We’ve been going pretty heavy with Persephone and the Greeks. We need something sexy to take the weight off. Sounds like a job for the Bible!
After wiping out the world with the flood and dashing the tower of Babel, we move into a new chapter with a guy named Abram. One day, God shows up with the declaration “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great” (Gen 12:2) out of the blue. No preamble, no, “Hey, how you doing?” And this is not something small, either. This is the promise of becoming kings and a nation, you know, world shattering stuff, since “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3). No pressure, Abram. No pressure.
But it’s not like there was a snap of fingers, tada, you’re king. God led him to a new land, proclaiming, “To your offspring I will give this land.” This is important. I mean, mega important. But not right now; right now Abram is just making a pit stop. It’s foreshadowing, okay? We’ll get back to it in a few hundred years. Don’t worry, it’ll go quick.
Abram and his wife Sarai go into Egypt, and this is where the first of the sexiness takes place. Abram pulls his wife aside and talks to her because he’s scared for his life. He’s convinced that the Egyptians will “kill [him], but they will let [Sarai] live,” (Gen 12:12) if it’s known they’re married. This gives us a strong indication of what kind of people are in this world. Banditry and barbarism abound, apparently, despite the flood. Looks like Noah didn’t do such a good job of teaching people not to be jerks.
Pharoah takes Sarai as his wife—thinking she is Abram’s sister because that’s the scheme to keep Abram alive. And, yes, Pharaoh paid for her. I know, it’s a deplorable treatment of women that Abram sells her off. I can’t defend this from a modern standpoint. It’s reprehensible. However, this is a completely different culture in which everything has a value. Selling people is strictly routine. In fact, chances are good that Sarai would have been proud of the price she got, consisting of “sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.” These are the foundations of wealth to one day become a king, all because of Sarai’s value in the ancient world.
However, this is technically illegal for Abram to do since he is married to Sarai. And God, apparently, cares about such technicalities, and is true to his word about “bless[ing] those who bless [Abram], and the ones who curse [him] [God] will curse” (Gen 12:3). As a result, “the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues” (Gen 12:17). This is interesting because it’s before the establishment of a formal Covenant between God and Abram. If anything, this is a test of these early terms, and God showing that he will follow-through. Kind of a free sample, which pays out well for Abram as he and Sarai get to depart, with all their stuff, unharmed.
Again, this is more foreshadowing, but the results are more immediate than with the land thing. Abram and Sarai will see great life changes relating to this trial-period covenant. Hey, Abram is not just going ot sign up for himself, but for generations. Forever. It’s good to get a sample of how that works.