Susquehanna Morning

Susquehanna Morning

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lent 11: Sarah: What, Again?!?

Detail "Sarah Taken to Pharaoh's Palace," Tissot


In Genesis Chapter 20 (you can read it here), Abraham once again pulls the "she's my sister" thing, and Sarah once again is taken into the keeping of a king who thinks she's quite a dish. At ninety.

And you know what? I know some gorgeous ninety-year-old women. I don't doubt Sarah's allure one bit.


Now that that's out of my system...

These wife-sister stories (as the scholars call them) betray an enormous amount of anxiety of the issue of succession and legitimacy.

This story differs from the first in a number of ways, but here are the most significant:

In the the earlier version (blogpost here), it is possible... even likely... that Sarai (as she was still called then) did indeed have sexual relations with the Pharaoh. In this version, great pains are taken to demonstrate that Sarah did not have relations with Abimelech... which is helpful to the overall story, because the very. next. thing. is the announcement of Sarah's pregnancy and the birth of Isaac.

When Abimelech calls Abraham out on his deception, Abe drops mic with the following:

Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. ~ Genesis 20:11-12

Oh, biblical times. 

W. Sibley Towner, with a straight face, says, "At least he is not a liar." (Westminster Bible Companion).

Just look at Sarah's face. 

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