Friday, January 8, 2010


Genesis 21-23

Chapter 21 begins with the birth of Isaac, just as God had promised.  Abraham was a 100 year old new dad, and Sarah was a 90-something new mom.  But as Isaac was weaned, the friction between Sarah and Hagar increased.  Sarah begged Abraham to send them away, and God told Abraham to do what Sarah wanted, because it was "through Isaac that your offspring [b] will be reckoned."  Hagar and Ishmael went off through the desert, and when the water was gone, she left him under a bush to die.  But an Angel appeared and led them to water, so they survived and lived in the desert.  "God was with the boy as he grew up."  Abraham and Abimelech formed a treaty that Abraham (who had God's support) would "not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants."

In chapter 22 God tested Abraham.  He instructed Abraham to take his son Isaac, through who he had promised to make a great nation, into the mountains and sacrifice him.  When Abraham was just about to do so, the Lord provided a ram to take his place, but Abraham had demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice his son.  The chapter ends with a couple of incongruous verses of genealogy about the sons borne to Milcah and Nahor.

Chapter 23 sees the death of Sarah at 127 years old, in Hebron in Canaan.  Abraham negotiated for the rights to the field of Ephron the Hittite in which to bury her, and "Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre...was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city."  He buried Sarah in the cave, and "the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site."

    Thoughts, questions, issues
  • Here's another thing about the Abraham/Abimelech story from chapter 20 - it feels out of place.  It seems as if it is stuck in to the middle of the Isaac story.  There's no reference to Hagar or Ishmael, no mention of God's promise.  It just doesn't seem to go between 19 and 21.
  • I continue to think that the God of Abraham, as portrayed in these middle chapters of Genesis, does not come across as a God of love that created the universe and wants us to love and honor him.
  • This is going to sound silly, but when I read God's demand that Abraham sacrifice his son, I'm reminded of James T. Kirk's question, "what need has God of a starship?"
  • Abraham talked to God, saw visions of God, heard the word of God.  But when a message is as contrary to what you believe God to be as the message to sacrifice Isaac was, how do you trust it?  Human sacrifice was a pagan activity.
  • I have no idea what the Milcah/Nahor genealogy is there for.  I have to assume that some of those names are going to come up again.
  • There's a lot of emphasis in the last chapter about the land being Abraham's, being deeded to him, and the Hittites acknowledging it.

Proverbs 8

Thoughts, questions, issues
  • Interesting to have "wisdom" speaking in first person, anthropomorphized.
  • Fascinating to have wisdom predating creation, as "the LORD brought me forth as the first of his works."
  • Other than that, there's not much of practical value here.  The passage is largely metaphorical, symbolic and poetic. 

1 - Proverbs 8 in paragraph form:
Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?  On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud:

"To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.  You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.  Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.  My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.  All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.  To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.  Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

"I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.  To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.  I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.  With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.  My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.  I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full. 

", before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.  When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world.  I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.  Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. 

"Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.  Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.  Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.  For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD.  But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

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