Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Genesis Chapter 17 v.1-27
The way I picture this next scene is that god is an alcoholic. He's been on a long bender--which for a god is years and years. Suddenly he remembers that he made a covenant with Abram about children. He decides to go and talk to Abram about it, and add a few more (drunken) stipulations. . .
When Abram was 99, god came to him again and said, oh yeah, the covenant. I really will increase your numbers! Lemme prove it to you!
So Abram was prostrate and god said, now you're name's Abraham, because I am totally gonna make good on this covenant thing. The masala was excellent! You will be the father of many nations, and you will be fruitful.
And Abraham nee Abram probably thought, well, I know *I'm* fruitful, it's Sarai that can't have kids. . .
God continued, saying, so this is our covenant, and I want it to be a promise that if I make good on this increasing of your numbers thing, all your descendants will also follow the covenant and have me as their god. You can have all of Canaan, even though there are other people living there now, you will eventually have it, and the whole land will have this covenant with me, and I will be their god.
What's the catch? Abraham is thinking.
God said, yes, so the covenant will be that you and all your male descendants and all the male people around you will be circumcised.
So . . .everyone? Even my servants? Even my slaves?
Yes. Every male that's around you at some point. If they aren't circumcised, you will have broken my covenant, and the uncircumcised guy needs to be cut off from all the circumcised ones, because he is officially not part of the club.
So you told me you'd make me fruitful, and that I would have many descendants, and made a covenant with me and we had some tasty masala. . . but now you say you won't do it unless I cut off my foreskin? How does your lord wish I should broach this subject with the males in my household that maybe don't even believe in you?
Oh, and Sarai, god continued, you shouldn't call her that anymore, she's Sarah now. Surely, I will give you a son by her. This time I'm totally for real. She will give birth to kings!
What, right away?
Kings I say! Yes! And Abraham began to laugh because god had waited a good while for this child thing: Abraham was now almost a hundred years old, and Sarah was 90! He looked up and said to god,
"If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"
Which I found really sweet. I never knew Abraham cared one way or the other about his firstborn.
God told Abraham, don't worry, Ishmael will be fine. He won't be the one to carry on my covenant or anything, though: I'm reserving that for you and Sarah's kid, whom you should name Isaac, I like the ring of that. But Ishmael will be the father of many rulers. Twelve. Twelve is a good number, right?
So, this time next year, Sarah will bear you a son, and don't forget to call him Isaac and circumcise him at 8 days old, and don't forget to get all the males of your household to also get circumcised, I'm sure you know a guy that can do it.
So Abraham did as he was told, and he was 99 when he was circumcised, and Ishmael was 13, and they were both circumcised on the same day, as were all the males in his household, which the author wishes us to know included "those born in his household or bought from a foreigner."