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Friday, January 20, 2017

Gen. 25-26 (reboot)

In this passage we learn about Abraham's second family after Sarah.  They all do alright becoming the fathers of nations.  Gen. 25:1-4.  Ishmael comes back to bury Abraham in the tomb that Abraham bought from the Hittites for Sarah.  So, that is kind of sweet.  We learn that Ishmael's descendants also form twelve tribes Gen. 15:12-18. 

Then we get another story of two sons.  This time from the same womb.  Spoiler alert: the first son is not the favorite.  Then, we get this reboot of the my-wife-is-my-sister trope.  Gen. 26.  In fact, this time, it is with one of the kings that Abraham did this to, Abimelek. Cf. Gen. 20.  Also, the whole reason Isaac has taken the crew there is out of hunger.

So, with both the Philistines and the Egyptians we have stories of the patriarchs going to the country, being somewhat deceptive with them, and at least with the Philistines, living together for some time after that in mutual harmony.  This, to me, is an interesting theme to have repeated in our sacred stories.  As is the theme of the oldest son not being the most favored son.  Did the Hebrews have an inferiority complex?

4 comments:

Matt Dick said...

This "favored second son" thing reads to me as if the Hebrews were seeing themselves as the new ethnic group on the block. So "Yeah, you Egyptians are definitely older than us, but our god like us better than he like you and your older gods."

JimII said...

That's an interesting theory. It makes senses. It's curious because the still talk a lot about the first born. I notice it more because "primogénito" is a pretty tough word when reading in Spanish.

That gives support to your idea. That is, they see the significance of being first born but celebrate the second born as a nod to their view of themselves.

It would be interesting to read some scholarly work on it.

Matt Dick said...

It kind of fits in with the whole "Adam" and "Eve" as groups of people rather than individuals, which I've read about as a theory. No idea how supported this is, just a thing to think about.

JimII said...

I mean, who knows, but that seems pretty crazy to me. Adam is Hebrew for "man" and sounds like the Hebrew word for ground, "adamah." Eve in Hebrew is "life." Actually all the stories in Genesis 1-11 seem to me to read very, very much like fables. It is tough for me to see how these tales could relate, allegorically or otherwise, to prehistoric people from 3000 BCE, or so.

That said, I still secretly hold out for T-Rex or T-Rex bones or something to be the origin of dragons in culture. The boy just shakes his head when I suggest such things.