Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Genesis 22 and 23: God Tests Father of Multitudes, and Princess Dies

Chapter 22 looks to me to be a completely different story about the Covenant or a sign that God was playing Father of Multitudes. Here God "tests" His chosen man by ordering him to take He Laughs to a mountain and kill him as a human sacrifice and then burn his body on an altar. Father of Multitudes takes his young son He Laughs to the mountain as God has instructed. He laughs asks his old man where the sacrificial animal is, and Father of Multitudes answers that God will provide the lamb. Then Father of Multitudes puts He laughs in a stack of wood and, with a faggot in one hand and a knife in the other, gets set to murder his son.

At the last second, the angel of the Lord calls out and stops Father of Multitudes. God, via the angel, says "for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." God tells Father of Multitudes that "because you have done this thing", He is going to multiply Father of Multitude's descendants and make his seed a blessing to all nations. A ram is found conveniently nearby and slaughtered for the entertainment of God. The chapter finishes with some genealogical remarks about Father of Multitude's brother's family. (I would be surprised if anyone ever gave a sermon centered on verses 20-24. It could be funny what with names like Uz and Buz and Kemuel and Chesed and Hazo and Pildash and Jidlaph.)

Hadn't God already made the promise to Father of Multitudes? Was He about to renege on it, or is this just a case of a series of related stories having been jumbled together? Why wouldn't God know that Father of Multitudes feared Him? The God of Father of Multitudes does not appear to have developed omniscience yet. Also, He Laughs is referred to as Father of Multitudes' "only" son when we know that He Laughs has an older brother Ishmael.

I get the impression that human sacrifice was not unheard of in those days since Father of Multitudes doesn't seem shocked about it. How did he explain these actions to He Laughs, and how much therapy did He Laughs require after his father set out to kill him?

Chapter 23 is taken up with the death of Princess and arrangements for her burial.

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