Friday, January 26, 2007

Deeper Genesis

Abraham and IsaacThe promised deeper reflections on Genesis.

Reading through the book (as opposed to just dipping in) – which I haven't done for years – I've realised that its main message is redemption by faith.

The patriarchs and their wives were a motley bunch. If you're looking for shining moral examples you need to look elsewhere.

Sure, by the end of his life Abraham had learnt a deep obedience to God which led him to be prepared to offer Isaac. But that was after lying about Sarah twice, and getting into a complete tangle over Hagar and Ishmael, sending them away into the desert to die at Sarah’s jealous insistence.

Lot didn’t like the idea of the men of Sodom sleeping with his guests, but seemed happy enough to let his virgin daughters be raped instead (the same daughters, incidentally, who he later has sex with after they got him drunk).

Let’s just take a check – so far we have lying, cruelty, jealousy, attempted assisted rape, incest and drunkenness. That’s the first generation.

Isaac inherited his father’s faith – but along with it he seemed to inherit his father’s tendency to lie about his wife. He also favoured one son on the basis that he made nice tasty stews for him in his old age. The other son gets the patriarchal blessing however – as the result of his mother (Isaac’s wife) Rebekah’s deceitful scheming.

Jacob appears to have inherited – along with his father’s faith – his mother’s deceitful streak. In fact his name means deceiver – and where do you start with this wily wheeler-dealer? Tricks his brother out of his birthright and blessing, marries two sisters who enter into frenzied competition over who has more children (“Here, have sex with my maid”, “No – my maid!”) Fleeing from his uncle (who he has fleeced – pardon the pun – out of most of his livestock), his wife, Rachel, steals some idol gods (presumably, she wasn’t too sure about Jacob’s mysterious deity at this point), but gets away with it because she lies to her father.

Jacob’s sons? Well, there’s the scarcely justified slaughter of the Shechemites, the selling of Joseph into slavery – and then the disgraceful catalogue of events surrounding Judah’s family.

Briefly: Judah runs off with pagan mate; gets a wife; has three sons; first two die (because they were “wicked in the LORD’s sight”, which feels like a rather superfluous bit of narrative in this chapter of iniquity); daughter-in-law disguises herself as roadside prostitute; unrecognising Judah supplies her with “business” but orders that she is “burnt” when suspected of prostitution (bit of a NIMBY is Judah, you could say...) and relents when it is proved that he is the father of the twins she is carrying.

Twins, incidentally, one of whom is an ancestor of Christ.
No wonder Paul can write: “Before the law was given, sin was in the world” (Rom.5:13). Too right it was!

But reading this catalogue of sin and folly makes one particular verse of Genesis stand out like a beacon: Genesis 15:6

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

This is a verse that Paul makes much of, quoting in both Romans and Galatians. It is a foundation stone of biblical revelation.

Abraham had faith. He believed. And this was what God was after. This was what God could work with. Isaac believed. Jacob believed (in the end!) Theirs' was a righteousness that springs from faith. James, in the New Testament, rightly insists that Abraham’s faith led to actual acts of righteousness – but faith came first.

Even bad old Lot is described in the New Testament as “a righteous man”. What kind of righteousness is this? The faith kind. Because it sure as hell (I use the expression advisedly) wasn’t the works kind.

The message of the first book of the Law, the first book of the Bible: redemption comes by faith. From true faith springs righteousness.


DarrenDeliberate said...

Enjoyable reading James ;o)

TJ said...

One thing I've been learning is that at the end of the day faith matters...without faith what do we have

; ) The TJ

Dan said...

Good stuff James - I'm doing the old bible through the year thingy too so it's an interesting read.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

The following issue can destroy ISLAM or ISRAEL; study it thoroughly to see if there is any truth to it.

READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).


Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link;&version=46;

Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING


Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

GENESIS: 21:14 - 21
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces - unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.

For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:
(MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE),,31200-galloway_060806,00.html

HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122

101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

106. For this was obviously a trial-

107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

122. For they were two of our believing Servants.


Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.


Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."
The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

Adrian said...


You might want to delete the anonymous comment.

TJ said...

Might be interesting to see a reply countering the above tho adrian..what would you reply be?

; ) The TJ

Adrian said...


I would reply to it but I couldn't be bothered to read it after the first few paragraphs.

By the way there are 82 days to go.

TJ said...

82 days, you should blog about it sometime Adi

; ) The TJ

Aidan said...

As James said, God loves faith. Therefore not rationalism, which is averse to faith. Or is it?
Anyway, 'anonymous' may be trying to make a good point but faith is all that really matters with God, and what springs from that. This naturally should not be a confused and rational mind,

normal said...

I'm afraid 'anonymous' is not actually making a good point, Strengthener, but a rather duff series of points based on a faulty view of biblical histry.

You just stick to your pure faith bro! That'll get you through...

Anonymous said...

Dear All

Why am i not surprised to see that people are deserting all powers of logic and reasoning and folowing pure blind faith.
Nobody taking up the challenge to refute any of the claims in my earliear novel.

Adrian said "to delete the comments". Why did you find it disturbing? even my children have more faith than you matey


TJ said...

Anon, least everyone else her has the honesty of their convitions to use a name and not hide behind being an anon-mouse..terrible things mice,they try chew up the wires of thing that are good and give yopu light,but hey ho we all know what happens to mice that chew wires

; ) The TJ

Adrian said...


I thought it best James delete your comment because it looked like a spam entry.

Plus most of us have got other things to get on with than reading massive entries of stuff is of no relevance to the blog entry.

normal said...

TJ, like the mouse pun! ;)

Anon - can I ask you to write a short, punchy summary of your points? It's not that I follow blind faith, but more that I'm too busy following my reasoned, historiclly-viable faith to read something quite so long and indigestible.

Flanders Fields said...

You are the first(time wise) of three so far who has received Ahmedinajad's message. That is what he called himself on my site when he left his rambling commentary. You can compare at my post here(in the comments):

Just wanted to let you know.