[b-hebrew] Was Pharaoh "Touched" or "Plagued" by God at Genesis 12:17?

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Thu Aug 21 00:39:00 EDT 2008

Dear Jim,

We ALL have moments of being unfaithful/unbelieving. Abraham lied. He did not
trust God to get him out of the situation with the Egyptians and Abimelech. So
he devised a solution with Sarah in both instances. It was true, Sarah was his
sister, but she was his half-sister and was his wife (as he states in 20:12).
Still, it was UNBELIEF.

God had Moses tell us of Abraham's life, warts and all. The same problem occurs
with Isaac. The same problem with Isaac and Rebekkah on the prophecy regarding
Esau and Jacob, i.e. UNBELIEF.

I do not go with the Egyptian propaganda idea for the text does not give it that
way. In fact, it does give a negative attitude of Abraham going down into Egypt.
Trouble followed him when he did go down to Egypt. God had blessed Abraham in
spite of not because of Abraham's actions. God is faithful even when we are not.

Furthermore, Genesis gives a positive attitude (with slight negativity) toward
Egypt even when Joseph was there. Then when we turn to Exodus the attitude
changes (Exodus 1:8) because of the change of power from Egyptian rule to Hyksos
(ca. 1750-1520) rule, then later to Egyptian rule (ca. 1520 BC). True, God still
blessed him, but it was not because of anything that Joseph did, but because of
God's faithfulness to the covenant made with Abraham. Yet Joseph still believed
God about the future exodus from Egypt to require the Israelites to take his
remains with to the Promised Land of Canaan, later Israel.

Every patriarch in the Pentateuch had moments of unbelief, lack of faith,
unfaithfulness. That does not mean that they continually in the state of
unbelief. When I preach or teach I still uphold the faith of Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc. Even then I still make sure that the failures are
learned as well. That is preaching or teaching the whole counsel of God no
matter how unpalatable that may be.

The Pentateuch was definitely written by Moses, edited to update some of the
place names, etc. It definitely was not even close to the JEDP theory
postulated. (Moderators please forgive my soapbox sermon)

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 12:31 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Was Pharaoh "Touched" or "Plagued" by God at Genesis 12:17?

> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III:
> You wrote:  “Although Abraham is clearly a man of faith, this does not mean
> that he did not have moments of unfaithfulness.”
> Is that a sensible interpretation of Abraham’s interactions with Pharaoh and
> Abimelek?
> 1.  A few weeks before entering Egypt, Abraham receives the following grand
> divine vision from YHWH:
> “Now the LORD [YHWH] said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from
> thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.
>  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy
> name great; and be thou a blessing.  And I will bless them that bless thee,
> and him that curseth thee will I curse;  and in thee shall all the families of
> the earth be blessed.  'So Abram went, as the LORD [YHWH] had spoken unto
>   Genesis 12: 1-4
> Is it plausible to think that Abraham lost all his faithfulness on the road
> from Harran to Egypt?
> 2.  Similarly, a few days (or possibly a week or so) before Abraham gets to
> Gerar, (i) YHWH promises Abraham that Sarah will bear Isaac, less than 12
> months from now, as Abraham’s sole proper male heir (Genesis 18: 10, 14), and
> Abraham witnesses the divine fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis
> 19: 24-29).
> Is it plausible to think that Abraham lost his faithfulness in a matter or a
> few days (or a few weeks at most) after witnessing those two dramatic divine
> events, prior to arriving soon thereafter at Abimelek’s place in Gerar?
> 3.  Is it plausible that either Pharaoh or Abimelek actually thinks that old
> Sarah is an unmarried virgin?  Is it plausible that Abraham really fears he
> may be murdered by Pharaoh or Abimelek?  Is it plausible that Abraham shows
> little hesitation to give up Sarah permanently, first to Pharaoh, and then
> to Abimelek?  Is Abraham being portrayed in Hebrew sacred scripture as being a
> faithless monster?  No way!
> Why do you trust what Pharaoh says at Genesis 12: 18-19?  Isn’t that
> self-serving propaganda by a politician caught with a married woman in his
> Why do you trust Abimelek’s claim that YHWH supposedly praised Abimelek for “
> the simplicity of thy heart” at Genesis 20: 6?  Is that the way one would
> expect YHWH to deal with a non-Hebrew ruler?  Isn’t the text there in effect
> reporting what Abimelek  s-a-i-d  to Abraham and the assembled multitude the
> morning?  If so, then why believe what Abimelek  s-a-i-d  happened in his
> bedroom last night when a married woman was there?
> Does the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives expect us to trust the
> foregoing self-serving claims of Pharaoh and Abimelek?  Does the Hebrew author
> of the Patriarchal narratives want us to view Abraham in these two cases as
> being cowardly, immoral and faithless?  Remember, in both cases Abraham
> tremendous divine promises directly from YHWH immediately before these
> incidents occur.
> It simply is not plausible to postulate that a Hebrew author is having an
> Egyptian Pharaoh and a Canaanite ruler (Abimelek) castigate beloved Hebrew
> Patriarch Abraham for faithlessness, where we the audience are supposed to
take the
> self-serving propaganda of Pharaoh and Abimelek at face value, and we the
> audience are supposed to be aghast at Abraham’s incredible (alleged)
> faithlessness.  No way!
> One key to understanding Genesis 12: 17 is to recognize that the Hebrew
> author of the Patriarchal narratives wants us to view Pharaoh’s statements at
> Genesis 12: 18-19 as being self-serving, official Egyptian government
> that contain little truth.
> Abraham is neither immoral, nor cowardly, nor faithless in Egypt or at Gerar.
>  Don’t trust Pharaoh or Abimelek.  Instead, try to figure out what divine
> tests (similar to the unpleasant binding incident) that Abraham is righteously
> undergoing (and passing with flying colors) in chapters 12 and 20 of Genesis.
> Pharaoh’s assertions at Genesis 12: 18-19 have little real sting because they
> are false.  The Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives does not present
> Pharaoh as being a truth-teller at Genesis 12: 18-19.
> Righteous Abraham in fact is faithfulness incarnate.  True, Abraham sometimes
> has grave doubts, but he is never faithless.  Trust Abraham, not Pharaoh or
> Abimelek.
> Abraham’s statement that Sarah is Abraham’s sister is specifically designed
> to give Pharaoh and Abimelek cover as to their own people as against a
> possible charge (by their own people) that Pharaoh and Abimelek acted
immorally in
> knowingly taking a married woman into their households.  That nifty cover
> was necessary in order to induce Pharaoh and Abimelek to participate in this
> unpleasant divine testing of Abraham.  Abraham must undergo this unpleasant
> divine testing in order to prove himself to YHWH as being worthy of receiving
> Isaac as a divinely-blessed male heir, and as being worthy of becoming the
> founder of a new religion devoted to the One God.  Abraham’s statement that
Sarah is
> Abraham’s sister is not designed to fool either Pharaoh or Abimelek, and it
> does not fool either Pharaoh or Abimelek, both of whom are well aware from the
> beginning of all the actual facts.  Note that Sarah, who is famous/infamous
> for her sharp tongue at Genesis 21: 10, never voices any objection whatsoever
> any aspect of the unpleasant, but necessary, sequences that unfold concerning
> her in Egypt and in Gerar.
> Abraham’s righteous trust that YHWH will look out for Sarah in Egypt and at
> Gerar is similar to Abraham’s righteous trust that YHWH will similarly make
> extremely unpleasant binding incident come out the way it is divinely meant
> to be.  These are unpleasant, but necessary, divine tests.
> Trust in Abraham’s faithfulness.  Put no trust in the words of Pharaoh or
> Abimelek.  It is on that basis that the Hebrew author is setting forth the
> Patriarchal narratives.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
> **************It's only a deal if it's where you want to go. Find your travel
> deal here.
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