You know how when you move to a new area, and if you have a really hot wife you get worried that people who live there will kill you to get a chance to be with her, and so you just say she is your sister and the problem altogether by just making her available to the top dog in the new area? Typical story, right? Well, in my fourth day of reading the Old Testament, I’ve now come across the third version of such a story. You can read the first, which is from Genesis 12, in Day Two. I reference the second, which is in Genesis 20 yesterday, and here is the third. Like father like son:
6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”
8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”
10 Then Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”
11 So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
Gen. 26. For those of you keeping score at home, Abimelech is the second king to be tricked into marrying Sarah because Abraham played this trick on him.
In between the wife swapping, or actually wife giving away because you’re a wimp, the Genesis story suggests some pretty intense loss. I’ve heard it mentioned that Sarah dies in the next chapter after Abraham offers Isaac as a sacrifice. Likewise, Genesis suggests that Isaac stayed away from Abraham. It is Abraham’s servant who goes to find Rebekah. I found this passage to be genuinely poignant. “Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Gen. 24:66-67. The story of Abraham’s second marriage follows, seeming a little out of chronological order, but to me it showcases the separate paths taken by those two men. Abraham, always followed God, but also always sought heirs. Isaac, a damaged man who was the subject of great turmoil, sought only to replace the love of his mother, which ultimately was granted him in his new wife.
Of course, it is only a few verses later when Rebekah is scheming with her favorite son to trick Isaac into giving Jacob his birthright. But, it is sweet for a minute.