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THE ANCESTRESS OF ISRAEL IN DANGER IN DANGER

Robert Polzin
Carleton University, Ottawa

ABSTRACT
The traditional emphasis of source and form-criticism on diachronic relationships
between the three versions of this story (found in Gen 12, 20 and 26) has resulted in an
unfortunate neglect of synchronic connections between the stories themselves and in relation
to their literary context. A concentration on certain transformations found within the three
versions aims at pointing out the potential significance that a synchronic analysis of Gen
12, 20, and 26 has for an understanding of the larger story line of Genesis. Two sets of
transformations are described. First of all, one can find certain transformations concerning the
relationships of wealth and progeny to an adulterous situation. Secondly, another set of
transformations involves the means by which the monarch discovers the truth of the matter.
Both sets of transformations concern the way in which man finds out Yahwehs will and
purpose. The first set answers the question: When is a man blessed by God? The second set
answers the question: When is a man cursed by God? Three ways of discerning Gods will
are discovered in these transformations: The Act of God, the Word of God, and personal
observation. However, only personal observation is singled out in the larger story line as
constant and invariant.
0.1 For centuries biblical critics have attempted to analyze the danger which Israels
ancestress has been in for millennia. Their attempts at analysis have been complicated by the
fact that the Book of Genesis finds her in the same perilous circumstances three times: Gen
12:1013:1, Gen 20, and Gen 26:1ff. Much of this academic gallantry toward a biblical
damsel in distress has resulted in a misunderstanding of the poor woman and of the crises she
underwent in the patriarchal narratives. To have been placed in dishonorable circumstances
by ones husband to serve his own self-interest is one thing; to be misunderstood by men for
all time is quite another. Perhaps it is time to try to rescue her and her story from the
questionable reputation they have had among many biblical scholars.
0.2 Klaus Kochs form-critical analysis of this story (111132) is representative of the
present state of affairs. Heir to the diachronic concerns of source- and form criticism, he asks
a central question: Is it possible to resurrect the original story? behind the three versions.
Building upon source-critical conclusions about the Yahwistic nature of the Gen 12 and 26
versions and the Elohistic nature of Gen 20, Koch both gives us details about their redaction
history and reconstructs for us many aspects of the original form of the story. A particularly
circular aspect of his analysis consists in describing the evolutionary development of this
particular ethnological saga largely by means of general assumptions about how such
stories developed in Israel, i.e., from simple to complex form, from less to more ethically
sensitive, etc., and then using this analysis as a basis for tracing a history of the literary type
of the ethnological saga, e.g., that the narratives become elaborated, the Moral
sensitivity becomes gradually stronger, etc.
0.3 One of the more lamentable effects of such source- and form-critical work is the lack of
concern for how stories fit into their present literary context. The assumption that at one time
they were without this contextand this is a likely assumptionplus an overwhelming
desire to trace the stories history have unfortunately drawn biblical scholars away from a
concern for the significance of these versions within the context of the larger story-line of the
present patriarchal narratives. Traditional biblical scholarship has spent most of its efforts in
disassembling the works of a complicated watch before our amazed eyes without apparently

realizing that similar efforts by and large have not succeeded in putting the parts back
together again in a significant or meaningful way. The ancestress of Israel in danger has
suffered the same fate as her companions in the biblical narrative. If I may switch my
metaphor, she has skillfully been moved out of her present neighborhood by well-meaning
intellectuals without ever an attempt seriously to investigate the significant roles she played
in her community.
0.4 This traditional emphasis on diachronic relationships between the three versions of the
story has resulted here as elsewhere in the Bible in an unfortunate neglect of the synchronic
connections of these three stories between themselves and in relation to their literary context.
Let me attempt to point out the potential significance that a synchronic analysis of Gen 12,
20, and 26 has for an understanding of the larger story-line of Genesis. I will be concentrating
on certain transformations found within the three versions.
1.1 Gen 12:1012 contains information for the first time about how Abram acquires some
wealth. He increases his possessions by allowing Pharaoh to take Sarai into Pharaohs house:
And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, he-asses, menservants,
maidservants, she-asses, and camels.
With no information to the contrary we can assume that this version of the story involves
what might be termed actual adultery. Now this adulterous situation is the means by which
Abram acquires a good deal of wealth. It has been commonly assumed that this version of the
story is not so ethically sensitive as Gen 20 is. The narrative of Gen 12 contains no raised
eyebrows when Abram allows his wife to enter Pharaohs household, whereas the narrator of
Gen 20 goes to great lengths to defend Abrahams honor in this regard, as we shall soon see.
Rather, here in Gen 12 we have been told by form-critics that there must have been an intense
pleasure experienced by the ancient Israelite when he was told how his father Abram put a
fast one over on the lascivious Pharaoh who foolishly gives Abram much wealth and gets
great plagues in return! So what, if Sarai had to be part of Pharaohs harem; the Yahwist has
none of the ethical scruples his brother the Elohist has.
1.2 But let me immediately state that we cannot be quite so sure what the Yahwist thought
about the ethics of the matter because we dont have the original literary or oral context of the
Yahwistic traditions about the patriarchs. All we have is the present context of the story, and it
will be a key contention of this study that Gen 12 in its present context is quite as sensitive to
ethical issues as the other versions of the story.
1.3 Another aspect of the Gen 12 story is Abrams status concerning progeny at this time.
The LORD had just spoken to Abram twice (in Gen 12:13 and 12:7) and the key element of
that promise was progeny. Neither Abrams wealth nor possession of the land could by
themselves make him a great nation or assure the land to his descendants. The endurance of
Gods blessing beyond Abrams death depended upon God giving him a son. What is
significant about Gods promises to Abram regarding wealth, the land, and progeny is that the
first two are almost immediately given to Abram whereas the child of Gods blessing is not
given to him until much later in the narrative, at the beginning of Chapter 21. Is there any
reason for this delay in terms of the patriarchal narrative itself? We shall see.
1.4 In short, the story in Gen 12 begins with Abram having little or no wealth and no
progeny. By means of a situation I have termed actual adultery, Abram obtains great
wealth. The story ends with Abram being expelled a wealthy man but still without progeny.
2. Some interesting transformations occur in the Gen 20 version of the story. In terms of
what we have been discussing up to now, the situation at the beginning of the Gen 20 version
is accurately described by Gen 13:2:
Now Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

and by Gen 16:1:


Now Sarai, Abrams wife bore him no children.
Yet the LORD is still promising Abram:
And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly. (Gen
17:2)
Gen 20, therefore, begins with Abraham being quite wealthy but still lacking the progeny
God has been promising him.
2.1 The first transformation between Chapters 12 and 20 is that 12 begins with the ancestor
having little or no wealth and no progeny, whereas 20 begins with him having much wealth
and no progeny.
2.2 A second transformation concerns the situation Sarai/Sarah finds herself in once she
poses as Abrams/Abrahams sister. In Gen 12 there is no reason to assume that actual
adultery was not the result of Abrams self-protection. However, in Gen 20 it is made very
clear that only apparent adultery has occurred:
And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. Now Abimelech had not approached
her. (20:2, 4)
God tells Abimelech:
and it was I who kept you from sinning against me; therefore I did not let you touch her.
(20:6)
2.3 A third transformation concerns the manner in which Abram/Abraham acquires wealth
in the story. In Gen 12 it is the adulterous situation which brings wealth to Abram; however,
in Gen 20 it is the removal of an adulterous situation which enriches Abraham:
Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to
Abraham, and restored Sarah his wife to him. (20:14)
To Sarah he said, "Behold I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silverbefore
everyone you are righted. (20:16)
2.4 Another transformation concerns the conclusion of the story. In Gen 12 the story end
with Abram still without the child God has promised him. However, in Gen 20 the conclusion
of the story is followed immediately by this notice:
The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. And
Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken
to him. (21:12)
What is interesting here in the Gen 20 version is that there is an explicit connection made
between the adulterous situation and infertility: God had closed all the wombs of the house of
Abimelech because of the apparent adultery. Once that situation was removed, Abimelechs
household immediately becomes fertile (20:17) and Sarah herself, for a long time infertile,
now becomes pregnant. Although it is not explicitly stated that Sarahs inability to conceive
has any direct connection with the adulterous situations her husband has placed her in, I
would like to suggest that this implicit connection helps to explain why Sarai/Sarah does not
becomes pregnant until the events of Chapter 21. The events related in Gen 20 result in
progeny whereas those of Gen 12 do not because in the first incident Abram enriches himself
by means of the adultery (Gen 12) and in the other version Abraham becomes wealthy

through the removal of an adulterous situation. This contrast was the third transformation we
mentioned above. In other words, the connection between infertility and adultery is explicit in
the context of Gen 20 but only implicit in the context of Gen 12.
2.5 In short, the story in Gen 20 begins with Abraham having much wealth but no progeny
(by Sarah). By means of the removal of apparent adultery Abraham obtains more wealth.
The story ends without Abraham being expelled and Sarah immediately becomes pregnant.
3.1 When we examine Gen 26, we find that the transformations we have been discussing
continue. The ancestor, who is now Isaac, is not wealthy at the beginning of the story but only
becomes so in the course of it:
The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he
became very wealthy. (26:1213)
Moreover, whereas in Gen 12 and 20 the ancestor has no children at the beginning, in Gen 26
Isaac already has Jacob and Esau.
3.2 Secondly, if there was actual adultery in Gen 12 and apparent adultery in Gen 20,
Gen 26 involves only potential adultery. No one took the ancestress (now Rebekah) from
her rightful husband, but because of Isaacs lie the danger had been present. Abimelech
accuses Isaac:
What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife
and you would have brought guilt upon us. (26:10)
3.3 A third transformation involves the manner in which the ancestor obtains his wealth in
the story. If in Gen 12 Abram becomes wealthy because of the adulterous situation itself, and
if in Gen 20 Abraham increases his wealth because of the removal of such a situation, in Gen
26, Isaacs acquisition of great wealth is not because of the adultery or its removal but only is
consequent upon the removal of the potential adultery. In other words, the acquisition of
wealth is to the removal of adultery in Gen 26 like the acquisition of progeny is to the
removal of adultery in Gen 20.
3.4 In short, the story in Gen 26 begins with Isaac having progeny but no wealth. The
acquisition of wealth follows the removal of the potentially adulterous situation. The story
ends with Isaac being expelled from the land.
4. Here is a synoptic view of the transformations we have been discussing:
Body

End

acquisition of wealth thru actual adultery

expulsionno progeny

ny

acquisition of wealth thru removal of apparent adultery

no expulsionprogeny following removal of apparent adu

acquisition of wealth following removal of potential


expulsion with previous progeny
adultery
5.1 In terms of these transformations and of the literary context surrounding each version
of the story, I would suggest that certain structural laws can be constructed from this
synchronic analysis on the level of content. These laws concern first of all possible
interrelationships between progeny, wealth and Gods blessing. In the narratives under
discussion the exploits of the patriarchs occur within the context of Gods promises to bless
them. Two essential signs or actualizations of Gods blessing (beraµkaµh)
appear to be the acquisition of great wealth and the obtaining of progeny. Gods blessing is
seen as a process and the process is essentially complete when wealth and progeny are

obtained under certain conditions. We are told when the process of blessing was complete in
Abrahams case:
and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. (24:1)
Moreover, Abrahams servant tells Laban the essentials of that blessing:
The LORD has greatly blessed my master,
and he has become great; he has given him
wealthflocks and herds, silver and gold, menservants
and maidservants, camels and asses.
And Sarah my masters wife bore a son to my
progenymaster when she was old; and to him he has
given all that he has. (Gen 24:3536)
Wealth and progeny actualize Gods blessing, but not any wealth or any progeny. For
example, Ishmael is not connected with Gods promises to bless Abraham:
And Abraham said to God, O that Ishmael might live in thy sight! God said, No, but Sarah
your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant
with him. (Gen 17:1819)
In like manner, Gen 15:4 separates Ishmael from the blessing of Abram:
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him [Abram], This man [Ishmael] shall not be
your heir; your own son shall be your heir.
Nor is just any wealth connected with Gods blessing. Two conditions appear to be necessary
before the obtaining of wealth can be considered a fulfillment of Gods promise of blessing:
a) wealth must be connected with progeny in some way, and b) the obtaining of wealth must
satisfy certain standards set by Yahweh. Similarly, two conditions appear to be necessary
before the obtaining of progeny can be considered a fulfillment of Gods promise of blessing:
a) progeny must be connected in some way with wealth, and b) the obtaining of progeny must
satisfy certain conditions or standards set by Yahweh.
5.2 The three versions of the ancestress of Israel in danger provide us with sufficient
transformations to spell out some of the structural laws according to which wealth, progeny,
and blessing by God are able to be connected in the patriarchal narratives.
6.1 Let us go back over the three versions to clarify aspects of their message that are
connected with the transformations we have discussed. If wealth and progeny go together as
signs of Gods blessing, the adulterous situations of Gen 12, 20, and 26 seem to be obstacles
standing in the way of the full actualization of Yahwehs promised blessing. In Gen 12,
Abrahams newly acquired wealth is only apparently a sign of Gods blessing; in reality it is
ill-begotten in a double sense: it derives from Abrams acquiescence in an adulterous
situation, and it does not result in nor form the prelude for, the reception of progeny. It would
seem from this storys context that only wealth which is connected with fertility is actually a
sign of Gods blessing. Negatively put, wealth un-connected with fertility is not a sign of
Gods blessing. Moreover, Gen 12 seems to imply that the reason Abraham is not blessed by
progeny at this stage in the story-line is his failure to satisfy certain standards set by Yahweh.
This failure involves acquiescence in adultery and explains why Abraham must wait until the
events of Chapter 21 to obtain progeny, even though the land and wealth had long since been
given him.

6.2 If the wealth obtained by Abram in Gen 12 is not a sign of Gods blessing, the riches he
acquires in Gen 20 are clearly so. For since they are the direct result of the removal of an
adulterous situation and since notice of them is immediately followed by an announcement of
Sarahs pregnancy, both conditions we have mentioned above are fulfilled. In other words,
Abrahams life situation satisfies conditions unfulfilled since he first decided (in Chapter 12)
to parade his wife as his sister; moreover his newly acquired wealth is immediately followed
by newly acquired fertility.
6.21 When we examine the larger narrative of which Gen 12 and 20 are a part, an
interesting fact on the level of expression correlates with our analysis on the level of content:
the first specific mentions of God having blessed Abraham are Gen 24:1 and 35, quoted
above. Before this point in the story, we have only statements concerning promises of
blessing made to Abram/Abraham. Even after Abraham, already wealthy, becomes father of
Isaac, he must still satisfy standards of action concerning his son Isaac (just as he had had to
satisfy standards of action regarding the acquisition of wealth). This is the function of Gen 22
and the sacrifice of Isaac. Even at this late stage in the Abrahamic narrative no mention of
Yahweh having blessed Abraham occurs until Gen 24.
6.3 An examination of the transformations and context of Gen 26 fits in with the
narratives structural laws described above. We are told in Gen 25:11, After the death of
Abraham God blessed Isaac his son. This notice is a general orientation to and synopsis of
the stories about Isaac found in the rest of Chapter 25 and in Chapter 26. How did Yahweh
accomplish the blessing of Isaac? First by granting him progeny, Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:19
34), and secondly by making him rich. We are specifically told in Gen 26:1213:
The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he
became very wealthy.
Already having progeny, and already having rectified the potentially adulterous situationof
Gen 26:111, Isaac now receives Gods blessing in the form of great wealth. Gods blessing
is actualized or made essentially complete only with the acquisition of wealth and progeny
possessed under conditions established by Yahweh. As Abimelech states to Isaac in Gen
26:29:
You are now the blessed of the LORD.
6.41 Just as Abraham is not described as already blessed by God until after he has both
wealth and progeny, so it is with Isaac. But more is required of the blessed of the LORD
than just the physical possession of wealth and progeny. An examination of the
transformations in Gen 20 and 26 details for us what is additionally required. In Abrahams
case (Gen 20), the emphasis is on the appropriate circumstances of one who is already
wealthy: once the apparently adulterous situation is removed God immediately gives him
progeny. In Isaacs case (Gen 26) the emphasis is on the appropriate circumstances of one
who already has children: once the potentially adulterous situation is removed God
immediately makes him wealthy. In other words, wealth and progeny are transformations of
one another in these two versions:
Gen 20: wealth minus (apparent) adultery progeny
Gen 26: progeny minus (potential) adultery wealth
6.42 One distinctive difference between these two versions on the plane of expression must
be pointed out here. The resultant wealth of Isaac is explicitly related to the verb to bless
(Gen 26:1213), whereas the resultant progeny of Abraham is not so related (Gen 21:12). It
is only later in Gen 24:1, 35 that such a connection is made explicit. The reason for this

seems to center principally around the need first to relate the great test of Abraham in Gen 22
concerning the sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham had passed one test concerning wealth, and
Yahweh had given him progeny. Now in 22 he must pass another test, this time concerning
progeny. This he does, and further progress is made in the blessing of Abraham:
Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed
bless you. (Gen 22:1617)
It remains only for Abraham legally to obtain a foothold in the land through the purchase of a
family burial place (Gen 23) for the process of blessing to be complete. On the plane of
expression the transformations in Abrahams case are as follows:
Gen 12:2
e

Gen 22:17

81;rek kaµ

u.

kiÆ baµreµk

Gen 24:1

waYHWH beµrak &#212

Ôabaµrekekaµ
Ôabraµha&#181
I will indeed bless you.
And the LORD had blessed Abrah
6.5 The difference then, on the plane of content, between the relationships of wealth,
progeny, and blessing in Abrahams case, and those relationships in Isaacs case is essentially
this: Abraham had to pass a two-fold test, first concerning his possession of wealth, (Gen
12, 20) then concerning his possession of progeny (Gen 22); Isaac in our present narrative has
only to pass a test concerning his possession of progeny (Gen 26). Our three versions concern
some of the tests Yahweh required of the patriarchs. Gen 12 concerns the possession of
wealth which is ill-begotten so that the giving of progeny is delayed (Abraham failed this
test). Gen 20 concerns the possession of wealth which is not ill-begotten so that the giving of
progeny immediately follows (Abraham has passed this test). Gen 26 concerns the possession
of progeny which is not ill-possessed so that the giving of wealth immediately follows (Isaac
passed the test). In all three versions the definition or focal point of the test is an adulterous
situation. In Gen 12 wealth that flows from adultery does not result in progeny whereas in
Gen 20 wealth that flows from the removal of adultery results in progeny. Gen 12 and 20
concern the relationship between possession of wealth and Gods blessing. On the other hand,
Gen 26 concerns the relationship between possession of progeny and Gods blessing. Here it
is progeny plus the removal of adultery that results in wealth. We might visualize all this as
follows:
Gen 12: adulterous wealth + removal of adultery no progeny
Gen 20: removal of adultery + anti-adulterous wealth progeny
Gen 26: non adulterous progeny + removal of adultery wealth
7.1 But there is more to these stories than these transformations surrounding wealth and
progeny; another set of transformations involves the means by which the monarch discovers
the truth of the matter, i.e. that the woman is the mans wife not (just) his sister. In each
version there is a specific set of circumstances that allows the king to ask Israels ancestor:
What is this you have done to me? (Gen 12:18)
What have you done to us? (Gen 20:9)
What is this you have done to us? (Gen 26:10)
In Gen 12, the Pharaoh finds out that something is amiss because
the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abrams
wife. (Gen 12:17)

In Gen 20 Abimelech has a dream:


But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead
man, because of the woman whom you have taken; for she is a mans wife. (Gen 20:3)
And in Gen 26 we read:
When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a
window and saw Isaac fondling Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac, and said,
Behold, she is your wife; how then could you say, She is my sister? (Gen 26:89)
7.2 These transformations concern the way in which man finds out Yahwehs will and
purpose. The plague from Yahweh in Gen 12 is related to the central Israelite concept of
salvation history, God acting in history or intervening in historical events. God appearing in a
dream in Gen 20 represents the central Israelite concept of revelation through
dreams/prophecy. It is appropriate that this form appears in Gen 20 where here, alone in our
versions, the ancestor of Israel is called by God a prophet (Gen 20:7). Finally, in Gen 26
Abimelech discovers the truth by using his own eyes; and this transformation coincides with
that central view in Israel designated the Wisdom movement. This set of transformations
concerns one of the most distinctive ways Israel organized and categorized the world about
her. In fact, the very division of the Hebrew Bible according to ancient tradition follows the
structure represented by these transformations. When we look at the Law, the Prophets, and
the Writings, we see that each division emphasizes one particular mode of divine revelation.
In the Torah it is Gods intervention in the events of history that constitutes the central theme
of revelation. In Nebiim the prophetic vision or oracle is emphasized as a central mode
explaining Gods will and purpose to man. And in the Ketubim the theme that stands out most
is confidence in mans ability to discover Gods will through his own powers of observation.
7.3 Certainly each mode is found in each division of the Bible but only one mode
characterizes each division. Similarly, in our versions there is sometimes a mixture present,
but only one mode of revelation moves the story along, by allowing it to run its proper
course. God intervenes in a dream in Gen 20 but he also stops up the wombs of Abimelechs
household. Abimelech is allowed to find things out for himself in Gen 26 but also Isaac both
receives a vision from Yahweh and experiences Gods intervention in making him wealthy.
One finds representations of this particular structure everywhere in the Hebrew Bible. For
example, the Book of Job exemplifies this tripartite structure in the sense that its theme may
be synopsized as follows: the contradiction between orthodoxy and experience is mediated
through vision. Again, within the prophetic sphere itself, the apparent contradiction between
orthodox belief in Yahweh and the terrible events of everyday life is mediated by the vision
and oracle of the prophet. One could multiply these representations endlessly but my main
point is the presence of this ubiquitous Israelite structure in our present stories.
8.1 We can now attempt to relate the transformations involving wealth and progeny with
those concerning the divine modes of revelation. All three versions of our story help to
develop the same theme along the larger story-line of the narrative. This theme may be stated
in two ways, both amounting to the same thing: when in fact is a man blessed by God? or
how does one know that a certain man is blessed by God? The answer of our three stories
is, when a man in fact correctly possesses both progeny and wealth. Another way to state
this answer is to say that whenever possessions or wealth are in fact a sign of Gods blessing
they will be accompanied by progeny and that whenever progeny is in fact a sign of Gods
blessing it will be accompanied by wealth. In other words, ill-begotten possessions do not
result in progeny and ill-possessed progeny does not result in possessions. Each version of
our story illustrates a facet of this answer. Gen 12 tells us that ill-begotten wealth does not

result in progeny and is not a sign of Gods blessing. Gen 20 tells us that well-begotten
wealth does result in progeny and is a sign of Gods blessing. And Gen 26 tells us that wellpossessed progeny does result in wealth and is a sign of Gods blessing.
8.2 It should be clear now that this first set of transformations involving wealth and
progeny is also concerned with how man learns the will or purpose of Yahweh. The answer in
our versions is both pregnant and valuable: the blessed man experiences both wealth and
progeny. Thus in Gen 26 Isaac, who now has both progeny and wealth, is told by Abimelech
and his men We see plainly that the LORD is with you. You are now the blessed of the
LORD (Gen 26:2829). The relationship therefore between the transformations concerning
wealth and progeny and those concerning how the monarch learns the truth is that both
answer how man learns the will and purpose of God; however, one set consistently
emphasizes an observable experience as the mode of divine revelation whereas the other
offers a tri-partite answer of salvation history, vision, and personal observation.
8.3 In terms of the stories themselves, each version deals with the theme of blessing and
curse. The first set of transformations constitutes what is invariant within the larger
patriarchal narrative: the actual configuration of wealth and progeny, i.e. personal
observation, can tell us whom God has actually blessed. The second set of transformations
constitutes what is variable in the story itself: either the Act of God, the Word of God, or
personal observation can tell us whom God has cursed. Blessing and Curse as categories of
Gods will are revealed in three possible ways within the patriarchal narratives and the
versions of Gen 12, 20, 26 neatly illustrate these possibilities. However, one of these
traditional modes of divine revelation is singled out in the larger story line as constant and
invariant, namely the ability of man to use his own eyes, as Abimelech did in Gen 26, to get
to the truth of the matter.
WORKS CONSULTED
Koch, Klaus
1969

The Growth of the Biblical Tradition. Translated from the 2nd German ed. by S. M. Cupitt. New York:
Charles Scribners Sons.
1

1Robert C. Culley, ed ; Robert C. Culley, ed ; Society of Biblical Literature:


Semeia. Semeia 3. Missoula, MT : Society of Biblical Literature, 1975 (Semeia 3),
S. 81