[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Thu Oct 18 17:39:46 EDT 2007


It is difficult for me to agree with you but it is indeed well nigh  
possible that the whole thing was premeditated. The venerable Abraham  
conspired to become Pharaoh's brother in law and gain thereby power,  
safety, and material remuneration. He used his wife to trap the  
mightiest man on earth! Still, it was all predicated on Sarah being  
such an exceptional beauty [or may be God blinded the Egyptians as to  
her wrinkles, etc. etc.].
Eventually the king contracted from her some virulent germs [Nordic  
flu?] and he let them go.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 18, 2007, at 3:18 PM, JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:

> Isaac  Fried:
> You wrote:  "Abimelech, his pompous name not  withstanding, was a  
> mere speck
> upon
> the dusty horizon of southern  Israel. But the first Hebrew couple had
> a similarly harrowing  experience upon entering Egypt---the America of
> the ancient world  [Genesis 12:11-20]. Her beauty was such that as
> soon as they crossed  the border into the land she was spotted by the
> national Egyptian GSA  [girl spotting agency] who wrote [all in neat
> little pictures] such a  glowing report about her that the mighty
> Pharaoh himself could not  wait to accept her in his chambers. Just
> Sarah of all the millions of  good looking Egyptian girls!
> Do you deem it plausible that LABAN HA-)ARAMI  was the blondy of  
> Aram?"
> The author of the Patriarchal narratives,  and everyone else in the  
> ancient
> world, knew that a pharaoh of Egypt would never  make a grab at a  
> woman who was
> not a virgin and who was beyond the normal age of  childbearing in the
> ancient world.  That is not because pharaohs were particularly  
> moral or high-minded,
> but  rather is because it would have been considered a mortal  
> insult for a
> non-virgin, older woman to be offered to, or lusted after by, an  
> august
> pharaoh.
> There is no chance that the author of the  Patriarchal narratives  
> wants us to
> think that (i) Pharaoh lusted after old  Sarah, and would have been  
> willing
> to kill Abraham to get at old non-virgin  Sarah, or that (ii)  
> Abraham and Sarah
> may have mistakenly thought that Pharaoh  might think that way.
> Just in case someone (like you) might miss  the point, the author  
> of the
> Patriarchal narratives makes it all absolutely  clear in the  
> Abimelech episode.
> Sarah is stated age 90 "years".  Sarah has stopped having the  
> periods of women.
>  Sarah is "withered".  Abraham falls down laughing at YHWH's   
> statement that
> Sarah may still, at her old age, be able to bear a child.  Chapter  
> 20 of
> Genesis never says that  Sarah is beautiful, and never says that  
> young ruler
> Abimelech had any lust for  Sarah at all.  Even a small-time  ruler  
> would not lust
> after a woman who was so many, many years past the normal   
> childbearing age in
> the ancient world.
> Isaac Fried, you completely misunderstand  what is going on at the  
> end of
> chapter 12 of Genesis and in chapter 20 of  Genesis.  Neither  
> Pharaoh nor
> Abimelech has any lust for old Sarah.  On neither occasion does  
> Abraham have any
> bona fide fear that Abraham's  life may be in danger, whether on  
> Sarah's account
> or  otherwise.
> In both cases, as part of a carefully  planned out cover story,  
> Abraham says
> publicly that Sarah is his sister.  In the Abimelech case  
> explicitly, and in
> Pharaoh's case implicitly, Abraham says that Abraham feared being  
> killed by
> the  ruler on Sarah's account.  That  cover story neatly enables  
> each of Pharaoh
> and Abimelech to claim that the ruler  did not knowingly take a  
> married woman
> into his household.  Absent such a cover story, neither ruler   
> would have
> been willing to take old Sarah into his household.  In each case,  
> the ruler and
> Abraham and  Sarah have in fact jointly agreed upon a plan of  
> action.  Never is
> Abraham in fear of his life  from either ruler, and in neither case  
> does
> either ruler lust after old Sarah,  for heaven's sake.
> I do not know why so many people on this  b-Hebrew list insist on  
> viewing the
> Patriarchal narratives as if they were  "fairy tales".  Old Sarah  
> excites no
> lust in any Gentile ruler.  Given  Sarah's age, that would be  
> nonsensical.
> Rather, the Pharaoh and Abimelech episodes are similar to the  
> famous  binding
> incident:  unpleasant,  awkward, controversial, and seemingly  
> immoral, yet
> absolutely critical tests of  Abraham's suitability to be what YHWH  
> has planned
> for  Abraham:
> "'[I]n thee shall all the families  of the earth be blessed.'"    
> Genesis 12:
> 3
> It's not easy being  Abraham.  Abraham has to go through  these three
> gut-wrenching tests, each of which is more unpleasant than the   
> last.  But Abraham
> never feared for  his life, on account of Sarah or otherwise,  
> regarding either
> Pharaoh or  Abimelech, and neither ruler lusted after old Sarah.
> If  you don't understand any of that, you will never understand why  
> Genesis
> 20: 1  presents Abraham and Sarah as making a beeline for  
> Abimelech's place in
> Gerar.  Abraham and Sarah want to interact with Abimelech, just as  
> Abraham
> and Sarah had previously wanted to interact with Pharaoh.
> Jim  Stinehart
> Evanston,  Illinois
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