Friday, June 18

Disciple Bible Study: Week 4, Reading 3

I’m participating in Disciple Bible Study, a 34 week intensive. For five days, we have different readings.  I have decided to document my initial noticings from a close reading of the scripture. Well, an attempt at a close reading.

Week 4 Theme:  Covenant

Week 4, Reading 3: Genesis 24-27


  • Chapter 24:  Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
    • The main point here is that it is a betrothal type scene.  Betrothal type scenes are a type of ancient literature in which common elements predict a story line.  You have a hero meeting a maiden at a well (fertility!!).  They get together, go to her family, and then have a feast to celebrate the betrothal.  Something like that.  There is a blog about it here.  The point being, this was a familiar technique to ancient readers.  Therefore, when a story appeared that deviated from the norm, the question becomes, why?  This marriage has plenty of deviations.
      1. The servant goes to find Rebekah, not Isaac.
      2. Rebekah shares her water with the servant.
      3. The servant puts the nose-ring and bracelets on Rebekah.  Binding her to him?
      4. Rebekah and the servant return to her home for a celebration feast.
    • All this leads to the conclusion in verse 67:  "So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death."
    • Conclusion?  Isaac was a namby pamby mama's boy.
  • Chapter25:  Birth of Esau and Jacob
    • I think it is fascinating that (verse 23) two brothers are struggling.  Again!  Cain & Abel.  Isaac & Ishmael.  And now Esau & Jacob.  What does this say about brothers?  Patterns of being in the Bible?
  • Chapter 26:  Isaac and Abimelech
    • v. 6 - Rebekah is presented as Isaac's sister.  Did nobody learn from the stories of Abraham?  A conflation of stories, perhaps?
    • v. 17-33 - There are at least 5 wells here.  I wonder if this is code for fertility somehow.  Especially falling on the heels of the Rebekah/sister scheme.
    • After all, "Isaac sowed seed..." (v. 12)
  • Chapter 27:  Isaac Blesses Jacob
    • v. 8 - Jacob is a mama's boy.
    • v. 24 - "I am."  How many times is "I am" used in Hebrew scripture?  Is this a sideways reference to the divine name?
    • v. 5 - yeah, sure.  The men want to "know" the visitors.  Tsk tsk.
    • v. 8 - Lot offers his daughters.  Well, then.  Lot should go up in smoke with the rest of them.
    • v. 9 - They "press hard against Lot."  Hmm.
    • v. 30 - 38 - Lot's daughters get pregnant by getting Lot drunk.
  • Chapter 20:  Abraham and Sarah at Gerar
    • OK.  Now Sarah is a jillion years old and past menopause.  How can she still be so beautiful that Abraham has to try this trick again?  I am assuming a conflation of stories.
    • I think it is significant that God goes to Pharoah earlier and to Abimilech now and communicates directly with them.  Bypassing Abraham altogether.
    • v. 16 - Abimilech still calling Abraham "brother" at almost the end of the story.
  • Chapter 21:  Birth of Isaac / Ishmael and Hagar sent away
    • v. 1 - this is a promise or covenant directly with Sarah.
    • v. 8 - Isaac weaned.  So about two?  That makes Ishmael at least 15?  He was 13 at the initial circumcision.
    • v. 10 - Sarah says that Ishmael won't inherit along with Isaac.  Well then.  Yes he will.  God takes care of that.
    • v. 13 - Another promise to make a nation of Ishmael.  Is this the second or third time this is stated?
    • v. 15 - 19 - This sounds like Ishmael is a baby.  He has to be about 15.  What is true?  Is this a conflation with the story where Hagar goes into the desert escaping Sarah when she was pregnant?  Maybe some mashing up of stories.
    • v. 20 - God was with the boy.  Just sayin.'
  • Chapter 22:  Sacrifice of Isaac
    • v. 2 - "Take your son, your only son Isaac."  Yeah.  Only son.  *rolls eyes a little bit*  It is pretty clear to me that Abraham is very concerned about Ishmael throughout the story.  He clearly loves Ishmael as well as Isaac.
    • I wonder how old Isaac was.  Seems articulate.  But he is tied up easily.  Seems weird to do that with an older child.
    • v. 12 - God is looking for fear?
    • v. 17 - Statement of the covenant again.  Seems to be about two things.  God will bless Abraham's offspring and Abraham's offspring are to bless the world by being just and righteous.
  • Chapter 23:  Sarah's Death and Burial
    • v. 11-16 - Only the great bargainer, Abraham, could make someone's death funny.  Read it out loud with dramatic voices for Ephron and Abraham.  It is hilarious.  Like two very polite people bargaining over who is going to pay the check in a restaurant.  *chuckle*

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