Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 21

Before we continue our weekly Bible study I feel it necessary to make a confession. I am thoroughly enjoying reading the Bible again, as I am realizing even more how ludicrous this God character is. Every time I read how God is meant to be doing something good, I get to see what is actually going on and its very dubious. So to any Christians reading this thinking that my Bible study will convert are going to be severely disappointed.

The first 8 verses of chapter 21 deal with Sarah finally getting pregnant by Abraham who is now only 100 years young. As such we can be sure that God has fulfilled his promise given in Genesis 17:21
"However, I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this appointed time next year.”"
with it been dutifully fulfilled in Genesis 21 verse 2
"So Sarah became pregnant and then bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time God had promised him."
I bring this prophecy fulfillment up as it is meant to lend credibility to future prophecies, after all it shows us that the Biblical prophecies are fulfilled. Yes, I am well aware that it is self fulfillment, but I believe it does give an understanding as to why believers are so adamant that prophecies of the end of times will come true.

Naturally this birth and pregnancy story is completely logical as Sarah was only 90 years old. Just kidding its not logical as it would make her the oldest mother ever to have lived. I have heard however that one way to get around this (i.e. apologetics) is to realize that people lived longer in those days as such we should not be surprised that Sarah was giving birth at such an old age. this line of reasoning then does away with claims of miracles and makes the Bible apparently more rational. The problem with this line of reasoning is that it contradicts the Bible as even Abraham and Sarah thought it was absurd that he and she would be parents at such an old age.
"Then Sarah said: “God has brought me laughter; everybody hearing of it will laugh with me.” And she added: “Who would have said to Abraham, ‘Sarah will certainly nurse children’? Yet, I have given birth to a son for him in his old age.”"

So we are left with the dubious claim that Abraham and Sarah lived to and fathered a child at ages that are beyond anything expected of that time never mind this day and age.

Now if you may remember from Genesis 16 that Sarah was a despicable person when it came to her treatment of the pregnant Hagar. Well her rage is back again and now it is worse as the older brother Ishmael was teasing the younger precious mommy's boy Isaac. It was for this reason that she approaches Abraham and asks him to banish Hagar and Ishmael for Ishmael acting like a normal big brother.
"So she said to Abraham: “Drive out this slave girl and her son, for the son of this slave girl is not going to be an heir along with my son, with Isaac!”"
Remarkably this time Abraham is not on board with his wife's psychotic behavior as he feels Ishmael, but not Hagar, deserves to stay,
"But what she said about his son was very displeasing to Abraham."
However, in this fight Sarah has another morally bankrupt person on her side who decides that Hagar and Ishmael should go.
"Then God said to Abraham: “Do not be displeased by what Sarah is saying to you about the boy and about your slave girl. Listen to her,for what will be called your offspring will be through Isaac."
For lack of a better expression "Jesus Christ!". This is meant to be a good benevolent God who is always on Abraham's side even when his side is very dubious. As such we have to wonder about this God character and think long and hard about his personality and if this is someone who deserves praise.

So Abraham listens to God and sends Hagar in Ishmael of into the wild with a bottle of water and some bread.
"So Abraham got up early in the morning and took bread and a skin bottle of water and gave it to Haʹgar. He set these on her shoulder and then sent her away along with the boy. So she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beʹer-sheʹba."
Now from above we see Abraham disagreeing with Sarah about sending these two away, so surely we would expect him to at least care for them when he sends them away. You know perhaps give them a few cattle, slaves, a tent etc. after all Ishmael is his son. But that is not old psycho Abraham's style who trusts God so perfectly. Needless to say after a near death experience Hagar and Ishmael are rescued by God and everything turns out well for them.
"....“I do not want to watch the boy die.” So she sat down at a distance and began to cry aloud and to weep. At that God heard the voice of the boy, ........Get up, lift the boy a......for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the skin bottle with water and gave the boy a drink."
Granted I am not sure why God needed to hear the voice of a dying child to intervene but I am glad he did after all it is his bleeding fault that Ishmael almost died in the first place. The one thing I do not understand is that there are many dying and crying children in the world today and God honestly could not care less.

The versus 22 - 34 of Genesis 21 deal with Abraham and the Philistine king and the argument they have over the proprietorship of a well. This story which seems like a filler is actually very interesting as it starts with the Philistine king asking Abraham to promise by his God that any interactions they have will be fair and honest. Also, it implies that the Philistines (at least of that time) were a God fearing people just like Abraham and his group, after all why would you ask someone to swear by a God if you did not have similar beliefs.
"“God is with you in everything you are doing. So now swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me and with my offspring and with my descendants, and that you will deal with me and with the land where you have been residing with the same loyal love that I have shown you.” So Abraham said: “I swear to this.”"
Now here is the kicker, Abraham then complains that the Philistines have illegally taken a well from him.
"However, Abraham complained to A·bimʹe·lech about the well of water that the servants of A·bimʹe·lech had violently seized."
As aside note the Bible does not say whose well it is, but we can trust that it is Abraham's well after all he would never lie as he has just made a promise to deal fairly and justly with the Philistines. Remember this is the same Abraham that has lied twice about his wife not being his, so I think his word would not mean anything after all he actually lied to the Philistines that Sarah was not his wife.Genesis 20:2 "Abraham repeated concerning his wife Sarah: “She is my sister.” So A·bimʹe·lech king of Geʹrar sent for Sarah and took her."

So from this we can ascertain that either 1) the Philistines are as dumb as two short planks, 2) that Abraham is lying about the well, 3) or the Bible is making shit up. Now we all know 3) is true, but I think in fact Abraham is lying. I base this on the fact that why would he deem it necessary to give the Philistines a gift if he was not trying to smooth something over?
"A·bimʹe·lech said to Abraham: “Why have you set these seven female lambs here by themselves?” Then he said: “You are to accept the seven female lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”"
All in all, this to me proves that God has favorites as he could just as well told these two God fearing people to share the well.

Genesis 21 what a trip, see you next time

All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website