16-2-21 Abraham’s Seed

Abraham’s Seed – Second Sunday Of Lent

There is a pronounced difference between Jewish Religion and Christianity. Jewish Religion is very much focussed on the military conquest of the land and its military defence. Today’s reading is on God’s promise to Abram, the original name of Abraham, to give to his ‘seed’, his descendants, all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates. The next three verses past today’s reading list nine nations which would be displaced by Abraham’s Seed and one wonders whether there ever will be peace in the Middle East unless those living there turn to Christianity first and begin to love their neighbours.

Gen. 5: 5 to 18: [5] And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. [6] And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. [7] And he said unto him, I [am] the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. [8] And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? [9] And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. [10] And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. [11] And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. [12] And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.[13] And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. [15] And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. [16] But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full. [17] And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. [18] In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Abraham's Seed

This was Abram’s wishful thinking. As explained in Speculations on the Birth of Isaac, Abram very likely was infertile and the above reading is in the middle of his attempts to get an heir.

But wasn’t Abraham a famous patriarch, the forefather of many races? That is his reputation, but what does the story really tell us? As explained in Greetings from Paradise in the chapter on the Original Sin, the Ancients thought that the ‘seed’, the sperm which comes out of a man’s penis is an early form of a child and that the mothers had no hereditary input in it. They were seen as empty vessels, as conservative Jews still see them today.

This view is not that farfetched. The Ancients did not have microscopes to see that there are millions of sperm cells in an ejaculation. Now if a chicken egg is cracked open, there is a gooey substance found within it. However, when it is not cracked open, this gooey substance must turn into a little chicken. So most likely the gooey substance coming forth from the penis turns into a human baby.

Now in some women the gooey substance could not develop properly into a child. They were seen as barren. Sarai, Abram’s wife was one example of those (Gen. 11: 30). However in chapter 12 Abram and Sarai travelled into Egypt, where Sarai was taken into the pharaoh’s house.

Now in chapter 20 there is a very similar incident. Abraham, as he was then called, had travelled with Sarah, as she was then called, into Gerar and Abimelech, the king had taken her. Gen. 20: 4 claims that Abimelech had not come near her. Yet in verse 16, he said to Sarah, ‘I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he (the silver, the Hebrew word for silver is male) is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other:” thus she was reproved.’ Why did he do that? What did this silver cover up? From what was she reproved? If Abimelech really had not come near her, maybe a prince of his house?

Again in chapter 26 there is a similar incident. This time Isaac travelled with his woman Rebekah into Gerar and she was taken. In this incident Abimelech saw Isaac and Rebekah ‘sporting’ out in the open. He then returned the woman and said to Isaac (Gen. 26: 10), ‘What [is] this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us,’ according to King James. However, the Hebrew text says, ‘One of the people lightly (maybe casually) lay with thy woman and thou broughtest guiltiness upon us.’ In other words, someone from Gerar had had sex with Rebakah. Would the same be true with Sarah? Most likely. When these women bare children to Egyptians or men from Gerar, the Bible wouldn’t mention it, since the Bible only lists the important offspring, even though it clearly says, that the patriarchs had more than one (e.g. Gen. 5: 4 to 30).

So if Sarai bare one or more children to the princes of Egypt in chapter 12, Abram might have understood that the problem of barrenness was not with Sarai, but with himself. Surely Hagar bore a son, but Gen. 16: 4 just says that Abram went in unto her, not that he had known her. (For the difference between ‘knowing a woman’ and ‘going in unto her’ see Greetings from Paradise the chapter on the Original Sin). Who knows where else this slave girl had been?

Abram’s first attempt to fix the problem was the circumcision in Gen. 17. His logic might have been, that during intercourse too much of the ejaculation, the child as he thought, remained caught in the foreskin and did not pass into the woman. Therefore he cut off his foreskin and made it a statute for all his descendants and even their slaves, since he thought this would make them more fertile and would give them more children and slaves, since the children of slaves again belonged to the slave’s master.

As this did not produce Abraham’s seed, he changed Sarai’s name to Sarah in Gen. 17: 15. Sarai means ‘my princess’ while Sarah only means ‘princess’. Could this have meant, that he did not keep her to himself anymore? Did she have sex with other men?

Chapter 18 is very confusing. It deals with Sarah getting pregnant. How did Abraham’s seed, his descendants, come into being? Was it the LORD who appeared and made her pregnant (Gen. 18: 1)? Or were there three men as the following verse says.

Could it be that the meaning of the word god changed over time and that a very early meaning was a creator of life? Maybe this was the meaning of the serpents words to the woman in Gen. 3: 5, ‘… in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, ….’ Was that not a lie? Did this just mean that men and women from when they knew what makes women pregnant on, could intentionally control birth, the creation of life? Was that the early meaning of being a god?

In the Odyssey, Circe (Homer, Odyssey 10: 136) and Calypso (Homer, Odyssey 1: 14) both were called goddesses. Could this just mean that they were the most important human beings on their respective islands due to their superior ability to create new lives from their bellies? Was it Odysseus who first brought the knowledge how women get pregnant to these remote islands?

Could it be that Gen. 18 really speaks of a man with good physical properties and his two attendants? Could it be that this man hired himself out to bring other men offspring of his own good physical attributes as Plutarch had reported about Sparta (See Plutarch, Lyc, 15: 7)? Could it have been as people through the ages became more and more monotheistic, that then this man called god due to his superior ability to fertilise women with children of good physical attributes, was actually seen as God the LORD?

These thoughts would certainly explain the purpose of circumcision and the meaning of Gen. 18.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.