Vayeira - Abraham's Struggle With Loyalty
Vayeira - Abram, Sarai, Hagar, Ishmael and...Exodus?
Vayeira Torah Portion: Genesis 18:1 to Genesis 22:24
Parshat Vayeira opens with Abraham serenely sitting at the opening of his tent, chatting with God — when lo and behold, three visitors approach him. Abraham drops everything to set them up with tasty food and drink, after which they reveal the miraculous news that God will be blessing Abraham and Sarah with a child in the coming year. (When Sarah overhears, she laughs — but then denies it, when confronted). After the men take their leave, God informs Abraham of His plan to destroy the nearby city of Sodom, because its people are wicked. Abraham argues on the people’s behalf, and God seems to engage with Abraham in a sort of negotiation — but the reader is left to wonder whether Abraham was successful or whether the city will still be destroyed.
Two of the visitors who had come to Abraham then head for
Abraham and Sarah
God remembers Sarah, as promised, and she gives birth to a son, whom Abraham names Isaac (Yitzchak). Isaac grows to be a young boy, and Sarah witnesses a displeasing interaction between him and Ishmael, the son of Hagar. She pushes Abraham to exile Hagar and Ishmael.
Finally, in perhaps the Bible’s most troubling story, God commands Abraham to take Isaac and bring him as a sacrifice. Three days later, upon a mountaintop, Abraham binds Isaac and is about to slaughter him, when an angel of God calls to Abraham, stays his hand, and tells him: “Good news: you passed the test!” In Isaac’s stead, Abraham sacrifices a ram, and God gives Abraham a blessing. Lastly, we’re given a brief list of people who were born in Abraham’s family, including Rebecca, his great-niece, and (spoiler!) Isaac’s future wife.