This weeks post will be delayed for a day or two because of illness. Sorry for any inconvenience.
You will find an introduction and outline of Genesis, here.
A prayer of John Calvin to use before you read:
May the Lord grant that we may engage in the heavenly contemplation of the mysteries of God’s heavenly wisdom with ever increasing devotion to God’s glory and our edification. Amen.
II. The Story of Abraham 12:1-25:18
E. 20:1-22:24 Abraham, Sarah, Isaac
21:1-7 The Birth of Isaac: Finally, Isaac is born. A rather straightforward telling of this long anticipated event.
21:8-21 Hagar and Ishmael: Once again there are problems between both of Abraham’s families. How is this incident similar to and different from before? (ch 16) Why do you think God “agrees” with Sarah? Is is necessary for Abraham to choose between his sons? Notice that even though Ishmael is not the “chosen” one, God still provides for Ishmael.
21:22-34 Abraham and Abimelech: We first met Abimelech in chapter 20. What sort of person is Abimelech? Is this an example of how non-Israelites and Israel are to treat each other?
22:1-19 The Testing of Abraham: This story is always difficult to read. There is much that could be discussed. We will only raise a few points for consideration, the resources listed below offer a more in depth analysis. Notice the ways this story mirrors the story of Ishmael in chapter 21. Notice that just as Abraham trusts God, Isaac trusts his father and God. Abraham obeys because he trusts God (verse 8). Abraham is commanded to present his son “on the altar”, making this not murder but a religious act. For modern persons, the ancient sacrificial system is difficult to understand, but that is the context of this story. What is a stake for Abraham in this story? What is a stake for God in this story?
22:20-24 The genealogy of Rebekah’s family.
F. 23:1-25:18 The death of Sarah, wooing of Rebekah, and the death of Abraham
23:1-20: Abraham buys land in Canaan: This story appears to reflect the way property was bought and sold in those days. In addition to Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah will be buried here.
24:1-67: The wooing of Rebekah. There will be other stories of meetings at wells which result in marriage (Gen 29 and Exodus 2) Notice the echoes of Abraham’s story, both as it is retold to Rebekah and her family and in Rebekah’s response, (v 58, I will go.) Rebekah, like Abraham leaves family and homeland.
The following are several good general reference works to aid your reading of the Torah.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, “Understanding the Old Testament” Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Keck, Leander E., ed. “The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1. (Nashville”Abingdon Press) 1994.
Mays, James L. ed. “HarperCollins Bible Commentary” (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
Metzger, Bruce M., Roland E. Murphy, eds. “The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books” (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.
Plaut, W. Gunther, ed. “The Torah: A Modern Commentary” (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations) 1981.