Reading through the Bible: day 20

I went on a church camp this weekend to a place where I couldn’t get a decent web connection. Hence the missing days, I will be catching up with my posts over the next couple of days. I did stick to the readings, it was just getting posts up that was an issue.

Genesis 25 – 26 1 Chronicles 1;28-54

What kind of a wife?

What stands out immediately is that Abraham took another “wife” which is given as a “concubine” in Chronicles. It’s unclear what a concubine really is, if not some kind of a wife. Obviously the relationship between Abraham and Keturah was more like the relationship between Abraham and Sarah than the relationship between Abraham and Hagar. Perhaps she was listed as a concubine by the chronicler simply because he wished to emphasise that she didn’t hold as priviledged a place as Sarah (who was the mother of the promised bloodline) and was thus seen as a secondary wife. Many polygamous societies have a ranking system for the wives, and it is likely that concubines are simply wives of very low rank.

Since I brought up polygamous societies, I may as well point out that the New Testament is against polygamy, and this puts it at odds with the Patriarchs and Israel’s later rulers. I don’t feel a need to say much about this until we get to where Jesus addresses the issue, and then things can be cleared up. Until then, let’s just accept that men did marry more than one women. Obviously we don’t actually have a polygamy issue here, since Sarah died prior to Abraham’s marriage to Keturah.

Playing favourites

Isaac loved Esau more and Rebekah loved Jacob more. I don’t think this is a really uncommon thing, parents have favourites. It’s just the way things tend to play out over the next couple of chapters that is really disturbing. The big issue, which I will address much later is God’s feelings toward Esau, which are revealed only in Romans.

The really silly thing here is Esau selling his birthright for a less than interesting meal (that must have been history’s most expensive mess of pottage/plate of lentils). The point though, I suppose, is that Esau wasn’t much interested in his birthright, being his father’s favourite son likely lulled him into a false sense of security that he’d get everything even without owning the birthright. It’s really difficult to say, but some say this is entirely absurd and would never have happened, but humans do stupid things, so I doubt absurdity is a good reason to rule it out.

The same old lie

So Isaac managed to fool the same king his father did with the same lie. This may sound crazy, but one wouldn’t expect to get the same lie from a father and son in the first instance, and Abimelech had no reason to doubt Isaac, so it’s possible.

What’s in a name

The apparent contradiction caused by Genesis 26:33 when compared to Genesis 21:3 is actually quite simple. Abraham named Beersheba, and then Isaac called the place (unsurprisingly) by the same name his father did. I live in a town I call Estcourt, but a whole lot of other people call it Estcourt too, none of us are responsible for naming it. The fact that 26:33 tells us it retained that name until the time of writing hardly seems to cause any problems either: Abraham named it, Isaac called it by the same name, and so did a bunch of other people.

What are your thoughts on these scriptures?

Don’t forget to share the reading through the Bible page with anyone who you think would like to give it a shot. Also give it a look if you’ve just stumbled in on this page.

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