Hebrew Wives

Beautiful brunette asian girl with black veil on face

I got a couple of new sweaters recently.  I decided to wash them to rid them of wrinkles and the sizing.  The instructions on the tag said “lay flat to dry”.  I dislike drying things this way because it’s time consuming as well as space-hogging, though it does save the fabric. I found a large flat place on the often-ignored air hockey table. I dug out a black-and-gray striped towel, folded it and lay it flat.

Rex observed my activity. His golden eyes followed me to the linen closet and back. No sooner had I placed the towel down and turned my back to get the sweater, he was perching on the towel.

“Get down!” I said to him.

He viewed me placidly. He started licking his belly.  He liked it very well. His eyes said, Thanks for making me a bed, human. Frustrated, I picked him up and dumped him off onto a nearby chair.  I turned around again to finally pick up the sweater, and he returned to the towel.  Gah! I dumped him on the floor.  Peeved, he stalked off.

Why do we want what we can’t have? Rex has plenty of spots around the house to sleep. Beds, blankets, chairs, carpets all offer cozy repose.  But he wanted the one spot he couldn’t rest his black bulk on.

I’m reminded of a couple of stories in the Genesis account. Right after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham moves to Gerar. You can read about it in chapter 20. The king of that region, Abimelech, takes a shine to Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Abraham fears for his life, thinking the king will kill him to get Sarah for himself. He tells Sarah, “Say you’re my sister.” She does. King Abimelech invites her to the palace.  During the night God visits Abimelech in a dream and says, “Hey, the girl is already married! You’re a dead man!” (Gen. 20:3). He dialogues with God, asserting his innocence (“I never touched her!”). God agrees with him and tells him to return Sarah to her husband.  Abraham, God states, is a prophet, and will pray for the king.

Early the next day, Abimelech angrily confronts Abraham.  Abraham has to backpedal fast.  “She’s my half sister! I thought you’d kill me in order to get her.” Abimelech makes an apology payment to Abraham, in cattle and silver, to restore Sarah’s honor. Abraham prayed for Abimelech and all his house. The text states that God healed the women in Abimelech’s life, who up until them had been barren.

Genesis chapter 25 informs us of Abraham’s death. In chapter 26,  Isaac is leading the family.  A famine struck the land. Isaac moved the camp to Gerar of the Philistines, where he encounters King Abimelech. Guess what happens?

When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.” But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah.

Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

“Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied.

 “How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.” – Genesis 6:7-10

I find it ironic that Abimelech appears to have more scruples than God’s chosen people. Abimelech offered hospitality to Isaac, honoring the relationship he had with the now-deceased Abraham.  In return, Isaac played the same trick on Abimelech that Abraham had. Fool me once, shame on you…

Yet Abimelech wanted something he couldn’t have – twice. Sarah and Rebekah must have been stunning to turn a king’s head. The scripture said King Abi had wives and female servants already. Presumably, every one of them produced heirs for him. Surely he had his pick of a bevy of beauties. Why chase after another woman? It’s human nature – and also feline nature – to stalk the shiny object.  Unfortunately, that shiny thing, if it’s out of bounds, can get us into trouble. What are you running after?


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