What if Abimelech had slept with Sarah? Well, he would have seen the mafia side of God! But we’re jumping too far ahead. Let’s examine the story.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife was breathtakingly beautiful. She was a stunner. And you couldn’t tell her age! Had fountain of youth. Which was why Pharaoh wanted her at sixty-five. (Genesis 12) It wasn’t exactly like he wooed her. Things didn’t work that way in those days. Kings appropriate women and so he simply appropriated her. Who’ll defy Pharaoh? He was a powerful monarch and he loved collecting beautiful women, so much so he had agents on the lookout. Egypt had a power culture. The lords of Egypt had a reputation for forcible conversion of beautiful women and killing off husbands. Abraham knew that much, but he had to emigrate to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan. The famine was severe. He ran the risk of being wiped out if he didn’t move to Egypt. He was a livestock magnate. So on the approach to Egypt, he told Sarah not to disclose their marital status – actually told her to say they were siblings. Which wasn’t a lie, only it was half-truth. She was his half-sister alright. (Genesis 20:12) Same father, different mums. But they were married. That kind of marriage was permitted in those days, even up to the time of David – circa 1,000 BC. (2 Samuel 13:12) But society has since moved on. The danger of inbreeding is evident.
Now, unknown to many people at that time, Abraham had a Godfather – the original. For reasons not yet figured out, God singled out Abraham from humanity. When they met, Abraham was living in Haran, now modern Turkey. God hashed out a basic agreement with Abraham – a very uncomplicated contract: serve me and I’ll bless you. Only leave everything familiar behind – your country and relatives. Go to a country I’ll show you. I want to make you a nation, a great nation. I’m going to make you distinguished. But then God added and we’re quoting verbatim now: “I will bless – do good for, benefit those who bless you, and I will curse, that is, subject to my wrath and judgment the one who curses you – despises, dishonours, has contempt for you.” (Genesis 12:1-3) That’s quite an emotional statement and a very strong threat. You don’t want to mess around with a guy with that kind of backing but Pharaoh never knew. If he knew, he wouldn’t have taken Sarah.
Well, as far as God was concerned, forcibly seizing Abraham’s wife with the crudity of state power amounted to dishonouring Abraham. It was contemptuous. So God sent Pharaoh a “telegram,” just like in the movie, The Godfather. It was a warning, a first shot. God wanted his attention. He struck Pharaoh and his household with serious diseases, imponderable ailments. But Pharaoh was a smart guy. He figured things out fast and quickly released Sarah. And that was the end of Abraham’s welcome in Egypt. So there’s history of monarchy lusting after Sarah. Just follow the gist.
Sometime later, Abraham moved to Gerar. Gerar was Philistine country. The most famous Philistine celebrity is of course Goliath, but he hadn’t been born by this time. That would be hundreds of years later. Today, Gerar is located in south-central Israel. In Gerar, Abraham had the same apprehension as in Egypt. He feared for his life on account of Sarah’s beauty. It was apparently dangerous to marry a beautiful woman in those days. Ask Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s fated husband. Abraham as usual introduced Sarah as his sister, at which Abimelech the king of Gerar began to have ideas. He took Sarah and brought her to his palace. But as soon as she arrived the men in his household became impotent, probably went limp. The women became infertile too, couldn’t conceive. What happened was God had struck Abimelech, his wife and entire household with infertility. Not even the slaves were spared – male and female. God then appeared to Abimelech in a dream, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “You’re a dead man!” God told him. (Genesis 20:3) His exact words. He told him Sarah was a married woman. Abimelech of course protested his innocence and God acknowledged it: “Yes, I know you’re innocent. That’s why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I did not let you touch her.” (Genesis 20:6) He told him if he returned Sarah to Abraham he’d live, meaning Abimelech would have died if he’d touched her. Indeed, God was going to destroy the entire nation on account of Abraham! (Genesis 20:4) It’s good to know God. It’s unfathomable the extent to which God will go for those he loves. He crucified his Son. (John 3:16) And so the very next day Abimelech accosted Abraham: “What crime have I committed that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin?” He paid Abraham a lavish compensation, Abraham prayed for him and God sorted out the infertility issue. So we do know what would have happened if Abimelech had slept with Sarah. God would have wiped out the entire nation.
But let’s imagine the imponderable. What if Abimelech did indeed sleep with Sarah and Sarah gave birth to a son? How would things have played out? Well, that child would not be Abraham’s, so the blessings God promised to Abraham’s generations won’t devolve to him. The blessings were for Isaac the child of promise, who by this time had not been born. (Galatians 4:28) He was incidentally born immediately after this debacle. Since the child would be Abimelech’s, he would be a Philistine. There was a somewhat mirror situation with Ishmael, Isaac’s half brother. Ishmael is the ancestor of Arabs. Ishmael’s mum was an Egyptian slave named Hagar. Sarah had hoped for surrogacy through her so she gave her to Abraham to sleep with. But when Hagar discovered she was pregnant she became impudent. So Sarah dealt with her. She treated her so harshly she ran off. It was while wandering in the desert that an angel appeared to her and gave her this prophecy: “This son of yours will be a wild man, an untamed wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” (Genesis 16:12)
Ishmael was firstborn, not first son. He was born before Isaac, but he wasn’t God’s promise to Abraham, so the covenanted blessings didn’t devolve to him. For him to be blessed Abraham made a special entreaty to God: “May Ishmael live under your special blessing.” (Genesis 17:18) To which God responded: “As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis 17:20) The twelve princes of Ishmael are Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedamah. (Genesis 25:12-16, I Chronicles1:28-30) And so just as Isaac is made up of twelve tribes, Ishmael is also made up of twelve clans.
In the Table of Nations, Philistines are listed as descendants of Casluhim son of Mizraim i.e. Egypt. (Genesis 10) Mizraim was a son of Ham, Noah’s middle son. Casluhites are ancient Egyptian people. Modern day Palestinians trace their ancestry to ancient Philistines. If Sarah had given birth to a son for Abimelech, he would be a Philistine. But would world history have changed on account of this child? Hardly. Arabs and Palestinians share Egyptian roots according to the Bible. (Genesis 10, 16) Since both are allied against Israel, we’ll pretty much have the same situation we have today in the Middle East. The history of the Middle East is however yet to unfold. There’s so much buried in its future.
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
© #Illuminare Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.orgIt’s unfathomable the extent to which God will go for those he loves. Click To Tweet