[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 18 22:40:46 EDT 2007
If YHWH had told Abraham, in a conversation not reported in the text, that
nothing had happened between Abimelech and Sarah, then why wouldn’t Abraham be
ecstatic with joy at Isaac’s birth? Sarah is ecstatic with joy at Isaac’s
birth, but Abraham says nothing.
“And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
And Sarah said: 'God hath made laughter for me; every one that heareth will
laugh on account of me.’ And she said: 'Who would have said unto Abraham,
that Sarah should give children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old
age.' And the child grew, and was weaned.” Genesis 21: 5-8
Abraham is not reported to praise YHWH upon Isaac’s birth. Abraham is not
reported to say one nice word to or about Isaac prior to the binding incident.
The author of the Patriarchal narratives has not made a “mistake”, nor has
he “overlooked” this issue. Rather, the author is forcing us to consider
that Abraham may have had doubts about what had happened, or not happened, when
Sarah was in Abimelech’s household.
Perhaps nothing at all happened. But based on what the text says, it does
not appear that YHWH told Abraham that nothing had happened. That is a key
element in the text.
I agree with you that the text is perfect, as is. But I do not agree that
these stories are simple. The author is laying his real point between the
lines a little bit.
It may well be that nothing in fact happened between Abimelech and Sarah,
but what I am saying is that Abraham does not appear to know that.
That is the key for making this story work, historically. Abraham must have
a bona fide doubt, for many years, as to whether Isaac is his blood son or
his adopted son. It is virtually certain that in fact, Isaac is Abraham’s
blood son. Though much less certain, nothing at all may have happened between
Abimelech and Sarah. But the key is that Abraham is not sure what did or did
not happen between Abimelech and Sarah. That’s all I’m saying.
If Abraham had been certain from the beginning that nothing at all had
happened between Abimelech and Sarah, Abraham would have jumped for joy at Isaac’s
birth. The text reports, however, that whereas Sarah waxed lyrical at Isaac’
s birth, Abraham said nothing (other than to confirm Isaac’s divinely-given
name). Abraham’s silence speaks volumes as to what Abraham knew for sure
from YHWH, and what Abraham had his doubts about.
In the end, Isaac is Abraham’s blood son. But the way the text tells the
story, Abraham was not sure about that for many years.
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