January 26, 2015: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Genesis 16-19
Click here for the Daily Reading
Context: Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham...and it all begins with Hagar and Ishmael! God had promised Abram that he would be the father of nations, yet Abram was old and his wife was barren. What was to be done? Abram's and Sarai's solution was to have Sarai's maidservant, Hagar, give Abram a child. Our solution is not always God's solution. The Lord intended to give Abram and Sarai a child of their own. Thirteen years passed before God revealed this part of His plan and confirmed His covenant with Abram by renaming him Abraham (check out our weekly Bible reading). After the three visitors confirm that Sarah (renamed from Sarai) will have a child within a year, the Lord reveals to Abraham that He plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham appears to bargain with the Lord to spare the cities. Abraham was not bargaining with the Lord as we bargain at a yard sale. Rather, the Lord is showing Abraham that He is just and will not destroy the righteous along with the wicked. It also shows that one righteous person can make a difference in the world. This is an important lesson for Abraham (and for us), as his family (those that follow the Lord) will be the righteous amidst a land of wickedness. Now, Lot and his family live in Sodom and are warned by angels that the city is to be destroyed. The angels, at Lot's urging agreed to stay the night with them, when the citizens come and demanded that Lot turn over his guests. Lot refuses, and, surprisingly, offers his daughters instead. What?! Lot could have been speaking sarcastically, hoping to awaken the conscious of the townspeople, to treat guests as they would fellow citizens. Sadly, they do not listen. Lot and his family flee the city, however, Lot's wife fails to follow the instructions of the angels and is turned into a pillar of salt. Luke 17:28-32, implies that Lot's wife attempted to return to the city and did not simply look back with her eyes.
World History: Hammurabi, King of Babylon, is estimated to have ruled from 1792 to 1750 BC, which would have been around the time of Abraham and Isaac. King Hammurabi wrote the Hammurabi Code, one of the earliest examples of written law in the middle east and the establishment of a law regulating government. The Hammurabi Code, as well as other documents from history indicate that using a maidservant when the wife is unable to conceive is not only a common practice, but in some areas, expected. The Hammurabi Code dictates how the relationship is to proceed. It undoubtedly favors the owner, in this case Sarai.