I had started the story of the birth of Isaac in my last foray into the bible on this blog, but had to digress to lay to rest a related matter before moving on, only that I didn’t foresee that that digression was to take the whole of my space, hence I had to let go to come back to the main issue now.
So, like I was writing then Isaac was born to Abraham (at a hundred years old) and Sarah (who must have been in menopause) in their old age. Isaac’s name was one synonymous with laughter, as “Yiṣḥāq” in the Hebrew means “He Laughs” or “Will Laugh”, in tandem with what Sarah said as recorded in the Bible Book of Genesis chapter 21 verse 6, that ” YAHWEH hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me”. Much like what in our days we call MIRACLE BABIES and the way those who hear or see such events react especially before the couple upon whom fortune has finally decided to smile, particularly when the woman in question is considered to be past child bearing age
According to YAHWEH’s command (Genesis 17:10 – “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every MAN child among you shall be circumcised), Abraham had Isaac circumcised on the eighth day (Genesis 21:4). Now, I am going to highlight certain issues surrounding CIRCUMCISION especially in this age where and when it has become controversial. You will notice that I took the liberty to capitalize the word “man” in the scripture I quoted above, because YAHWEH meant for circumcision to be of Males only, and not Females, as you’d find amongst some African, Asian and Arab cultures, where it is nothing but a case of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM over and above any sundry consideration or culture, as the case may be.
I am also aware that in many western countries, MALE CIRCUMCISION is outlawed making it difficult for Jews amongst others to fully express and fulfill the tenets of their faith to the latter, thereby giving rise to an “Aaliyah” (return to the homeland) of some sorts for expectant Jewish mothers who want their sons circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Interestingly, one of the ways in which HIV was combated to some success in East Africa was by Male Circumcision, as the ease of transmission amongst men in that region was linked to uncircumcision in men ab initio (now this isn’t saying that male circumcision is the absolute means of prevention for HIV). It got to an extent that even politicians in Kenya took advantage of it. I have always surmised that the laws of YAHWEH aren’t grievous and can only be for our own good, if we do well to live our lives according to the dictates. Consider even the dietary laws which science have failed to fault any of those meat that YAHWEH sanctioned for us to eat as unwholesome, while those considered abomination, are in the main responsible for many of the chronic illnesses bedeviling us today (remember Ebola link to monkeys and fruit bat consumption, or Lassa Fever to rats etc, including the unhealthy aspects of eating Pork). This is as far as I will go on keeping YAHWEH’s laws and statutes for now.
It isn’t out of place to find that Abraham made a large feast to celebrate Isaac once he was weaned. I guess that kind of guaranteed that the child could thrive, as otherwise he could have died by any of the child killer diseases of the time. We take many of these things for granted today because child mortality rates have dropped worldwide, but in societies where child mortality rates are high, celebrations tend to be delayed, and when a child is weaned makes about a great deal of sense as pointer or indicator to celebrate. I have come across a mother who said that after all her son went through as an infant, yet survived alive, she was now certain he would live long, if not eternally.
Recall, that Isaac though the so called CHILD OF PROMISE, wasn’t Abraham’s first son. Before him was Ishmael (the father of the Arabs), the son of Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid/bondwoman. Even among women of same class in a polygamous home, there are elements of envy and discord amongst the wives, talk more in the queer situation that subsisted in Abraham’s home. It’s therefore not surprising that Sarah used her leverage as wife to impress upon Abraham to send Hagar and her son Ishmael out of the house (Genesis 21:10). This displeased Abraham a lot, considering that he wouldn’t have gone in to Hagar, had Sarah not sanctioned it. Many a woman in Sarah’s case have been known to consider many things, from the sensible to the very ridiculous in their search for a child. Some adopt, some even concede to their husband having a child outside of wedlock, even with the maid (with some arrangements in which the child is considered that of the woman of the house), in the hope that, as the Yoruba people of Nigeria say, that peradventure the “head of one child, can bring about more children for the seeking women”. But should they eventually conceive and have theirs, some of these women have been known to turn against the kids that aren’t biologically theirs in favour of their biological offspring, to the extent of dabbling into the diabolic to ensure that the other benefits nothing from their father (in the case where the the children belong to the man, but not his wife).
YAHWEH had earlier foretold Abraham that Sarah “shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis 17:19) and only reluctantly blessed Ishmael when HE, as recorded in verse 20, said “….and as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation”, (verse 21 >) “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year”. So, when Sarah pestered Abraham regarding sending off Hagar and her son Ishmael, YAHWEH asked him to listen to her “…. for in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Genesis 21:12).
This is where I get stuck each time I read this passage. Even the apostle Paul (Sha-ul in Hebrew) was faced with this situation and addressed it in the book of Romans chapter 9 (you will do well to read the whole passage, to get the context), saying in verse 14: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with YAHWEH? May that never be so! (15) For HE saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” After going through that chapter, I surmise that for all the love that YAHWEH has for Israel, have you ever bothered to know about all they have passed through as a nation (culminating in the holocaust during WWII) and people, in ancient and current history? Have you noticed how all the oil sits in Arabia (children of Ishmael, not the Promised One, yet blessed of YAHWEH), and not under the land ‘pon which Israel sits. You cannot however rule out the blessedness of the Jew, the Hebrew, the Isreali (Israelite) when you consider their achievements, as for instance on the list of past winners of the Nobel Prize for advancements in almost ALL fields of human endeavour, as much as you can reel out, as I would even go to post this on Facebook, the handiwork of another Jew!
Allow me to stop here for now, to continue much later, but not without leaving you another piece of Paul’s wisdom regarding how YAHWEH dispenses (or not) favours in Romans 9:16, where he said “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of YAHWEH that showeth mercy”. Please consider this when asking YAHWEH one thing or the other, or even when it seems your prayers are made in vain. May HIS mercy remain continually with us, Amin!
2. Genesis Chapter 21, THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000