Genesis 16 – The Birth of Ishmael, Genesis 17 – The painful Covenant for Isaac

In Genesis 16 we read the story of Sarai and Hagar. Sarai says that Jehovah has made her barren (if so, why?), so she tells Abram to impregnate her Egyptian servant Hagar (can we go ahead and say slave here?) so that Abram can bare a seed. This is DESPITE Jehovah already promising Abram that he will bare a child. Despite all the divination and promises, Abram still has to resort to impregnating his wife’s slave servant. Talk about no faith. Abram does so and Hagar conceives. Maybe Abram is under the belief that this is Jehovah’s promise?

Can we see a parallel between Abram/Sarai and Adam/Eve? Jehovah makes a pledge with the man, and the woman has the man break that pledge or go against it. In this case, however, Jehovah does not intercede with punishment. The only one that gets punished, in this case, is Hagar who was already punished by being a slave, and her child Ishmael who, despite receiving Jehovah’s blessings, does not receive a covenant the way his brother Jacob would.

It should be noted that the phrase here was Sarai “… gave her (Hagar) to Abram her husband to be his wife.”

Already knowing polygamy exists here, did Hagar actually become another wife of Abram or his “be his wife” euphemism for the act of creating a child?

Sarai becomes jealous, Abram tells her to treat Hagar as she pleases, and Sarai “dealt hardly” with Hagar and Hagar fled. Sounds like domestic violence.

“The” (note not “an”) angel of Jehovah appears to Hagar. If we take our notion of winged-angels-servants-of-God away then angel in this sense is some sort of physical form of Jehovah whereby he can speak to people publicly. No mentions of wings, white robes, or halos however. Jehovah instructs her to name her son Ishmael.

Genesis 16:12 – And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s against him; and he shall dwell over all his brethren.

Thus we are foretold about Ishmael’s personality and interactions with not only his brethren but other men.

In Genesis 17, Jehovah appeared to Abram (note the difference between a vision followed by a horror of great darkness) and once again describes the covenant he will have with Abram. But here’s the rub: Jehovah calls himself, for the first time, God Almighty. He changes Abram’s name to Abraham, his wife’s name to Sarah, and reaffirms the covenant of the land. As for a symbol of this covenant, he requires Abraham and his people to circumcise all males in his household, including slaves and Ishmael (who isn’t part of this covenant by the way, so why circumcise him? So now that he is circumcised, is he part of the covenant?)

circum
Why circumcision? God’s creation in Genesis Book 1 was supposed to be perfect, so why, mess with perfection? Why take away what God gave us from our birth? And why the male genital? Is the mutilation of a baby boy’s genital (or in this case, every man and boy) ok? It seems to be normalized these days. Female genital mutilation is abhorrent these days though. Why accept either?

What’s interesting is as, despite Jehovah saying his covenant will not be with Ishmael,  he tells Abraham that Ishmael will birth 12 princes and will become a great nation, much like what he will promise Abraham’s seed in the future. The only thing lacking is the covenant.

  • Ishmael as a child is innocent of the, what nowadays would be considered sinful, actions of his father and step-mother, so why not include him in the covenant?
    • Being a half breed (racially) is bad seems to be the notion here
    • Being inbred with cousin relations seems to be ok in the meantime
  • Why not set up a separate covenant with Ishmael? Will Ishmael’s descendants also live within the borders of the land Jehovah has set aside for Jacob? The more I read the more this covenant deals with land than with anything else.

It is that this point, 17 books into Genesis, that the words God and Jehovah become intermingled. Despite all the contradictions and differences, it seems the author wants us to think they are one in the same by replacing Jehovah’s name with God after Jehovah claims he is God Almighty. Will the contradictions and differences end at this point?

So, the names and titles of our 3 main characters change at this juncture: Jehovah calls himself God Almighty; Jehovah renames Abram as Abraham; Jehovah renames Sarai as Sarah.

Genesis 4 – Cain/Abel, Curse of Cain, Cain’s wife?

Genesis 4:1 “…I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah.” Ok, is she referring to getting a man (Adam)? Or is she referring to a “man” being born to her who was named Cain? With really zero information about how/why they became so, Abel is said to be a keeper of sheep (pastoralist) and Cain a tiller of the ground (agriculturalist). Jehovah favors Abel’s offerings over Cain’s, Cain becomes angry, and he is scolded by Jehovah. He is told that if he does well, his offering will be lifted, but if he does not, then it is a sin, which he is told he does rule over the sin. Cain confronts his brother in the field and slays him.

Cain and Abel
A rendition of the slaying of Abel and the discovery by Jehovah

Jehovah curses Cain to walk the earth as a wanderer and a vagabond, and the earth will not yield to him. Cain, in anguish, says the curse is too much to bear and that all who meet him will want to slay him.

Genesis 4:14 “… and it will come to pass, that whosoever findeth me will slay me.”

Ok, supposedly Cain is the 3rd person to have been created, so then who is he referring to when he says “whosoever”? Is he referring to other people who wander the earth, people not addressed in this particular Jehovah creation? Could he be referring to the beings that God in Genesis 1 refers to when he says “we”?

Cain is still Jehovah’s creation so he puts a curse on anyone who would slay him will receive vengeance 7 fold, and Jehovah appoints a sign for Cain so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. So just what was this “sign”? I hear it often called the “mark of Cain” but it’s not described. Was it an actual sign worn over his neck? Was it a mark on his body, face, or other that would make it apparent to anyone not to slay the wearer?

Cain leaves Jehovah, goes to the land of Nod, east of Eden, and with his wife, conceives his first son Enoch.

Ok, so where did his wife come from? Was she already on the earth just in a different part? Those who believe Adam and Eve were the first two people on earth would just then say “oh well Adam and Eve must have had daughters.” But the Bible does not mention any daughters! Again, it does not even mention that Adam and Eve were the first on earth, only that they were put into the Garden to tend to it. We just ASSUME they were the first.

Mysteries that are just not covered in the text. I believe they are key to our understanding of what the stories of the Bible truly tell. Creation was good in Book 1, but the Creation of Book 2 to this point on is chaotic, bloody, and imperfect and leads to more questions that just aren’t answered in these texts.

So what happens when there are no definitive answers? We come up with our own. “Well Adam and Eve had daughters so that explains where the wives came from.” The Bible does not say that. “Adam and Eve were the first man and woman on Earth”. The Bible does not say that.

When we make up our own answers and conclusions, and the person next to us makes up their own, then we source the divisiveness that has separated individuals, families, congregations and churches since the first “church” was created.

Prelude

I’ve been speed reading and am absolutely enthralled with my bible reading so far. I am at Leviticus 11 and will be turning around back to Genesis 1:1. This was one of my strategies in the past, read to a certain point, then turn around and start over to see what I missed or took out of context.

What my mind is computing from the imagery of the bible (ASV and KJV) is far different from what my young and innocent mind did when I first “read” the bible as a child. Far different from the church services and bible studies I participated in in the past. It’s a new world I’m seeing.

So it’s back to the beginning, where I will start my blog posts. My interpretations and impressions will not mesh with modern interpretations. I am not here to claim to know the truth, only to describe how my mind is envisioning the world of the Old Testament.