1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Was the LORD instructing Abram to be perfect or telling him that he is perfect? One seems like a pretty impossible task and the other is patently false, unless perfection involved tricking Egyptian rulers and raping Egyptian slave-girls.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
What's with all the multiplying? First his seed will "number as the dust of the earth", then "...the stars in the sky" and now "exceedingly". Why does the LORD keep having to reassure Abram about the number of his descendants? Does Abram feel woefully inadequate? Is his manhood called into question because he only has one wild-man-son-of-a-rape-victim as progeny?
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
God talked with him? Why didn't he pick him up? "Oh, you've fallen on your face, what a perfect opportunity to talk to you about something". is God autistic?
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Again with the manhood polishing! I think he gets it LORD and if not he has some deep seated personal issues.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
and just so Abram doesn't forget that his progeny will ultimately be one big inbred family, God gives him a new name... Abraham! OK so now we know what God was talking about in Genesis 12. He won't make Abram's name famous, He'll make this new name that God has just made up famous instead.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
We really do get quite how fruitful Abraham is going to be. God is such a sycophant.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
God is promising to be a God to Abraham and his seed, is he currently not a God or could he be something else? Or perhaps there are others who could be a God to Abraham?
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Didn't God already give the land of Canaan to Abraham's seed or does this constitute an extension of the land God promised to Abraham's seed.
9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Good to know.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
Wait what? Circum (around) cised (cut), Cut around? Cut around what? I hope for Abraham and his seed's sake this isn't going where I think it is.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Yes, That's where I thought it was going, will God mutilate his penis too? Usually when people do something as a token of their agreement they both take the same action, you might shake hands or exchange rings but to make a personal blood sacrifice to the detriment of your little-man seems a bit ridiculous.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
It's not just Abraham's Penis that God wants a piece of, No! Indeed, God wants a portion of every eight day old wang to be born of Abraham's descendants and a good measure of every schlong bought or pressed into slavery by Abraham or his seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
So that's basically what he just said about slaves. Why would Abraham go for this? Is it because he is so desperate to have progeny, and to have that progeny inherit all of Canaan? It seems like a pretty materialistic bargain to make and a pretty poor one. Would you trade your foreskin, all of the foreskins of your descendants and all of the foreskins of your slaves and servants, forever, for the promise that the land of Canaan will always be in your family? Bearing in mind that you'll likely have to do all of the conquering yourself, also bearing in mind that this bargain is being made with someone who promised you a bowel-baby and instead delivered a wild-man and if you know your family history told the mother of all lies to Adam.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
So if a boy child is not circumcised he'll be shunned? this is looking less and less appealing.
15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
Sarai gets a new name too. Does she need to have anything cut?
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
Hmm, OK, so I'm starting to wonder, this whole circumcision thing... Was Sarah(nee Sarai)'s lack of children actually as a result of something being wrong with her... Or, and this is quite radical, Could there, just possibly be a relationship between Abraham's circumcision and Sarah's ability to conceive? Did Abraham perhaps have a problem with his foreskin that prevented him from becoming aroused? Is Ishmael actually his son? Have generation after generation of Jews have suffered ritual mutilation all because Abraham had a penile deformity that needed correcting? I don't know the answers but it's worth considering.
17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
He fell on his face again? What's wrong with him? Anyway, why is he surprised that he and Sarah can conceive at this age It was commonplace not two generations ago.
18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
How nice, Abraham asks god to look after Ishmael. I suppose it's the least he can do.
19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
OK, this isn't news.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
Fair enough, as long as none of those nations are in the way of Isaac's progeny because if they are, they're probably getting wiped out.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Yup, yup, we understand. Isaac will be born in 2048AE, a nice power of 2 number.
22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
Up to where? Heaven I suppose, I wonder if it's still hanging somewhere up in the sky or if it's moved yet.
23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
Hmm, that's a few hundred circumcisions in one day. One has to wonder how 'tidily' the last few were executed. The last thing you need is a botched circumcision.
24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
Yes, you just said that.
27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.
You said that too.
So quite a lot to take in there.
What have we learned?
- When a ninety-nine year old man falls on his face, God's best move is to try to hold a conversation with him.
- Both Abram and Sarai get new names, introducing Abraham and Sarah.
- God won't stop banging on about multiplying Abraham's seed.
- Abraham is far too trusting of this God fellow, who incidentally has stopped being referred to as the LORD.
- Abusing Abraham's trust, God demands, in return for a promise that Abraham will never see come into fruition, billions of foreskins for all time, which is, to say the least, a bit weird.