SDMB weekly Bible Study (SDMBWBS)-Week 13 Genesis 20-22

Welcome to the SDMB weekly Bible Study (SDMBWBS). This week we will be discussing Genesis 20-22. Since the discussion can turn into a very broad and hijackable thread, we would like the following rules to be adhered to:

  1. These SDMBWBS threads are to deal with the books and stories in the Bible as literature. What I’m hoping to achieve is an understanding of the stories, the time in which they were written, context, and possibly its cultural relevance.

  2. While it is up to the individual to choose to believe or disbelieve any portion, that is not to be the discussion of the thread. If you must, please choose to witness/anti-witness in Great Debates.

  3. The intention is to go through the Bible from front to back in order. While different books are needed to be referred to in order to understand context, please try and keep the focus on the thread’s selected chapter(s)/verse(s).

  4. Since different religions have chosen which books to include or omit, the threads will use the Catholic version of 46 Old Testament Books and 27 New Testament Books. It’s encouraged to discuss why a book was included/omitted during the applicable threads only. BibleHub, as far as I know, is a good resource that compiles many different versions of the verses into one page.(Also the SDMB Staff Reports on Who Wrote the Bible). Please feel free to use whatever source you want, including-and even more helpfully-the original language.

  5. Hopefully we can get through these threads with little to no moderation. A gentle reminder that if a poster comes in and ignores these rules, please use the “report post” function instead of responding.

Links to previous threads:
Genesis 1:1 to 2:25
Genesis 3
Genesis 4
Genesis 5-6
Genesis 7-9:17
Genesis 9:18-10:32
Genesis 11
Genesis 12-13
Genesis 14-15
Genesis 16
Genesis 17
Genesis 18-19

We have kind of covered Genesis 20 and the first half of 21 in previous threads, so I felt like overshooting a little bit and doing three in one. Hopefully that’s not too much.

Genesis 20
Abraham and Abimelek

Genesis 21

The Birth of Isaac

Genesis 22
Abraham Tested

NOTE FROM MODERATOR: See Post #25 for text in KJV. – CKDH

I hope that this isn’t considered too much of a hijack, but I have a request to make.

First though, I haven’t posted in any of these threads because I have absolutely nothing of value to add, but I have read every post. Thanks to all of you with knowledge about these things. I really enjoy learning about all of this.

On to my request: Would you guys consider starting another thread focused strictly on The Book of Revelation? That book confuses me so much. I can’t make heads or tails of it and it frightened me terribly when I was a child.

I’m 57, so I’m in a little bit of a hurry to get to that book.


Chapter 20 is rerun of Sarai and the Pharaoh, with some minor variations. The tale told in Chapter 12 is thought to be J, and this one’s E.

In the Qu’ran, Ishmael is the one nearly sacrificed.

The Book of Genesis does not tell the age of Isaac at the time. While it is often presented that Isaac was a small child, verse 6 of Chapter 22 indicates that Isaac was at least grown enough to walk alongside Abraham up the mountain carrying the load of wood that his father had gathered (22:6). The Talmudic sages teach that Isaac was thirty-seven, likely based on the next biblical story, which is of Sarah’s death at 127, being 90 when Isaac was born. Bishop Ussher’s chronology places Isaac at about 20 years of age. Isaac, as a young man, is sometimes depicted as a prophetic type for Jesus by being shown carrying the wood for his own sacrifice.

Genesis 22:14 states that it occurred at “the mount of the LORD”. 2 Chronicles 3:1; Psalm 24:3; Isaiah 2:3 & 30:29; and Zechariah 8:3, identify the location of this event as the hill on which Solomon was said to later build the Temple, now known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Francesca Stavrakopoulou has speculated that it is possible that the story "contains traces of a tradition in which Abraham does sacrifice Isaac. Richard Elliott Friedman in his *The Bible With Sources Revealed *has argued that in the original E story Abraham may have carried out the sacrifice of Isaac, but that later repugnance at the idea of a human sacrifice led the redactor of JE to add the lines in which a ram is substituted for Isaac.

In Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, the literary critic Erich Auerbach considers the Hebrew narrative of the Binding of Isaac, along with Homer’s description of Odysseus’s scar, as the two paradigmatic models for the representation of reality in literature. Auerbach contrasts Homer’s attention to detail and foregrounding of the spatial, historical, as well as personal contexts for events to the Bible’s sparse account, in which virtually all context is kept in the background or left outside of the narrative. As Auerbach observes, this narrative strategy virtually compels readers to add their own interpretations to the text.

It would take more than a couple lines about a ram to make such a drastic change. Later chapters depict Isaac as a man dying of old age, so blind and senile that Jacob is able to trick Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing. How does Friedman get around that?

His hypothesis is for a second son for Abraham and Sarah. This one doesn’t get called to be a sacrifice, and the story can continue. IMHO, he doesn’t make a very convincing argument.

Prof. Pepperwinkle:

I’d love to know where they could possibly get this idea from. I say this not as a Biblical believer (which you all know I am) but as someone who knows that such alternate versions do not exist, at least within present knowledge. “Traces of” WHAT “tradition”?

I have read the explanation of how the story of the near-sacrifice of Isaac reflects the change from human to animal sacrifice, but never any suggestion that the story had been changed or that there was a version where Isaac really gets the knife. Did Friedman say what his source was?


Why is Isaac referred to as his only son here?

Because Isaac is the only one G-d will recognize as Abraham’s seed (see Genesis 21:12, quoted at the beginning of this thread). Isaac was (at the time) the only child born to Abraham after G-d changed his name and made the covenant with him.

They’re both very big on studying Form Criticism, and on suppositions in the Oral Tradition. Neither has an actual source, but are looking at ways the story may have gone at some point in time. As I said, I’m not convinced either.

Yet God says in verse 13 that he will make Ishmael into a nation because he is Abraham’s offspring.

But the further extension of the Abrahamic covenant is explicitly granted to Isaac, not Ishmael.

God very clearly intended for Abraham to not find a way to weasel his way out of this one as he tried to pull technicalities about almost selling out his wife (again, sigh) to a foreign ruler. (“Well, you know, she really is my sister, so I’m not lying per se…”)

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac…” Note the increasing specification, and then the naming of Isaac, just so Abraham can be quadruple sure.

There’s a lot of symbolism and imagery that is just plain lost to us modern folk because nobody from that age is around to explain it any more, but here’s the short version: Jesus wins. :smiley:

Sorry this isn’t about the Bible itself, but the thread in general.

I’ve been holding my tongue here, but this recent ATMB thread has made me even more wary about this. I think it’s a bit dangerous to be quoting so much of the NIV, from a legal perspective.

The simple requirements just say that you can’t use more than 500 verses or an entire book, which will already be a problem once we get to the shorter books.

But it gets worse if you go to Zondervan’s website. There are two problematic provisions. The first says “The verses are not being quoted in a commentary or other biblical reference work,” and these threads are arguably “a commentary.” More problematic is the second provision: “The Fair Use Guidelines do not apply to Phone Applications, other New Media Platforms (websites, etc.) or Gift Products.” With websites listed, it seems that these provisions do not count online, which would mean we go back to the standard definition of Fair Use–and that is quite murky.

I’m not reporting it as a copyvio or anything, but, I think that, to avoid potential problems in the future, we may want to quote from one of the various free modern English versions of the Bible instead, like maybe the World English Version or the New English Version (which has copious notes).

As for the text, I’d say that, this time, Abraham is actually chastised for what he did, by Abimalek. It’s not presented as the worst sin ever, as Abraham apparently had good intentions, but it is presented as something Abraham should not have done. Abraham had to explain what he did, and he has to perform an action (prayer) to fix the problem.

So I agree with dotchan’s interpretation that this is regarded as a failure of Abraham.

Good idea and thanks for the heads up. I had never ever possibly conceived that the Bible could have been copyrighted.

[the legal issue/]

BigT: You’re conflating a copyright violation with a violation of that website’s Terms of Use. Terms of Use cannot restrict the fair use of copyrighted work. I think you’d have a hard time arguing that quoting from an online bible for the purposes of bible study isn’t fair use. Not sure if there’s a SDMB position on violation of another websites Terms of Use.

ETA: Also the second suggested website has similar re-posting prohibitions.
[/the legal issue]

Great series of threads guys. Been a pleasure to read.

MODERATOR HAT ON: I will run the “fair usage” question by our legal beagles and see what they say.

No, I’m not. The terms of use are based on the Copyright rules for the NIV itself. I just forgot to link the Zondervan copyright rules.

As for the second website, I agree the terms of use are irrelevant, as the license for the text itself allows for free reuse. More info at Wikipedia.

You’re wrong in both respects, but let’s end the hijack here. PM me if you want an explanation.