There are some very strange moments in the bible, some more so than others. I came across one the other day in Genesis, a tiny little innocuous thing, and it puzzled me.
Abraham had two sons, Ishmael, conceived with the slave woman Hagar (nowadays would we call that rape?), and Isaac, conceived with his wife, Sarah, following God’s promise. If the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his own son, and then calling it off at the last minute, is not bizarre enough, how about this: God tells Abraham to ‘take your only son, Isaac…’
- Why is Hagar treated so badly?
- Why does the text say that Abraham had only one son?
- Is it because Ishmael was considered lost to him, or is there a darker meaning?
I am currently exploring this complex story, the roles of the different characters, what they reveal about human nature, and what this all says about God.