Abraham Wife Sarah
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15. Abraham Wife Sarah

Abram and Sarai

AbramAbram is a Hebrew name meaning "exalted father," The Lord says to Abram in Genesis 12.1-4, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." Abram obeys God, leaves his family's homeland, and goes into Egypt. Unfortunately, there are problems right from the start for Abraham's wife, Sarai. The Pharaoh noticed her exceptional beauty, and he would have taken her as one of his many wives had not Abram insisted that she was his sister. As a half-sister to Abram, her senior by ten years, this is partly true. Genesis 17.17 explains, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" Abraham married her in a place called Ur of the Chaldeans. Genesis 12.17 adds that as a result of lusting after Sarah, the Lord punishes Pharaoh, "But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife, Sarai." We note that the name "Sarah" means "a woman of high rank" or "princess." She is initially named "Sarai."

Abram's Name Change

Similarly, "Abraham" means "high father of God" and called initially "Abram," saying "high father." God shows his new relationship with this couple by changing their names! Later, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him capture his nephew Lot, and when Abram hears, he goes to Lot's rescue. Genesis 14.14 tells us, "When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan." Note that these 318 trained men are soldiers within Abram's household. Abram is still without a son and heir at this point and complains bitterly to God in Genesis 15.3, "You have given me no children, so a servant in my household will be my heir." The servant, Hagar, is again described as "one of his household." The community of the Household of Faith is essential in ancient times.

Jacob House Gods

Household GodsLater, we have the stories of Jacob. In Genesis, the Jacob house gods are stolen by his daughter Rachel and hidden inside her camel's saddle. Genesis 31.19 describes how Rachel takes these household gods from Laban. "When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household gods." These small possibly, metal household gods or cult objects are also known as "teraphim." Ancient Semitic peoples worshipped these portable metal, stone, or wooden idols. "Teraphim" is a Hebrew word found only in the plural. Genesis 31.34-35 explains, "Now Rachel had taken Jacob's household gods and put them inside her camel's saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing."

Rachel's Hidden Secret

Genesis 31.37 continues, "Rachel said to her father, 'Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us." In Genesis 31.41, Jacob adds, "It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times." Jacob feels justified in taking valuable objects like payment for his many years of unpaid service. Genesis 34.30 gives us more information about how small Jacob's household is, "Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, 'You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.'" Genesis 35.2 adds, "So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.'" In Genesis 36.6, we read that Esau took his wives, sons and daughters and household members, his livestock, other animals, and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved away from his brother Jacob. Moving to another location was the answer to Esau's problems. On the other hand, Jacob orders that the people get rid of their foreign gods and ceremonially purify themselves.

Abraham House Circumcision

Jewish BoyCircumcision becomes the mark of belonging to a Jewish household. God commands Abraham to circumcise all males and future generations to keep the circumcision law for every male offspring. Abraham is told in Genesis 17.12, "For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner, those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant." God's "covenant in your flesh." describes circumcision. Genesis 17.23 continues, " On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him." Being obedient to the Lord's command would bring blessings. Genesis 18.19 further explains, "For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him." Genesis 24.7 adds Abraham's instructions. "The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father Abraham's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring, I will give this land' - he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there." Part of his promise is to guarantee his prodigy would bear children.

Joseph's Potiphar House

Joseph in EgyptThe story of Joseph in the house of Potiphar provides us with some other engaging lessons. Joseph, in Potiphar's house in Egypt, begins with Joseph as a servant and culminates with his appointment as the highest minister and trusted leader over the Egyptian affairs of state. According to Genesis 39.4, "Joseph found favor in Potiphar's sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had." Potiphar is described as "an Egyptian officer" and has so much confidence in Joseph that he entrusts to Joseph's care everything he owns. Genesis 39.5 tells us, "From the time he put him in charge of all that he owned. The Lord blessed the Egyptian household because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field." God's promised to bless those who are faithful to his covenant. In Genesis 45.8, Joseph addresses his brothers and confirms his relationship and trust in God, "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of Potiphar's household and ruler of all Egypt." It is God's divine will to elevate Joseph to a prominent position. Genesis 39.2 reads, "The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master."

Resist Temptation

Potiphar and JosephThough Joseph is materially and spiritually successful, he is not exempt from temptation. In Genesis 39.6b-8, we read, "Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while, his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he refused. 'With me in charge,' he told her, 'my master does not concern himself with anything in the house. Everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.'" Potiphar's wife entices Joseph not once but rather "day after day," but Joseph flees, and in the process, stands up to temptation, which he regards as "a wicked thing and sin against God." Joseph does not allow his good looks to cause him to fall into temptation, for when we sin against our contemporaries, we do first of all a disservice to God. In Genesis 41.51, we further read that "Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, 'It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household.'" "Manasseh" sounds like the Hebrew word for "forget." Joseph could have been vindictive towards his brothers because they mistreated him, but he is not. He forgets their vengefulness!✞

"Abraham Wife Sarah"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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