I am one of the teachers for our 6-8th grade Sunday School class. I love those kiddos and all the questions they ask. They make me think.
Today, we discussed the fact that Abram was told by God to leave his country, and to leave his father’s family. God said He would lead Abram to the land he would give him.
He led him to Canaan. (Note – this was the land that Abram’s father had been going to, but stopped short of reaching.)
Even though God told him to leave his Father’s family, Abram took Lot with him. Now, we wondered if perhaps since Abram and Sarai couldn’t have children, perhaps Lot was more like a son to him than a nephew.
After arriving where they were going, a famine hit the land. So, they headed to Egypt. But Abram told his wife that she was so beautiful, he knew the Egyptians would want her… and would kill him.
Now, at this point, Abram doesn’t say, “I’ll lay down my life to protect you.”
He doesn’t say, “Let’s figure out somewhere else to go, I want us both to live!”
He didn’t say, “Hey babe, let’s rub some mud on your face, mess up your hair, disguise you, and try to ugly you up a little. We need to stay safe!”
NO… Abram didn’t do that. He said…
“See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; 12and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13“Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.”
Yup. That’s what he said.
And guess what? The plan worked…
14It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.
UM… so Sarai is being held in the Pharaoh’s palace, knowing he desires her in a very UNSISTERLY way. And all the while, Abram is getting richer and richer.
We don’t know how long she was there. We don’t know if Pharaoh jumped in and TOOK what he wanted, or if Sarai was being prepared/gussied up for their time together/wifely duty, all the while, Pharaoh was plying Abram with gifts. (Think Esther, and how long she was prepared before she spent time with the King. I think it was at least a year. So we aren’t sure how long she was there.)
So what happened next??
17But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19“Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.” 20Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.
The youth and I discussed whether or not the Pharaoh had sex with Sarai. My honest answer?
I don’t know.
Part of me says, “He’s the Pharaoh. He saw her. He demanded she be brought to the castle. So why would he have waited?”
The other part of me says, “There were certain traditions back then that were performed… regardless. Perhaps God would have caused even more things to happen (maybe death of the Pharaoh) if he had done that.”
Maybe it did happen, maybe it didn’t. Either way – can you imagine the horrible position she must have been in?
I am not Sarai – but when I put myself in her place, and try to imagine what she must have felt like, I have a basket-case full of emotions. Betrayed… scared… sad… lost… ready to kick someone in the pyramid!
And what about when the sickness hit? I like to imagine Sarai saying, to the Pharaoh, “I am a married woman!! You see all this sickness? It’s because God doesn’t honor what you are doing. Touch me again, and see what my God will do!”
Yeah, I know. She probably didn’t say that. But I wonder how Pharaoh knew the truth if she didn’t tell him? Did God come to him in a dream? Did word get back to the palace? Maybe Lot (who was traveling with Abram and Sarai in Egypt) opened his mouth and a servant got the news back to palace?
Either way, Sarai was caught in the crossfire.
And God brought her safely out.
I can be honest and say that I don’t like how Abram handled it. I more than don’t like it. I can’t even stand to think about it. It makes me so mad I could spit. I am a woman… I have three daughters. I expect I’ll have granddaughters and grandsons one day. The thoughts of any of them being that situation makes me want to hurl.
What makes it even worse?
Abram did it again. According to the scriptures on the Old Testament, there was similar incident with a king. But God intervened before the king could touch her.
So if God intervened on her behalf that time, can we assume that he did so the first time, too?
Some scholars believe the second story and the first are truly the same, just the details are different. Kind of a variation on a theme.
It doesn’t really matter, I don’t suppose. As I said before, however it happened, we can surmise two things:
1. Sarai/Sarah was taken against her will.
2. God didn’t like it.
How can we apply this to modern times?
Yeah. it’s pretty simple.
1. Females are forced into sexually charged situations all the time. (Sadly, so are males.)
2. God STILL DOESN’T LIKE IT.
Yes, these are the types of things my Sunday School students make me think about. If it has sparked something in you, I’d love to hear your thoughts!