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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Women of Genesis: Isaac over Ishmael?

   
Author Topic: Women of Genesis: Isaac over Ishmael?
Scooter
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I did some quick searching on the internet but it wasn't very helpful in what I am looking for. I know the issue of birthright regarding Isaac over Ishmael is an ancient and profound controversy. In my reading of Sarah and now Rebecca, Card seems to suggest that Isaac is worthy of the birthright over Ishmael because Abraham was married to Sarah and not Hagar (at least that's what I got out of it).

Some websites I read from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim sources debate the timing of the covenant that was made, or subsequent text in the Bible or Choran.

Anyway, outside of the scriptures themselves (which can be said to be baised toward a given group who has a stake in being the "promised people"--not that I am arguing that the House of Israel isn't), are there customs of the day or other reasons to argue why one son would have the birthright over the other?

OK, other scriptures are fine too, but if they simply talk about the Lord's dealings with Isaac and Jacob as part of the covenant, Muslims will simply say that this would be the result of biased Old Testament writers, etc.

Thanks.

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Irregardless
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It seems to me that the only relevant issue is that it was whichever one (if any) God intended to be.

If God doesn't exist, or took no interest in the matter, then neither group is His 'chosen people' and arguing about which son was an heir to some old man who lived 4,000 years ago would be merely an academic exercise. The Divine component is the only one that makes the story practically important.

If God *did* select one or the other, then human customs regarding such things are not the driving factor. Even working within such bounds, any omniscient/omnipotent God could certainly arrange for the birthright to be transferred to His favored son, as happened in the very next generation with Esau & Jacob.

I suppose one could conceivably imagine the existence of a God who cared which son inherited the birthright, and intended to grant a special status to that son's descendants, but who was powerless to overrule the customary rules of succession; but I know of nobody of any Abrahamic faith who actually believes that God's hands were tied in this way.

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Occasional
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Its a faith argument rather than an historical one, as Irregardless (I hope you know that isn't a word as "regardless" has the very meaning the "Ir" seems to be representing. Sorry for the tangent, but that is one of my few English pet peeves that causes a cringe factor). It is more about what Scripture you accept than a cultural tradition.

However, to be completely historical, the first born would be the heir to the Father's wealth and (more often) land. The other birth orders would have to get paltry other offerings from the father, but mostly find their own way of life. It has been this way for Centuries, even up to the 19th Century America and beyond.

Now, if the first born was illegitimate or born from a lesser status mother, then he would not be considered worthy of becoming the heir of the clan. This side of things happens more often in Royal succession squables. English history, for instance, is full of wars fought over the status of a Royal Magistrate because of questions of birth order or legitimacy. The question of who was worthy of the throne between Queen Mary of Scotts and Queen Elizabeth is a prime example (although female) of the time and person of birth problem. Elizabeth was much older, but Queen Mary might have had the more legitimate pedigree. And this is the question between Isaac and Ishmael.

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Irregardless
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quote:
(I hope you know that isn't a word as "regardless" has the very meaning the "Ir" seems to be representing. Sorry for the tangent, but that is one of my few English pet peeves that causes a cringe factor).
[Smile] Yes, it is meant with a sort of sadistic irony. I got so sick of seeing the word that I thought I'd try inflicting it on others.
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Scott R
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SPOILERS:


quote:
Card seems to suggest that Isaac is worthy of the birthright over Ishmael because Abraham was married to Sarah and not Hagar (at least that's what I got out of it).
Actually, Isaac is worthy of the birthright because he isn't going about trying to kill Ishmael. Also, Isaac follows the commandments. And learns the scriptures. That's what makes Abraham's love and seeming preference for Ishmael so embittering in the next book.

And it's because Isaac learns to dislike himself so much, and learns to see Ishmael's more "manly" qualities as more valuable than his own, that Isaac sets up tensions between his sons Jacob and Esau. Not suprisingly, Esau (the hunter, heir to Ishmael's legacy, NOT Isaac's) and Jacob suffer from some of the same tension in their lives that Isaac and Ishmael did.

But Jacob handles it better. . .

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Lisa
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Try Genesis 21:12. The Hebrew is "ki b'Yitzchak yikarei lecha zara". Roughly speaking, "Isaac is your true seed". That's what God says, anyway.
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pooka
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Okay, my post was no longer salient. But I believe the Quran teaches that Ishmael was the chosen one, including being the one nearly sacrificed. But just as they have a right to hold this tenet, Card has a right to express his tradition which is that Isaac was the chosen one.
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Lisa
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And Muslims say that Ishmael was the one Abraham was commanded to sacrifice, rather than Isaac. Though somehow, they ignore the fact that Sarah and Isaac and Jacob and Leah are buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs, and not Hagar and Ishmael.
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rajel_lebeina
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for jews, itsjak is the true seed, as starlisa quoted. for the muslims, ishamel is the true seed of Abraham. it depends on your point of view. there are midrashim (rabbinical relates that comment and clarify the Bible) that explain why was itsjak almost sacrified, and there are stories about the not-that-nice behaviour of ishmael, but as i said, it depends most on what you are, muslim or jewish. in a word: it depends on what you want to believe. and yes, hagar and ishmael are not in the Cave of the patriarchs.
hope it helped, and sorry for my english...

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Tante Shvester
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[Wave] Welcome aboard rajel lebeina! I look forward to getting to know you more.
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rajel_lebeina
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thank you very much! i found this nice site a day ago, never knew there were forums about OSC, i like his books very much, and it's hard to find them in my country... at least now i have the boards!
ok, back to the topic...

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Scott R
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There are a few folks here that speak Spanish, if you're ever so inclined.
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Orson Scott Card
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What Card "seems" to be doing is taking Genesis at face value. Lower-status wives (i.e., concubines given as wife-surrogates) could give birth to potential heirs, but their rights were superceded by any heir born to a full-status wife. The issue is whether Hagar was a full-status wife. The book of Genesis says she was not - that she was a handmaid given by Sarah to Abraham as a surrogate for her.

There is no competing source.

All there is to refute this is the skepticism of those who want to stress Ishmael's legitimacy.

But since God made SEPARATE promises to Ishmael, as per Genesis, which have obviously been fulfilled, it is not as if the descendants of Ishmael have been left without God's attention even in the Genesis account.

And all of this has nothing to do with Islam, which is a later and (in their belief) superceding revelation which would make any previous lineages irrelevant. Islam was made available to ALL, not just a particular lineage. So to me it seems that any efforts to deny Genesis are unnecessary and futile. It's like the tradition that the Pharaoh of Exodus "must have been" Ramses ... because the descendants of the Israelites of Exodus wanted to claim Ramses' great monuments as having been built by their ancestors. However, there is no evidence for this claim, and substantial evidence in the text of Exodus itself to deny it.

You can't argue with the wish of some people to make their ancestors cooler than they were (in their estimation); my feeling is that people did what they did.

Genesis, whatever flaws and difficulties it may present, is NOT a self-serving book. It's a warts-and-all book, in which ancestors of the Israelites sometimes did appalling things. It seems petty of those descended from non-Israelite but still Abrahamite ancestors to be mean about how Genesis and Exodus make THEM look, considering how G and E make the Israelites look! <grin>

My first responsibility is to be true to the text. After that, I deliberately did NOT do anything to make Ishmael less in the eyes of readers. He is dangerous to Isaac - but dangerous by the standards and according to the customs of the day. And when we see him later, it is as a prince of the desert - and one who does not, in fact, kill or make war with his brother.

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LadyDove
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Not exactly an Isaac v Ishmael question, but I was wondering if Sarah is available on audio.

(editted to italicize book name)

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mr_porteiro_head
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Look at the front page of Hatrack and you'll see that it is.
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LadyDove
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I admit it; I'm blind. I saw and ordered Rebekah and Rachel and Leah, but not Sarah.
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LadyDove
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I still don't see Sarah. Can you help?
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mr_porteiro_head
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Oops. My mistake. :blush:
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Eclectic Skeptic
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I have never read the quoran, nor have I heard much about it other than what is told about on the news. You say that there is no competing source, I take that to mean that the quoran has nothing to say about Ishmael's legitimacy one way or another.

If this is true, I fail to see the controversy, and your summation of the situation is spot on.

Another post seemed to be suggesting that history is all about perspective. I would suggest that this isn't completely true. An objective truth, an objective history did happen, it did occur one way or another. It isn't that my perspective or your perspective are equally valid, they are only equally valid so long as the objective truth remains out of reach. This means that the perspective aspect is introduced depending on which subjective sources or records you choose to believe. If there is no source or known record refuting the claims represented in Genesis, then a perspective which states something contrary to the only known source is really just a belief, with no actual solid basis. Not that you may not continue to believe what you like.

It all depends on which source of history your willing to accept, that is where the perspective originates.

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Orson Scott Card
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Sarah was produced as audio, I believe, but not the team that is doing my audio now. And I also believe that it's out of print.

The area that remains subjective perpetually is causality. Things really did happen; and they happened for cause. But since much of the cause (if not most) of the events of history is human motive, and humans are notorious for not even understanding our OWN motives, let alone the causes of other people's behavior, and since causality is never unitary - there are always multiple causes and effects - the complete understanding of historical "truth" remains perpetually out of reach. In fact, the MORE you know, the more you understand the impossibility of accounting, absolutely, for the cause of anything.

Yet ... we CAN come to understand many contributing causes and find patterns in human societies as well as useful and interesting facts from the lives of individuals in the past. It's the most important field to study, in order to understand everything from the actions of leaders of nations to the actions of the people next door.

Truth exists; but for us to know it completely and certainly is impossible, I believe.

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LadyDove
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Too bad about Sarah. I was hoping that I could listen to the whole set.

Thanks for the answer.

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