Bible Study with Itza Crock
II: Abraham's Stinkin'
first really important character I found in the Bible was Abraham. Abraham
is where it all began for Christianity. He struck the first deal with
God. He had children who had children who had children. His seed created
Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and King David. Eventually Abraham’s seed created
Jesus, the centerpiece of Christianity. To demonstrate just how important
Abraham is to history, consider this: Abraham had two sons. His first
son’s name was Ishmael. And just as Isaac’s descendants became Jews
(and ultimately Christians through Jesus), Ishmael’s descendants became
Muslims. When you add the Muslim population of approximately 1.5 billion
to the Christian population of 2 billion, you have a population of more
than half the planet. That’s right, over half the people on the planet
worship a religion that comes from Abraham.
deal (covenant) Abraham made with God changed humanity forever. Christians
believe that God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants that
He would be their God and they would be His people; His chosen
people. God has favorites? God loves one group of children more than
His other children? God is a Racist? Does that make any sense?
be chosen as God’s favorite, Abraham must have been quite a man. He
must have been courageous and compassionate and wise. He must have been
a man like no other. And to be married to such a man, Sarah must have
been something special. Peerless, really.
as I read about Abraham and Sarah, I learned otherwise. I learned that
Abraham was a cowardly racist, and Sarah was a cruel-hearted, spiteful
slave-owner. This is God’s chosen couple?
was born in a place called Ur, located in present day Iraq. He and Sarah
migrated to a place called Canaan, located in present day Israel/Palestine.
In the Bible it says that Abraham went to Canaan because God told him
to. Apparently, God gave the land of Canaan to Abraham and all of his
some point after they moved to Canaan, Abraham and Sarah were forced
by famine to flee to Egypt. As they came upon Egypt, Abraham was concerned
that, because of Sarah’s beauty, the Egyptian Pharaoh would take her
as his own wife. Worse yet, since Sarah was married, the Pharaoh would
likely kill Abraham. Now you would think that Abraham would be pretty
courageous. After all, Abraham had a direct relationship with
God. They spoke together frequently; actual conversations. God guided
Abraham in every major decision of his life. God chose Abraham
as His favorite child and his descendants as His favorite people. God
told Abraham that He would give him a “great nation.” God said He would
bless Abraham and curse those who cursed him. God said He would make
it so that “all the communities of earth” would find “blessing” in Abraham.
you would think that with all of that going for him, the Pharaoh would
pose absolutely no threat to Abraham. It wouldn’t take much courage
at all for Abraham to defy the Pharaoh. You would think that Abraham
would take a stand, protect his wife. But Abraham didn’t take a stand.
Instead, he hid behind Sarah. He begged Sarah to pretend she was his
sister. Then he gave Sarah to the Pharaoh without even objecting. Even
with God at Abraham’s side, Abraham lied and abandoned his wife to protect
himself. When the Pharaoh finally discovered the lie, he didn’t kill
Abraham. Instead, the Pharaoh gave Sarah back to him. By then, Abraham’s
moment for courage had passed.
more about Sarah, I began to appreciate why Abraham would give her up
so easily. Sarah and Abraham had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.
Sarah was unable to conceive so she said to Abraham: “The Lord has kept
me from bearing children. Have intercourse, then, with my maid; perhaps
I shall have sons through her.”
Abraham impregnated Hagar, rather than being appreciative, Sarah became
angry with Hagar. Now, if anyone should be angry it would be Hagar.
She’s the one who was treated like a piece of property. She’s the one
that was forced to have sex with an old man; she was essentially raped.
It was Sarah’s idea, Abraham and Hagar did exactly as they were told,
yet, it was Sarah who was angry. She screamed at Abraham, “You are responsible
for this outrage against me! I myself gave my maid to your embrace,
but ever since she became aware of her pregnancy, she has been looking
on me with disdain. May the Lord decide between you and me!” What a
this should be a pretty easy one to predict. We would all expect Abraham,
the father of over half the globe’s future faiths, to stand up for what
is just and right; to defend Hagar and stand up to Sarah.
To tell Sarah that she was being cruel. But he didn’t do that. Instead,
Abraham said, “Your maid is in your power. Do to her whatever you please.”
And that’s exactly what Sarah did. Sarah began a campaign of abusiveness
due course, Hagar had Abraham’s baby. She named him Ishmael. Then, after
all of the cruelty and shouting and raping and abusiveness, Sarah miraculously
had a son with Abraham. They named Sarah’s son Isaac.
might think that after Sarah succeeded in having a son of her own with
Abraham, Sarah’s heart would soften toward Hagar; at least toward Ishmael.
Wrong again. Sarah only became crueler. “Sarah noticed the son whom
Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing with her son Isaac;
so she demanded of Abraham: ‘Drive out that slave and her son! No son
of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!’”
Again, rather than stand up to Sarah and protect Hagar, Abraham did
the cowardly thing and sent Hagar and his first son, Ishmael, into the
gets better. At the end of his life, Abraham exposed himself as a racist.
On his deathbed, he instructed his senior servant as follows: “I will
make you swear by the God of earth, that you will not procure a wife
for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live. But
that you will go to my own land and to my kindred to get a wife for
my son Isaac.”
was a racist. And why shouldn’t he be? After all, the fact that God
chose Abraham and his descendants as His favorites, over all of His
other children, means that not only was God a bad parent, but a racist,
too. At least, that’s what it means in the eyes of those who believe
the Bible to be the Word of God. It strikes me, so far, that this book
is not the word of God but a slap in His face.