I am still persevering with the book “HaTanakh Hayah BeEmet” by Dr. Liora Ravid (התנ”ך היה באמת) that I wrote about a couple of days ago. But I’m not sure for how long.
Turns out that not only does she misquote Tanakh but she also has some strange ideas about theology. Admittedly as she is not a religious person, this is forgivable but I would have expected her to keep her misunderstandings to herself.
Chapter 7 discusses “The Concept of Fertility in the Ancient World”. She explains that pagan gods were a bunch of freeloaders who liked partying and eating offerings sent them by humans. In return they ocassionally gave gifts to the humans but more often than not just ignored them. Superficial but so far so good.
She then describes the Hebrew God as being similar in many aspects (that he liked eating offerings) but seeing as he was alone he didn’t party much and was attributed with being the God of pure justice. Only justice. Thus if Sarah was barren it was seen as being her fault. HaZaL certainly didn’t understand it that way. She points out herself that the book of Job challenges her view but doesn’t take the hint that therefore she may be wrong. God is seen as being a God of justice, mercy, retribution, testing, rewarding, etc, etc. He has a rather complex character. certainly more complex than what Dr Ravid suggests.
In contrast, an interesting point she develops in chapter 8 is that Sarah’s infertility was probably a direct result of the conditions she endured in her 20 year journey and that it is no coincidence that she got pregnant only after they settled down in Hebron after completing their journey. She complains that Sarah’s infertility is seen as a test of Avraham and not of Sarah – obviously because of the patriarchal view of the “writers of the Tanakh”, whereas it was a incredible trial for her as well. Point taken although I think that the Torah would support viewing her as being tested as well, though she would appear not to have passed with flying colors (Gen 18:12-15).
However an interesting perspective I thought of is that Avraham knew full well that Sarah’s infertility was a result of their living conditions but still continued their twenty year journey and trusted in God that he would make good with his promise. Otherwise what test is there in the infertility? To have a test there must be an action that he could have done differently (and fail). This was the test.