[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Thu Oct 18 20:25:43 EDT 2007

I don't have time to answer your entire post, so this is what I am answering:

 (1)    I agree that YHWH  does not lie.

But you don't agree that "YHWH" (or Elohim, or Adonai, or YHWH 
Tzevaoth, etc.) wrote the Torah - so that even when the Torah tells 
us what G-d did or said, you indeed have no way of knowing if that is 
true or not - because how could a human being know what G-d did or 
said to someone else, especially in the privacy of his dream?  So who 
is lying or not?  The alleged person who wrote that G-d spoke to 
someone in a dream and reported what He said?  For that matter, he 
could even be lying about what Avimelech said.  Or the entire Torah 
could be a lie, if only some people wrote it.

(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

The text DOES say that nothing had happened between Avimelech and 
Sarah - it says so explicitly here in verse 4.

The text does not need to tell us that G-d told Avraham, and indeed 
the text does not give all details - do you know how long it would 
have to be if the Torah gave every single detail about all the 
information it contains?  It is enough that G-d told Avimelech that 
Avraham was a prophet for us to understand what we need to understand 
here.  Also the text did not HERE give the details of which cities 
were destroyed, but does so elsewhere.

(3)    We cannot trust  what a Gentile king reports that the Gentile 
king had dreamed.

Except that it was G-d who reported it.  The text doesn't say that 
Avimelech reported it...

And we can trust G-d, and if we believe that G-d wrote the Torah then 
we can also trust the text, since G-d does/did not lie, that if G-d 
said that He spoke to Avimelech in a dream, then He did not lie, and 
it is from the text that we learn that Avimelech WAS a righteous 
person (for those times), otherwise G-d would not have bestowed upon 
him temporary Prophecy - just as G-d did not, in the same situation 
(when Pharaoh abducted Sarah), bother to give Pharaoh any benefit of 
Prophecy and warning re Sarah, because he did NOT have good 
intentions, he was completely corrupt, and he did not deserve the 
favor.  In fact, Avimelech had intended to MARRY Sarah - his 
intentions were pure, but it did not matter, because pure intentions 
do not cancel out a bad deed, but because his intentions were pure, 
G-d did him the favor, warned him and gave him the chance to not do 
the actual deed.  (See verse 6, when G-d admits that He knows that 
his intentions had been righteous)

(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.

The text did say that - when G-d told Avimelech that Avraham was a 
prophet - remember there is nothing extraneous in Torah

From here on, I cannot relate to the rest of this post, because I 
need a break from seeing this constant "the naarator this, the author 
that" and also because you have changed the subject, and I don't 
think that we are finished with this one.


(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 
s ’Äúseed’Äù.  But does YHWH say that about Isaac in the preceding verse?  No,
at Genesis 21: 12, YHWH says to  Abraham that ’ÄúIsaac’Äôs seed shall be called
for you’Äù.  YHWH does not say that Isaac himself is  Abraham’Äôs 
seed.  YHWH also
does not  say that Isaac is not Abraham’Äôs 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’Äôs 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’Äôs 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’Äôs all I’Äôm 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’Äôs the key story in the  text, historically.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com
b-hebrew mailing list
b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list