivocally that, not to worry, Abimelech 
had not touched Sarah?
 
I am not insisting that Abimelech touched Sarah.  What I am insisting, 
rather, is that the received text strongly suggests that Abraham himself had some 
real doubts about Isaac’s biological paternity for many years.  Eventually those 
doubts are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and great relief, but not 
immediately.
 
I am not the one who portrayed Sarah as being in another man’s bedroom 
immediately before she got pregnant with Isaac.  There has to be a very serious 
reason why that very strange, disconcerting, unpleasant story is in the text.  And 
why the ultimate resolution of Isaac’s biological paternity is not clarified 
until very late in the game, at Genesis 25: 19, as you rightly point out.  That
’s precisely the point I am making.  I am not insisting that Abimelech 
touched Sarah, and I agree with you that as of Genesis 25: 19, we are virtually 
assured that Abraham sired Isaac the regular way.
 
But in a sense, I do agree with your main charge against me.  In order for my 
theory of the case to work, there must be a bona fide ambiguity about Isaac’s 
biological paternity for many years.  If there were no such ambiguity, my 
theory of the case would not work.  So this is a very important point to me.  If 
chapter 20 of Genesis had been left out of the Patriarchal narratives, my 
theory of the case would not work.  But given the presence of chapter 20 of 
Genesis, and the lack of clarification of Isaac’s biological paternity until Genesis 
25: 19, my theory of the case works perfectly.
 
Which puts the shoe on the other foot, you see.  In your view, why is Sarah 
portrayed as being in Abimelech’s bedroom immediately before she gets pregnant 
with Isaac?
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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