blogging Genesis 24
Isaac was his mother’s only child, born in her twilight years. She had Isaac’s only sibling thrown out of the house because the older kid had laughed at her baby (Genesis 21:9,10). Abraham and Sarah were wealthy, powerful, and highly respected (Genesis 23:6; 24:1). When Sarah died, Isaac was 37, rich, single, and living at home. He was a bourgeois mama’s boy.
As soon as the Sarah’s funeral was over, Abraham set about marrying off his man-child.
Abraham called his oldest and most trusted servant and made the man swear a solemn oath to go to Mesopotamia and convince one of Abraham’s nieces or cousins to come back to Canaan and marry Isaac.
Putting “your hand under my thigh” is probably a euphemism for putting your hand under my loins, which is a euphemism for . . . Abraham made his servant swear on his -----umm, man-parts.
Abraham’s manhood, his destiny, his legacy, the success or failure of thousands of miles and over a hundred years fighting, shepherding, and hustling as a nomad all hinged on the next generation. And the next generation depended on getting a spoiled mama’s boy married to the right woman andgetting them moved into the right neighborhood.
I know. Sounds really bourgeoise, but Abraham was as “real” as it gets. He lived across national, ethnic, and socio-economic lines. His second wife was an Egyptian slave girl. His third wife was Canaanite. He made friends and did business with everybody. Before his first son was born, Abraham had willed all his possessions to a Syrian employee (Genesis 15:2). But, Abraham thought that his son was too good for a Canaanite wife, and too good for a house in his old neighborhoods in Mesopotamia.
. . . you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac. . . only do not take my son back there (Genesis 24:3, 4, 8).
Abraham wasn’t bourgeois, but he wanted bourgeoise for his son, which is an unflattering way of saying that Abraham wanted Isaac to have a different TRIBE.
The tribe of Abraham and Isaac wouldn’t be designated solely by ethnicity though biological connections and genealogies would be important to the tribe. The tribe of Abraham and Isaac wouldn’t be fixed by geography, though the land was a critical part of their identity. Nor would the tribe be a copy and paste of the dominant cultural influences in the area, albeit Canaanite, African, and Near Eastern societies would contribute mightily to the new tribe’s flavor and flow. The tribe of Abraham and Isaac would be theological brothers to the Salemites who worshipped the true God under Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20), but they wouldn’t join the Salemites. The tribe of Isaac and Abraham the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13) would be in some ways like all those other people-groups but the sum of the new tribe would be completely different, something new.
Abraham’s life was defined by God’s Word, God’s spoken promise to make of him a great nation. The tribe of Abraham and Isaac and Isaac’s children would become a new people, a new nation defined by the Word of God which they would come to know as the Law, the Scriptures.
Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? . . . 40 You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time (Deuteronomy 4:33, 40).
Israel, the Jews, the chosen people claim as their inheritance the promises of Abraham, promises made by the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Abraham succeeded in building his tribe, his nation through Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob.
They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen (Romans 9:4-5, ESV).
But Abraham’s tribe became something bigger than bourgeoise. God fulfilled the most powerful clause in the Abrahamic covenant: 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 22:18).
Through faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God and descendant of Abraham Isaac and Jacob according to the flesh, we non-Hebrews, non-Israelites are made heirs of the promises of Abraham.
It’s good to be “real.” You should own your past sins, know how to handle yourself in fight, and maintain a formidable reputation in all circles, even among the heathens.
Give your children genuine respect and agape love for people across every demographic but train them to be an outsider to the culture of easy sin around them. Teach your kids the faults and failures in their family and ethnic history, and but don’t define them by those faults and failings. You can’t usually pick spouses like Abraham did, but you can choose to center your children’s identity in God.
If you do your life right, your kids will be spoiled (with blessings and security and opportunity you didn’t have).
If you were successful your children will be a bit more bourgeois; make sure they’re also more firmly grounded in the Word of God.
If all of us do that, we’ll be fathers and mothers of a great nation.
---Anderson T. Graves II is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama; executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO); and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).
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