[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 18 17:16:20 EDT 2007
1. You wrote: ”Your suggestions are completely nonsensical. What kind of
your suggestion that Abimelech slept with Sarah when he had no desire for
her have? Absolutely none! Have you even considered how your propositions
sound? People don't sleep with other people's wives with no desire just for
the fun of it."
Abimelech did not invite Sarah into his household "just for the fun of it".
Abimelech was desperate to impregnate the women in his palace. In order for
that to happen, Abimelech was hoping that Sarah's husband, a holy man, would
offer a fervent fertility prayer on Abimelech's behalf, so that Abimelech
could impregnate the women in his palace. Abimelech had no physical desire for
Sarah at all. Abimelech ends up getting exactly what he wanted -- a
fertility prayer from Abraham:
"And Abraham prayed unto God; and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and
his maid-servants; and they bore children. For the LORD [YHWH] had fast closed
up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's
wife." Genesis 20: 17-18
Abimelech did not invite Sarah into his household "with no desire just for
the fun of it". No, Abimelech was willing to invite Sarah into his household
in order to get Abraham to give Abimelech that much-wanted fertility prayer.
It is impossible that the author could want us to believe that young
Abimelech had any lust for old Sarah. Sarah is stated age 90 "years", Sarah is long
past the normal age for childbearing in the ancient world, Sarah is
"withered", and in chapter 20 of Genesis, Sarah is not stated to be beautiful.
Abraham must pass three gut-wrenching tests. He must be willing to have
Sarah be in Pharaoh's household, he must be willing to have Sarah be in
Abimelech's household, and he must be willing to kill Isaac if so ordered by YHWH.
All three tests are terrible. All three tests seem immoral on the surface.
But would we really expect Abraham's tests to be easy? Abraham, though a
wealthy man, certainly did not have an easy life.
2. You wrote: "Next you'll be suggesting that the silver Abimelech gave
gratitude for the good time Abraham gave him???"
James, look at the text closely, and you will see that no silver in fact
changes hands. As part of the prearranged cover story, Abimelech loudly says to
Abimelech's people that Abimelech has given a gargantuan amount of silver to
Abraham. Abraham in fact received no silver. That is part of the cover
"And unto Sarah he said: 'Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand
pieces of silver; behold, it is for thee a covering of the eyes to all that are
with thee; and before all men thou art righted.'" Genesis 20: 16
Where's the silver? When had Abimelech given any silver to Abraham? That is
all pure rhetoric, nothing else. No money changed hands.
3. You wrote: "The author of the account specifically says that Yhwh
stopped Abimelech and not merely that Abimelech said so."
I have just sent in two posts on that exact topic. The author of the
Patriarchal narratives wants us to understand that Abimelech is loudly claiming to
his assembled multitude that (i) Abimelech never came near Sarah, and that
(ii) Abimelech is "a righteous nation". Abraham was not in Abimelech's
household that night. How could Abraham know what had gone on? Why doesn't Abraham
ask Sarah or YHWH to verify Abimelech's strange story, before offering up a
fertility prayer to Abimelech on the spot? Abraham never asks YHWH or Sarah
what happened in Abimelech's household, because all that had been decided by
Abraham, Sarah and Abimelech before Sarah ever entered Abimelech's household.
If the text said that YHWH came to Abraham in broad daylight and told
Abraham that nothing had happened in Abimelech's household, that would be one
thing. But there is nothing like that in the text.
4. You wrote: "The author has no such intentions as you
suggest and his agenda is to show Abraham as a righteous man NOT as some
kind of ANE wife swapping pimp who collaborates and makes up stories about
god stopping them from doing the dirty."
There is no wife-swapping at all. Abraham has no contact with any woman in
I thoroughly agree that the author intends to show Abraham as a righteous
man, and that Abraham indeed was a righteous man.
I also thoroughly agree that Abraham is not a pimp. Abraham receives no
actual money from Abimelech. Abraham and Sarah are in no need of money.
Rather, the problem that all three of Abimelech, Abraham and Sarah are struggling
with is infertility.
5. You are reacting to the unpleasantness of this story. Maybe nothing did
happen in Abimelech's household. We'll never know for sure, because the
author of the Patriarchal narratives takes pains to keep what actually happened
What I am saying is that Abraham is presented as having to go through three
terrible tests in order to prove to YHWH that Abraham is the right man to be
a blessing to all mankind. Each test is more terrible than the previous
test. Even the first test, with Pharaoh, is profoundly unpleasant. But the fact
of the matter is that neither ruler was physically attracted to old Sarah,
and Abraham never honestly feared that either ruler would murder him.
These stories are about fertility issues and the divine role regarding
fertility issues (the dominant theme in the Patriarchal narratives), not about
lust, money or murder (none of which issues are of any great interest to the
author of the Patriarchal narratives, who has more important issues on his
mind). Abimelech has no lust for Sarah, Abimelech gives no money to Abraham, and
Abraham, who had 318 armed retainers per Genesis 14: 14, never has any bona
fide fear of being murdered by Abimelech. Rather, the author is dealing with
vexing fertility issues, and the divine role in regard thereto, in these
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