[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 18 19:04:45 EDT 2007
You wrote: “Here is where the Torah tells what I had just posted, and also
us that Avimelech did NOT sleep with her in the end: G-d is talking
to Avimelech in his dream: "But now return the man's wife FOR HE IS
A PROPHET" (ie; he therefore knows that you did not touch her, and
therefore...) "he will pray for you and you will live"
’We also know that Avimelech did not touch her, because G-D SAID SO in
verse 6 (G-d stopped him by His warning to him)
There is no need to question if Avimelech lied to his servants or
not, because G-d doesn't lie!”
(1) I agree that YHWH does not lie.
(2) If YHWH had approached Abraham during daylight hours, and said that
nothing had happened between Abimelech and Sarah, then we would know that
nothing had happened between Abimelech and Sarah. But the text says no such
(3) We cannot trust what a Gentile king reports that the Gentile king had
(4) The text does not state that YHWH personally communicated to Abraham
that Abimelech had not come near Sarah. I agree that YHWH had the power to
do that, but the text does not tell us that YHWH in fact did that.
(5) In my view, what at first glance appears to be said by the narrator
in chapter 20 of Genesis is actually what Abimelech told his servants the next
morning. We do not know whether Abimelech is telling the truth or not.
(6) At Genesis 21: 12-13, the author has a perfect opportunity to clarify
the matter. At Genesis 21: 13, YHWH explicitly says that Ishmael is Abraham’
s “seed”. But does YHWH say that about Isaac in the preceding verse? No,
at Genesis 21: 12, YHWH says to Abraham that “Isaac’s seed shall be called
for you”. YHWH does not say that Isaac himself is Abraham’s seed. YHWH also
does not say that Isaac is not Abraham’s seed. You see, the author of the
Patriarchal narratives is deliberately being a bit ambiguous about this weighty
(7) I am not insisting that anything at all happened between Abimelech
and Sarah. Please do not misunderstand me. Rather, what I am saying is that
for many years, Abraham may well have wondered whether anything had happened
between Abimelech and Sarah. Perhaps that is why Abraham expresses no joy
whatsoever at Isaac’s birth, and never says a nice word to or about Isaac prior
to the harrowing binding incident.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. Maybe nothing happened between
Abimelech and Sarah. All I am saying is that the author of the Patriarchal
narratives is deliberately somewhat ambiguous on that score. He has to be.
That’s the most important point in the entirety of the Patriarchal
narratives, historically. It was not pleasant for the author to relate the story
about Abimelech in chapter 20 of Genesis. He did not like that story any more
than we do. But he had to tell that story. That story is in fact the heart
and soul of the Patriarchal narratives historically.
But I am not insisting that anything actually happened between Abimelech and
Sarah. I am only insisting that we cannot be sure that Abraham did not
wonder, for many years, whether anything might have happened between Abimelech
and Sarah. That’s all I’m saying. Without that key ambiguity, the
Patriarchal narratives would not work, historically, in the context of the secular
history of the mid-14th century BCE. That unpleasant story must be in the text.
It’s the key story in the text, historically.
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