Bible Family values, Part 7: Marriage is between one man, one woman… another man, and his many, many other wives.


20 Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the South country (the Negeb) and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur; and he lived temporarily in Gerar.

2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah [into his harem].

Good to know your status in the world, eh, Sarah?

Abraham lies about Sarah being his sister and then sells/gives her away to the local chieftain to be his bride without a word of protest or objection. And Sarah goes along with it. I mean… I guess if I were here and my husband that I thought loved me was ready to just trade me to another man, I’d be pretty angry about it and probably want to leave him, but… wow.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said, Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken [as your own], for she is a man’s wife.

4 But Abimelech had not come near her, so he said, Lord, will you slay a people who are just and innocent?

5 Did not the man tell me, She is my sister? And she herself said, He is my brother. In integrity of heart and innocency of hands I have done this.

6 Then God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know you did this in the integrity of your heart, for it was I Who kept you back and spared you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not give you occasion to touch her.

7 So now restore to the man his wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her [to him], know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.

This is a weird passage and one that seems pretty common in the Old Testament where Yahweh shows up and is ready to pronounce judgment upon someone, but is talked out of it to the point where He relents.

I mean, the first thing God supposedly tells Abimelech is “I’m going to kill you for taking another man’s wife.” Seems pretty clear and final.

But Abimelech protests and says, “Hey, I really had no idea and thought she was single. Her husband lied to me.”

And God says, “Yeah, I know. Okay, maybe not so much with the death thing, just send her home and have the guy pray for you and we’re good.”

Of course, if God really did know that Abimelech took Sarah thinking she was single and didn’t realize he was sinning, why is the first thing He says to the man, “I’m going to kill you…”

8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things; and the men were exceedingly filled with reverence and fear.

9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, What have you done to us? And how have I offended you that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me what ought not to be done [to anyone].

10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, What did you see [in us] that [justified] you in doing such a thing as this?

11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely there is no reverence or fear of God at all in this place, and they will slay me because of my wife.

12 But truly, she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father but not of my mother; and she became my wife.

13 When God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, This kindness you can show me: at every place we stop, say of me, He is my brother.

Abimelech is rightly angry with Abraham and wants an explanation. Abraham says, “Well… you’re filthy godless pagans who I thought would murder me for my pretty wife, so my bad.”

Abimelech: Hey… thanks, dude… thanks a lot.

14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham and restored to him Sarah his wife.

Gotta love how the human slaves are mentioned right along with the livestock.

15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before you; dwell wherever it pleases you.

16 And to Sarah he said, Behold, I have given this brother of yours a thousand pieces of silver; see, it is to compensate you [for all that has occurred] and to vindicate your honor before all who are with you; before all men you are cleared and compensated.

17 So Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his female slaves, and they bore children,

18 For the Lord had closed fast the wombs of all in Abimelech’s household because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Okay… just how long was Sarah with Abimelech? If they noticed that Abimelech’s haram had stopped having children, that implies months or possibly over a year. In which case… what is up with that? Did Sarah live with this guy as his wife for more than a year? Did Abraham just sort of write her off for that long?

The Old Testament is pretty messed up.

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