Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chayei Sarah/Chayyei Sarah/Chayey Sarah, 5774/2013 edition, part 2

Part 1 here.

Faulty-chronology alert:
  • In B'reshit/Genesis, Chapter 24, every time the senior servant (traditionally assumed to be Eliezer haDamasi/Eliezer of Damascus, though he's never named) refers to "my master," he's talking about Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father), whereas he refers to Yitzchak (Isacc) as "my master's son"--except when Rivkah (Rebecca) asks who's approaching them in the field, and the servant answers "my master" when clearly speaking of  Yitzchak.  Why would he suddenly describe Yitzchak as his master unless Avraham had already passed away?  And why else would Avraham, after going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that an appropriate wife was found for Yitzchak, be absent from Yitzchak and Rivkah's meeting and/or wedding?
  • On the other hand, see B'reshit/Genesis, Chapter 25, verses 1-6, which depicts Avraham remarrying immediately after Yitzchak and Rivkah marry.
Faulty-logic alert:
  • According to Chapter 25, verses 1-6, Avraham impregnated Keturah six times, though he was well over 100 years old.  Come on, it's not as if he had access to Viagra.
  • Not only that, but, according to the same verses, Avraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines (how many did he have?) and sent them away, which means that he lived long enough to raise Keturah's sons to be old enough to be sent away.
  • Even if one assumes that (a) our ancestors' definition of a year was not the same as ours, meaning that Avraham was not that old, and/or (b) that Avraham didn't wait until after the death of Sarah to bring Keturah and/or other women into the childbearing picture, one still ends up with a story that makes the previously-told tale of Sarah's and Hagar's conflict irrelevant and unnecessary.  
My husband's speculation:
  • Chapter 25, verses 1-6 may come from the E source, and don't appear in the J source.  (See Documentary Hypothesis.)
  • These verses don't appear to fit anywhere in either the Yitzchak or the Yishmael (Ishmael) story.
  • These verses could easily be omitted from the Torah without changing anything before or after, raising the rather interesting question of what the "redactors" expected to accomplish by including them, especially given the confusion that they create.
  • My husband describes these verses as an "either/or" story--either these verses show how Avraham ended up being the father of multitudes, or there was a battle for succession between Sarah, on behalf of her son Yitzchak, and Hagar, on behalf of her son Yishmael.


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