Robert Alter's Genesis Analysis

Great Essays
Robert Alter’s translation of Genesis is rhythmically stunning and evoking of a deeper understanding of God’s power. Type scenes, or rather a repetitive event, that occur throughout Genesis allude to specific themes and morals that can be transcended into reality. While some literary texts use one character through a series of events to touch upon one concurrent theme, Genesis employs the use of different characters to ensure that a singular narrative is upheld. The narrative is that of men, blessed by God, traveling across deserts and lying only to be protected by God. Indeed, this event occurs thrice: once in chapter 12 with Abram, then again in 20 with Abraham, and finally in 26 with the son of Abraham: Isaac. In each scene, these men sojourn …show more content…
It is important to note that Abram and his wife Sarai have undergone name changes to become Abraham and Sarah. Although God does not give reasons for the name change, it is assumed that God changed Abraham’s name as a sign of His promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations: Abram means “high father” while Abraham simply means “Father of many” and similarly, Sarai means “princess” and Sarah means“mother of many,” (Alter 73). Besides name changes, this chapter differs from chapter 12 from the mere fact that it diverges from the simplicity and adds dialogue between God and King Abimelech. God comes to Abimelech in a dream and says, “You are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife,” (92:3). Since Abimelech had not even touched Sarah as yet, he responds, “My Lord, will You slay a nation even if innocent? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, she, she too said, ‘He is my brother.’ With a pure heart and with clean hands, I have done this,” (93:4). This line complicates the story because it highlights God’s favoring of Abraham for the second time even though he has sinned. Abimelech saying “Did he not say..”mocks God’s judgment in Abraham. God replies in the dream to say, “Indeed I know that with a pure heart you have done this… so I have not allowed you to touch her… send back the man’s wife, for he is a prophet,” (93:7). God owns up to his favoritism and justifies it by saying that while Abraham does have more power than him, he should be thankful that God even stopped him from committing sin by marrying or having children with Sarah. This interaction is a reiteration of “And I will bless those who bless you and those who damn you I will curse,” (93:4) which was shown in Chapter 12. Yet here, is reversed and rehashed into a proclamation of prejudice against King Abimelech because he does not

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