The Holy Bible: Genesis 16-20

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Genesis

Chapters 16-20

The Birth of Ishmael

16[1-3] Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to have any children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Yahweh has prevented me from having children. Go and have sex with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram did as Sarai said. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife, which was ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.

[4-6] So Abram had sex with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with great disrespect. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with great disrespect. Yahweh will show who’s wrong, you or me!” So Abram said, “Look, she’s your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so badly that she finally ran away.

[7-12] Then the angel of Yahweh found Hagar beside a spring of water in the countryside, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She answered, “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai.” So the angel of Yahweh said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and do as she tells you. I’ll give you more descendants than you can count. You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for Yahweh has heard your cry of trouble. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He’ll fight against everyone, and everyone will fight against him. Yes, He’ll be openly angry with all his relatives.”

[13-16] Afterward, Hagar used another name to refer to Yahweh, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.

Abram Is Named Abraham

17[1-8] When Abram was 99 years old, Yahweh appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai, ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life and I’ll make a promise to you, in which I’ll promise to give you more descendants than you can count.” At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my promise to you: I’ll make you the father of many nations! I am also changing your name. It’ll no longer be Abram. Instead, you’ll be called Abraham, for you’ll be the father of many nations. I’ll make you have many descendants. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! “I’ll renew my promise with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting promise: I’ll always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I’ll give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It’ll be theirs forever, and I’ll be their God.”

The Mark of the Promise

     [9-14] Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the promise. You and all your descendants will be responsible for this forever. This is the promise that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must have the foreskin of his penis cut off. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the promise between Me and you. From generation to generation, every male child must have his foreskin cut off on the eighth day after his birth. You must do this, not only to members of your family, but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign servants whom you’ve purchased. All the males must be cut their foreskins off. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting promise. Any male who fails to have his foreskin cut off will be cut off from the blessings of the promise for breaking it.”

Sarai Is Named Sarah

     [15-22] Then God said to Abraham, “About Sarai, your wife, her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. And I’ll bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I’ll bless her richly, and she’ll become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.” Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in unbelief. “How could I become a father at 100 years old?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she’s 90 years old?” So Abraham said to God, “I wish that Ishmael would live up to your special blessing!” But God said, “No, Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You’ll name him Isaac, and I’ll confirm my promise with him and his descendants as an everlasting promise. As for Ishmael, I’ll bless him also, fair as you’ve asked. I’ll make him have many descendants. He’ll become the father of twelve princes, and I’ll make them a great nation. But my promise will be made with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” So when God had finished speaking, he left Abraham.

     [23-27] On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then he cut their foreskins off fair as God had told him. Abraham was 99 years old when he was cut their foreskins off, and Ishmael, his son, was thirteen. Both Abraham and his son, Ishmael, had their foreskins cut off on that same day, along with all the other men and boys of the household, whether they were born there or bought as servants. They all had their foreskins cut off with him.

A Son is Promised to Sarah

     18[1-5] Yahweh appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove in Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground. “My God,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me have some food made to refresh you before you continue on your journey.” So they said. “Yes, do as you’ve said.”

     [6-10] So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly cooked it. When the food was ready, Abraham took some cheese and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.

     [9-15] “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham said. Then one of them said, “I’ll come back to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Now Sarah was listening from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was too old to have children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could an old woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my husband is old, too?” Then Yahweh said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for Yahweh? I’ll come back about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But Yahweh said, “No, you did laugh.”

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

     [16-19]Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” Yahweh asked. “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have chosen him so that he’ll teach his sons and their families to keep the way of Yahweh by doing what’s right and fair. Then I’ll do for Abraham all that I have promised.”

     [20-26] So Yahweh told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so openly done. I am going down to see if their actions are as evil as I have heard. If not, I’ll know.” The other two men turned and headed toward Sodom, but Yahweh remained with Abraham. So Abraham spoke to him and said, “Will you wipe out both the good and the evil? What if you find fifty good people living there in the city? Will you still wipe it out and not spare it for their sakes? Surely you wouldn’t do that, killing the good along with the evil. Then you would be treating the good and the evil in the same way! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do what’s right?” So Yahweh said, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I’ll spare the whole city for their sake.”

     [27-] Then Abraham spoke up again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my God, even though I am but dust and ashes. What if there are only forty-five good people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And Yahweh said, “I won’t destroy it if I find forty-five good people there.” Then Abraham asked again. “What if there are only forty?” And Yahweh said, “I won’t destroy it for the sake of the forty.” Then Abraham begged again “Please don’t be angry, my God. Let me speak again. What if there are only thirty good people found?” And Yahweh said, “I won’t destroy it if I find thirty.” Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to Yahweh, let me ask again. What if there are only twenty?” And Yahweh said, “Then I won’t destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” Finally, Abraham said, “God, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. What if only ten are found there?” And Yahweh said, “Then I won’t destroy it for the sake of the ten.” So after speaking with Abraham, Yahweh went on, and Abraham went back to his tent.

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

     19[1-3] That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. “My Gods,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. Then You may get up early in the morning and be on your way again.” But they answered, “No, we’ll spend the night out here in the city square.” But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Then Lot had a feast for them, with fresh bread that hadn’t risen, and they ate.

[4-10] But before they went to sleep for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such an evil thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never had sex before. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want to with them. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and I am responsible for protecting them.” But they shouted back, “Get out of the way! This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you much worse than those other men!” And they pushed against Lot to break down the door. But the two angels reached out, and pulled Lot back into the house, and locked the door. Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so the men stopped trying to get inside.

     [12-14] Meanwhile, the angels asked Lot, “Do you’ve any other relatives here in the city? Get them out of this place, your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. For we are about to completely destroy this city. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached Yahweh, who has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot rushed out to tell his daughters’ fiancés, “Come quickly, and get out of the city! Yahweh is about to destroy it.” But the young men thought he was only joking.

      [15-17] At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you’ll be wiped out in the destruction of the city!” So when Lot still lingered, the angels took his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and took them to safety outside the city, for Yahweh was merciful to them. So when they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you’ll be wiped out!”

     [18-22] “Oh no, my God!” Lot begged. “You’ve been so gracious to me and saved my life, and you’ve shown such great kindness. But I can’t go to the mountains. Disaster would come to me there, and I’d soon die. See, there’s a small town nearby. Please let me go there instead; see how small it is? Then my life will be saved.” So the angel said, “I’ll let you do that. I won’t destroy that little town. But hurry! Escape to it, for I can do nothing until you get there.” (This explains why that town was known as Zoar, which means “little place.”)

     [23-26] So Lot reached the town just as the sun was rising over the horizon. Then Yahweh rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. God completely destroyed them, along with the other cities and towns of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.

     [27-29] Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had talked with Yahweh. He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as the smoke rose from the cities like smoke from an oven. But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.

Lot and His Daughters

     [30-38] Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. One day the older daughter said to her sister, “There are no men left anywhere in this entire area, so we can’t get married like everyone else. And our father will soon be too old to have children. Come, let’s get him drunk with wine, and then we’ll have sex with him. That way we’ll save our family line through our father.” So that night they got him drunk with wine, and the older daughter went in and had sex with her father. He didn’t know that she came or went. The next morning the older daughter said to her younger sister, “I had sex with our father last night. Let’s get him drunk with wine again tonight, and you go in and have sex with him. That way we’ll save our family line through our father.” So that night they got him drunk with wine again, and the younger daughter went in and had sex with him. Like before, he didn’t know that she came or went. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites. And when the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.

Abraham Deceives Abimelech

     20[1-7] Later Abraham moved south to the Negev and lived for a while between Kadesh and Shur, and then he moved on to Gerar. While living there as a foreigner, Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, “She’s my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace. But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “You are a dead man, for that woman you’ve taken is already married!” But Abimelech had not slept with her yet, so he said, “God, will you destroy an innocent nation? Didn’t Abraham tell me, ‘She’s my sister’? And she herself said, ‘Yes, he’s my brother.’ I acted in complete innocence! My hands are clean.” So in the dream God responded, “Yes, I know you are innocent. That’s why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I didn’t let you touch her. Now give her back to her husband, and he’ll pray for you, for he’s a preacher. Then you’ll live. But if you don’t give her back to him, you can be sure that you and all your people will die.”

     [8-13] So Abimelech got up early the next morning and quickly called all his servants together. When he told them what had happened, his men were terrified. Then Abimelech called for Abraham. “What have you done to us?” he demanded. “What have I done that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? No one should ever do what you’ve done! Why would you to do such a thing?” So Abraham said, “I thought, ‘This is a godless place. They’ll want my wife and will kill me to get her.’ And she really is my sister, for we both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her. When God told me to leave my father’s home and travel to this land, I told her, ‘Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.’”

    [14-18] Then Abimelech took some of his sheep and goats, cattle, and male and female servants, and he gave them to Abraham. He also gave his wife, Sarah, back to him. Then Abimelech said, “Look over my land and choose any place where you want to live.” And he said to Sarah, “Look, I am giving your ‘brother’ 1,000 pieces of silver in the presence of all these witnesses. This is to repay you for any wrong I may have done to you. This will settle any claim against me, and your reputation is cleared.” Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants, so they could have children, because Yahweh had caused all the women to not be able to have children because of what happened with Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

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