A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Did Abraham order Sarah to be dishonest? (Is it always sinful to tell an untruth? – Part 4)

Abraham did not ask Sarah to tell an outright lie. He only asked her not to tell the whole truth… the whole truth being that she was his wife as well as his sister / half-sister.

Genesis 20
11 Abraham replied [to Abimelech], “I thought, ‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 So when God had me wander from my father’s house, I said to her: Show your loyalty to me wherever we go and say about me: ‘He’s my brother.’”
–  HCSB,  to study it in context click here.

How do we know for sure that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister?

Terah’s family tree. Source of diagram: Wikidepdia article on Terah

Terah's family tree

 

The Bible does not tell us the name of Terah’s wife or wives. Apart from Abraham’s statement to Abimelech in Genesis 20:12, there is no other verse which corroborates that Terah had more than one wife and that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister since they shared the same father but not the same mother.

Abraham had asked Sarah to tell the Philistines (the people of Gerar) that she was his sister. If that was an out and out falsehood, if Sarah was not Abraham’s biological kin, if she was not his half-sister or his sister, then Abraham would have been asking Sarah to tell an outright lie.

It would seem that Abraham had not asked Sarah to tell an out and out lie. He had only asked her not to tell the whole truth… the whole truth being that she was his wife as well as his sister / half-sister.

The fact that Sarah complied with Abraham’s request suggests to me that she was indeed Abraham’s half-sister.

Maybe this relates in some way to what Paul was alluding to when he says Sarah obeyed Abraham.

(1 Peter 3:6 NMB) even as Sara obeyed Abraham, and called him Lord – whose daughters you are as long as you do well, not being afraid of every shadow.

Read that ^ verse in context — 1 Peter 3 NMB.

My post about 1 Peter 3:6 —
1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear

***

Other parts in this series

Part 1:  Is it always sinful to tell an untruth?

Part 2: When is it okay to not tell the truth?

Part 3: Contriving a test to probe whether a hardened heart has repented

Further reading

Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

1 Peter 3 Does Not Command Victims to Remain in Abuse — Help from David deSilva

Is it a sin to feel afraid?

Honouring Resistance — a wonderful resource for understanding abuse

22 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the original post “Abraham had asked Sarah to tell the Philistines (the people of Gerar) that she was his sister…….”

    ^That.

    Genesis 20:11 HCSB
    11 Abraham replied [to Abimelech], “I thought, ‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’

    Reading ALL of Genesis 20, it MIGHT appear Abraham MIGHT have been making a (potentially) false assumption, as Abimilech (and his servants) showed a fear of God, though AFTER Abimilech’s dream.

    Genesis 20:13 HCSB
    13 So when God had me wander from my father’s house, I said to her: Show your loyalty to me wherever we go and say about me: ‘He’s my brother.’”

    Sarah MIGHT have complied to Abraham’s request out of loyalty, not fear.

    From the original post “(1 Peter 3:6 NMB) even as Sara obeyed Abraham, and called him Lord – whose daughters you are as long as you do well, not being afraid of every shadow.”

    ^That MIGHT indicate Sarah complied to Abraham’s request out of loyalty AND / OR fear.

    From the original post “…..He had only asked her not to tell the whole truth… the whole truth being that she was his wife as well as his sister / half-sister.”

    How much truth ought an individual communicate? Some (potentially) false assumptions MIGHT lead to some (potentially) false conclusions if Genesis 20 is NOT read considering the context of the times the Bible was written AND if Genesis 20 is NOT considered in the context of God’s bigger picture.

    • Good stuff, Finding Answers 🙂 I especially liked your point that when Sarah was complying with Abraham’s request, she might have been motivated by fear, or loyalty, or both.

      In my experience as a victim of abuse, I know that when I complied with my abusive husband’s requests, I was often motivated by both loyalty and fear. Loyalty to my husband. Loyalty to what I believed were God’s precepts. Fear of my husband. Fear of disobeying God’s precepts.

      I thank God for how He has helped me identify many wrong notions about His precepts, wrong notions which are so prevalent in Christendom.

      You asked the question: “How much truth ought an individual communicate?” Part 2 of this series attempts to answer that question. When is it okay to not tell the truth?

      • Finding Answers

        Barb,

        What you wrote about your experience as a victim of abuse makes SO much sense to me. I can picture in my mind the confusion (etc.) engendered in trying to discern how to comply with your abusive husband’s requests.

        Thank you for your suggestion to read Part 2 of the series. I was led to stop reading the series after reading Part 1 because I was getting WAY too frustrated with myself. Since then, MUCH has changed in my understanding of myself. 🙂

      • Finding Answers

        Barb,

        I read Part 2 of the series, and what I read makes sense to me. The difficulty I (personally) have is I cannot knowingly lie, but my inability to lie stems from having Asperger’s.

        I CAN find ways to communicate SOMETHING, but there is no set “formula” because each situation is unique. (Omitting details for my protection.)

        I have not communicated anything that would lead to another innocent individual’s harm, and I have communicated when an innocent individual is at risk of harm.

        I cannot take credit for what I do / do not communicate, but give all the credit to the Holy Spirit.

        I do not know what it is like for others on the autism spectrum, I only know what I have researched – that (generally speaking) those on the autism spectrum can’t lie.

        In my earlier reply to you, I commented “….I was led to stop reading the series after reading Part 1 because I was getting WAY too frustrated with myself. Since then, MUCH has changed in my understanding of myself.

        (Bold added by me.)

        ^That.

      • Finding Answers said “I do not know what it is like for others on the autism spectrum, I only know what I have researched – that (generally speaking) those on the autism spectrum can’t lie.”

        Thanks for that! You may have said it before but it had slipped out of my mind.

  2. Helovesme

    I loved this post, Barb. I can’t wait to read the comments and add some of my own. Am going to try for that this weekend!

  3. Helovesme

    It was hard to gather my thoughts on this post because there was just so much to dig into.

    I first thought of an episode of “Frasier” (not sure if everyone is familiar with that comedy sitcom). But the phrase “brutal honesty” describes this episode well:

    When the characters of Niles and Daphne became a couple, Niles realized that he had only loved Daphne as an idolized image, not as she truly was as a real person. So he decided to tell her what he really thought of her cooking—which was none too complimentary.

    Understandably, this didn’t go over too well. However, as they started to confess what they really thought of each other (brutal honesty)—-it didn’t push them apart, it actually brought them closer together. In order to be really love one another, they had to be real with one another.

    Sitcom life is NOT to be confused with real life. 🙂 But I found myself wondering how and where and when brutal honesty is appropriate (let it all out!), and when our tongues need to be stilled (keep some or all of of it in)

    Then I started to think about half truths, or partial honesty—-as this post speaks of. I started to examine myself in this light as well. And when I re-read the post before commenting, I picked up something that resonated very much with me:

    Abraham spoke of being afraid:: “‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.” That fear seems to have been a main driver in asking Sarah to not tell the whole truth.

    THEN, in the 1 Peter verse provided, it indicates a lack of fear in Sarah: “whose daughters you are as long as you do well, not being afraid of every shadow.”

    It’s too much of a stretch, I think, to say Abraham was afraid and Sarah was not afraid at all. These two persons were just as human as any of us. I’m sure they both experienced a range of emotions during this narrative that the Bible didn’t list out in detail.

    But I may not have been 100% fair to Abraham—-victims of abuse know all too well the power of fear. We understand how it can and does drive us to become the sort of persons we never thought we’d become—-in order to cope, survive and keep it together.

    Fear is instilled within us. Abusers are clever and crafty at weaving very intricate webs of deception over those they intend to harm. We learn to play along. We learn to put up a false front—-everything is fine and normal and nothing is wrong. But inside, we are living in sheer terror, and while we may learn how to live with it, no one should ever have to live with it.

    Abraham’s fear was more situational than relational—–the circumstances he was in shaped his choices. I DO wonder why he assumed there was no fear of God in that place, and why exactly he feared for his life. But I do not think he intended to put Sarah in danger, and certainly he didn’t intend for her be noticed by a pagan king who thought she was single. He may have reasoned that no harm would come to either of them, and they’d be on their merry way. Telling that half truth was just an extra layer of insuring their safety.

    How many times, and in how many ways have I personally balked, or backed down out of fear? Thinking that saying nothing would ensure that nothing would go wrong? Or, looking back and feeling immense shame for being so thin-skinned? Where was my faith? Where was my courage? Where was my integrity, my honor and most of all—-my trust in God?

    So now I find myself empathizing a bit more with Abraham, when previously I now wonder if I was a bit too hard on him. Abraham lived in a strong patriarchal time in history. So the balance of power and privilege would have fallen in his favor.

    However, no historical or cultural environments can strip a person, male or female, of feeling afraid. Fear is an issue for all of humanity, including males. They may have had LESS reasons to be afraid since societal norms and laws favored them, but never are you completely immune to fear.

  4. Helovesme

    Broke up my comment for easier reading and editing by Barb and Reaching Out!

    Abraham asked Sarah to admit that she was his half sister, but not his wife. So he wanted her to be honest, but only up to a certain point. In other words, act like my sister, but don’t act like my wife. You are indeed both of those things to me, but put one of those aside. We need everyone to be convinced that you’re JUST my half sister and nothing else. So play along. Wear the “sister” mask. Put away the” wife” mask. When we’re out of here, you can put the “wife” mask back on.

    While she WAS indeed his half sister, I think being a wife would be the prominent way he related to her. So I don’t know how this “switching” of different masks, to be two different persons, both of them valid (sister/wife) worked. But again—just don’t act like my wife, only like my sister.

    I know plenty about putting on an act. Every victim of abuse might know something about this. Even in the aftermath of abuse, we may feel compelled to wear a mask. And we may switch them around as needed as well.

    I’m the bubbly one who loves to smile and converse and be friendly and sweet and warm and welcoming. That’s my “daytime” mask.

    But I’m also the bullied and berated one who longs for love and wishes she were dead and wonders if life is worth living anymore. That’s my “nighttime” mask.

    They’re both real. Neither of them is fake. Both of them are valid. But which one do I put on, and which one do I put off?

    A friend once said: Don’t worry, no one has their act together.

    I remember thinking: you know, I put on an act all right. I act one way in public, another way in private. No, I’m not trying to be deceptive. I’m not trying to be phony. The warmth I emit is not fake, but it IS masking a lot of real pain. The world is a stage, and I must find a way to live in it, even if I have to act like nothing is wrong, when in reality, nothing is right.

    But do you REALLY want to see me NOT act? Do you really want to see me when I am “offstage?” What is behind the curtain? Most probably: NO. I’d rather see you “act” like everything is okay. Keep that mask on, and wait till you’re alone before you take it off.

    Victims, I think, long to talk and be real and be honest and not hold everything in. Oh, I think victims certainly want to maintain a certain level of privacy, as anyone does and should—-but I think we long to drop the act. We’d like to let it all out, because holding it all in is just too much. But if no one wants to hear our cries, we know better than to let out what is not welcomed or wanted. We are rejected from revealing reality even before we even open our mouths at all. So we put the mask back on and hope to accept the unacceptable, and adjust to the impossible: your pain is simply too much of a bother, so don’t bother us with it.

    Sarah, thankfully, didn’t have to NOT act like his wife for very long. But can you imagine how that would have felt if it had gone on for a longer time? She would have to hold back on looking at him with eyes full of love. Not reach for his hand to hold or touch him in a way that might give something away. Not stand or sit too close to him, and hold back showing or even insinuating affection. There is a wall between them—-not of real hostility, but of well, fake hostility that feels pretty dang real.

    Knowing who to be wholly honest with is hard. Can I tell you the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help me God? That is what witnesses are sworn to before they take the stand in court, and it’s a big deal if you don’t heed that vow.

    But what if telling the WHOLE truth puts you in danger? Motives matter. I now lean towards believing that Abraham, out of a desire to protect them both, asked his wife to hold back on telling the WHOLE truth.

    I have held back on telling people the WHOLE truth, but I felt like that was my right to do so. I wasn’t going to bare my soul to anyone who could not be trusted with the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Whatever truths you give away to others, now partially belongs to them. What are they going do with what you gave them? Lock them away in a treasure chest, safe and sound? Or toss them into the ocean and let them drift wherever they want? Or parcel them out to the highest bidder—-ensuring personal gain at the expense of private betrayal.

    Ever posted something online and been compelled to take it down? Several victims of Larry Nassar were overwhelmed with negative feedback when they dared to admit they were the names behind the nameless that dared to come forward.

    Ever regretted opening your mouth at all when you dared to lower your guard and give someone a glimpse of your deepest and darkest secrets—-I was victimized. Or, I used to sin in this or that way, or I still sin in those ways, or I’m struggling with this sin.

    And the request hiding underneath all of that is likely this: do you still accept me? Do you still love me? Or, now that you see me as I really am (or parts of me that you didn’t know about), will you still remain in my life, or has your perception of me been shattered?

    Maybe that perception needed to blow up—you didn’t really know me, you only thought you did, OR I held back because I was afraid (key in, Abraham’s possible motive).

    When it was found out that she was his wife, it went well for everyone involved it seemed. And thankfully, no one got hurt—-Abraham’s fears were never realized. NOT that that should ever justify such behaviors, but it’s worth noting.

    But is that the norm? Does it tend to go well when a victim says—no, the WHOLE truth is that while I am his wife, I am also his victim. I tell everyone that I am his wife, which is true. But in reality, I’m also his target, his prey, his scapegoat, his object of hate.

    I’m only his wife in name only, but he does not treat me as a wife. In reality I am everything else I just spoke of, but I tell everyone that I am his wife in reality.

    Sarah WAS indeed his half sister; that title is real. But in reality, he treats her as his wife, and the sister label is well, just a label that is not applicable in reality.

    My father was my abuser. For years I never felt like his daughter, only his punching bag. But I told everyone he was my dad, and that is 100% true. But he didn’t act like a father should. He acted like a father should NOT. So in reality, the daughter label, while real, is just a a label. In reality, I am nothing more than the object of his wrath.

    Let’s end on a good note, however. In reality, God is truly our Father, Savior, Healer, and too many other labels to list out—but ALL of them are real and applicable—and NONE of them are only labels with no substance behind them. And He not only knows every truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about us—-He truly loves us still.

    We need never fear that telling Him: “it’s all an act, I’m actually miserable and alone and afraid” will anger Him. Instead, He will ask: I’ve always seen you as you really are, straight through all your masks.

    I remember hearing that the word “hypocrite” was another word for “actor.” I feared being rightly labeled as hypocritical since I trained myself to put on an act, but I understand now that I had no intention of hurting anyone, only protecting myself from more hurt. And a hypocrite has no interest in His righteousness, only in their own version of it. Not to justify or acquit myself or anyone else—-just a warning to let the Lord call you out on hypocrisy; don’t try to call yourself out apart from Him. Again, He knows you through and through, through your masks and all the pain you were masking.

    • Thank you Helovesme. Your comments are brilliant. Well thought through and well articulated. Bless you! 🙂

      • Helovesme

        Thank you Barb! I noticed a wonderful trend in your writing recently—how encouraging you are to ask the readers what they think and to open up and share. It was always an open forum, but I picked up on that becoming more prominent.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (10TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 10:13 PM) “…. Even in the aftermath of abuse, we may feel compelled to wear a mask……” AND “….But which one do I put on, and which one do I put off?”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..I act one way in public, another way in private……” AND “……The world is a stage, and I must find a way to live in it…..”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Victims, I think, long to talk and be real and be honest and not hold everything in. Oh, I think victims certainly want to maintain a certain level of privacy, as anyone does and should—-but I think we long to drop the act. We’d like to let it all out, because holding it all in is just too much. But if no one wants to hear our cries, we know better than to let out what is not welcomed or wanted. We are rejected from revealing reality even before we even open our mouths at all. So we put the mask back on and hope to accept the unacceptable, and adjust to the impossible: your pain is simply too much of a bother, so don’t bother us with it.”

      ^That, although as a result of my own (personal) past experiences, I am usually the one assuming ahead of time that what I let out is neither welcomed nor wanted, and is too much of a bother, so I keep my mask on until the Holy Spirit tells me it’s time to communicate, and He leads me in my communications.

      ^That may also apply to other individuals.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “We need never fear that telling Him: “it’s all an act, I’m actually miserable and alone and afraid” will anger Him…..”

      ^That.

      Then God will say (as Helovesme commented) “….I’ve always seen you as you really are, straight through all your masks.”

      • Helovesme

        Finding Answers said:

        “^That, although as a result of my own (personal) past experiences, I am usually the one assuming ahead of time that what I let out is neither welcomed nor wanted, and is too much of a bother, so I keep my mask on until the Holy Spirit tells me it’s time to communicate, and He leads me in my communications.”

        That is very much like me! It doesn’t even have to be about abuse or the trauma of past abuse. Physical illnesses that the general public may have misunderstandings about, loss of a loved one, or anything that is a strong indicator that—-well, life is frail, people are frail, and our bodies can be VERY frail—-makes people VERY uncomfortable.

        Sometimes, the persons don’t know how to respond, and are afraid of saying the wrong thing, saying nothing or saying anything that make things worse.

        It’s always a risk to reach out and try to relate on a deep or deeper level. It’s a hard risk to take, even harder when that risk does not pay off.

  5. Helovesme

    I thought of one more thing to add (there’s a new post up so I’ll try to keep this shorter).

    The definition of a Biblical marriage has never changed from the beginning of time. It was always the same—the two shall become one. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 19:4.

    Whatever generation you were born and lived in, no matter what the societal norms and customs and even laws were like—-the goal of Biblical marriage never changed: the two shall become one.

    This is not a new concept. I’ve noticed it comes across as a revolutionary concept, even in this day and age: husbands, serve your wives. Be foot washers. You are commanded to serve AND be served just as much as your wife is commanded to do the same for you.

    I’ve had the honor of reading wonderful writings from a few other persons besides Barb, and they run along the same theme: for the two to become one, one cannot and should not dominate the other. Husbands, talk to your wives, do not talk AT them. You don’t make the rules and she obeys, you make decisions together and you BOTH obey.

    I’ll take for granted that no one thinks that 1 Peter 3:6 meant that Sarah thought of her husband as “Lord.” (“as Sara obeyed Abraham, and called him Lord” ) But I can only imagine how this verse could be easily twisted to to encourage unquestioning obedience from wives, as a form of obedience to the Lord.

    I put myself in Sarah’s shoes for a moment (previously I tried to do that for Abraham).

    First of all, I would likely balk at being TOLD to tell people that I wasn’t his wife. Even IF I trusted his judgment call, I would probably bristle at being “ordered” to do this. Excuse me, I’m not your employee, I’m your equal. I would have liked a chance to put in my own input, or at least be a part of an actual discussion.

    Next, his request would have very much hurt my feelings, down to the core. You don’t want to be seen as my husband, and vice versa. No matter how much I believed his request was out of love for me, safety for both of us—-I think it would have stung. I might wonder if he really fears for our lives, or if he is ashamed to be seen with me in public, in the capacity of a wife. Are you ashamed of me as your wife, but not as your sister?

    Being a sister is NOT as deep and personal as being a wife. So he’s putting relational distance between us, which is VERY personal to me—-perhaps not so much to him?

    Since it came up that Sarah’s lovely looks were a part of his reasoning, this likely would have stung even more. It may have felt like a form of objectification: my looks are just one part of who I am, not all of who I am. If I was not so lovely to look at, would we need to go through this? By the way, beauty is in the eye of the beholder—-so I’d wonder if there was more going on underneath the surface than just fearing for our lives.

    However, my spouse has brought up his own personal fears, and they are just as real and relevant as my own. Being male or female does NOT mean our emotions should be elevated or demeaned. So often, males are elevated as being logical, rational and therefore better suited to be in authority. Females are demeaned as being emotional, irrational and therefore not suited to be in authority.

    So, are males not allowed to be afraid, because that means they are weak, or (gasp!) just a weak as any other human being can be, male OR female? They have to be (or at least appear to be) strong and wise and in control and always know what they are doing?

    We know those stereotypes are foolish, dangerous and downright false. But how much do we still cling to them, often without even realizing it?

    Paranoid fear can drive us to make decisions that we likely regret later. It’s likely based on circumstantial or nonexistent evidence, and likely rooted in a fear of man, not of God. It might be more instinctive and not well thought out—it goes off of surface perceptions without digging underneath the layers. It’s anything but rational, but it sure dang seems that way to us—at the time, at least.

    Biblical fear is different—-it fears God, not people. It focuses and factors in God’s wisdom (and rejects man’s wisdom). It is a peaceful and content sort of mindset. Fearing God actually drives AWAY panic, anxiety and paranoia—-because it trusts Him wholeheartedly. Of course, fear usually remains in some capacity—-but you are reassured that you are in good hands. He simply won’t let us down, or let us go.

    Back up to my empathizing with Sarah: if it were me, I can see myself going along with my husband, but either at the time or later on—not liking it one BIT. However, given a bit of steady thinking and processing time—-I may then realize that my husband is more frail than I realized. He doesn’t always know what he is doing. He gave in to not so reasonable fear (again, I can’t quite deduce how he concluded that there was no fear of God in that place) and I can either choose to be ashamed of him, or incorporate this not so flattering experience into who he is as a person. And learn from it. Grow from it. Hopefully BOTH of us will do this.

    I would hope Abraham learned, too. Any decision made that doesn’t fully focus on and factor in God’s wisdom (and is disregarding your own wisdom)—-is likely based on paranoid fear, not Biblical fear. It may or may not go well—-but you are gambling with the lives of people. If it doesn’t go well, people will get hurt.

    In this case, they dodged a bullet. Neither of them were harmed, but that pagan king certainly had quite the roller coaster experience. He was directly confronted by God in a dream, his household experienced a lot of anxiety, and he realized he’d been lied to and almost committed a serious offense toward Abraham, Sarah and the Living God. While I am VERY glad it ended well for him, too, that was quite a lot for one person to go through!

    Was it avoidable? Not sure. But for sure, Abraham was wrong. There WAS fear of God in that place. It saved their lives and the lives of a lot of people in that place. God was pretty clear in that dream that He would act against them (“you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die” Genesis 20:7)

    So, going off the premise that Abraham lacked Biblical fear in how he proceeded, the fear of God in pagans (ironically) more than made up for what he lacked.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (11TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 11:36 AM) on the topic of fear: “……It’s likely based on circumstantial or nonexistent evidence, and likely rooted in a fear of man, not of God. It might be more instinctive and not well thought out—it goes off of surface perceptions without digging underneath the layers. It’s anything but rational, but it sure dang seems that way to us—at the time, at least.”

      ^That, especially if the fear of men and / or women is fear learned (literally and / or figuratively) at the hands of an abuser.

      • Helovesme

        Finding Answers wrote:

        “^That, especially if the fear of men and / or women is fear learned (literally and / or figuratively) at the hands of an abuser.”

        Oh my goodness yes indeed. Ironically, I need to be more aware of that not only in myself, but when I pick up on it in others around me. I have found myself not as empathetic as I should be when it comes to reading and responding to signs of fear in others. If I want the fears I deal with to be understood by others, I need to do the same for them as well.

        I may be too hard on others because I am too hard on myself when it comes to fear. I get worked up and frustrated when I see what a real grip fear STILL has on me, and I am in my 40s! I am not a child anymore and have not been one for many years now.

        Adults feel fear. Both males and females—-no matter the age, I don’t think we fully and completely conquer our fears. As an abuse victim, however, the mere existence of fear in my life makes me feel like I am still “stuck” in those years of fear-filled abuse. That may or may not be true, but no matter what, getting impatient and cross with myself (or with others) is likely not the greatest way to respond!

    • Helovesme, I’m glad you brought up the subject of Sarah calling Abraham ‘lord’.

      In Gen 32:4 Jacob addressed his brother Esau as “lord” and referred to himself “your servant”.

      Gen 32:3-8, 13-20 (HCSB)

      Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He commanded them, “You are to say to my lord Esau, ‘This is what your servant Jacob says. I have been staying with Laban and have been delayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves. I have sent this message to inform my lord, in order to seek your favor.’”

      When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau; he is coming to meet you—and he has 400 men with him.” Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; he divided the people with him into two camps, along with the flocks, cattle, and camels. He thought, “If Esau comes to one camp and attacks it, the remaining one can escape.”

      … He spent the night there and took part of what he had brought with him as a gift for his brother Esau: 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 milk camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys. He entrusted them to his slaves as separate herds and said to them, “Go on ahead of me, and leave some distance between the herds.”

      And he told the first one: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to? Where are you going? And whose animals are these ahead of you?’ then tell him, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And look, he is behind us.’”

      He also told the second one, the third, and everyone who was walking behind the animals, “Say the same thing to Esau when you find him. You are also to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” For he thought, “I want to appease Esau with the gift that is going ahead of me. After that, I can face him, and perhaps he will forgive me.”

      Jacob and Esau were brothers. Jacob knew that God is Lord. Jacob was not saying that Esau was God, he was simply using the word ‘lord’ as a term of respect. Jacob had been sojourning for years with Laban and was now returning to the promised land. Years earlier, when he left the promised land, Esau had been very angry with him. Now that he was returning he was afraid that his brother might still be angry and would treat him as an enemy. So Jacob did all he could to show deference and respect to Esau.

      The point of all this is that the word ‘lord’ was often used in those days to show deference and respect. So Sarah calling Abraham ‘lord’ would have been in line with that. She was showing deference and respect to her husband.

      It is interesting to look at different English translations of 1 Peter 3:6 to see whether or not they capitalise the word ‘lord’.

      1 Peter 3:6
      HCSB — just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming.
      KJV — Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
      NKJ – as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
      NIV – like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
      ESV – as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
      NCV – Sarah obeyed Abraham, her husband, and called him her master. And you women are true children of Sarah if you always do what is right and are not afraid.
      Wycliffe – As Sara obeyed to Abraham, and called him lord [calling him lord]; of whom ye be daughters well-doing, and not dreading any perturbation.
      NMB – even as Sara obeyed Abraham, and called him Lord – whose daughters you are as long as you do well, not being afraid of every shadow.
      1699 Geneva – As Sarah obeyed Abraham, and called him Sir: whose daughters ye are, while ye do well, not being afraid of any terror.
      Revised Geneva – as Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him ‘Lord’. You are her daughters, doing good and not easily fearful.

      • Gany T.

        Very helpful explanation of the subject of Sarah calling Abraham ‘lord,’ Barb. Thanks!

        Some who like to twist Scripture to ‘support’ an inferior position and disrespect of women in marriage like to cherry pick the example of Sarah (i.e., a marriage) while completely ignoring Jacob and Esau (2 men / brothers). That, under girded with completely ignoring basic principles of considering cultural practices and societal structure in interpreting an ancient Text.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you so much for that, Barb! The Jacob and Esau narrative fits great in this discussion as well.

        By the way, the newest post is great.

        Speaking of not telling people who you really are, Christ Himself was very cautious about revealing who He really was (the Messiah), and even asked some of those He healed to not talk about Him (Matthew 12:16)

        That didn’t always work out though (Matthew 9:31) And just to be 100% clear, of COURSE I’m not putting Christ and Abraham in the same group. Just adding another facet to the conversation.

        Jesus had people wanting to kill Him very early on in His ministry. One might think that that would be the perfect time to point out who He was—-to put the fear of God in them.

        But He constantly said that His time had not come yet—-to die and rise again. Everything, including revealing who He is, was a matter of perfect timing. He knew who He was, and why He was here—to do His will. But the timing for all those things is just as important.

        One can see how it’s not as simple as showing up and saying: here I am, I’m the One you’ve all waiting for and now I’m going to do what needs to be done.

        I balk at trying to read mind the of the Lord. Yes, we have His mind, but no one can know anything about Him unless He reveals it to us. When it comes to His timing, I think this is one of the areas in which we are limited in our understanding.

        Think of countries that are very hostile to the Gospel. Christians must carefully guard their identity in Him out of the real deal fear for their lives, not to mention family, loved ones AND other underground Christians as well. One might think that such persons have no real fear of God, but a fear of man—-are they ashamed of Him so they keep who they really are a secret?

        I lean towards saying “no,” that is not the case. Christ kept His true identity hidden NOT out of fear of man, but because God’s perfect timing had not come yet. With these brave souls in these brutal countries, even if they cannot reveal Who they belong to, it’s a fair assumption that they are bearing fruit for Him under very difficult circumstances and harsh conditions. God may be forbidden to worship in public, but no one can keep Him buried and hidden from those that are in need of Him.

      • Helovesme, you’ve made some excellent points about how Jesus sometimes instructed people to not tell the whole truth. Thank you very much. 🙂

  6. Gany T.

    Helovesme said:
    The definition of a Biblical marriage has never changed from the beginning of time. It was always the same—the two shall become one. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 19:4.

    Whatever generation you were born and lived in, no matter what the societal norms and customs and even laws were like—-the goal of Biblical marriage never changed: the two shall become one.

    ^Truth!

  7. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (14TH NOVEMBER 2019 – 11:20 AM) “…..no one can keep Him buried and hidden from those that are in need of Him.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented, “….not telling people who you really are…..”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented, “…..even if they cannot reveal Who they belong to, it’s a fair assumption that they are bearing fruit for Him……”

    ^That.

  8. Helovesme

    Thank you Barb for those kind words! You’ve done a great job with these postings about deception. I think it’s blessed a lot of people as well as opened up a lot of dialogue.

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