Etikettarkiv | egypt

Abraham did not necessarily SIN by claiming his wife Sarah was his sister

Abraham 2Sarah – Abraham’s niece, sister and wife

The Hebrew word translated ”sister” in for instance Gen. 12:13 is ‘achowth (Strong’s 269), which based on Blue Letter Bible could mean sister (same parents), half-sister (same father), relative (of Israel’s and Judah’s relationship), beloved (bride), of intimate connection or another. It could mean sister either literally or figuratively.

According to Gen. 20:12 Abraham claims that Sarah is the daughter of his father (who is Terah) but not of his mother, which would mean that Sarah was Abraham’s half sister. Yet, in Gen. 11:31 Sarah is also called Terah’s daughter-in-law. This does not have to be a contradiction. The information that Abraham’s mother is not the mother of Sarah is clear from the Bible, but is Terah Sarah’s father or is it is oldest brother Haran as The book of Jasher suggests?

Terah could of course have had Sarah through another wife (even the wife of his son Haran), but if the aim is to be consistent with both Gen. 20:12 and Gen. 11:31, as well as the information in Jasher, then perhaps the simplest solution is that Sarah was the grand-daughter of Terah, i.e. the daughter of Haran, and this has been maintained by for instance Josephus. Sarah could then have been adopted into Terah’s household after the tragic death by fire of her father Haran (see The book of Jasher). As the daughter of Haran, Sarah would be Abraham’s niece. If she was also adopted by Terah, then Sarah would also be Abraham’s sister. When Sarah later married Abraham, she became his wife.

abraham 2

According to The book of Jasher Abraham was 10 years old when Sarah was born and it is quite possible that they at some point in time shared the same household and grew up as brother and sister. Terah and his sons Haran, Nahor and Abraham could have lived close together and we can for instance read in Jasher 12:16 that Terah, out of fear for king Nimrod, blamed his son Haran for being responsible for a certain cover up that angered the king who had wanted Abraham to be killed at birth. In the same way as Sarah could be called Abraham’s sister, also Lot could be called Abraham’s brother despite being Abraham’s nephew. Sarah and Lot were siblings.

Note also that this occurred many years before the Law of Moses was established, where it was prohibited to marry a sibling. Adam and Eve did not have any genetic defects to pass on to their children (which means they could marry each other and have children with no risks involved) but later on in time, through genetic bottle necks like the Ark and the Exodus, genetic defects had accumulated.

Deception?

It is possible to not volunteering with information in order to perhaps gain possessions or wrongful advantages that a person did not previously have. In that case not volunteering with information would be a sin even though no lies were uttered. Abraham did nothing of the sort. He did not withhold information in order to gain something that he did not already have, but he wanted to continue keeping what he already had – a family member. On top of this he offered to PART with ALL of his possessions if he could only keep this family member!

Abraham was actually afraid that the Egyptians would take Sarah away, because he had heard of their evil behavior in advance. Pharaoh is of course an Egyptian, but he would not be the one standing at the city gate to control the goods and the people entering the city. The only way for him to get the news about Sarah would be if someone thought it would be worth while telling him, and the Egyptian guards who were placed to check on the arriving travelers knew they would be getting rewards if they would bring Pharaoh something they knew he would appreciate. Perhaps the Egyptian guards reasoned in this way: 1) If Abraham would only be a brother (or a father) of Sarah, then he would not be an obstacle at all and would not need to be killed, 2) Pharaoh could be presented Sarah who would be a free woman, 3) the Egyptian guards would get great rewards for their discovery, and 4) Abraham would likely be treated really well and receive possessions from Pharaoh in order to smoothly ”buy” Sarah over and take her as a wife. However, Abraham did no travel to Egypt to acquire more possessions (apart from food) and he was willing to part with ALL that he had if the Egyptian workers would only forget about Sarah (Jasher 15:11-12). The question that later arose ”Why did you say she was your sister?”, could be answered with ”Because she is my sister. And who gave you the right to take her due to us being siblings when I urged you not to?”.

A man should be innocent until proven guilty, and if someone wants to charge Abraham of lying, that person has the burden of proof. It is of course an option that Abraham sinned by not trusting God to sort out this problem, but 1) we are not always supposed to sit back and do nothing while God sorts things out, and 2) Abraham presented Sarah as his sister twice in similar occasions – which might suggest that he felt free to repeat his actions due to his realization that he spoke nothing but the truth with no evil intentions in his heart.

Even if we would view Abraham and Sarah’s deed as a sin, it would still not turn Abraham into the monster as some liberal scholars describe him to be. Even king David, a man of God’s own heart, sinned by murder and adultery and did not repent until Nathan made him realize his severe sin. Righteous people can also choose to sin and if they do, the same requirement applies to them – repentance and turning away from sin. Evangelical christians do not believe that a sinful person is a role model, but Abraham was far from being a sinful man. He proved to be an extremely righteous man throughout his entire life. Also a righteous person can choose to sin once and get his spiritual life back by repenting.

Let us check the two stories where Abraham thought it would be best to present Sarah as his ”sister” in order to save his life as well as the quality of life for Sarah. He seems to have made just the right choice based on the outcome!

Abraham 1The case with Pharaoh and Sarah

Gen. 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

If Abraham would present his beautiful wife Sarah as his wife instead of his sister, then there might be a risk that Pharaoh would kill Abraham in order to get hold of Sarah and make her his wife. As a brother Abraham would not pose the same threat. If a brother and a sister would be travelling together, the brother is the one responsible for his sister’s protection. If she does not belong to her Father’s household, then she belongs to her brother’s household and he is the one to negotiate with if someone wants to marry his sister. This would be understood also by Pharaoh even if it was a risk that his way of negotiating might be very harsh. Abraham of course had no intention to present his wife as a sister and try to marry her off, but it is possible that Abraham tried to estimate what kind of behavior he could expect from Pharaoh and decided to go for the safest bet. The problem was Sarah’s extraordinary beauty, so presenting himself as a husband might be the worse option with the greatest risks involved. Maybe Pharaoh would use his power and simply eliminate him entirely to make Sarah available and dependent on another household – like Pharaoh’s household. The best option would be if Pharaoh would not be interested in Sarah at all, but then it was imperative to avoid causing any reports about her beauty. To be on the safer side Abraham even put Sarah in a chest during a critical situation (The book of Jasher), but to no avail since she was discovered and the news about her beauty reached Pharaoh.

It certainly looks like Abraham’s reasoned rather wisely in a delicate situation. The alternative to not travel to Egypt at all would risk their lives through starving, so a travel to Egypt still seemed like a good option despite the risks.

Gen. 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Here is the same story according to The book of Jasher:

Jasher 9:1 And Haran, the son of Terah, Abram’s oldest brother, took a wife in those days.2 Haran was thirty-nine years old when he took her; and the wife of Haran conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Lot.3 And she conceived again and bare a daughter, and she called her name Milca; and she again conceived and bare a daughter, and she called her name Sarai.4 Haran was forty-two years old when he begat Sarai, which was in the tenth year of the life of Abram; and in those days Abram and his mother and nurse went out from the cave, as the king and his subjects had forgotten the affair of Abram.

Jasher 12:37 And Haran was eighty-two years old when he died in the fire of Casdim. And the king, princes, and inhabitants of the land, seeing that Abram was delivered from the fire, they came and bowed down to Abram.—44 And at that time Nahor and Abram took unto themselves wives, the daughters of their brother Haran; the wife of Nahor was Milca and the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai. And Sarai, wife of Abram, was barren; she had no offspring in those days.

Jasher 15:1 And in that year there was a heavy famine throughout the land of Canaan, and the inhabitants of the land could not remain on account of the famine for it was very grievous.2 And Abram and all belonging to him rose and went down to Egypt on account of the famine, and when they were at the brook Mitzraim they remained there some time to rest from the fatigue of the road.3 And Abram and Sarai were walking at the border of the brook Mitzraim, and Abram beheld his wife Sarai that she was very beautiful.4 And Abram said to his wife Sarai, Since God has created thee with such a beautiful countenance, I am afraid of the Egyptians lest they should slay me and take thee away, for the fear of God is not in these places.5 Surely then thou shalt do this, Say thou art my sister to all that may ask thee, in order that it may be well with me, and that WE may live and not be put to death.6 And Abram commanded the same to all those that came with him to Egypt on account of the famine; also his nephew Lot he commanded, saying, If the Egyptians ask thee concerning Sarai say she is the sister of Abram.7 And yet with all these orders Abram did not put confidence in them, but he took Sarai and placed her in a chest and concealed it amongst their vessels, for Abram was greatly concerned about Sarai on account of the wickedness of the Egyptians.8 And Abram and all belonging to him rose up from the brook Mitzraim and came to Egypt; and they had scarcely entered the gates of the city when the guards stood up to them saying, Give tithe to the king from what you have, and then you may come into the town; and Abram and those that were with him did so.—11 And Abram said, This chest I will not open, but all you demand upon it I will give. And Pharaoh’s officers answered Abram, saying, It is a chest of precious stones, give us the tenth thereof.12 Abram said, All that you desire I will give, but you must not open the chest.13 And the king’s officers pressed Abram, and they reached the chest and opened it with force, and they saw, and behold a beautiful woman was in the chest.14 And when the officers of the king beheld Sarai they were struck with admiration at her beauty, and all the princes and servants of Pharaoh assembled to see Sarai, for she was very beautiful. And the king’s officers ran and told Pharaoh all that they had seen, and they praised Sarai to the king; and Pharaoh ordered her to be brought, and the woman came before the king.15 And Pharaoh beheld Sarai and she pleased him exceedingly, and he was struck with her beauty, and the king rejoiced greatly on her account, and made presents to those who brought him the tidings concerning her.16 And the woman was then brought to Pharaoh’s house, and Abram grieved on account of his wife, and he prayed to the Lord to deliver her from the hands of Pharaoh.17 And Sarai also prayed at that time and said, O Lord God thou didst tell my Lord Abram to go from his land and from his father’s house to the land of Canaan, and thou didst promise to do well with him if he would perform thy commands; now behold we have done that which thou didst command us, and we left our land and our families, and we went to a strange land and to a people whom we have not known before.18 And we came to this land to avoid the famine, and this evil accident has befallen me; now therefore, O Lord God, deliver us and save us from the hand of this oppressor, and do well with me for the sake of thy mercy.19 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Sarai, and the Lord sent an angel to deliver Sarai from the power of Pharaoh.20 And the king came and sat before Sarai and behold an angel of the Lord was standing over them, and he appeared to Sarai and said to her, Do not fear, for the Lord has heard thy prayer.21 And the king approached Sarai and said to her, What is that man to thee who brought thee hither? and she said, He is my brother.22 And the king said, It is incumbent upon us to make him great, to elevate him and to do unto him all the good which thou shalt command us; and at that time the king sent to Abram silver and gold and precious stones in abundance, together with cattle, men servants and maid servants; and the king ordered Abram to be brought, and he sat in the court of the king’s house, and the king greatly exalted Abram on that night.23 And the king approached to speak to Sarai, and he reached out his hand to touch her, when the angel smote him heavily, and he was terrified and he refrained from reaching to her.24 And when the king came near to Sarai, the angel smote him to the ground, and acted thus to him the whole night, and the king was terrified.25 And the angel on that night smote heavily all the servants of the king, and his whole household, on account of Sarai, and there was a great lamentation that night amongst the people of Pharaoh’s house.26 And Pharaoh, seeing the evil that befell him, said, Surely on account of this woman has this thing happened to me, and he removed himself at some distance from her and spoke pleasing words to her.27 And the king said to Sarai, Tell me I pray thee concerning the man with whom thou camest here; and Sarai said, This man is my husband, and I said to thee that he was my brother for I was afraid, lest thou shouldst put him to death through wickedness.28 And the king kept away from Sarai, and the plagues of the angel of the Lord ceased from him and his household; and Pharaoh knew that he was smitten on account of Sarai, and the king was greatly astonished at this.29 And in the morning the king called for Abram and said to him, What is this thou hast done to me? Why didst thou say, She is my sister, owing to which I took her unto me for a wife, and this heavy plague has therefore come upon me and my household.30 Now therefore here is thy wife, take her and go from our land lest we all die on her account. And Pharaoh took more cattle, men servants and maid servants, and silver and gold, to give to Abram, and he returned unto him Sarai his wife.31 And the king took a maiden whom he begat by his concubines, and he gave her to Sarai for a handmaid.32 And the king said to his daughter, It is better for thee my daughter to be a handmaid in this man’s house than to be mistress in my house, after we have beheld the evil that befell us on account of this woman.33 And Abram arose, and he and all belonging to him went away from Egypt; and Pharaoh ordered some of his men to accompany him and all that went with him.34 And Abram returned to the land of Canaan, to the place where he had made the altar, where he at first had pitched his tent.

If you react on the information that innocent people seemed to have died due to the curse that surrounded Sarah, the truth is that we are all going to die one day. Based on the Bible and The book of Jasher, the people close to Pharaoh and Abimelech were considered evil but even if they were righteous physical death still awaits every single one of us. It is eternal spiritual death which would be a disaster, but it seems like what had befallen Pharaoh and his household could almost be seen as a wake up call for them. It is hard to know if this disaster caused some of them to repent, but the story eventually ends with Pharaoh letting Abraham and Sarah go – with many new valuable possessions. However, Abraham and Sarah did not travel to Egypt to get possessions but rather to acquire food. They were likely given much food along with their many gifts – and even a handmaid (Hagar) for Sarah.

Considering the circumstances, the story ended rather well but Abraham and Sarah influenced the outcome by praying to their Lord who heard them. Naturally also Pharaoh and his people had the chance to do the same, and to live righteous lives just like Abraham and Sarah. Maybe we would react in a similar way? If I were a Swedish Jew in nazi Germany I would not volunteer with the information that I was a Jew but rather present myself as a Swede. If on the other hand a nazi officer would ask me directly if I was a Jew, believed in God, etc, then it would certainly be a lie to deny it. The same would apply if Abraham or Sarah would deny the truth.

The case with king Abimelech and Sarahabimelech

A similar story occurred in relation to Abimelech. Also this story ended well ”Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee”.

Gen. 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.18 For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

The same story according to Jasher.:

Jasher 20 1 And at that time Abraham journeyed from the plain of Mamre, and he went to the land of the Philistines, and he dwelt in Gerar; it was in the twenty-fifth year of Abraham’s being in the land of Canaan, and the hundredth year of the life of Abraham, that he came to Gerar in the land of the Philistines.2 And when they entered the land he said to Sarah his wife, Say thou art my sister, to any one that shall ask thee, in order that we may escape the evil of the inhabitants of the land.3 And as Abraham was dwelling in the land of the Philistines, the servants of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, saw that Sarah was exceedingly beautiful, and they asked Abraham concerning her, and he said, She is my sister.4 And the servants of Abimelech went to Abimelech, saying, A man from the land of Canaan is come to dwell in the land, and he has a sister that is exceeding fair.5 And Abimelech heard the words of his servants who praised Sarah to him, and Abimelech sent his officers, and they brought Sarah to the king.6 And Sarah came to the house of Abimelech, and the king saw that Sarah was beautiful, and she pleased him exceedingly.7 And he approached her and said to her, What is that man to thee with whom thou didst come to our land? and Sarah answered and said He is my brother, and we came from the land of Canaan to dwell wherever we could find a place.8 And Abimelech said to Sarah, Behold my land is before thee, place thy brother in any part of this land that pleases thee, and it will be our duty to exalt and elevate him above all the people of the land since he is thy brother.9 And Abimelech sent for Abraham, and Abraham came to Abimelech.10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, Behold I have given orders that thou shalt be honored as thou desirest on account of thy sister Sarah.11 And Abraham went forth from the king, and the king’s present followed him.12 As at evening time, before men lie down to rest, the king was sitting upon his throne, and a deep sleep fell upon him, and he lay upon the throne and slept till morning.13 And he dreamed that an angel of the Lord came to him with a drawn sword in his hand, and the angel stood over Abimelech, and wished to slay him with the sword, and the king was terrified in his dream, and said to the angel, In what have I sinned against thee that thou comest to slay me with thy sword?14 And the angel answered and said to Abimelech, Behold thou diest on account of the woman which thou didst yesternight bring to thy house, for she is a married woman, the wife of Abraham who came to thy house; now therefore return that man his wife, for she is his wife; and shouldst thou not return her, know that thou wilt surely die, thou and all belonging to thee.15 And on that night there was a great outcry in the land of the Philistines, and the inhabitants of the land saw the figure of a man standing with a drawn sword in his hand, and he smote the inhabitants of the land with the sword, yea he continued to smite them.16 And the angel of the Lord smote the whole land of the Philistines on that night, and there was a great confusion on that night and on the following morning.17 And every womb was closed, and all their issues, and the hand of the Lord was upon them on account of Sarah, wife of Abraham, whom Abimelech had taken.18 And in the morning Abimelech rose with terror and confusion and with a great dread, and he sent and had his servants called in, and he related his dream to them, and the people were greatly afraid.19 And one man standing amongst the servants of the king answered the king, saying, O sovereign king, restore this woman to her husband, for he is her husband, for the like happened to the king of Egypt when this man came to Egypt.20 And he said concerning his wife, She is my sister, for such is his manner of doing when he cometh to dwell in the land in which he is a stranger.21 And Pharaoh sent and took this woman for a wife and the Lord brought upon him grievous plagues until he returned the woman to her husband.22 Now therefore, O sovereign king, know what happened yesternight to the whole land, for there was a very great consternation and great pain and lamentation, and we know that it was on account of the woman which thou didst take.23 Now, therefore, restore this woman to her husband, lest it should befall us as it did to Pharaoh king of Egypt and his subjects, and that we may not die; and Abimelech hastened and called and had Sarah called for, and she came before him, and he had Abraham called for, and he came before him.24 And Abimelech said to them, What is this work you have been doing in saying you are brother and sister, and I took this woman for a wife?25 And Abraham said, Because I thought I should suffer death on account of my wife; and Abimelech took flocks and herds, and men servants and maid servants, and a thousand pieces of silver, and he gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah to him.26 And Abimelech said to Abraham, Behold the whole land is before thee, dwell in it wherever thou shalt choose.27 And Abraham and Sarah, his wife, went forth from the king’s presence with honor and respect, and they dwelt in the land, even in Gerar.28 And all the inhabitants of the land of the Philistines and the king’s servants were still in pain, through the plague which the angel had inflicted upon them the whole night on account of Sarah.29 And Abimelech sent for Abraham, saying, Pray now for thy servants to the Lord thy God, that he may put away this mortality from amongst us.30 And Abraham prayed on account of Abimelech and his subjects, and the Lord heard the prayer of Abraham, and he healed Abimelech and all his subjects.

Annonser

Zipporah: ”A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision” – Ex. 4:24-26

covenant 3”Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me” (Ex. 4:25)

What is this all about? The textual context is a great help and also a corresponding passage in The book of Jasher – which is Jewish secular history, not claimed to be the inspired word of God but the text can nevertheless provide some light.

Exodus 4:19 And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

There seems to be a link between God’s speech about Israel being the firstborn son (in a figurative sense) and the verses which immediately follow (see below) – about Moses’ first born son. We have to remember that an important covenant had been established between God and Israel, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and a covenant is supposed to be respected by both parties. God had promised the patriarchs and their offspring protection and the land of Canaan under the condition that they stayed faithful to him. The law of Moses was still in the future at this point in history, but in order to reach to that stage faithfulness from Moses and the Israelites was required. A circumcision was an outward sign of being a follower of the one true God and a crystal clear divine commandment which was not optional. Moses was of course well aware of this commandment from God, yet he still neglected to obey him apparently due to fear of man – his father-in-law. That is like saying ”I respect you God and you have done so much for me and my people, showing us miracles, etc, but there are limits for how much I can obey you. I prefer to obey my father-in-law in this matter so that I can be on a good standing with him. That is more important than having a good relationship with you or being able to save the people of Israel”. Here is the rest of the story:

24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 27 And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:30 And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

If Moses and the Israel would be faithful to God and stay away from sin (like murdering, stealing, lying, adultery, witchcraft, etc), it would mean that Israel would indeed be a ”peculiar” people who would be able to show other people that they (the Israelites) were a morally upright people who lived for the Lord. God is just but he also requires obedience from his people. If the Israelites were just like anyone else, God’s reputation would consequently also be attacked and other people would see no reason to seek the God of Israel nor improve their pagan life styles. Therefore it is not a light matter to choose to disobey God despite having seen divine miracles and despite knowing that breaking the covenant would risk the safety of his own family and many other Israelite families.

Ex. 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Below we can read the same story from the book of Jasher’s point of view. God really wanted to save his people from their Egyptian yoke. He was ”jealous of his people and his inheritance”.

Jasher 78:8 And Zipporah walked in the ways of the daughters of Jacob, she was nothing short of the righteousness of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.9 And Zipporah conceived and bare a son and he called his name Gershom, for he said, I was a stranger in a foreign land; but he circumcised not his foreskin, at the command of Reuel his father-in-law.10 And she conceived again and bare a son, but circumcised his foreskin, and called his name Eliezer, for Moses said, Because the God of my fathers was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.11 And Pharaoh king of Egypt greatly increased the labor of the children of Israel in those days, and continued to make his yoke heavier upon the children of Israel.–16 And the Lord was jealous of his people and his inheritance, and heard their voice, and he resolved to take them out of the affliction of Egypt, to give them the land of Canaan for a possession.

Jasher 79:5 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, return to Egypt, for all those men who sought thy life are dead, and thou shalt speak unto Pharaoh to send forth the children of Israel from his land.6 And the Lord showed him to do signs and wonders in Egypt before the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of his subjects, in order that they might believe that the Lord had sent him.7 And Moses hearkened to all that the Lord had commanded him, and he returned to his father-in-law and told him the thing, and Reuel said to him, Go in peace.8 And Moses rose up to go to Egypt, and he took his wife and sons with him, and he was at an inn in the road, and an angel of God came down, and sought an occasion against him.9 And he wished to kill him on account of his first born son, because he had not circumcised him, and had transgressed the covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham.10 For Moses had hearkened to the words of his father-in-law which he had spoken to him, not to circumcise his first born son, therefore he circumcised him not.11 And Zipporah saw the angel of the Lord seeking an occasion against Moses, and she knew that this thing was owing to his not having circumcised her son Gershom.12 And Zipporah hastened and took of the sharp rock stones that were there, and she circumcised her son, and delivered her husband and her son from the hand of the angel of the Lord.

”The Angel of the Lord” is not a created angel, but as you can see in this article it seems to be none other than a form of God and likely therefore a form av Jesus (who was with his Father from the beginning). Zipporah knew that the angel of God visited them due to Moses’ neglect to obey God when it comes to their first-born son’s circumcision, and maybe this was also according to the plans of the angel. If it was a tangible reaction that the angel was after, he certainly got one when their son Gershom eventually was circumcised – and Moses was thereafter delivered from the hand of the angel of the Lord. If a person neglects to obey God when it comes to simple matters due to fear of man, he might not be ready for greater matters like saving his people from Egypt. The presence of the angel of the Lord sorted it out, and he continued to hold his protective hand over Moses, his family and Israel.

JOSEPH was sold as slave by his BROTHERS – God meant EVIL for GOOD? – Gen. 50:20

joseph-slave1Gen. 50:20 But as for you, ye thought EVIL against me; but God meant it unto GOOD, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Joseph’s brothers evil intention was to kill Joseph (which wasn’t God’s intention) but conveniently a caravan passed by in the right moment and Joseph’s life was spared when he was SOLD as a slave and brought to Egypt – and thus being a blessing for Israel. Thus, ”ye thought EVIL against me; but God meant it unto GOOD”.

Just because God allows man to sin, and on a few occasions even uses man’s evil schemes for something useful in the end – like punishing Israel physically by not preventing their enemies from attacking them – it doesn’t mean that everything under the sun happens for a reason. If that were the case, we’re making God out to be the author of sin. Allowing people to sin is not the same as endorsing evil. The truth is that each time a sin occurs, it always happens against God’s will with no exception.

God has created us with free will, and this means that he normally doesn’t step in and prevents us from sinning (or else we wouldn’t have free will). I say ”normally” because I’m thinking of the global flood where God put an end to much wickedness by eliminating all people from the earth apart from Noah and his family.) If God would be the type who always prevented sin, his first measures would be to prevent Adam and Eve from eating of the forbidden fruit – something he never did. Neither did God prevent Joseph’s brothers from sinning, particularly not when God saw a way to let their ideas (even if they were wicked and against his will) be the means to use Joseph in a good way and save his people. God could naturally use other means, but he chose to make use of these particular events that Joseph’s brothers planned in their hearts. God certainly didn’t place any evil intentions in their hearts, because there is no darkness in God.

Naturally it would be even better if the evil plans did not take place at all (it’s always better if people do NOT sin) but he is still able to respond to man’s actions and use them as he deems appropriate. If God knows that certain men plan X to occur, then naturally God can purpose to use it to his own advantage and even thwart their plans. This doesn’t mean that God always acts in this way. God decided to overrule the intended evil by Joseph’s brothers and rather use the events for something good (saving Israel) which was not intended by the brothers! It’s in this sense that we can read that  the brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

If God purposed a man like Joseph to end up in Egypt, why would he prevent his brothers from selling him to people who he knew would take him there? God doesn’t sin by purposing Joseph to end up in Egypt, and allowing his brothers to sin by selling him as a slave. God also knew the heart of Joseph and would naturally hear his prayers and help him out both where he was in the pit, where he screamed for help, and later on in Egypt. If, however, God would cause Joseph’s brothers to be jealous, hateful, selfish and end up being murderers and liars, God alone must also be blamed for their sin. It’s God’s prerogative to let a man like Joseph be subject to his brothers, but it’s all about allowing and not about causing/decreeing.

In having Joseph be sold as a slave God actually saves Joseph’s life because his brothers originally MEANT to kill him

It’s actually Judah (who would later on produce the Messiah in his blood line) who suggests that the brothers would not let Joseph die there in the pit where they had just thrown him, but that they would rather sell him for a price to the Ishmaelites. This idea actually saves Joseph’s life, but it certainly doesn’t pardon any of the evil actions committed by his brothers. God could easily have arranged circumstances, such as a caravan on route to Egypt to pass the area in the right time, knowing full well that the character of Joseph’s brothers would trigger them to act in the way they did. Selling Joseph rather than killing him would be a better solution for the brothers since they 1) did not have to get rid of Joseph by killing him, which is a serious step to take for most people, and 2) they would instead get money. The arrival of the caravan in that moment changed the whole story. Joseph would end up with much authority over the food supply in Egypt, resulting in that he would be able to spare his own people from the worldwide famine.

If on the other hand God decreed and rendered certain the wicked intentions of the brothers as the means to bring about a good purpose, then again, God not only tempts people to sin but forces them to sin. When it comes to Joseph in Egypt and Jesus Christ being crucified, God has acted in a unique way to bring about a divine saving purpose for all humanity, but this doesn’t mean we should add to the Bible and suggest that God’s will always happens or that God wants people to sin so that he can bring about certain events.

There is seldom a shortage of people who want to harm good people like Joseph Jacob’s son and Jesus Christ, so God certainly doesn’t need to cause anyone to do it. It’s sometimes enough to just remove a protecting hand from certain individuals, and their enemy might be able to hurt them. However, our prayers and our actions can naturally influence the outcome. Why else pray?

Gen. 37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

Here is the rest of the story a few chapters later:

Gen 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the EVIL which we did unto him.16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?20 But as for you, ye thought EVIL against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

The brothers wanted to ask for forgiveness, and Joseph did not correct them and say that they had not sinned. However, he did inform them that something good came out of the whole story – something that their brothers did not intended or had in mind. They initially intended to kill Joseph but ended up selling him.

We can also read about Joseph’s fate in The book of Jasher (or The book of the just which is a translation from the Hebrew sēfer ha yāšār). This book is mentioned in 2 Sam. 1:8 and Joshua 10:13, as well as quoted by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:8 . This ”lost book” is best viewed as secular Jewish history rather than necessarily being divinely inspired by God, but also secular history might contain the truth. (There is at least one falsification of The book of Jasher, so don’t read the version from 1750.) This book sometimes reveals lots of extra details of Biblical events, and despite these details they line up perfectly well with the Bible and sometimes even provides extra light. Nevertheless, if we would end up with contradictions the Bible is the source to trust since we know that the content is inspired by God and accurate. According to The book of Jasher, it was Simeon who brought forth the idea to have Joseph killed, and it was Judah who suggested that Joseph should rather be sold (and thus saved his life). In the meantime, God heard Joseph’s anguish in the pit, and saved him from being killed by scorpions and snakes. In both the Bible and The book of Jasher, Reuben seems to be one of the most innocent of the brothers. However, apparently he went along with the lies afterwards, and never told their father what really happened to Joseph.

Joseph slave 2

Jasher 41:9 And Joseph was seventeen years old, and he was still magnifying himself above his brethren, and thought of raising himself above them.—21 And Jacob sent his son Joseph to the valley of Hebron, and Joseph came for his brothers to Shechem, and could not find them, and Joseph went about the field which was near Shechem, to see where his brothers had turned, and he missed his road in the wilderness, and knew not which way he should go.—25 And Simeon said to his brethren, Behold the man of dreams is coming unto us this day, and now therefore come and let us kill him and cast him in one of the pits that are in the wilderness, and when his father shall seek him from us, we will say an evil beast has devoured him.—28 And they took him and cast him into a pit, and in the pit there was no water, but serpents and scorpions. And Joseph was afraid of the serpents and scorpions that were in the pit. And Joseph cried out with a loud voice, and the Lord hid the serpents and scorpions in the sides of the pit, and they did no harm unto Joseph.

Below we can read that the Lord was pleased to have Joseph sold, because he didn’t want Joseph to be killed as his brothers intended. This means that the arrangement that the brothers had in mind (killing Joseph), was overturned when the caravans passed by and Judah proposed to have Joseph sold.

Jasher 42:1 And they went and sat on the opposite side, about the distance of a bow-shot, andthey sat there to eat bread, and whilst they were eating, they held counsel together what was to be done with him, whether to slay him or to bring him back to his father. 2 They were holding the counsel, when they lifted up their eyes, and saw, and behold there was a company of Ishmaelites coming at a distance by the road of Gilead, going down to Egypt.3 And Judah said unto them, What gain will it be to us if we slay our brother? peradventure God will require him from us; this then is the counsel proposed concerning him, which you shall do unto him: Behold this company of Ishmaelites going down to Egypt, 4 Now therefore, come let us dispose of him to them, and let not our hand be upon him, and they will lead him along with them, and he will be lost amongst the people of the land, and we will not put him to death with our own hands. And the proposal pleased his brethren and they did according to the word of Judah. 5 And whilst they were discoursing about this matter, and before the company of Ishmaelites had come up to them, seven trading men of Midian passed by them, and as they passed they were thirsty, and they lifted up their eyes and saw the pit in which Joseph was immured, and they looked, and behold every species of bird was upon him. 6 And these Midianites ran to the pit to drink water, for they thought that it contained water, and on coming before the pit they heard the voice of Joseph crying and weeping in the pit, and they looked down into the pit, and they saw and behold there was a youth of comely appearance and well favored. 7 And they called unto him and said, Who art thou and who brought thee hither, and who placed thee in this pit, in the wilderness? and they all assisted to raise up Joseph and they drew him out, and brought him up from the pit, and took him and went away on their journey and passed by his brethren. 8 And these said unto them, Why do you do this, to take our servant from us and to go away? surely we placed this youth in the pit because he rebelled against us, and you come and bring him up and lead him away; now then give us back our servant. 9 And the Midianites answered and said unto the sons of Jacob, Is this your servant, or does this man attend you? peradventure you are all his servants, for he is more comely and well favored than any of you, and why do you all speak falsely unto us? 10 Now therefore we will not listen to your words, nor attend to you, for we found the youth in the pit in the wilderness, and we took him; we will therefore go on. 11 And all the sons of Jacob approached them and rose up to them and said unto them, Give us back our servant, and why will you all die by the edge of the sword? And the Midianites cried out against them, and they drew their swords, and approached to fight with the sons of Jacob. — 17 Surely you have said that the young man is your servant, and that he rebelled against you, and therefore you placed him in the pit; what then will you do with a servant who rebels against his master? Now therefore sell him unto us, and we will give you all that you require for him; and THE LORD WAS PLEASED TO DO THIS IN ORDER THAT THE SONS OF JACOB SHOULD NOT SLAY THEIR BROTHER.  18 And the Midianites saw that Joseph was of a comely appearance and well-favored; they desired him in their hearts and were urgent to purchase him from his brethren. 19 And the sons of Jacob hearkened to the Midianites and they sold their brother Joseph to them for twenty pieces of silver, and Reuben their brother was not with them, and the Midianites took Joseph and continued their journey to Gilead. 20 They were going along the road, and the Midianites repented of what they had done, in having purchased the young man, and one said to the other, What is this thing that we have done, in taking this youth from the Hebrews, who is of comely appearance and well favored.

Joseph was sold twice…

Jasher 42: 23 And whilst they were thus discoursing together, they looked, and behold the company of Ishmaelites which was coming at first, and which the sons of Jacob saw, was advancing toward the Midianites, and the Midianites said to each other,Come let us sell this youth to the company of Ishmaelites who are coming toward us, and we will take for him the little that we gave for him, and we will be delivered from his evil. 24 And they did so, and they reached the Ishmaelites, and the Midianites sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver which they had given for him to his brethren. 25 And the Midianites went on their road to Gilead, and the Ishmaelites took Joseph and they let him ride upon one of the camels, and they were leading him to Egypt.