Saturday, 16 March 2013

Reading the Bible 17 Gen 26 Isaac the Trickster

This passage is the account of Isaac in Garar.  You could call it: like father like son; or the nut doesn’t fall from the tree; or fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
Isaac seems to have picked up a trick or two in how to be safe in a foreign land.  Like Abraham with Sarah he passes off his wife Rebekah as his sister.  Now you can say that Abraham taught Isaac well but what is surprising – at least if you take the story at face value – is that Abimelech the king who innocently took Rebekah as his wife – was duped for a second time.  This is exactly what happened with Abraham and Sarah when they were in Gerar.  Abimelech must have been very gullible or perhaps as has been speculated elsewhere this is a case of two oral traditions that were recorded of the same story.  That does make more sense.

However, what is of more interest to me is the family trait of these patriarchs what enables them to carry one on such a devious manner.  For those who are familiar with Jungian psychology of archetypes you will recognize the Trickster Archetype.  In the next generation Jacob will engage that archetype in an even more serious way in his dealing with his father Isaac and his brother Esau.  God seems to approve of this kind of deviousness as God continues to bless them and they are upheld as the Patriarchs of our religious tradition.  Perhaps we have a case of situational ethics and God does recognize that we shouldn’t judge the behaviours of generations passed by our situations.  In any case those who recorded the stories did seem not have any problem with giving us a nuanced picture of or religious forebears.  Thanks be to God.

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