If Abraham was so great, why was he constantly prostituting his wife?


#1

Every single time they show up in a new city, he's all "Tell them you're my sister and go sleep with the king!" What the heck is up with that? Why is he portrayed as this great guy who went to Heaven? From the way the Bible describes it, the only good thing he did was being willing to kill Isaac, but in retrospect, it's quite possible he did it to save his own skin out of fear of God. After all, he was constantly telling his wife to sleep with random people to save his own life. Am I missing something here?


#2

Yes, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was customary at the time to do stuff like this. Kind of like Abraham having a kid with Hagar when Sarah didn't have children.


#3

[quote="sowinskija, post:2, topic:314438"]
Yes, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was customary at the time to do stuff like this. Kind of like Abraham having a kid with Hagar when Sarah didn't have children.

[/quote]

But it still doesn't make it right and moral to do so. Modern day it would be counted as mortal sin. Good question. But almost most of the chosen ones in the Old testament had flaws like that. (We all do) It just shows how God can choose literally anybody and how just perfect Jesus is.


#4

[quote="rafarose, post:3, topic:314438"]
But it still doesn't make it right and moral to do so. Modern day it would be counted as mortal sin. Good question. But almost most of the chosen ones in the Old testament had flaws like that. (We all do) It just shows how God can choose literally anybody and how just perfect Jesus is.

[/quote]

New Testament "chosen ones" had flaws too. Our first Pope, St. Peter, denied Jesus 3 times.


#5

Yes, you’re definitely missing the point of it all.

Abram never told Sarai, “go sleep with the king.” Rather, he realized that if the pharaoh/king saw Sarai, he would want to take her as his wife. So, Abram has a choice: let them know that he is married to her, at which point they kill him and (legally) take her as a wife – if this happens, of course, he’s dead and she has no recourse; or, lie and say that they’re brother and sister. If that happens, Sarai’s no worse off, but Abram’s still alive (and putatively, will have the opportunity to make things right). The accounts seem to imply that there is divine punishment for adultery, so it’s almost as if Abram’s trying to trick them – if they (unjustly) take Sarai away from him, then they lead themselves into adultery and into becoming cursed.

In both cases, God intervenes, letting the pharaoh/king know that he’s about to make a big mistake; in the process, God’s essentially saving Abram.

However, in neither case is Abram saying, “take my wife… please!” Rather, recognizing that he can’t keep it from happening, he’s trying to find a way to escape from the impending injustice. :wink:

Blessings,

G.


#6

[quote="rafarose, post:3, topic:314438"]
But it still doesn't make it right and moral to do so. Modern day it would be counted as mortal sin. Good question. But almost most of the chosen ones in the Old testament had flaws like that. (We all do) It just shows how God can choose literally anybody and how just perfect Jesus is.

[/quote]

Yes. I mean, I could understand if Abraham had a bit of human weakness here and there, but the man was out of control. I've been reading Genesis lately, and it's really quite shocking. He's pretty much doing this sort of thing all the time, without provocation even. At one point, one of the rulers finds out about it before he actually sleeps with Sarah and he brings in Abe and is like "Dude, wtf? Why didn't you just tell me she was your wife? What's wrong with you?" In a comedic movie I would imagine Abraham just looking at the camera and smiling, shrugging his shoulders with an "Aw shucks, I just got totally busted!" Kind of attitude.

Is there something about this I don't understand because this seems really bizarre.


#7

[quote="LaSainte, post:1, topic:314438"]
Every single time they show up in a new city, he's all "Tell them you're my sister and go sleep with the king!" What the heck is up with that? Why is he portrayed as this great guy who went to Heaven? From the way the Bible describes it, the only good thing he did was being willing to kill Isaac, but in retrospect, it's quite possible he did it to save his own skin out of fear of God. After all, he was constantly telling his wife to sleep with random people to save his own life. Am I missing something here?

[/quote]

Such an occurance is shown only twice in Scripture (Gen 12:10-20 and Gen 20:1-13). What is beautiful to note is how God intervened to prevent any defilement from occurring.

There are a couple of points to keep in mind:
1) Abraham lived some 400-600 years before Moses. God had not yet given His Ten Commandments to mankind.

2) The commands God did give to Abraham were obeyed by Abraham.

3) Abraham was not lying when he said Sarah was his sister - she was his half sister.
(Gen. 20:12 "Besides, she is in truth my sister, but only my father's daughter, not my mother's; ) Obviously, later laws regarding incest had also not yet been revealed to fallen mankind at the time of Abraham.


#8

[quote="Gorgias, post:5, topic:314438"]
Yes, you're definitely missing the point of it all.

Abram never told Sarai, "go sleep with the king." Rather, he realized that if the pharaoh/king saw Sarai, he would want to take her as his wife. So, Abram has a choice: let them know that he is married to her, at which point they kill him and (legally) take her as a wife -- if this happens, of course, he's dead and she has no recourse; or, lie and say that they're brother and sister. If that happens, Sarai's no worse off, but Abram's still alive (and putatively, will have the opportunity to make things right). The accounts seem to imply that there is divine punishment for adultery, so it's almost as if Abram's trying to trick them -- if they (unjustly) take Sarai away from him, then they lead themselves into adultery and into becoming cursed.

In both cases, God intervenes, letting the pharaoh/king know that he's about to make a big mistake; in the process, God's essentially saving Abram.

However, in neither case is Abram saying, "take my wife... please!" Rather, recognizing that he can't keep it from happening, he's trying to find a way to escape from the impending injustice. ;)

Blessings,

G.

[/quote]

.

Ok. Maybe some things are just lost in the delivery of the story because of a lack of detail. I can't imagine my husband being quite so cavalier about the whole thing, haha. For some reason he just comes off as kind of a coward, but there must be more to it than that because he was hand-picked by God to be the father of His chosen people.

An, the good Ole Old Testament! This is why I prefer the new one :)


#9

Wow God really let people play it fast and loose back then huh :slight_smile: Basically as long as you didn’t eat certain apples or kill your brother, you were ok! Simpler times…

Seriously though, even when God does intervene to keep Sarah from being defiled (not like Abraham was going to do anything in that department), it is stated that the sin would have been on the ruler, even though he had NO IDEA that she was married! Meanwhile, Abraham is standing on the sidelines like “Whew! That was a close one! I could have been killed!”

I have to give it to Sarah. She was pretty understanding and talk about taking one for the team! If my husband tried to pull that I’d be more than a little ticked off.


#10

[quote="LaSainte, post:9, topic:314438"]
Seriously though, even when God does intervene to keep Sarah from being defiled (not like Abraham was going to do anything in that department)

[/quote]

OK -- put yourself in Abram's shoes. You and your wife walk into Egypt, 'cause there's a famine in the land, and there's nowhere else to go to in order to get food. You know that, as soon as they find out that you two are married, they're gonna lop off your head and steal your wife and defile her. Your choices: leave Egypt and die of hunger; stay in Egypt and get killed (while Sarai lives but is taken as Pharoah's wife); stay in Egypt and stay alive (while Sarai also lives and is still taken as Pharoah's wife). Sooo... what do you suggest that you do?

, it is stated that the sin would have been on the ruler, even though he had NO IDEA that she was married!

psst... here's a clue: is there any way to tell a married woman from a virgin? After all, Sarai is purported to be a virtuous unmarried woman. I'm guessing Pharoah would have figured it out on his own. ;)

I have to give it to Sarah. She was pretty understanding and talk about taking one for the team! If my husband tried to pull that I'd be more than a little ticked off.

Again, you're missing it: there's no difference in Sarai's fate depending on whether Abram says "I'm her husband" or "I'm her brother". Are you not seeing that? :rolleyes:


#11

[quote="Gorgias, post:10, topic:314438"]
OK -- put yourself in Abram's shoes. You and your wife walk into Egypt, 'cause there's a famine in the land, and there's nowhere else to go to in order to get food. You know that, as soon as they find out that you two are married, they're gonna lop off your head and steal your wife and defile her. Your choices: leave Egypt and die of hunger; stay in Egypt and get killed (while Sarai lives but is taken as Pharoah's wife); stay in Egypt and stay alive (while Sarai also lives and is still taken as Pharoah's wife). Sooo... what do you suggest that you do?

psst... here's a clue: is there any way to tell a married woman from a virgin? After all, Sarai is purported to be a virtuous unmarried woman. I'm guessing Pharoah would have figured it out on his own. ;)

Again, you're missing it: there's no difference in Sarai's fate depending on whether Abram says "I'm her husband" or "I'm her brother". Are you not seeing that? :rolleyes:

[/quote]

No I get what you're saying, but first of all, I would rather be dead than sleep with some nasty guy who wasn't my husband. Second of all, the difference is just in the way Abraham takes it. My husband would rather die defending my honor than go on living knowing he just handed me over to be basically raped.

I'm just having a hard time seeing Abraham as this great guy everyone makes him out to be when he didn't even have the guts to defend his wife.

Instead he treats her like a commodity.


#12

[quote="LaSainte, post:11, topic:314438"]
My husband would rather die defending my honor than go on living knowing he just handed me over to be basically raped.

[/quote]

OK... so you would rather that he die, unsuccessfully defending your honor, than stay alive and have a chance to save you? Hmm... :hmmm:

Instead he treats her like a commodity.

In the 21st century, that's a reasonable way to look at it. Way back then, 'commodity' may not be too unrealistic a way to look at it.

Are we going to castigate Abram for not having 21st-century sensibilities? That's hardly fair... ;)


#13

[quote="LaSainte, post:11, topic:314438"]
No I get what you're saying, but first of all, I would rather be dead than sleep with some nasty guy who wasn't my husband. Second of all, the difference is just in the way Abraham takes it. My husband would rather die defending my honor than go on living knowing he just handed me over to be basically raped.

I'm just having a hard time seeing Abraham as this great guy everyone makes him out to be when he didn't even have the guts to defend his wife.

[/quote]

She was gonna be sleeping with him in any event if he so wished - not like she was going to be given any choice.

Abraham's death would not have helped her in any way. By staying alive, however, he was in fact able to help by clearing the misunderstanding.

Faced with a choice between a) being raped and b) having my husband killed and THEN being raped, of course I would prefer the option that allows my husband to live.

Besides which, Abraham had serious trust in God, which God rewards in this case as in the case where Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac.


#14

[quote="sowinskija, post:2, topic:314438"]
Yes, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was customary at the time to do stuff like this. Kind of like Abraham having a kid with Hagar when Sarah didn't have children.

[/quote]

These three instances show Abraham's lack of faith in God's promise that he would be the father of a great nation. Abraham doesn't lie when he tells people Sarah is his sister, they had the same father. But neglects to tell them they are married. Taking matters into his own hands hoping to save his life. Abraham didn't trust in God to protect him before Sarah bore him a child.
With Hagar, Abraham again tries to take matters into his own hands to fulfill the promise through his own actions. The result is turmoil in the family and a father has to send away an eldest son; tough to do no matter the relationship with the mother. So, Abraham's life, like all our lives, has a few object lessons about not trusting in God.


#15

[quote="stevekehl, post:14, topic:314438"]
These three instances show Abraham's lack of faith in God's promise that he would be the father of a great nation. Abraham doesn't lie when he tells people Sarah is his sister, they had the same father. But neglects to tell them they are married. Taking matters into his own hands hoping to save his life. Abraham didn't trust in God to protect him before Sarah bore him a child.
With Hagar, Abraham again tries to take matters into his own hands to fulfill the promise through his own actions. The result is turmoil in the family and a father has to send away an eldest son; tough to do no matter the relationship with the mother. So, Abraham's life, like all our lives, has a few object lessons about not trusting in God.

[/quote]

True!


#16

[quote="Gorgias, post:12, topic:314438"]
OK... so you would rather that he die, unsuccessfully defending your honor, than stay alive and have a chance to save you? Hmm... :hmmm:

In the 21st century, that's a reasonable way to look at it. Way back then, 'commodity' may not be too unrealistic a way to look at it.

Are we going to castigate Abram for not having 21st-century sensibilities? That's hardly fair... ;)

[/quote]

No I wouldn't want my husband to die, but I think we would both go down swinging anyway :) I mean, Christianity is rife with all these heroic martyrs like St. Agnes who would rather be stripped naked and beheaded than lose her virginity, and Abraham is out there throwing around his wife's virtue like so much chattel. If every time they go to a new town she has to become a "lady of the night", then perhaps they should just stay in one place. Like another poster said, he didn't trust in God's promise enough to stand up for what was right.

He just seems kind of below average in a lot of ways that's all. I'm kind of wondering what all the fuss is about.


#17

[quote="stevekehl, post:14, topic:314438"]
....With Hagar, Abraham again tries to take matters into his own hands to fulfill the promise through his own actions. The result is turmoil in the family and a father has to send away an eldest son; tough to do no matter the relationship with the mother....

[/quote]

Abraham's relationship with Hagar didn't come about because he reasoned he had to take matters into his own hands -- it came about because his wife requested it. The lack of trust started with her. Unfortunately, like Adam, Abraham chose to listen to his wife and do as she requested.

Gen. 16:1-2 Now Sar'ai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar; and Sar'ai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sar'ai.

BTW, I'm a woman and a wife. As such, there are lessons to be learned from Scripture. Among them to realize the influence we have with our spouses because of their love or us, and therefore to be careful that any requests we make of them are in conformity with God's will.


#18

He just seems kind of below average in a lot of ways that's all. I'm kind of wondering what all the fuss is about.

Gen 18: 20 Then Yahweh said, 'The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grave, 21 that I shall go down and see whether or not their actions are at all as the outcry reaching me would suggest. Then I shall know.' 22 While the men left there and went to Sodom, Yahweh remained in Abraham's presence. 23 Abraham stepped forward and said, 'Will you really destroy the upright with the guilty? 24 Suppose there are fifty upright people in the city. Will you really destroy it? Will you not spare the place for the sake of the fifty upright in it? 25 Do not think of doing such a thing: to put the upright to death with the guilty, so that upright and guilty fare alike! Is the judge of the whole world not to act justly?' 26 Yahweh replied, 'If I find fifty upright people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place because of them.' 27 Abraham spoke up and said, 'It is presumptuous of me to speak to the Lord, I who am dust and ashes: 28 Suppose the fifty upright were five short? Would you destroy the whole city because of five?' 'No,' he replied, 'I shall not destroy it if I find forty-five there.' 29 Abraham persisted and said, 'Suppose there are forty to be found there?' 'I shall not do it,' he replied, 'for the sake of the forty.' 30 Abraham said, 'I hope the Lord will not be angry if I go on: Suppose there are only thirty to be found there?' 'I shall not do it,' he replied, 'if I find thirty there.' 31 He said, 'It is presumptuous of me to speak to the Lord: Suppose there are only twenty there?' 'I shall not destroy it,' he replied, 'for the sake of the twenty.' 32 He said, 'I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.' 'I shall not destroy it,' he replied, 'for the sake of the ten.' 33 When he had finished talking to Abraham Yahweh went away, and Abraham returned home.

i don't know, he seems caring, intelligent, and brave to me; the kind of guy i would want in my corner.
but hey, next time God drops in why don't you ask Him


#19

[quote="LaSainte, post:9, topic:314438"]
Wow God really let people play it fast and loose back then huh :) Basically as long as you didn't eat certain apples or kill your brother, you were ok! Simpler times...

Seriously though, even when God does intervene to keep Sarah from being defiled (not like Abraham was going to do anything in that department), it is stated that the sin would have been on the ruler, even though he had NO IDEA that she was married! Meanwhile, Abraham is standing on the sidelines like "Whew! That was a close one! I could have been killed!"

I have to give it to Sarah. She was pretty understanding and talk about taking one for the team! If my husband tried to pull that I'd be more than a little ticked off.

[/quote]

If you read Genesis, it becomes evident that the people most closest to Creation (Adam, Eve, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Methuselah, etc) lived very long lives. I always thought that this was just a metaphorical way of writing, but there is a certain point In Genesis where God decides to shorten the lifespan of man from hundreds of years down to the modern duration of about 120 years:

"Yahweh said, 'My spirit must not for ever be disgraced in man, for he is but flesh; his life shall last no more than a hundred and twenty years.' The Nephilim were on the earth at that time (and even afterwards) when the sons of God resorted to the daughters of man, and had children by them. These are the heroes of days gone by, the famous men."

Things worked a little differently during those times and although God never changes, God gets to set the rules and the framework for their application. Following the Fall, God had to slowly reeducate and discipline Man as to the proper course. He did this little by little, watching how Man responded to His commands. The Old Testament can seem unfair at times, as God singles out some people for favors and others for punishment, but the theme that I see developed in the Old Testament is one of God's perfect Justice and Mercy. God is disciplining His Creation in order to put it back on the path to its original state before the Fall. God does not annihilate that which He creates Good. He tries to restore it and for that He needs the cooperation of Man who. following the Fall, needed discipline and reeducation.

I think Ecclesiasticus 16:4-15 sums this up:

"One man of sense can populate a city,
but the race of the lawless men will be destroyed.
My eyes have seen many such things,
my ears have heard things still more impressive.
Fire will be kindled in a community of sinners;
the wrath was kindled in a disobedient nation.
God did not pardon the giants of old
who, confident in their strength, rebelled.
He did not spare the people with whom Lot lived,
whom he abhorred for their pride.
He had no pity on that people doomed to destruction,
who were wiped out in their sins,
nor on the six hundred thousand men on the march
who banded together in their obstinacy.
Had there been even only one stubborn man,
it would have been astonishing if he had escaped unpunished,
since mercy and wrath alike belong to the Lord
who is mighty to forgive and to pour out wrath.
His mercy is great, but his severity is as great;
he judges every man as his deeds deserve:
the sinner shall not escape with his ill-gotten gains,
nor the devout man's patience go for nothing.
He allows free play to his mercy;
yet every man shall be treated as his deeds deserve."


#20

[quote="LaSainte, post:16, topic:314438"]
He just seems kind of below average in a lot of ways that's all. I'm kind of wondering what all the fuss is about.

[/quote]

Yes, he was average in a lot of ways, but that was the point. There is a common biblical theme of God choosing the weak rather than the strong so that (among other things) his power cannot be confused with human achievement and human resources. In the case of Abraham, an elderly, childless nomad becomes the father of a great people with a land of their own.

But I'm not sure what sort of fuss you're referring to. Exactly what is said about Abraham that you feel contradicts the biblical account of him?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.