Genesis 17:1-7, 15-17 – The 2nd Sunday of Lent – for March 4, 2012
“I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of people will come from her.” (Genesis 17:16)
And thus the Lord appeared to Abram and gave him a different name: the man from Ur of the Chaldees became Abraham.
This same Lord instructed the newly named Abraham to rename his wife Sarai: the woman married to the man from Ur of the Chaldees became Sarah.
Important stuff, eh?
Abram means “the father is high” (and, all Biblical literalism considered, I doubt that carries any modern connotations about recreational drug use). Sarai, as you likely know, means “princess” (or “noble woman”) which is probably easier to brag about than “the father is high.” But that’s just me. I’m a bit vain about my name—Lawrence—because it’s derived from laurel. In ancient times, a laurel wreath was often placed on the head of a king or queen. Royalty. The Big Cheese. So, when you think of me, even if you use my friendly nickname Larry, please crown me with at least one metaphoric crown.
According to the writers of Genesis, the Lord made the Abram-to-Abraham and Sarai-to-Sarah name switch and, ta-da, for all the generations following these revered “parents” of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths will be known as (wait, wait) . . . “the father is high” and “princess.”
Hmmm? Is this Biblical sleight-of-hand?
In Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” the old king of the title bemoans:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Are Abraham and Sarah’s swell new names mostly a “sound and fury” that “signify nothing?” merely a ruse to amuse? Continue reading →