Genesis 12:8-13:3*

from Pete O.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to the significance of Abram receiving “menservants and women servants”. These are curiously flanked by “he-asses” and “she-asses”.

A. (8) And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

B. (9) And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. (10) And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. (11)

C. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:  (12) Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. (13)  Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

D.(14) And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. (15) The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

E. (16) And he entreated Abram well for her sake:

and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses,

 and menservants, and maidservants,

 and she asses, and camels.

D’.(17) And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. (18) And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

C’. (19) Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.

B’. (20) And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had. (13:1) And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. (13:2) And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

A’.(13:3) And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; (13:4) Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Note: This is similar to http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/01_Genesis_pericope_e.html#15

2 thoughts on “Genesis 12:8-13:3*”

  1. Jerome T Walsh in “Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative”, The Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 2001, says of Genesis 12:16, “the odd order in which these goods are enumerated is due to their chiastic arrangement:flocks-and-herds/jackasses/menservants// women servants/ jenny asses/camels. The central elements are clearly the most important, human beings as opposed to livestock.” He also points out that “flocks-and-herds” is hyphenated in the Hebrew, though such a feature is rare. “That punctuation links the two Hebrew words into a single complex idea, thereby enabling them to act as a unit and to balance the single word camels” in the chiastic structure” (pg 27).

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