Day 8: Genesis 22-24, Psalm 8, Matthew 8
Genesis 22: The almost sacrifice of Isaac…
From the first sentence of this chapter, I find this story hard to believe. “God tested Abraham.” Maybe I have a strong reaction to this word “tested” because my own father used to do this manipulative thing that I would always fail and then me would inform me that he was testing me to see if I loved him. Eventually, I no longer did. But I digress.
“God tested Abraham.” God build up this promise to Abe for how long that Abe’s descendants would be like the grains of sand, motes of dust, or like the stars in the night sky. IOW, innumerable. And now God allegedly tells Abraham to kill off his son. Does this make any sense? No.
I can only hope that Abraham had the good sense not to tell Sarah first because can you imagine that scene? I daresay he didn’t because Isaac appears to have no clue what is going on and can you imagine how he must have felt when his father wrestled him, overpowered him, tied him down and was ready to slaughter him? I don’t know about Isaac, but I would never trust that man again, even with the excuse that God made me do it.
How could Abraham do it? All my life I have heard that this is an example of trust, obedience, of Abe’s love of God. What about an example of stupidity? Cruelty? Child abuse? Because in the 21st century such thoughts have just got to be going through the modern readers head.
Why would God ask such a thing of Abraham? God said it demonstrates that he now knows that Abraham does indeed fear his God. Because Abraham did “not withhold his son, his only son” (except what is Ishmael? French toast?) God will indeed bless Abraham and blah blah blah about the number of descendants.
The way I read this, it makes God sound capricious. For a few chapters now, God has been making all these promises to Abe who, I thought, had believed God. But maybe he didn’t. Maybe Abraham doubted it. Maybe God staged this to make Abe finally irrevocably believe it about the number of descendants. Because what is the first thing that happens when he gets home to Beersheba: babies are born, one of whom just happens to be Isaac’s future wife.
But can you just imagine how Sarah reacted when she found out what almost happened? Her fury? Could she ever have forgive him? Can you imagine how the rest of the tribe reacted? They must have thought he was insane.
And Isaac? What would this have done to him? The boy almost sacrificed by his father? The boy spared by God. Talk about pressure.
I wonder what complicated spin the rabbis put on it? WHOA!!!!! Instead of “tested”, God “tempted” Abraham. In fact, much the same way as in the beginning of Job, God and Satan are having a conversation according to the rabbis and God tells Satan that if He tells Abe to do it, Abe will. Satan then attempts to prevent it, telling Isaac and Sarah what will happen but they both say “what the Lord wills.” Further, the rabbis write that as Abraham and Isaac journey they were equally happy together, one to say and one to be slain. They state that Isaac requested that he be bound just in case. Well, you really ought to read the rabbis’ version for yourselves. I prefer it to what made it into the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. Ther eis a link to it in the Files but if I remember I’ll put the link at the end of this post.
Chapter 23: Sarah dies, Abraham is sad. But the majority of the chapter us this complicated business of buying land from Ephron the Hittite so that Abraham can bury Sarah in a cave.
Abraham is regarded as prince among the Hittites and there is all this back and forth about doing things in the full presence of the people, which is where it happened.
I don’t get it. Why is this chapter important? Why bother with it?
Chapter 24: Ah! Now this chapter begins with one of those bits that Gist, the man who wrote “You don’t understand the Bible because you are a Christian” pointed out. Abe has his servant place his hand under Abe’s thigh. Only that is a euphemism. What is really being said here is that the servant has a hold of Abe’s penis. I kid you not. Read Gist.
So Abe wants to get a wife for Isaac but it can’t be one of the Canaanites among whom he has lived all these years, nope not one of them. Not good enough, I guess. Has to be one of his own kindred. The servant is sent to Ur and there we have the charming story of Rebekah at the well, which we get to read twice, and for some reason, Rebekah agrees to leave all she knows and go with this stranger to marry another stranger.
Psalm 8: One of my favorites. Is it one of yours? Yet it also makes me feel silly because it reminds me that I spend a lot of time asking God for stuff and very little time thinking about how wonderful God is. I just take that for granted. It’s always wrong to take another for granted.
Matthew 8: The contrast between Matthew 5-7 and 8 is stunning, is it not? There is all that quiet teaching about blessed this and that, not judging , how to pray etc and slam! Straight into all sorts of miraculous healings and Jesus is an equal opportunity healer: outcasts (the leper); the hated (Roman centurion’s servant); a woman; all sorts of unspecified sick people; and the demon-possessed. Then there is that huge storm. Such drama.
And at the end of it, what happens? The people of the town beg Jesus to leave. I guess that bit with the pigs was just a bit too much.
Of course, I’ve always wondered what they were doing with swine, anyway. After all, they weren’t allowed to eat pork.
And, btw, I would have thought that the fact that Peter was married would be a good case for a married priesthood.
Oh, yes, the link to Google Books and that rabbinic commentary on Genesis: