Friday, April 5, 2013

Genesis 21: Out With the Old Kid, In With the New Kid

Check out today's episode

The Birth of Isaac (v. 1-7)

God fulfilled his promise and Sarah had Abraham's son Isaac. He was circumcised at 8 days old.

I don't think I pointed this out before, but it was expressly stated before that all children should be circumcised at 8 days. Seems to be a pretty big deal to them.

Guzik draws a bunch of parallels between Isaac and Jesus
  1. Both were the promised sons.
  2. Both were born after a period of delay.
  3. Both mothers were assured by God’s omnipotence (Genesis 18:13-14; Luke 1:34; 1:37).
  4. Both were given names rich with meaning before they were born.
  5. Both births occurred at God’s appointed time (Genesis 21:2; Galatians 4:4).
  6. Both births were miraculous.
  7. Both births were accompanied by joy (Genesis 21:6; Luke 1:46-47; 2:10-11).
#2 makes me ask how old Mary was. I have always thought she was a teenager, she was certainly not married. How much delay was there?
#7 aren't most births accompanied by joy?

God Protects Hagar and Ishmael (v. 8-21)

Sarah saw Ishmael laughing and insisted that Abraham kick him and Hagar out.

Wow, Sarah is a bitch!

Guzik says that Abraham wants Ishmael as a backup plan in case something happens to Isaac, and that is why God had them sent away. Perhaps Abraham just sees Ishmael as one of his sons and doesn't want anything bad to happen to him. 

Abraham wasn't really happy with this, but God told him to do what Sarah wants and he will take care of Hagar and Ishmael. So Abraham gave Hagar some bread and a skin of water and sent them away.

Even with God's protection, this seems like a small amount of provisions. Sure, she has God's protection so they won't starve, but with that logic why take anything at all?

Guzik says:
Abraham was a wealthy man and could certainly spare more provisions, even giving them a donkey or several pack animals. But Abraham realized that without God’s help, no matter what he gave them, it would not be enough. But with God, things would turn out all right.
It's funny that I predicted this statement. 

When the water in the skin was gone, Hagar assumed they were going to die, so she put her child in some bushes and went away the length of a bowshot. But God talked to her and said everything would be okay, and she found a well full of water and got some for Ishmael. The boy grew up in the wilderness and learned to use the bow very well.

What I find interesting about this story is how old Ishmael is. He has to be at least 14 years old, in Genesis 17:25 he was thirteen and that was before Sarah was even pregnant with Isaac. In between those 2 stories is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the second use of the she's my sister scam. Also, this happened after Isaac was weaned, I don't really know anything about how old a kid is when they are weaned, but if we just assume it takes at least 3 months we can guarantee that Ishmael is at least 14 years old. If we allow for him to breastfeed a little longer, and allow for some more time in between for those other stories to happen, it is likely that Ishmael was 15 or even 16 when this happened. But just for the sake of argument, let's say he's 14.

According to Guzik, weaning happens at three years or later, so Ishmael would have to be 17 or older.

Why is his age important? This story is told as if he's a young child, in verse 14 Abraham puts the child on Hagar's shoulder along with the food and water, this makes me picture a toddler, not a teenager. Also, leaving a 14 year old under a bush to die doesn't really make sense. In fact, the story might sound more believable if the son told the mother to rest while he went out and scavenged some food.
As evidence in this picture (found here), the image of Ishmael that
we get from this story is much younger than it should be

A Treaty with Abimelech (v. 22-34)

Abimelech went to Abraham and acknowledged that God is with him and wants a treaty, he said that he has always dealt kindly with Abraham and should get a treaty. Abraham acknowledged this and agreed to the treaty.

At least Abimelech is getting something out of being screwed over last chapter.

Very strange comment from Guzik:
How could this be the same Abimelech of Genesis 20? It isn’t the same. Abimelech is the title of a ruler among the Canaanites, not a specific name.
Unfortunately he doesn't elaborate at all. I don't see why it couldn't be the same guy. I looked through a bunch of other commentaries but no one mentioned this at all.

Then Abraham complained that some of Abimelech's men had taken a well from him, and Abimelech swore he knew nothing about it. They made a covenant, and Abraham gave him some sheep and oxen, but set aside 7 ewes. Abimelech asked what that was about, and Abraham said that when he gave those 7 over it would be witness to him digging the well. Then Abimelech left and Abraham planted a tree.

What? I've read this over a few times and don't understand at all. Hopefully the commentaries will shine a light on it.

Unfortunately no, I looked through all of the commentaries that I have bookmarked and no one really explained this.


  1. I find the comments by Guzik on the similarities between Isaac and Jesus to be quite interesting. As I am sure you know from your blogging on the NT, those similarities are not at all certain. Further, many NT experts, even Christian ones point out that Matthew, Luke, and John took some serious liberties with the OT prophesies to make Jesus fit into them. That in fact, the majority of prophecies that Jesus "fits" were not about the Messiah at all in the OT. In short, there is little to no evidence to back up what Guzik is saying, and it is perhaps the biggest reason why Christianity became an offshoot of Judaism---Jesus did not fit.

  2. In answer to your question, Mary is traditionally held to be about 13 at the time she gave birth to Jesus. That was about average for girls to be betrothed at the time, it isn't like Joseph was some pedophile or anything. God, on the other hand...

  3. As I was recording the podcast, it occurred to me that he was probably trying to claim that Isaac was promised (and delayed) to Abraham and Sarah, while with Jesus it was to the world, and not to Mary and Joseph. At least it makes sense that way, although it makes the analogy quite weak

  4. I always sympathized with Hagar and her son. What I don't understand is WHY a supposedly loving, all-powerful deity didn't intervene on her behalf before all the unfair crap happened to her.

    1. Totally agree Ahab, but it's worse than that, God encouraged Abraham to push Hagar out the door. I suppose they could say that god helped them out in the wilderness, so it's all fine. Seems like a bunch of BS to me though.

  5. Show me someone who agrees with all the interpersonal situations in Scripture, and i'll show you someone who isn't paying attention. Of course people are going to have issues with the Lord's decisions, but it all boils down to Who is calling the shots - (because He can) and who has no say - that's us folks. Have a great one.

    1. "Show me someone who agrees with all the interpersonal situations in Scripture, and i'll show you someone who isn't paying attention."

      I would point you to most of the people in the church I grew up in, but I would agree with your assessment, they probably weren't paying very close attention to what the bible actually says :)

      Certainly, all of the interpersonal situations won't be good, and that's to be expected. There are many people in the bible who are intended to be examples of mistakes that we are supposed to learn from. My biggest problem is that Abraham and Sarah are supposed to be heroes, they are supposed to be really good characters that we look up to, and yet they do some really horrible stuff.

      Thanks for dropping by Sue :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...