Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Genesis 18-22: Sodom and Isaac

Those are the two main stories being told in this segment.


chapter 18: three men (somehow the three of them are a theophany: a manifestation of God in human form) visit Abraham and his wife and promise that they'll have a son within the year. Sarah goes "yeah right" but the guy hears her and says "you better believe it." Then two of the guys leave, but the third one tells Abraham that he's going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because they're full of wickedness. Abraham asks God to spare the cities if there are righteous people in it, and eventually barters God down to ten righteous people in the city.

chapter 19: Well, apparently there aren't ten righteous people in the city, because the two men from earlier show up in Sodom, get Lot (remember him?) and his family and tell them to leave. So they do, and they settle in the mountains, and Lot's daughters commit incest with their dad (this is gross) so they can't have kids, because apparently they don't think they can go down the hill to the village, just because their father's too chicken to do so.

chapter 20: Anyway, then Abraham goes to visit a king and does the whole "she's my sister" thing with his wife like before, gets caught like before, and comes out with more possessions as a result, like before.

chapter 21: Then Isaac is born. Then Ishmael (Hagar's kid - he's a teenager now) starts picking on him, so Sarah gets fed up and makes Hagar and Ishmael leave. God visits Hagar again. Then we jump back to Abraham, who makes a covenant with Abimelech (the king he scammed in the previous chapter)

chapter 22: Everybody knows this chapter. It's the part where God tells Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, and just when he's about to do so, God intervenes and tells him not to kill Isaac after all.

I didn't really have any questions this time, but here are some things that either I thought of or somebody told me and I wanted to tell you too:

  • Abraham's bargaining with God is really interesting, because you could almost get the idea that God is wishy washy and you can talk Him out of things. I don't think He is though, because He says that his mind is made up about the matter. However, I think He really wanted Abraham to know that this wasn't a rash decision and that He wasn't going to be killing innocent people along with the guilty.

  • Abraham talks God down from finding fifty righteous people to only finding ten, and God says that if there are ten righteous people, he won't destroy the city. I wonder if Abraham could've talked God down even lower, and I think maybe he coudl have. During this whole thing God seems very accomodating of Abraham's request.

  • Genesis is about beginnings, and one of those beginnings is the beginning of redemptive history, or God's relationship with man. As one of my commentors noted, Abraham most likely didn't have a clue who YHWH was when he left Ur; God progressively revealed Himself to Abraham as he went (the idea of progressive revelation is seen throughout scripture: a truth is slowly revealed in increments until they reach a pinnacle in Christ, or something like that). This story sets a precedent for how we are to understand God. Keep this incident in mind when we get into later stories about God killing people: God isn't acting out against the people, but against their sin. If there are righteous people undeserving of punishment, God seems to really want to spare them.

  • I'm not sure how big Sodom and Gomorrah were, but isn't it sad that there weren't even 10 righteous people in it? Lot and his family (that's four people) alone made it out alive (his sons-in-law would have too if they'd taken Lot seriously). And really, I'm not sure that even Lot was all that righteous. The Bible usually notes right away when there's a righteous person amongst wicked people, and nobody does that for Lot until Hebrews.

  • Some people are really concerned about the fact that Lot offered his daughters to the mob at his door in order to preserve the two men in his house. I would first of all like to say that this would have been seen by that culture as a perfectly moral action; hostpitality was one of the most important virtues, if you will, from ancient times up until fairly recently (as students of Macbeth should know). Secondly, I would like to say that the text doesn't tell us whether Lot did right or wrong in this action, like it doesn't tell us whether he was that righteous of a person or not. This is an important distinction: just because the Bible says something happened, doesn't mean it's saying that's what should have happened. My old pastor said once that the people in the Bible are not ideal people; they are real people.

  • Why does Abraham do the same lie in the same situation? Doesn't he remember how it turned out last time? Is he completely nuts? Or is he just like us? Do you have any patterns of behavior that are so ingrained in your life that even if you know they're wrong, you can't help doing them? Ouch. I think I just hit myself on the head.

  • I love that the angel of the LORD appears to Hagar again. Justin said the other day, when we were discussing this, that you get the idea that Hagar's relationship with God continued after that initial meeting. I think this little passage here supports that idea. God shows Hagar that He doesn't just show up once and then disappear; He continues in His faithfulness toward her. That's pretty cool to me.

  • The almost-sacrifice of Isaac is another weird story. I mentioned progressive revelation earlier; it comes into play here. Being of a pagan background, Abraham probably is familiar with human sacrifice, and we haven't seen God tell him not to do it yet. On the other hand, Abraham knows that God promised his descendents would come through Isaac. Plus, God emphasizes the fact that Abraham loves his son. That makes for a really sticky situation. See, Abraham has a pattern of distrusting God's word. God promised him lots of descendents, so Abraham made one of his servants his heir. God promised an heir from his own body, and we got Ishmael. So now Abraham finally has Isaac . . . what does he do? Is he going to take matters into his own hands like usual, or wait to see God deliver on His promise? Look what he says to the young men attending him: "We will worship and return to you" - meaning, we will worship, and we will return. Abraham thinks Isaac is going to be okay (I think he thinks that). The author of the Hebrews thought Abraham was counting on God to raise him to life again after he'd killed him. So basically, what we have here is a HUGE stepping-stone for Abraham, from distrust to trust in God and His ability to provide and make good His promises.

  • I'm almost done, I promise. Isaac, by now, is a big boy. I don't know exactly how old he was, but I've heard he was an adolescent. Abraham is a very very old man. Isaac figures out (unless he's really stupid) what's happening as far as the sacrifice goes, and he could probably take his dad out. But he doesn't. What is almost more amazing to me than Abraham's faith is Isaac's. How many of us in a similar situation would just sit there and let what happened, happen?
That's really all I have to say. Thank you so much for all your comments, everyone. Even though I don't reply to every one of them, I do read them all and I enjoy them greatly. I need to go to bed now.


Quietheart said...

Ouch. You hit me on the head with the whole "engrained patterns of behavior" thing, too. I definitely struggle with trust...even (maybe sometimes even especially?) in areas where God has proved Himself faithful over and over again. Faith, trust, If I could act out of even a small portion of what Abraham (and Isaac...thanks for pointing that out! I hadn't thought of that before)

prayinmommy said...

You're right about not having much to add to this part of Genesis. The church really holds this story up as true proof of faith (as well they should), so we've been over and over it (at least I know I have).

The part where it says that Abraham loved Isaac, is the first time the word 'love' is used in the bible. The intended emphasis is that God is asking Abraham if he will trust God with that which he loves the most. Pretty awesome stuff!

Ahmedinajad said...

Dear Sir,

The following issue can destroy ISLAM or ISRAEL; study it thoroughly to see if there is any truth to it.

READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).


Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link;&version=46;

Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING


Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

GENESIS: 21:14 - 21
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces - unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.

For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:
(MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE),,31200-galloway_060806,00.html

HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122

101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

106. For this was obviously a trial-

107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

122. For they were two of our believing Servants.


Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.


Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."
The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

Zoe said...


I'm not sure if you're a real person since you called me "sir," and I'm not sure how either the feminine name Zoe or my picture or my mention of my boyfriend could have given you that impression, and you haven't given me any way to contact you, but if you are a real person,

My blog is not a place for debate. I posted your comment on a debate site I am affiliated with: click here. You can discuss the matter there and I hope find the answers you are looking for.