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Genesis Twenty-four and A Half
Bereisheit Limood Video
Keturah's Faithfulness - 24 / 5
By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk
Dean of Jewish Studies
B'nai Noach Torah Institute, LLC
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Course Text Begins Here:
Genesis Twenty-four and A Half
Genesis 25 begins with Abraham taking back his former wife Hagar whose name was changed to Keturah meaning beautiful.
Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.
We need to back up a little...
How did it feel to Hagar and to Yishmael to learn that the daughter of an Egyptian princess', i.e. Hagar and her son would not inherit Avraham's great wealth and power? Ha Torah does not inform us of what Hagar thought when she learned that Sarah would have a son.
But My covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year.
That day Abraham and Sarah connected. Sarah became pregnant. Sarah carried Isaac for Seven months. She gave birth on Passover. So Genesis 21.1 informs us of Sarah's impregnation. Verse 2 informs us of Isaac's birth. Verse 2 informs us that The Lord God Kept His Promise that Abraham and Sarah would have children as written in Genesis 15.1 - 5 and 18.10 - 14.
Genesis 21.8 - 14
And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had born to Abraham, mocking. And she said to Abraham, Cast out this slave and her son; for the son of this slave shall not be heir with my son, with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. And God said to Abraham, Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the lad, and because of your slave; in all that Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac shall your seed be called. And also of the son of the slave will I make a nation because he is your seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
Hagar struggled with her relationship with Sarah. It was challenging to be taken from the place in Egypt and to be given to a wealthy nomad's wife to be her slave. After Ten years, Sarah did not give en Avraham children so according to the system of the land she gave her husband a new wife, Hagar. Hagar conceives soon after the marriage. Sarah realizes that it is her that cannot conceive. Sarah is hurt and angry. Hagar taunts her pregnancy in front of Sarah. Their Master Servant relationship detritus. Hagar runs away then returns after divine revelation. The stress between them comes to a halt when Dismal throws javelins around Yitzchok when he is playing. Sarah demands that Hagar and Dismal be removed. Sarah said to Avraham, 'Cast out this slave and her son; for the son of this slave shall not be heir with my son, with Isaac..'
When Avraham sent Hagar out with nothing more than a loaf of bread and a pouch of water. Avraham could have provided much more for Hagar and Yishmael, but he choose not too. He could have given them camels and servants. He could have provided them with a lovely place to live. Why?
Even though for awhile Hagar lost her way she quickly found it. As a wife to Avraham, she remained isolated from other men. She learned Ha Torah. She Observed the Mitzvot of Ha Torah. She sent Yishmael back to Avraham where he learned Ha Torah and became an honorable attendant in Avraham's home. Avraham instructed Yishmael along side Eliezer. In Genesis 22.3 - 5 we Observe Avraham instructing them with these Words, 'Stay here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come back to you.'
How do we know that Avraham instructed both Yitzchok and Yishmael?
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him.
Ha Torah does not say, child. Ha Torah Says children. This means more than one child. Eliezer was part of Avraham's household that received instruction in Ha Torah.
Abraham kept the way of the Lord.
This means Abraham guarded the Observances in The Holy Scriptures. There are 613 Observances in The Holy Scriptures. Not all apply to each of us. Abraham kept those that applied to him. He carefully followed what The Lord God Commanded. He was meticulous with the Observances that applied to him.. Abraham was just. He was honest. He judged situations fairly. He did not deviate. He stayed on the path of The Lord. He did not wander or stray. He taught his children and those living with him to follow the Observances that applied to them. Following the Observances worked for Abraham. Following the Observances will also work for us. First we must learn what the Observances are and then which apply to us individually.
This was about 37 years from when Hagar and Dismal were put out.
We pick up the story with Genesis 22.
And it happened after these events, that God Tested Abraham, and He Said to him. 'Abraham!'
and Abraham responded, 'Here I am.'
and He Said to him, 'Take your son.'
and Abraham said I have two sons,
and God Said, 'your only son,'
and Abraham said 'Yishmael is an only son to Hagar and Isaac is an only son to Sarah.'
and God Said, 'the one whom you love.'
and Abraham said, 'I love Yishmael, and I love Yitzchok.'
and God Said, 'take Yitzchok and go to the land of Moriah sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will designate to you.'
Dear Reader, Abraham had many scars. He bled some. He was tried and proven. Abraham remained strong. How many of us can say when we have been tried we remained strong?
How Did Abraham do this? It's not complicated. Abraham loved and worshiped the Creator. Abraham Obeyed the Creator.
Genesis 22.3 - 5
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and broke the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place far away. And Abraham said to his young men, Stay here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come back to you.
Our Sages Teach that Sarah died when she was informed that Abraham Sacrificed her son Isaac. Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The Artscroll Tanach Series - Bereishis Vol. I(a) (Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 3rd Impression, 1989), p 861
Sarah died from the shock that Abraham offered her only child as a sacrifice. How could he do this? Why would he do such a thing? Sarah died without knowing Isaac was saved by a Messenger of The Lord. Sarah died without seeing Isaac marry. Sarah died thinking her life had been for not. Sarah did not meet Rivkah her daughter-in-law to be. Sarah did not have the privilege of dancing at Isaac's wedding. Sarah did not enjoy her grandchildren. Sarah died at the age of 127 years. She did not live to realize the fulfillment of many of her dreams. This is how death is. When one dies, one cannot complete their plans.
Now Avraham 'Again' takes a wife. As we shall learn in Genesis 25 taking a wife again was in reference to Keturah. Hagar became a seriously observant woman with an excellent reputation. Hagar's Torah Observance was so great the community called her ketubah meaning one who is beautiful. This was a complement toKeturah from among the community regarding her Torah Observance.
We can use this example of the struggle between Sarah and Hagar and Yishmael and Yitzchok as a guide to family members who have been mean and who have rejected us. Notice how Hagar became beautiful. Notice how Yishmael the older brother honored Yitzchok. Notice how Yishmael set aside his honor for Yitzchok. Both Keturah and Dismal were humble and contrite. Both were invited back to be apart of Avraham's live and live in him home. When individuals reverse improper actions such as Hagar and Yishmael did they should be invited back. They should be welcomed with open arms.
On the other hand when relatives continue in the same deceitful pattern and using the same mean tactics as in the past they cannot be welcomed back. They remain bogged down with the same issues as in the past. Nothing has changed except time.