Abraham is a blessed scoundrel
1 Yahweh visited Sarah as he had said, and Yahweh did to Sarah as he had spoken. 2 Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. * 4 Abraham circumcised his son, Isaac, when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was one hundred years old when his son, Isaac, was born to him. 6 Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7 She said, “Who would have said to Abraham, that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”
8 The child grew, and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this servant and her son! For the son of this servant will not be heir with my son, Isaac.”
11 The thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight on account of his son. 12 God said to Abraham, “Don’t let it be grievous in your sight because of the boy, and because of your servant. In all that Sarah says to you, listen to her voice. For your offspring† will be accounted as from Isaac. 13 I will also make a nation of the son of the servant, because he is your child‡.” 14 Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder; and gave her the child, and sent her away. She departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 The water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16 She went and sat down opposite him, a good way off, about a bow shot away. For she said, “Don’t let me see the death of the child.” She sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. 17 God heard the voice of the boy.
The angel of God called to Hagar out of the sky, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. For God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him in your hand. For I will make him a great nation.”
19 God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, filled the bottle with water, and gave the boy drink. 20 God was with the boy, and he grew. He lived in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother took a wife for him out of the land of Egypt.
22 At that time, Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his army spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now, therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son. But according to the kindness that I have done to you, you shall do to me, and to the land in which you have lived as a foreigner.”
24 Abraham said, “I will swear.” 25 Abraham complained to Abimelech because of a water well, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. 26 Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this thing. You didn’t tell me, and I didn’t hear of it until today.”
27 Abraham took sheep and cattle, and gave them to Abimelech. Those two made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves mean?”
30 He said, “You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that it may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well.” 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba,§ because they both swore there. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Abimelech rose up with Phicol, the captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God. 34 Abraham lived as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines many days.
Thoughts for the day
Sarah is an ill-tempered woman, Abraham is a low-down scoundrel, and like all of us Hagar has little faith. This story is the sequel to Hagar’s last trip out into the wilderness. Though she left on her own the first time, and with Sarah around; who could blame her?
Isaac was born to Sarah and grew to the age of weaning. At the weaning party (I think they have more reasons for parties than we do.) Ishmael made Sarah really angry. Sarah ordered Hagar’s employment to be terminated immediately, and for Abraham to remove her from the property. Have they forgotten, that they might have some responsibility for this woman and her rival child? Abraham fathered that child based on Sarah’s command. Sarah is definitely partly to blame here, it’s not every day a man is commanded by his wife to have sex with the maid. Men usually try to hide that behavior.
When Sarah is angry, does Abraham show his manly strength and display impeccable integrity. No, he just hands Hagar a little bread and water and sends the two on their way. The man owes this woman his life, but he tosses her and his kid out to die. Guys like him, are why we have a government that pursues dead beat Dads. The least he could have done is given her some live stock, and other provisions to set up a home with. A good businessman values his reputation as manager, and a humanitarian. Even a selfish man, would have given Hagar a severance for all her years of service. Abraham demonstrates in this action no redeeming qualities as a man. The view we have of Abraham in this chapter so far, is a very different view than we get of this man at church. God must have seen something more…. we are only in Genesis 21 though.
Hagar in verse 11 – sets out on her second journey in to the Wilderness probably thinking: “what happened to the promise of Ishmael being the father of a great nation. Was that promise only a hallucination from the heat last time she was here? Maybe she should have never returned to Sarah in the first place?” We have all been here in Sarah’s position at some point in our lives, when something we think should have been; is definitively not possible. I have, and I am not dead yet, so I am sure I will experience this again. A promise that is truly from God will come to pass, there is no question about it and Hagar is about to find that out. My wish is that in our generation we had the kind of communication with God; that Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar had. Something tells me that we might be just as slow in believing as they were. God supplies Hagar and Ishmael water, and in Verse 18 again promises Ishmael and Hagar that they will live, and great nation will be born of them.
Abraham starts paying rather than receiving
Verse 22 – 30, Abimelech and Phicol respond to Abraham’s complaint that Abimelech’s servants have stolen his well. Knowing that Abraham is not a trustworthy person, but has the power of God behind him, Abimelech’s first statement is: “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now, therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me” Abraham tells Abimelech that he dug the well, and Abimelech’s servants took it. 26 Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this thing. You didn’t tell me, and I didn’t hear of it until today”. Abimelech did not want a fight, so it appears that Abraham was able to buy him off with some sheep and some cows. Verse 27 Abraham took sheep and cattle, and gave them to Abimelech. Those two made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves mean?” Abraham said, “You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that it may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well.” For seven additional ewe’s Abimelech essentially is paid to sign a contract (covenant) stating Abraham dug the wells.
The Bible does not say who actually dug the well, but it now is Abraham’s; bought and paid for, but was it acquired Chicago style? Or was is legitimate business transaction? I have no idea. Abraham does have a surly track record, so one can’t even speculate. What Abraham does have, is his reverence toward God, and he signifies his allegiance to God by planting a tree and dedicating to God.
God chooses his servants, not based on our standards, but based on his standards. We sometimes can see right away why one servant was chosen, whereas another will never make sense based on our standards. Sometimes surly folk have the nerve to go and do what needs done in the face of insurmountable hurdles. They will do absolutely crazy things, just because God told them too. God chooses whom he chooses and works with them from there. If God only chose perfect “Godly” men, we would all be doomed, as they don’t exist.
Have a wonderful day, be content in that God knew you when he chose you, and strive to be what God would have you to be….