Trekking Genesis

Odë:hgöd

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Gen 20:1a . . Abraham journeyed from there to the region of the Negeb and
settled between Kadesh and Shur.

In Moses' day, Kadesh was a jumping off point just prior to crossing over Wadi
Araba into the region of Moab. (Num 20:14-16)

According to freytag & berndt's map of Israel/Sinai: Kadesh is located
approximately 46 miles southwest of Beer-sheva near El Quseima Egypt about 15
miles south of the town of Nizzana. Just northeast is the wilderness of Shur; a
region adjoining the Mediterranean to the north, and the Suez Canal to the west.
Shur extends somewhat south along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez.

The very first mention of Kadesh was during El Ched's punitive expedition in
Canaan. (Gen 14:7)

No doubt the En-mishpatite people returned to Kadesh and told everyone about the
heroic sheik who defeated the Babylonian contingent and set them free from El
Ched's grasp. So Abraham was a legend in that area and everyone greeting him
would very likely show him much respect.

Abraham didn't actually settle down in Kedesh itself, but rather, nearby. He may
have been camped in the exact spot where Ms. Hagar met the angel of the Lord in
chapter 16; and at this point, she's still living at home with Abraham and Sarah.


Gen 20:1b . .While he was sojourning in Gerar,

Gerar hasn't been fully identified, but the site may be along one of the branches of
Wady Sheri'a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast southwest of Gaza and 9
miles from it. Gerar was apparently a prosperous city situated along a major
caravan route; and Abraham was by this time a wealthy and powerful chieftain who
would quite naturally make periodic trips to Gerar's railhead to auction off some of
his livestock; and in turn, purchase much needed goods and hardware to supply his
ranch. Gerar's location along the Mediterranean seaboard also made it a lucrative
city in trade with foreign merchants.

Genesis indicates that Gerar belonged to the Philistines, and it leads us to assume
that Abimelech was their king, but experts are quite certain that Philistines didn't
occupy this region until after the time of Abraham; in fact only a short time before
the Exodus. It's likely, however, that the author of Genesis would quite naturally
refer to the region as it was known in his own day. The town certainly existed in the
Philistine period, because it's mentioned in connection with Asa, who defeated the
Ethiopian host under Zerar and pursued them in their flight unto Gerar (2Chrn
14:13). In addition to Um Jerrar, another place in the vicinity known as Jurf el
Jerrar has been thought by some to be the site of Gerar.

According to ERETZ Magazine, issue 64, Abimelech's land is an ample valley with
fertile land and numerous springs of water.


Gen 20:2 . . Abraham said of Sarah his wife: She is my sister. So King Abimelech
of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

Does this sound familiar? Abraham has lied about his relationship to Sarah more
than once. If he really believed God's promise to make of him a great nation, then
he wouldn't worry about anybody killing him because dead men don't become great
nations without children. Yes, he had Ishmael. But God said he and Sarah would
have a boy together named Isaac. That boy was yet to be born. So Abraham will
stay alive to engender Isaac.

We might ask: what in the world did Abimelech want with a woman Sarah's age
anyway. She was at least 89 years old by this time. But God had given Abraham's
wife renewed vitality to bring a child into the world. So I don't think Sarah looked
her age at all. I think she looked a whole lot younger; and with creamy, glowing
skin too. But it could also be that Abimelech was up in years himself so that a girl of
89 would look pretty good. At my own current age of 76, a woman in her 40's is a
chick to me.


Gen 20:3 . . But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him: You
are to die because of the woman that you have taken, for she is a married woman.

This was an extremely dangerous situation for Sarah now that she was fertile. She
was destined to bear Isaac and there could be no question about who the father
was. It had to be Abraham. So if Abimelech were allowed to sleep with her, it would
never be conclusive that Abraham was the true biological father.


Gen 20:4a . . Now Abimelech had not approached her.

It wasn't unusual in the ancient world for new additions to a harem to undergo a
period of beautification; like Esther did. But I think something else happened. God
may have tampered with Abimelech's ability to breed. In verse 17 it's revealed that
God fixed it so no one in Abimelech's house could have children, including him. Do I
have to spell it out? Hint: the problem can sometimes be remedied with Viagra;
which wasn't available in that day.
_
 

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Gen 20:4a . . Now Abimelech had not approached her.

It wasn't unusual in the ancient world for new additions to a harem to undergo a
period of beautification; like Esther did. But I think something else happened. God
may have tampered with Abimelech's ability to breed. In verse 17 it's revealed that
God fixed it so no one in Abimelech's house could have children, including him. Do I
have to spell it out? Hint: the problem can sometimes be remedied with Viagra;
which wasn't available in that day.


Gen 20:4b . . He said: O Lord, will You slay people even though innocent?

There is an important principle in play here; and it's this: ignorance is no excuse.
Though Abimlech wasn't aware of that principle; God was and saved the man's life
by stopping him before he inadvertently crossed a line. Compare Num 15:27-29
where Israel's covenanted law stipulates that even when people sin inadvertently
they have to bring a sin offering to the Levites.

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19:12)

The "secret faults" about which the psalmist prayed weren't skeletons in his closet;
but rather, sins about which he was totally unaware.


Gen 20:5 . . He himself said to me "She is my sister" and she also said "He is my
brother." When I did this, my heart was blameless and my hands were clean.

I can just about guarantee that Abimelech is developing a very strong dislike for
the Abrahams right about now. He knew of Abraham's prosperity and about his skill
in war. But what he hadn't known till now was that Abraham could be a bit
dishonest at times. You can bet that really ticked Abimelech off. He just never
expected a man like Abraham to pull a stunt like that. And the wife was in on it too!
They were like grifters setting up a mark for a sting. That had to agitate the old boy
just a bit; don't you think?


Gen 20:6 . . And God said to him in the dream: I knew that you did this with a
blameless heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. That was why I did not
let you touch her.

If Abimelech had touched Sarah, God would have taken it very personal. Those
kinds of sins are the very worst because it's one thing to appear in court for
stealing a car, but it's quite another to appear for stealing the judge's car. In other
words: a sin against God is a trespass rather than just an ordinary act of conduct
unbecoming.


Gen 20:7 . .Therefore, restore the man's wife— since he is a prophet, he will
intercede for you —to save your life. If you fail to restore her, know that you shall
die, you and all that are yours.

This is the Bible's very first appearance of a prophet; which in Hebrew is nabiy'
(naw-bee') and simply means an inspired man; viz: a man influenced, moved,
and/or guided by a divine connection.

Abraham wasn't the first of God's inspired men. The earliest was Abel. (Luke 11:50-51)

There's no record of Abraham ever foretelling future events like Isaiah and
Habakkuk. So then, just because someone is inspired doesn't necessarily mean
they're some sort of prognosticator.

Divine inspiration is a very mysterious thing. People can be inspired and not even
know it because God's influence is paranormal, and impossible to detect with the
five natural senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Every Christian is
supposed to be inspired (1Cor 2:11-15, 1Cor 12:7, 1John 2:26-27) which makes
an inspired Bible teacher's job a whole lot easier.

This is also the very first place in the whole Bible where the word "intercede"
appears. Webster's defines it as: to intervene between parties with a view to
reconciling their differences; viz: mediate.

When you stop to think about it; mediation between God and Man by a human
being is quite remarkable. It implies that the human being who mediates has to
first be at peace with God or they would be in need of a mediator themselves
before they could mediate for someone else (cf. Gal 6:1).

I think it goes without saying, that mediators, then, have to be righteous first
before they can qualify as candidates for the activity. This section in Genesis says a
lot about Abraham's standing before God in spite of his bad habit of lying about
Sarah.

Who mediated for Abraham in those days? There's but one textual possibility and
that's Mr. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God back in chapter 14.

But I don't think Abimelech was much impressed with Abraham's inspiration. The
man was now a proven liar; and lost whatever credibility he might have once had in
Gerar.

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking smell: so
does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor." (Ecc 10:1)

However, do you think Abimelech needed to be told twice? No way. He got on it
lickety split at first light. But not because he feared Abraham. No, because he
feared Abraham's god. Maybe Abraham's word was no good; but his god's word
certainly was and Abimelech really took it to heart.


Gen 20:8a . . Early next morning, Abimelech called his servants and told them all
that had happened;

Under normal circumstances Abimelech probably wouldn't have bothered to tell
them what was going on. But since they were all in the same boat as he, and all
inflicted with the same reproductive malady, I think he felt they deserved an
explanation. I think he also wanted to set their minds at ease about their condition
so they would know it wasn't permanent if only they sent Sarah back to her
husband; a move which they would certainly question if he didn't give them a
reason why.


Gen 20:8b . . and the men were greatly frightened.

They had good reason to be frightened. God gave them a token that He meant
business by tampering with their ability to breed. So they knew something serious
was afoot and that their king's nightmares weren't just bad dreams brought on by
cheap Russian vodka tainted with fallout from Chernobyl.
_
 

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Gen 20:9a . .Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him: What have
you done to us? What wrong have I done that you should bring so great a guilt
upon me and my kingdom?

The very first God-given prohibition against adultery was given at Gen 3:16.
Whether Abimelech was aware of it is unknown; but regardless, his culture believed
it to be immoral. This is very interesting. Compare Rom 2:14-15.


Gen 20:9b-10 . .You have done to me things that ought not to be done. What,
then-- Abimelech demanded of Abraham --was your purpose in doing this thing?

Abimelech is totally perplexed. The thing Abraham and Sarah perpetrated made no
sense to him whatsoever. The best part of this is the scolding that Abimelech laid
on the sacred couple. Abraham was a prophet. Prophets are supposed to be not
only inspired; but also exemplary. But in this case, Abimelech, a pagan, was more
righteous than a "holy" man.


Gen 20:11 . . I thought-- said Abraham --surely there is no fear of God in this
place, and they will kill me because of my wife.

Abimelech didn't dispute that point; so I think it's probably safe to assume
Abraham was correct in his estimation of Gerar's culture.


Gen 20:12a . . And besides, she is in truth my sister,

Abraham, true to form, exercised his usual brand of flexible morality. Yes, what he
said was technically true. But it was not the whole truth; it was a half-truth: a
deliberate deception, told with the intent to mislead.


Gen 20:12b . . my father's daughter though not my mother's;

The covenant that Moses' people later agreed upon with God, forbids intimacy
between half-siblings.

"The nakedness of your sister-- your father's daughter or your mother's, whether
born into the household or outside --do not uncover their nakedness." (Lev 18:9)

That rule mandates excommunication for men who marry their half sister. And
within the terms and conditions of the covenant; there is neither forgiveness nor
atonement for it.

"If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, so that
he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; they shall be
excommunicated in the sight of their kinsfolk. He has uncovered the nakedness of
his sister, he shall bear his guilt." (Lev 20:17)

However, Israel's covenanted law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction. Abraham
lived many years before it was enacted; so he was immune to its taboos and
punishments (Deut 5:2-4, Gal 3:15-18). That's an important Bible axiom; viz:
when something isn't illegal; then it doesn't go on one's record as a broken law.
(Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13)


Gen 20:13 . . So when God made me wander from my father's house, I said to
her: Let this be the kindness that you shall do me-- whatever place we come to,
say there of me: He is my brother.

Right about here Abimelech probably began scratching his head and wondered what
kind of crazy religion Abraham practiced anyway. And he probably wondered what
in the world God ever saw in this man to go to such lengths to protect him. A liar is
not a good influence for God. It disgraces God, and makes His religion look stupid
to outsiders.

"You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the
law? For it's written that the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles
because of you." (Rom 2:23-24)

"And now what do I have here? --declares the Lord. For my people have been
taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock --declares the Lord. And all
day long my name is constantly blasphemed." (Isa 52:5)

The people of God shouldn't be living in such a way as to bring disgrace to their
sovereign.

"Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness."
(2Tim 2:19)

"Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life becoming of
your calling, for you have been called by God." (Eph 4:1)


Gen 20:14-15 . . Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves,
and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. And Abimelech
said: Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.

In other words: I don't care where you go as long as it's a great ways off from me!

Abimelech didn't owe Abraham a single penny for anything. And God didn't order
him to make restitution. He isn't trying to gain Abraham's good will by these gifts.
With friends like Abraham; who needs enemies? But rather; he was showing God
his intentions to mean well by Abraham; in spite of Abraham's foul deed.


Gen 20:16 . . And to Sarah he said: I herewith give your brother a thousand
pieces of silver; this will serve you as vindication before all who are with you, and
you are cleared before everyone.

Abimelech is really too kind. By the money, he told everyone that it was just a
misunderstanding. In paying a fine to Abraham, he is publicly apologizing for taking
the man's wife home with him; and Sarah's honor was protected because it is
saying that she wasn't promiscuous like some woman I could name who have an
itch to sleep with men in power.


Gen 20:17-18 . . Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and
his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children; for the Lord had closed fast
every womb of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

Abraham's ultimate chagrin was having to pray for the very people whose lives he
almost ruined with his nefarious scheme.
_
 

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Gen 21:1 . . God took note of Sarah as He had promised, and God did for Sarah
as He had spoken.

Because God's word is sometimes slow and long in coming to pass, people are often
inclined to scoff at what it says and lose confidence in His testimony. The Word told
Noah that a flood was coming. Well . . it was many years before it arrived and by
the time it came, only Noah and his family were prepared for it.

God also promised a Messiah. But so many years have gone by since, that many
now believe one will never come. God also promised He will personally round up the
people of Israel and lead many of them back to their own land, and restore their
covenanted boundaries, where they will become the center of world power and the
seat of religious instruction. Some, giving up on that possibility, have suggested
that today's troubled Israeli occupation is the fulfillment of that promise.

Abraham came into Canaan when he was seventy-five, and Sarah sixty-five. That
was twenty five years before this section. He is now one-hundred, and she ninety.
Women that age cannot have children. So no one can ever give credit to those two
for engendering Isaac. Although Isaac was conceived and born in the natural way,
he was not a natural child. The credit must be given to a miracle. The people of
Israel exist today only because El Shaddai willed them into existence.


Gen 21:2a . . Sarah conceived

That's not all that happened. The author said back in Gen 18:11 that Sarah's
periods had stopped. So sometime prior to Isaac's conception, her periods came
back. I wish I could have seen the look of shocked excitement and incredible joy in
their faces when she showed Abraham the blood. He may have been grossed out a
little, but I can guarantee you he was extremely thrilled because it meant Sarah's
plumbing was back online.

Her blood was the sunrise of a new day. Not just another day like all the others, but
the beginning of an era of complete change in their lives. They would never be the
same again. Parenthood is an irreversible state. It makes no difference if the
children die, or leave home, or disown their moms and dads. After once children are
engendered, those parents are always the parents. They were the two people who
brought the children into the world and it can never be undone.

Abraham had pinned all his hopes upon God's promise and now he realized he
should have never doubted. God truly is a man of His word after all. (cf. 49:22-23)

Yes, those who trust in the Bible's God don't have to worry about whether or not
they have done something stupid and made a fool of themselves. He made good on
His promise to give Sarah a baby boy, and some day He will make good on the
promise to bring His people all home again.


Gen 21:2b-3 . . and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the set time of
which God had spoken. Abraham gave his newborn son, whom Sarah had borne
him, the name of Isaac.

This is now the second son of Abraham for whom God chose the name. The first
was Ishmael. That's quite an honor. It may not set well for many parents though. I
think most of us would rather pick names for our own children ourselves; but
Abraham is pretty good at obedience for the most part. God said the boy's name
would be Isaac and that's what Abraham named him. Isaac, by the way, is the only
one of the three patriarchs whose name God does not change later in their life.

Naming a boy is very significant. The man who does the naming is legally declaring
the boy to be his own son even if he isn't the biological father. (cf. Matt 1:21 and
Matt 1:25)


Gen 21:4 . . And when his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised
him, as God had commanded him.

Isaac is the very first male in the family on record to be circumcised precisely on
the eighth day in compliance with the covenant's stipulation. I just want to point
out that circumcision was not Abraham's idea. It was his response to El Shaddai's
earlier mandate in Gen 17:10-14.


Gen 21:5 . . Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born
to him.

Ishmael would have been fourteen (Gen 16:16) and Sarah ninety, since she and
her husband were ten years difference in age. (Gen 17:17)


Gen 21:6 . . Sarah said: God has brought me cheer; everyone who hears will
laugh with me.

Sarah's words are a double entendre. Isaac's name in Hebrew means laughter; so
God not only gave her a bundle of joy, but cheer for her soul too.


Gen 21:7 . . And she added: Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would
suckle children! Yet I have borne a son in his old age.

Well nobody in their right mind would have. Sarah was just too old. And actually,
Abraham was too old too.

"And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he
was about an hundred years old" (Rom 4:19)

"And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as
numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore."
(Heb 11:11-12)
_
 

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Gen 21:8 …The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast
on the day that Isaac was weaned.

The age of weaning varied in ancient times; usually in the neighborhood of 2 to 5
years. Bible weaning implies a whole lot more than just putting a child on a bottle.
It means they can speak and understand a language, feed themselves, brush their
teeth, clothe themselves, and potty alone. In other words, you could pack them a
bag and send them off to live with your aunt. (e.g. 1Sam 1:22-2:11). Samuel was
at least three years old when his mom packed him off to live with the high priest.
(2Chr 31:16)

So Isaac was very likely around the same age as Samuel when Abraham and Sarah
threw a weaning party for him. It was a day of good celebration and they were very
proud of their little boy. He was past a major milestone and well along his way to
independent manhood.

Weaning isn't always a joyous occasion for some families. It can be a time passed
over in deep sorrow for the parents of handicapped kids. Abraham and Sarah were
very fortunate that their boy wasn't afflicted with Down's syndrome, Autism, or a
neurodegenerative disease like Tay-Sachs.


Gen 21:9 . . Sarah saw the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham
playing.

At this point, Ishmael was around 17 or 18 years old. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5,
Gen 21:8)

It's hard to tell what kind of sport Ishmael was involved in. Some feel that he, the
firstborn son, was picking on Isaac the younger sibling; and that's probably true
because Gal 4:29 suggests that Ishmael was a bit of a bully. Others feel he was
mocking the weaning party. But actually, nobody knows for sure. Maybe he was
just swinging on an old tire in the backyard, and while Sarah was absently mindedly
looking over there, a scheme spawned in her head.

Not only was Ishmael Abraham's son, but, by law, he was Sarah's boy too. (Gen
16:1-2). But Sarah rejected Ishmael and never was much of a mom to him. So Ms.
Hagar went through all that for nothing. On top of that, she was still a slave; and
had no husband. She was, in reality, a single mom saddled with a child that she
never really wanted in the first place.

All of this created a home life that had become intolerable for everyone involved.
Hagar gloated over Sarah's barrenness. Sarah, in turn, blamed Abraham for
Hagar's attitude, and Ishmael, according to Gal 4:29, harassed Isaac (no doubt out
of a spirit of sibling rivalry). Abraham loved Ishmael and was no doubt soft on
Hagar. Plus, to make matters even worse; there were some very serious legal
complications.

Ishmael's legal position was quite an advantage. As Abraham's firstborn son, he
had a right to a double portion of his father's estate. (cf. Gen 48:22)


NOTE: The reason Joseph inherited a double portion is because Jacob transferred
the right of the firstborn to him after Reuben messed around with one of his
father's servant-wives. (Gen 49:3-4, 1Chr 5:1)
_
 

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Gen 21:10-11 . . Sarah said to Abraham: Cast out that slave-woman and her son,
for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac. The
matter distressed Abraham greatly, for it concerned a son of his own.


NOTE: By the customs of that day, Ishmael was Sarah's son too; though not by
blood. (Gen 16:2)

How does a good and decent man like Abraham disown his own flesh and blood? If
Ishmael were a gang-banger, a drug addict, an Islamic terrorist, or a career
criminal it would be different. But he was really a pretty good kid and Abraham
totally loved him. Being the lad's biological father, I'm sure Abraham felt very
responsible for Ishmael's welfare. He and Ishmael had been a team together for
seventeen or eighteen years. You just don't dissolve a bond like that as if giving
away old clothes to Good Will.

Gen 21:12 . . But God said to Abraham: Don't be distressed over the boy or your
slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says, for it is through Isaac that
offspring shall be continued for you.

The lad would always and forever be one of Abraham's biological sons; that couldn't
be undone with any more ease than recalling the ring of a bell. However; in the
case of slave mothers; there was a way to break Ishmael's legal ties to Abraham;
and the way was actually quite to Hagar's advantage.

The common law of Abraham's day (e.g. the Code of Hammurabi and the laws of
Lipit-Ishtar) stipulated that if a slave-owner disowned his child's in-slavery
biological mother; then the mother and the child would lose any and all claims to a
paternal property settlement with the slave-owner.

The catch is: Abraham couldn't just send Hagar packing, nor sell her. In order for
the common law to take effect; Abraham had to emancipate her; which he did.
_
 

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Gen 21:13 . . As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too,
for he is your seed.

Abraham certainly must have been worried what would become of Ishmael; so God
reassured him his biological boy would be just fine.

I think it's significant that God didn't refer to either Hagar or to Ishmael by name,
probably because the emphasis here is upon Divine purpose instead of upon people.


Gen 21:14a . . Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water,
and gave them to Hagar.

The Hebrew word for "bread" is lechem (lekh'-em) which just simply means food
(for man or beast), which therefore includes grain. So Abraham didn't necessarily
send the poor woman out on her own with a ration of bread and water like some
sort of hardened criminal, but very likely provisioned Hagar and his son Ishmael
with enough camper-grade food stuffs to keep them going for a while.


NOTE: Bread back in those days was very nutritious. It was all made from heirloom,
organic grains; even leavened bread was organic. It was made with naturally
soured dough rather than cultured yeast.

But it's puzzling why Abraham didn't provide them with an escort; at least until
they reached the safety of a village or a town. That suggests to me that Abraham
fully believed God's promise to "make a nation of him" which implies that God
Himself would look out for them from here on in.


Gen 21:14b . . He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child,

I would have hated to observe that scene. Abraham didn't dispatch a servant or a
butler to equip Hagar. He did it himself. And he didn't just bring the provisions out
to her and set it down at her feet. No. He put them up on her shoulder himself. You
have to stand close to someone to do that; close enough to look them right in the
eyes.

There's no record of ever any ill will between Hagar and Abraham, nor any between
him and his boy Ishmael either. Those three were truly family in every sense of the
word-- mom, dad, and child. There couldn't have been a dry eye nor a cheerful face
at any time during this excruciating farewell. If you've ever experienced something
so upsetting as to make you nauseous, lead-bellied, and lose your appetite; then
you know what I'm talking about. Anybody who can read this story without feeling
the slightest twinge of compassion for any one of those three; has got to be the
most insensitive clod on earth.


Gen 21:14c . . and sent her away.

The phrase "sent her away" is from the Hebrew word shalach (shaw-lakh') which is
a versatile word that can be used of divorce as well as for the emancipation of
slaves. In other words: Hagar wasn't banished as is commonly assumed; no, she
was set free; and it's very important to nail that down in our thinking because if
Abraham had merely banished Hagar, then her son Ishmael would have retained
his legal status as Abraham's eldest son.

Technically, Ishmael retained his status as one of Abraham's biological sons (Gen
25:9) but not legally; no, Ishmael's legal association with his father was dissolved
when Abraham emancipated his boy's mother.

I believe it's important to emphasize that Hagar and Ishmael weren't cut loose
because they were no longer worthy to live in Abraham's camp any more. No. It
was only as a measure to expedite God's future plans for Isaac. Even if Sarah
hadn't proposed the idea of emancipating Hagar, I suspect that God would have
eventually required it so anyway.
_
 

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Gen 21:13 . . As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too,
for he is your seed.

Abraham certainly must have been worried what would become of Ishmael; so God
reassured him his biological boy would be just fine.

I think it's significant that God didn't refer to either Hagar or to Ishmael by name,
probably because the emphasis here is upon Divine purpose instead of upon people.


Gen 21:14a . . Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water,
and gave them to Hagar.

The Hebrew word for "bread" is lechem (lekh'-em) which just simply means food
(for man or beast), which therefore includes grain. So Abraham didn't necessarily
send the poor woman out on her own with a ration of bread and water like some
sort of hardened criminal, but very likely provisioned Hagar and his son Ishmael
with enough camper-grade food stuffs to keep them going for a while.


NOTE: Bread back in those days was very nutritious. It was all made from heirloom,
organic grains; even leavened bread was organic. It was made with naturally
soured dough rather than cultured yeast.

But it's puzzling why Abraham didn't provide them with an escort; at least until
they reached the safety of a village or a town. That suggests to me that Abraham
fully believed God's promise to "make a nation of him" which implies that God
Himself would look out for them from here on in.


Gen 21:14b . . He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child,

I would have hated to observe that scene. Abraham didn't dispatch a servant or a
butler to equip Hagar. He did it himself. And he didn't just bring the provisions out
to her and set it down at her feet. No. He put them up on her shoulder himself. You
have to stand close to someone to do that; close enough to look them right in the
eyes.

There's no record of ever any ill will between Hagar and Abraham, nor any between
him and his boy Ishmael either. Those three were truly family in every sense of the
word-- mom, dad, and child. There couldn't have been a dry eye nor a cheerful face
at any time during this excruciating farewell. If you've ever experienced something
so upsetting as to make you nauseous, lead-bellied, and lose your appetite; then
you know what I'm talking about. Anybody who can read this story without feeling
the slightest twinge of compassion for any one of those three; has got to be the
most insensitive clod on earth.


Gen 21:14c . . and sent her away.

The phrase "sent her away" is from the Hebrew word shalach (shaw-lakh') which is
a versatile word that can be used of divorce as well as for the emancipation of
slaves. In other words: Hagar wasn't banished as is commonly assumed; no, she
was set free; and it's very important to nail that down in our thinking because if
Abraham had merely banished Hagar, then her son Ishmael would have retained
his legal status as Abraham's eldest son.

Technically, Ishmael retained his status as one of Abraham's biological sons (Gen
25:9) but not legally; no, Ishmael's legal association with his father was dissolved
when Abraham emancipated his boy's mother.

I believe it's important to emphasize that Hagar and Ishmael weren't cut loose
because they were no longer worthy to live in Abraham's camp any more. No. It
was only as a measure to expedite God's future plans for Isaac. Even if Sarah
hadn't proposed the idea of emancipating Hagar, I suspect that God would have
eventually required it so anyway.
_
Read closer and you will find that the mourning tears of hagar were comforted by Ha'shem with a well and promise of 12 princes.
Hagar is a wonderful example of faith proven by more than mere service to her Sarah. She went beyond faith that may seem uncouth according to current manners.
Yet,
What The Lord rewarded her proves other wise to the ignorant eyes of heartless egyptians.

I see providence in how the princes of Ishmael happen upon yosef and secure his well being.
After all.
The Lord said there would be 12 uncles to Jacob's children.
I imagine at least one uncle of jacob looked after yosef.

But what do I know.

Love has a way of confounding doubt.
 
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Thankyou for the wonderfull conversation sir ode:
 

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Explore with a Blessing
 

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Gen 21:14d . . And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

The wilderness of Beer-sheba is about 50 miles south of Hebron.

The Hebrew word for "wandered about" is from ta'ah (taw-aw') which means to
vacillate. Webster's defines "vacillate" as: to waver in mind, will, or feeling; viz: to
hesitate in choice of opinions or courses. (cf. Jas 1:8)

As often as Hagar traveled up and down the land of Palestine with Abraham over
the years, she no doubt knew her way around; so she's not blundering through the
woods like a lost hiker.

At this point, Hagar is thoroughly rattled and doesn't really know what to do next or
even how she and Ishmael are going to survive in a land where no State programs
for unemployed single mothers existed. And to top it off; she's a freed slave who
now has to make all her own decisions and fend for her child and for herself on her
own rather than simply comply with the demands of a master who provided for all
her daily necessities.

Slavery has its pluses and minuses; and it's not always to a slave's benefit to give
them their walking papers. There's a provision in the covenant that Moses' people
agreed upon with God allowing for indentured slaves to remain so permanently if
they wish. (Ex 21:2-6, Lev 24:22)

Many of the slaves that were liberated after the American Civil War found
themselves in the throes of instant poverty: unable to either read or to write, with
no place to live, and zero prospects for gainful employment. I'm not saying slavery
is a good thing. I'm only saying that, all things considered, it might be the better
option for some people.

I met guys in the Army who re-enlisted for the security of a steady paycheck, free
meals, free health care, paid vacations, and rent-free/mortgage-free
accommodations. They had to relinquish a degree of their freedom for those
benefits, but in their minds, it wasn't a bad trade-off.


NOTE: The New Testament and the Old neither condemn nor condone slavery; the
Bible's focus is primarily upon the treatment of slaves rather than their
predicament. The Bible also has things to say about a slave's work ethic.

Activists and politicians decry slavery as immoral and/or evil. Well; they didn't get
that from the Bible; it's their own personal feelings about it; which reminds us that
men have been making up their own rules about right and wrong almost from the
very beginning. (Gen 3:22)


Gen 21:15-16 . .When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under
one of the bushes, and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she
thought: Let me not look on as the child dies. And sitting thus afar, she burst into
tears.

The word "child" is misleading. The Hebrew is yeled (yeh'-led) which can also
mean: a lad. Webster's defines a lad as: a male person; of any age between early
boyhood and maturity; viz: boys and/or youths.

Ishmael was hardly what modern Americans might call a child. He was near to
eighteen years old at this time; if he was circumcised at fourteen and Isaac was
weaned at three. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5, Gen 21:8)

One can only guess at the grief in Hagar's heart. Her life had come down to this: a
lonely, impoverished, homeless death out in the middle of nowhere. In her distress
Hagar had forgotten about her friend 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy the god who sees people and
knows their troubles. And she had forgotten all the predictions He made back in
Gen 16:10-12 concerning Ishmael's future. There is just no way her son can be
allowed to die at this time.

When God's people lose confidence in His statements, they usually always get
themselves into trouble. If only Hagar had trusted God, she wouldn't have
despaired regarding Ishmael's life. He was perfectly safe. Don't you see? He had to
live so God could keep His promise to multiply him; and so he could become a wild
burro of a man, and so he could live near the people of Israel like God predicted. So
even if Hagar had perished all alone in the wilderness, Ishmael would have gone on
to survive without his mother because his divine guardian would have seen to it.
_
 

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Gen 21:17a . . God heard the cry of the boy,

I don't think Ishmael, at near eighteen, was bawling his eyes out like a little girl.
The Hebrew word is qowl (kole) and/or qol (kole) which basically means a voice, a
noise, or a sound. It's very first use in the Bible is at Gen 3:8 where the Lord was
heard walking about in the garden of Eden.

Ishmael's "cry" was likely a plea for help; i.e. prayer; which wouldn't be surprising
seeing as how Abraham was highly recommended as his own family's rabbi. (Gen
18:21)


NOTE: God had promised Hagar and Abraham that He would multiply Ishmael
(Gen 16:10, Gen 17:20). So, prayer or no prayer, God cannot allow Ishmael to die
before generating a posterity.


Gen 21:17b-18 . . and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to
her: What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy
where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great
nation of him.

Now we're back on personal terms; and the angel speaks to Hagar by name rather
than by her previous status as a slave; which would be inappropriate at this point
because she's been emancipated.

This particular angel wasn't an apparition but rather just a voice-- granted a very
unusual voice. First it spoke for God, then it spoke as the God who would make
good on the promise that He made to Hagar at Gen 16:10-11 and the one made to
Abraham at Gen 21:13.


Gen 21:19 . .Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went
and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink.

I bet the water was right there all the time but Hagar was so exhausted and
distraught that she hadn't seen it. Everybody gets that way once in a while.
Sometimes the answer to our problem is right under our noses but oftentimes can't
see it because we're just too upset and/or distracted at the time.


Gen 21:20a . . God was with the boy and he grew up;

I don't know why so many Christians and Jews have such a low opinion of Ishmael.
How many of his detractors are able to boast that God was with any of them as
they grew up?


Gen 21:20b . . he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman.

Archery must have become a traditional skill in Ishmael's family. One of his male
progeny, Kedar, produced a clan of bowmen who used their skills not only in
hunting, but also in warfare. (Isa 21:16-17)


Gen 21:21a . . He lived in the wilderness of Paran;

The Wilderness of Paran encompassed a pretty big area. It was south of the Negev,
on the Sinai peninsula, roughly between Elat on the east and the Suez canal on the
west.

To look at that region today you'd wonder what appealed to Mr. Ishmael; but
apparently it was a whole lot more pleasant in his day 3,900 years ago; which
wouldn't surprise me since the Sahara itself was at one time verdant, pluvial, and
inhabited.


Gen 21:21b . . and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

A girl from Egypt was apparently a better choice than the girls of Canaan; from
among whom Abraham would later not want a wife for his son Isaac (Gen 24:3-4).

I wonder how Hagar traveled to Egypt. Did she go on to become prominent in the
caravan business? I bet you one thing. She was very careful that her boy did not
get himself hitched to a Sarah-type personality. And no way would Hagar ever have
one for a mother-in-law either.
_
 

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Gen 21:22a . . At that time

While Hagar and Ishmael were busy re-inventing their lives; a seemingly trivial
event occurred in Abraham's life. These kinds of events may seem superfluous, but
they're actually pretty handy for giving us some insight into Abraham the man; i.e.
his personality.


Gen 21:22b . . Abimelech

It is very possible that Abimelech is a royal title rather than a personal name, sort
of like Pharaoh or Caesar, since in the title of Psalm 34 the name Abimelech is
applied to the king of Gath, who is elsewhere known by his personal name Achish.
(1Sam 27:2-3)


Gen 21:22c . . and Phicol, chief of his troops,

Phicol's name sounds funny in Hebrew. It's Piykol (pee-kole') which means: mouth
of all. His name, like Abimelech's, could also have been a title; especially since it
implies that he was a spokesman. I'm sure you've heard people say: "And I think I
speak for all when I say this; yada, yada, yada; etc, etc, etc." Maybe that's what
his name "mouth of all" implies. At any rate, he was Abimelech's chief of staff and
apparently his right hand man-- a military man, and trusted.


Gen 21:22d . . said to Abraham: The gods are with you in everything that you do.

Abimelech knew first hand that Abraham could do no wrong. And even when he did,
his god was right there to bail him out. That is an extremely envious position. What
if you knew that God would protect you no matter how dumb, stupid, and clumsy
you were in life-- that in spite of your bad investments, accidents, poor judgment,
bad decisions, worthless friends, failed romances, and overspending, you still came
out on top? Well . . that is just how it went for Abraham. He was bullet proof.


Gen 21:23a . .Therefore swear

(chuckle) Ol' Abimelech is nobody's fool. He was burned once by Abraham and
wasn't about to be suckered again. From now on he will accept Abraham's word
only if he gives his oath on it first. You know; trust is an easy thing to lose, and
very difficult to regain.


Gen 21:23b . . to me here by the gods

The Hebrew word for "gods" is a nondescript label for any number of celestial
beings; both real and imagined. But I kind of suspect the one Abimelech referred to
was the god who appeared to him in the dream; in other words; Abraham's god:
Yhvh.


Gen 21:23c . . that you will not deal falsely with me or with my kith and kin, but
will deal with me and with the land in which you have sojourned as loyally as I have
dealt with you.

It's a non aggression pact. But why would Abimelech go to all the trouble? And why
would he, a king, travel to Abraham's camp rather than summon him to appear?
Did he fear that Abraham, a man befriended by a supreme being, might become so
powerful that he would attempt to conquer Abimelech's kingdom? I think so.
Abraham's medicine was strong. He had a connection in the spirit world to a god
with the power to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and to strike people with serious
maladies. It would be perfectly human for Abraham to take advantage of his
supernatural affiliation and use it to advantage.

With a man like Abraham, Abimelech probably figured a preemptive strike would be
out of the question. It is better to strike a treaty while conditions permit. After all,
Abraham owed Abimelech one for letting him off after lying to him about Sarah.
Good time to call that in.


Gen 21:24 . . And Abraham said: I swear it.


NOTE: There are Christians who would soundly condemn Abraham for swearing
based upon their understanding of Matt 5:33-37.

I can almost hear Abimelech and Phicol start breathing again. I think both of those
men were more than just a little worried about their safety on Abraham's turf.

That settled, Abraham has a matter of his own to discuss; and now's a good time
for it, seeing as those men were being very humble; at least for the moment.


NOTE: There are well-meaning folk who feel it's wrong for God's people to be
confrontational; and base their reasoning on Matt 5:3, Matt 5:5, Matt 5:9, and Matt
5:39. But other than Isaac, I don't think you could find a more gracious man in the
Old Testament than Abraham. He didn't have a hair-trigger temper, a spirit of
vengeance, nor did he declare war over every little disagreement.

Abraham picked his battles with care, and conducted them intelligently-- same with
Moses, of whom the Old Testament says: was very meek, above all the men which
were upon the face of the earth (Num 12:3). Jesus was meek too (Matt 11:29 and
Matt 21:5) but could be very confrontational when the circumstances called for a
heavy hand. (Matt 23:13 36)
_
 

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Gen 21:25-26 . .Then Abraham reproached Abimelech for the well of water which
the servants of Abimelech had seized. But Abimelech said: I do not know who did
this; you did not tell me, nor have I heard of it until today.

Abraham may have previously reported the incident to a bureaucrat, who then
tossed the complaint in a file cabinet somewhere and soon forgot about it because
this is the very first time Mr. Abimelech has been made aware of the problem.
Sometimes you just have to cut through the red tape and go straight to the top.


Gen 21:27-29 . . Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech,
and the two of them made a pact. Abraham then set seven ewes of the flock by
themselves, and Abimelech said to Abraham: What mean these seven ewes which
you have set apart?

This was not a local custom; whatever it is, because Abimelech is totally puzzled by
it.


Gen 21:30 . . He replied: You are to accept these seven ewes from me as proof
that I dug this well.

A reasonable assumption is that Abraham-- thoroughly disgusted with Gerar's
bureaucracy, and having no confidence in Abimelech's oath --shrewdly purchased a
water right so the government's thugs would have to step off and leave him be.


Gen 21:31-32 . . Hence that place was called Beer-sheba [well of seven], for
there the two of them swore an oath. When they had concluded the pact at Beer
sheba, Abimelech and Phicol, chief of his troops, departed and returned to the land
of the Philistines.

Abraham swore to live peaceably with Abimelech. And he in turn swore to let
Abraham keep the well that he dug. Did Abimelech swear by a god or just give his
word? Genesis doesn't say. But only Abraham's god is named in this pact. Possibly
they both swore by that one.


Gen 21:33 . . Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the
name of The Lord, the Everlasting God.

Actually, that verse is supposed to read like this: "and invoked there the name of
Yhvh, the everlasting god."


NOTE: It's commonly assumed that because of Ex 6:2-3, Abraham wasn't supposed
to have known the name Yhvh; but obviously he did.

The word for "tamarisk" is 'eshel (ay'-shel) which can mean a tamarisk tree; and it
can also mean a grove of trees; of any kind. The grove was probably somewhat like
a private garden where Abraham could have some solitude in prayer. Groves were
popular as places of religious devotion and worship and of public meetings in both
Canaan and Israel. It was in a garden where Jesus prayed his last great prayer in
John 17 just before being arrested.

Backyards can serve as "gardens" too. Here in the part of Oregon where I live, row
houses have become a common style of residential housing construction; which is
really sad. The people living in them don't have any backyard to speak of like my
wife and I do in an older home.

When we look out the big windows on the east side of our house, we see trees and
shrubs and grass and an old mossy playhouse I built for my son and his friends
many years ago; and lots of urban wildlife too: birds, raccoons, skunks, huge
banana slugs, and squirrels and such. That backyard gives us a feeling of escape
and privacy: it's very soothing; like a week-end getaway except that it's every day.

The planners of New York City's central park had the very same idea in mind.
Opponents of the park groused about the valuable real estate that would be lost to
public recreation; but many of the residents of Manhattan wouldn't trade their park
for all the thousands and thousands of diamonds the De Beers company is hoarding
in their vaults.

Not long ago one of Manhattan's abandoned elevated rail lines was converted into a
park and it's already immensely popular as an escape. Human beings need their
tamarisks; even holy human beings need them. (cf. Mark 6:46 and John 6:15)


Gen 21:34 . . And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.

It wasn't actually the Philistines' land in Abraham's day; but was theirs during the
times when one of the authors of Genesis edited this chapter.
_
 

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Gen 22:1a . . Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test.

This particular section of scripture deals with an ancient incident known in sacred
Jewish literature as The Akedah (the binding of Isaac). The Akedah portrays the
very first human sacrifice ever performed in the Bible by someone who is extremely
important to the people of Israel.

The test coming up wasn't meant to measure Abraham's loyalty; rather, to
ascertain the quality of his trust in the promise that God made to him concerning
Isaac's future; to wit:

"Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac:
and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his
seed after him." (Gen 17:19)


Gen 22:1b-2a . . He said to him: Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And He
said: Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love,

The Hebrew word for "favored one" is yachiyd (yaw-kheed') which means sole. So
then, Isaac wasn't just Abraham's favored son; he was also Abraham's only son
because when the old gentleman emancipated Ishmael's mom Hagar, he
relinquished legal kinship with her children. Relative to nature; Ishmael is
Abraham's son, but relative to the covenant; he's no son at all.

"Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the
promises was offering up his only begotten son" (Heb 11:17)

The Greek word translated "only begotten" is monogenes (mon-og-en-ace') which
never refers to a special child, rather, always to an only child: specifically a
biological child rather than a step child and/or adopted. Examples are located at
Luke 7:12, Luke 8:42, Luke 9:38, John 1:14, John 1:18, John 3:16, John 3:18, and
1John 4:9.

Isaac was about three to five years old when Hagar and Ishmael moved out. Some
time has gone by; and in this chapter, Isaac is now old enough, and strong enough,
to shoulder a load of wood; and mature enough to understand the particulars of the
ritual that he and his dad were on their way to perform; so Isaac wasn't a little kid
in this incident.

Why did God say; whom you love? I think it's so we'd know how Abraham felt
about Isaac. There can be no doubt that he would sorely miss this boy if ever
something should happen to him.

When people truly love their kids, they will die protecting them. They'll quite
literally run into a burning building if need be and/or step in front of a bus.

Normal parents are very protective like that when they truly love their kids. People
who love their kids don't drown them to please a boy friend, don't leave them
unattended in the car and go inside a bar for a drink; don't let them go off with
strangers, and don't let them go to the mall or to the playground all by themselves
when they're little.


Gen 22:2b . . and go to the land of Moriah,

There are only two places in the entire Old Testament where the word Moriah
appears. One is here in Genesis and the other in 2Chrn 3:1.

According to tradition, Genesis' land of Moriah is the same as the mount Moriah in
2nd Chronicles-- the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem --which is bordered by
the world famous Wailing Wall. Some justification for the tradition is found in verse
14, where Abraham named the location Adonai yireh, from which came the
expression; "On the mount of the Lord there is vision".

In reality; the precise geographic location of the land of Moriah remains to this day
a total mystery; which is probably for the best because by now there'd likely be an
Islamic mosque constructed on the site were its location known.
_
 

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Gen 22:2c . . and offer him there as a burnt offering

The Hebrew word for "burnt offering" is 'olah (o-law') which is a very different kind
of offering than those of Cain and Abel. Theirs were minchah (min-khaw') which are
usually gifts rather than atonements. They're also voluntary and bloodless.

Some say that Abraham's offering shouldn't be translated "burnt" and others say it
should.

No doubt the best translator of 'olah within the context of the Akedah is the prophet
Abraham himself. The very fact that he hewed wood, took a source of fire with him
up the mountain, constructed an altar, put the wood on the altar, and then bound
and positioned Isaac upon the wood and the altar; tells me that Abraham fully
understood that when his divine master said 'olah He meant for the man to cremate
his son.

The evidence that Isaac also fully understood that 'olah implied incineration is when
he asked his dad: Father; here are the wood and the fire: but where is the sheep?

There are some who insist that Abraham misunderstood God. They say he was only
supposed to take Isaac along with him up on the mountain and they together were
to offer a burnt offering. What's the appropriate response to that?

Well; as I stated: Abraham was a prophet (Gen 20:7). Also; Abraham had three
days to think about what he was asked to do. Had Abraham the prophet any
misgivings about human sacrifice-- any at all --he surely would have objected
and/or at the very least requested a clarification. I'm confident that's true because
of the example of his rather impudent behavior recorded in the latter part of the
18th chapter of Genesis.

God ordered Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering. That means he will have
to slit Isaac's throat; and then cremate his remains. Why isn't Abraham recoiling
and getting in God's face about this with a vehement protest? The inference is quite
obvious. Abraham didn't believe human sacrifice wrong. In other words: for
Abraham, human sacrifice was a non-issue or he would have surely objected to it.


FAQ: Human sacrifices are not allowed in the covenant that Moses' people agreed
upon with God in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Since Jesus was a Jew whose religion was governed by that covenant, then how
was it legal for him to die for the sins of the world?


A: The laws of God are not retroactive (Deut 5:2-4, Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13) This is
extremely important because Jesus was designated, and scheduled, to die on a
cross prior to God creating even a single atom for the current cosmos. (1Pet 1:18
21 & Rev 13:8)
_
 

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.
Gen 22:2d . . on one of the heights that I will point out to you.

Precisely where the land of Moriah was, and the specific height God chose, is
impossible to tell for sure. Abraham knew where the land was but he wouldn't know
the exact spot until he got there.

It's just as well to keep it a secret or otherwise somebody would turn it into a
shrine; sort of like the so-called Garden Tomb, where people come from all over the
world and make fools of themselves kissing the ground. Some would even take
home souvenir jars of dirt too; so that by now, likely so much dirt would be gone
that the site of Moriah would look more like a quarry than a high place.

Gen 22:3a . . So early next morning, Abraham saddled his burro and took with
him two of his servants and his son Isaac.

The Hebrew word for "saddled" is ambiguous. It doesn't necessarily indicate a
device meant for transporting personnel; more likely tackling for cargo.

Whether or not the servants were armed, Genesis doesn't say. And why only two I
don't know either. But that was enough to look after the burro while Abraham and
Isaac were gone. And it's not wise to leave one man all alone in the outdoors;
especially in the wild country of early day Palestine what with no phone service nor
radios, nor cars to flag down for help in that day.

Gen 22:3b . . He split the wood for the burnt offering,

It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that the servants did the actual wood
cutting with Abraham supervising.

Gen 22:3c-4 . . and he set out for the place of which God had told him. On the
third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar.

Apparently everyone hiked on foot. The burro was just used as a pack animal to
haul food, water, tents, supplies, and the wood.

Though it's stated Abraham "looked up" it doesn't necessarily mean the site was
elevated above him. When Lot surveyed the Jordan valley, he was said to have
"lifted up" his eyes. But the valley was about three thousand feet down below his
vantage at the time. Lifting up one's eyes just simply means to look around, and
survey the scene.

Those three days gave Abraham plenty of time to think about what God expected
him to do. Abraham must surely have been giving Isaac's future some serious
thought. And he no doubt pondered the promises God made concerning the great
nation that was to issue from his boy. It was very likely at this time that Abraham's
faith in God's promises sustained his determination to obey and take Isaac's life.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received
the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said "In Isaac your
seed shall be called" concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the
dead," (Heb 11:17-19)

In other words: Abraham was so confident that God was going to somehow make of
his son's progeny a great nation that he assumed, quite correctly, that though he
slay Isaac and cremate his remains, the lad wouldn't stay dead for very long.
_
 

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Gen 22:5 . .Then Abraham said to his servants: You stay here with the burro. The
lad and I will go up there. We will worship and we will return to you.

Worship can be defined as respect paid to a better— like when Abraham ran and
bowed to the three men who came to his tent in chapter 18, and up ahead when he
will bow to the sons of Heth in chapter 23.

When we let a senior citizen go through a door ahead of us, we are saying we
regard that person as better than we are. And when we move aside for a
presidential motorcade, we say the same thing. That's a kind of worship. It's not an
attitude of equality nor one of parity. True worship is an attitude of humility,
inferiority, subordination, submission, and admiration.

The God of the Bible is so superior and respectable that the seraphs in His throne
room cover their faces and dare not gaze upon God. True worship recognizes God's
supremacy and respects the sanctity of His person. Sinners are never allowed to
barge in like drunken sailors, to gape and swagger, unwashed and uninvited. No,
they crawl in, recognizing the depravity of Man and the extreme dignity of God. The
burnt offering shows that Man not only risks death and incineration in God's
presence: he fully deserves it.

There exists adequate proof that Abraham was capable of dishonesty, so it's
difficult to tell at this point if he was actually predicting their return, or misleading
everyone with a fib so nobody would become alarmed and throw a monkey wrench
into the works. It was Abraham's full intention to slay Isaac but I'm sure you can
understand why he wouldn't want anyone to know that.

However, Abraham was confident that Isaac wouldn't stay dead; that much is
known for certain so I vote to give Abraham the benefit of the doubt and say he
really did believe that he and Isaac come back together.


Gen 22:6a . . Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son
Isaac.

Were Isaac not quite a bit grown up at this time I don't think Abraham would have
made him carry the wood.

But why not let the burro haul the wood to the site? Well; if you have never heard a
burro bray up close and personal, I guarantee you would not want one to do it
during a solemn church service. They are LOUD!
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Gen 22:6b-7 . . He himself took the firestone and the knife; and the two walked
off together. Then Isaac said to his father Abraham: Father! And he answered: Yes,
my son. And he said: Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep
for the burnt offering?

Oops! That's kind of like going out to a picnic and forgetting the hot dogs and
hamburger buns. The Tanakh's translation of the Hebrew word 'esh (aysh) as
firestone was probably an educated guess. 'Esh just simply means fire, with no
stone implied.

A convenient way to transport fire in those days was with a portable oven; viz: a
fire pot (cf. Gen 15:17). So rather than a stone, which implies striking sparks, they
most likely just brought along the camp stove, which held a receptacle for live
coals. Fire pots in those days were the equivalent of modern propane-fueled
camping equipment.

Since Abraham was the patriarch, it was his prerogative, as well as his
responsibility, to actually kill the burnt offering and set it afire; so he quite naturally
took custody of the weapon and the coals; as Isaac no doubt fully expected him to.

The word for "sheep" is either she (seh) or sey (say) which means: a member of a
flock, which can be either a sheep or a goat. Neither the age nor the gender
mattered in this instance because Scripture up to this point in time had not yet
specified age or gender for a burnt offering.

Abraham could have used kids and lambs, or ewes, nannies, or rams; it made no
difference. Actually, Abraham might have offered birds too. Noah did in chapter 8--
but there was something special about this instance that Isaac somehow knew
required something quite a bit more substantial than a bird.


Gen 22:8a . . And Abraham said: God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering,
my son.

Little did Isaac know the sheep of that day was to be him. Ol' Abraham and his half
truths are at it again.


Gen 22:8b . . And the two of them walked on together.

This is now the second time Genesis says they walked together. Neither one led,
nor brought up the rear, as in the case of so many husbands who leave their wives
dragging along behind at the malls. Incidentally, the dialogue that took place
between Isaac and his dad in verses 7 and 8 are the only recorded words they ever
spoke to each other in the whole Bible.

Arguments from silence insist that if something isn't clearly stated in the Bible, then
it's inferred from the silence that there was nothing to state. In other words:
according to the logic of an argument from silence, verses 7 and 8 are the only
words that Isaac and Abraham ever spoke to each other their entire lives: which of
course is highly unlikely.


Gen 22:9a . .They arrived at the place of which God had told him.

When did that happen . . God telling him? Genesis doesn't say. Jewish tradition
says the site had an aural glow which Abraham and Isaac were enabled to see from
a distance.

Anyway it was now time to tell Isaac the real purpose of their pilgrimage.

I can almost hear Isaac ask; "Dad, if I'm dead, then how will God make of me a
great nation whose numbers exceed the stars of heaven? You told me He promised
you that". Yes; God did promise Abraham that in Gen 15:4-5, and Gen 17:18-21.

It is here where Isaac's great faith is revealed; but not so much his faith in God:
rather, faith in his dad. Abraham's influence upon Isaac was astonishing; so much
so that no doubt the lad believed right along with his dad that his death would only
be temporary. Isaac was convinced that God would surely raise him from the dead
in order to make good on His promises to Abraham.

That young man really had fortitude; and incredible trust in his dad too. I'll tell you
what: those two men deserve our deepest admiration. What an incredible display of
faith and courage; both on the part of Abraham and on the part of his son Isaac.
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Gen 22:9b . . Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood;

This was a place where, apparently, Abraham had never worshipped before because
he had to build an altar.


Gen 22:9c . . he bound his son Isaac;

If Isaac was old enough, and strong enough, to shoulder a load of firewood (Gen
22:6) then he was old enough, and strong enough, to get away from Abraham,
who, at the time, was past 100 years old.


NOTE: If perchance Gen 23:1 took place immediately following the Akedah, then
Abraham would have been 137 at this point in the narrative seeing as how he and
Sarah were ten years apart in age. (Gen 17:17)

If they had not already talked it over, then when Abraham pulled out his rope and
assayed to bind Isaac; the lad would surely request an explanation; don't you
think?

Had Isaac not consented to the ritual, then he could have easily escaped because
Abraham was alone; he had no one to assist him to restrain Isaac: the servants
having remained behind with the burro. Besides, Isaac had to agree or the whole
affair would disintegrate into a ritual murder.

Binding was for Isaac's own good. No doubt he was willing enough to die; but
nobody is comfortable with injury. When the knife would begin to make an incision
in Isaac's neck to sever his carotid artery, he might reach up and grab his father's
hand, the meanwhile twisting and thrashing in a natural response to pain and fear--
similar to what most anybody would do in a dentist's chair without Novocain.

The binding would help keep him still and avoid collateral damage; otherwise,
Abraham might accidentally cut off Isaac's nose or poke him in the eye and quite
possibly disfigure him horribly instead of succeeding in killing the lad in a humane
fashion.


Gen 22:9d . . he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

That may seem impossible for a man of Abraham's age, but no specifications for
altars existed at that time. They could be two feet high, ten, or just a rudimentary
hearth of stones laid right on the ground like a campfire or in a shallow excavation
like a wood pit barbecue.

At that moment, even before Isaac was dead, and even before the tiniest spark of a
fire was kindled: Abraham's offering of his son was complete. In other words: had
God not wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son, He would have stopped the
proceedings before Abraham laid his son on the wood because once that happens
the offerer relinquishes control over his offering.

From that point on; the offering belongs to God; and it becomes His prerogative to
do with it as He pleases-- to kill Isaac or not to kill him was God's executive right
and privilege. Bottom line is: it wasn't necessary for Isaac to be dead in order to
count as a sacrifice: he only had to be laid on the wood of the altar to count.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received
the promises offered up his only begotten son (Heb 11:17-18)

"Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he
offered his son Isaac on the altar?" (Jas 2:21)

It's easily seen from those passages in James and Hebrews that not all human
sacrifice is evil. In point of fact, in certain cases; it's the right thing to do. But the
point is: James and Hebrews makes it clear that Isaac counted as an offering even
though he was not slain.

I just don't know why it is that people think that the 22nd chapter of Genesis
teaches God's supposed abhorrence for all manner of human sacrifice when it is so
obviously meant to convey the quality of Abraham's confidence in God's promise
made at Gen 15:2-6.

In other words: if Abraham was to go on to generate a posterity through his son
whose numbers would be too many to count; then God would have to restore Isaac
to life in order to make good on the promise; and according to Heb 11:17-19
Abraham was counting on that very thing. In other words: according to Jas 2:21
23, Abraham's willingness to kill his son validates Gen 15:2-6 where it's stated that
Abraham believed God.


Gen 22:10a . . And Abraham picked up the knife

Abraham didn't just pick the knife up and hold it in his hand in some sort of
symbolic gesture. No, he picked it up with the full intention of using it on his boy;
as these next words of the narrative fully indicate.


Gen 22:10b . . to slay his son.

Do you think Abraham was messing around? I guarantee you he was NOT. He fully
intended to slit Isaac's throat.
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