Genesis 15-16

Genesis 15

Abram complains to God that he doesn’t have any children, but God reassures him that Abram’s descendents will be “as numerous as the stars.” (Genesis 15:5, NRSV) Abram makes the required sacrifice, and falls into a deep sleep, in which God tells him, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred year; but I will being judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” (15:13-15, NRSV)

Obviously this is a foreshadowing, a pretty blatant one, of the Jew’s time in Egypt. Reading this passage raises many questions in my mind about this god. Is he just foretelling the future like a psychic, or will he be the cause of the oppression? If the former, couldn’t he do anything to prevent centuries of oppression of his chosen people? If God can bring judgment on “the nation that they serve” couldn’t he just prevent the whole ordeal? If the latter, why? To prove the Jews are worth being the chosen people?

Genesis 16

Sarai tells Abram that since she could not bear him a child, he should take her handmaiden Hagar as a wife. The son Hagar bears for him would, apparently, be considered the child of Sarai and Abram. Abram agrees to this, either in spite of what God had just told him or because he felt this would fulfill God’s promise. Hagar conceives a child and proceeds to “look with contempt on her mistress.” (Genesis 16:4, NRSV)

I can understand the response, I guess, since I have known some bitchy people. Hagar accomplishes something Sarai could not and looks down on her because of this (even though Sarai is wicked old and her lady parts don’t really work anymore).

Sarai doesn’t take this attitude too kindly. “May the wrong done to me be on you!” she yells at Abram. What the fuck!?!? How is Hagar’s attitude his fault? Women…psh. Abram, the ever patient husband tells her that since Hagar is her slave-girl, Sarai should “do with her as you please.” (16:6, NRSV) Sarai gives her what-for and she runs off.

Hagar is out in the wilderness and an angel appears and tells her to go back to Sarai and to submit to her. The angel tells Hagar that he will greatly multiply her offspring, and that she should name her son Ishmael, who will be “a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him.” (16:12, NRSV) What is that all about? This is the Ishmael, mind you, that is considered the ancestor of the Arab people and a prophet of Islam. I don’t get it.

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