Skip to main content

Genesis 20: Abraham is his own brother-in-law!

Image result for genesis 20

Before anything else burned to the ground, Abraham decided to clear out of Mamre.  He headed for the Negev Desert, because how’s anyone going to burn down a desert?  Following some bad maps, he headed to a spot between Kadesh and Shur, a nice little community called Gerar.  Still, Abraham didn’t much trust the locals, and felt safer telling them that Sarah was his sister and not his wife.  King Abimelech of Gerar asked to have Sarah brought to him, because kings can do that with unmarried women, so this little white lie of Abraham’s was going to lead to trouble, even though no one really understood why he’d feel the need to lie about this in the first place.  Yahweh turned up in Abimelech’s dream some time after this and told him, “You’re going to die, ‘cause that new piece of chattal you took is a married woman.  Big mistake!”  Abimelech didn’t think this was fair, because he hadn’t yet laid a hand on her.  “Lord, what’s the deal?  Why would You kill someone for something he didn’t even do?  He said she was his sister, and she said he was her brother.  I don’t understand their little game, but when I seized that woman as my own personal property, I didn’t do anything unethical.”  “Yes, I know,” said Yahweh, who of course knows everything.  “I know you only meant to take her as your own object, and I know they did nothing to stop you, which is probably a sin on their part.  I don’t know; I should look into that.  Anyway, you never touched her, which I’m sure of, since I watch this kind of stuff all the time, and it’s not weird, I swear.  But you need to send the woman back.  He’s a prophet, and he can do stuff for you.  But if you don’t send her back, you and everyone you know are going to die.  I’m serious, too.  Did you hear about Sodom?  Gomorrah?  That was My doing.  And I’m still feeling kind of testy lately.  Think about it.”

Early the next morning, Abimelech told his court the whole story, which scared the crap out of them.  He summoned Abraham and asked, “What’s your weird little role playing about?  What did I ever do to you?  You’re making me look like the unethical kind of king who seizes women for his personal use, and not the ethical kind who does that.  What the hell were you even thinking?”  Abraham was ready for this.  “It’s because I thought you guys were of a different religion and that you’d kill me for my wife, rather than just seizing her.  Anyway, she really is my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s.  And she’s my wife.  So it’s not weird or anything.  When we started traveling, we figured we could go everywhere and tell people we were brother and sister instead of husband and wife, and we wouldn’t be lying.  And you fell for it!”

Despite having been taken in by this prank, Abimelech was a mensch.  He gathered up sheep, cattle, and slaves, both male and female, and gave them to Abraham.  In addition, he also gave him Sarah.  “We don’t do adultery here,” said Abimelech, “but incest and slavery are just fine, so consider yourself welcome.  Settle wherever you like in my lands.”  To Sarah, Abimelech said, “Look, I am giving your brother a thousand pieces of silver.  Since he’ll be rich, people won’t think you did anything wrong when you were at my place, because rich people don’t do anything wrong.”  Abraham then returned the favor, asking God to help Abimelech out, and God did, fixing Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so that they could have children, because Yahweh had made all the women in Abimelech’s house barren on account of Sarah having been there.  This was the beginning of tensions between God and Yahweh.


Popular posts from this blog

Kick the Football, Charlie Brown

What's the lesson here? For nearly the entire run of Charles Schulz's Peanuts  comic strip, one running gag has been the football gag.  The gag is simple: Lucy Van Pelt kneels down on the grass, holding a football in place, and tells Charlie Brown to kick it.  Charlie Brown gets a good running start, ready to give it a good, solid kick, but at the last minute, Lucy pulls it away.  The final panel usually has a miserable Charlie Brown laying on the ground while Lucy looks over him, holding the football, telling him in one way or another that he obviously shouldn't have trusted her. The gag first appeared on November 14, 1951, when the strip was just over a year old.  In the first occurrence, the football was not held by Lucy but by Violet Gray, another little girl in Charlie Brown’s neighborhood.  (Violet would later become a minor character in the strip, and Lucy would become a major one.   Lucy wouldn’t appear in the strip until the following year.)  The f

43-Man Squamish: An Innovation in Athletics

For some people, one of the most tantalizing challenges is being told, explicitly or implicitly, that you can’t do something.  In 1965, MAD magazine writer Tom Koch laid down one such challenge.  He wrote an article laying out the rules of a sport he invented called 43-man squamish.  The article was illustrated by artist George Woodbridge, and judging by the mail MAD received from its readers, it was a huge hit.  Of course, Koch didn’t really intend the article to b e a challenge.  His idea was to invent a sport that was complex, convoluted, absurd, and ultimately unplayable.  It featured the kind of text readers of MAD, not athletes, would expect.  It’s an uncommon sport that has instructions like, “The offensive team, upon receiving the Pritz, receives five Snivels in which to advance to the enemy goal.  If they do it on the ground, it’s a Woomik and counts as 17 points.  If they hit it across with their Frullips it’s a Dermish which only counts points.  Only the offensive Nibling

CNN: Space Shuttle traveled 18 times the speed of light

The CNN headline is not necessarily inaccurate because what we accept as the standard speed of light, 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second, is more of an average of the speeds of faster and slower lights. Ordinary light, like what we typically get from the sun, typically sticks to the average speed of light. However, here in Boston it's overcast, so when the light hits the clouds it has to slow down considerably. When the light gets through the clouds it's slowed down, which is why things look grayer right now. On bright days, when there are no clouds to impede the light, it can come rushing right at the earth, and its speed makes it seem brighter. Brightness is relative to the speed of light, which is what the Theory of Relativity is all about. The Space Shuttle, flying on a cloudy day and over a part of the country without a lot of artificial light emanating from it, was flying relatively faster than the light in that area at that time. Since the light was th