Well, lo and behold, just like the two angels had predicted, Sarah got pregnant and had a son in her old age. They called him Issac.

As you might remember, Sarah was none too happy with Hagar and Ishmael before all this but now she was downright homicidal. She ordered Abraham to cast out this slave woman and her son. Depending on how you look at it, either Abraham had no backbone or, like the Bible says, God told him to go ahead and do it because God would take care of them and, in fact, make of Ishmael a great nation.

So Abraham gave Hagar and his first born son a little bread and a bota bag full of water and sent them off into the desert to die.

But just before they perished, God came to them and showed Hagar a well that had been there the whole time. They were saved! Ishmael grew up in the wilderness, became an expert with the bow, went off to Egypt, got a wife and that’s that.

The next we hear of Ishmael is when Abraham dies. Obviously he was still in the picture somehow but we never hear about him except that he had twelve sons and he was hostile toward his relatives. Not too surprising seeing how he and his mother were treated. Tradition has it that Ishmael is the father of the Arabic people. They’re still at each other’s throats to this day.


The way the story goes, God wanted to test Abraham. After all, he’d chosen him from all the people in the universe to be the father of his ‘chosen people’, so I guess God felt Abraham needed to prove himself. Loyalty, as we’ll see over and over, is a big thing to God.

Well, the way Abraham had to prove himself loyal was to sacrifice Issac as a burnt offering. Pretty harsh, but to a guy who’d just sent his first born son off to die in the desert I guess it’s not as big a deal as it might be to you or I. And from what we read later on, offering up the first born son was not uncommon in those days.

I guess God figured if Abraham was willing to sacrifice Issac, he’d pretty much be willing to do anything.

So off they went up the mountain to do the deed. Issac was not aware of it yet because Abraham tricked him into going. But when he found out, he just went along with it and didn’t try to run or anything. Like it was okay.

Abraham tied him up, piled on the sticks and was ready to light him up when, at the last second, God pulled the plug. Apparently Abraham had passed the loyalty test so Issac was off the hook.

Since Abraham showed his loyalty, God promised to bless him, to multiply his offspring like the stars of heaven and the sands of the desert. They would possess the gates of their enemies and all the world would be blessed because of him. Note the Aramaic penchant for exaggeration. We’ll see it often.

If we leave out the possibility that Abraham was a delusional schizophrenic hearing voices, it still doesn’t sound like something an all-knowing, loving God would do. It sounds a lot more like a loyalty test by an insecure tyrant. More mythology in the image and likeness of humanity?

In a lot of these early Old Testament stories this God sounds like a narcissistic, irrational, petty despot. But seeing that these stories were created for people who were used to being ruled by petty, irrational despots it makes perfect sense. In the long run, if you do what they want, good things happen, if you don’t, it will go very badly. Very superstitious, very mythological, very ignorant but, at the same time, very logical, especially at the time.

Without getting into the whole history, suffice it to say Issac lived and married his cousin, Rebecca. She bore him two sons, Jacob and Esau.

It’s interesting to note that before Jacob and Esau came along, Issac and Rebecca moved into Abimelech’s territory. Remember Abimelech? I don’t know if this was just the custom at the time or if they were trying to pull the same scam Abraham and Rebecca did, but when they got to Abimelech’s neck of the woods, Issac told everybody that Rebecca was his sister, not his wife. But before anyone could snatch her up, Abimelech caught wind of it and told them to get out of town. He’d seen this scam before.

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