Epistles of Thomas

January 7, 2009

Genesis 19-21

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 10:05
Tags: , , , , ,

In chapter 19 Lot and his family are saved from the destruction of Sodom. The inhabitants’ wickedness is emphasised by their insistence on gang raping all male visitors. Even though Lot offers the crowd his two daughters they insist on demanding the two men (angels). The angels strike the men blind and then take Lot, his wife, and two daughters out of the city. His daughters’ fiancés refuse to come with them and his wife turns into a pillar of salt because she looked back on the city. This sets the scene for Lot’s daughters to get him drunk so that they can sleep with him and get pregnant. Really, you can’t make this stuff up! We see again the importance of having offspring, certainly more important than the incest taboo. The two daughters give birth to the Moabites and Ammonites, or at least the forefathers of those two peoples.

Chapter 20 is another bizarre story reminiscent of Abraham’s sojourn in Egypt. Sarah is married to Abimelek king of Gerar because they say that they are siblings and nothing more. Sarah must have been quite attractive given that she is well on in age by this time. Perhaps it was some kind of cultural practice rather than attraction that led to their marriage because Abimelek “had not gone near her.” God warned Abimelek in a dream that Sarah was a married woman and he is aghast. Contrary to Abraham’s excuse that “There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife” (20:11) there was great desire to avoid this guilt. Abraham makes out like a bandit again, receiving sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and a thousand shekels of silver!

The birth of Isaac is told with surprising brevity in 21:1-8. The remainder of the chapter focuses on Hagar and Ishmael who are driven off into the desert because Ishmael was “mocking.” The story seems to assume a young Ishmael but we were told that he was thirteen when circumcised (17:35) and should be fourteen by now. Later Jewish custom would label him a man by this age, rather than a boy, but perhaps in that day things were different. Ishmael grew up in the desert and his mother procured an Egyptian wife for him. The chapter concludes with Abraham making a treaty with Abimelek stating that they would share the land.

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