Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bible Commentary - Genesis 20

In this chapter, Abraham visits Egypt again and again lies to the king about Sarah.

First off, this is another instance where liberal scholars say that the bible has duplicate accounts of the same event, the first account being in chapter 12. I think I already addressed this, but I don't remember where. Basically, from a literalist point of view, there are enough differences that if you presume the accuracy of the account, it is clearly a second event. But even from a non-literalist point, it doesn't necessarily prove the JEDP because it could just be an artifact of the oral traditions behind the bible. I won't address this further here.

Second, this is the first time Abraham is called a prophet, which is something I wrote about previously with Abraham as the prototype of a prophet. Here we see God call him a prophet when speaking to the king. Just as in Abraham's prior deception, we can reasonably question whether this is the right thing for him to do, and in spite of God protecting him, it appears that Abimelech is behaving better than he is. Abimelech chastises Abraham, and Abraham tries to justify his deception. Abimelech gives him an offering, and Abraham leaves.

So unlike the last time Abraham did this, this king is much more gentle, though he has a divine threat hanging over him so it is perhaps not entirely voluntary. Last time, the king just showed him the door with an armed guard. This time, the king gives him gifts and then actually offers to let him stay.

The bible does not explicitly condemn Abraham's actions, but I would again suggest that Abraham does wrongly here. Also, I am again somewhat surprised that God protects Abraham here. Even though Abraham does not demonstrate his trust in God through his actions, God protects him anyway.


Anna Tan said...

And isn't that a perfect example of what grace is? :)

Daniel S. said...

I guess so. I guess that's interesting because there are a lot of places in Genesis that do not feel like they have much grace. The flood, the destruction of Sodom... in Exodus there are the plagues on Egypt and the many times the Israelites were punished for idolatry or rebellion.

But yeah, I think I will rewrite my commentary for this chapter once I have finished writing a first draft for the rest of the bible.

Anna Tan said...

That's going to take a very long time. Haha.