Gen 23 burying Sarah and other inclusions/exclusions

As I read through the Bible using Professor Horner’s method, I come across scenarios and wonder why they were/or weren’t included in the Bible we have today. I am lumping them all in one post.For example, why is there such a big brew haha in Gen 23 about buying a field to bury Sarah in? In Gen 30 what is the point of Jacob using branches when birthing to determine the color of a lamb ? That is so strange and unscientific. In Judges 3:15 the deliverer is specified as being left-handed. In 2 John 1 why are there no names given but “to the chosen” lady or sister? To protect them? And finally, whatever happened to Potiphar’s wife, the one who got Joseph into so much trouble? I am full of questions! thank you, Kathleen

Is this the ‘read the Bible in a year’ program? Wow, congratulations on reading this much of the Bible in such a short time frame. :slight_smile: and I love your questions; it makes me go and read these accounts for myself.

So to your questions:
Why was the account of Sarah’s burial documented in such detail in Genesis 23?
Perhaps because of Abraham’s great love of his wife, and because Abraham was the Father of Israel.

In Genesis 30, Jacob was in charge of the breeding program for his Uncle Laban, and as the text says; he basically was breeding the stronger flocks for himself. As to the sticks, there may have been more than just ‘hocus pocus’ behind it. :slight_smile:

In Judges 3:15, Ehud was left handed; and this little fact is part of the story of when he assasinated Eglon. Presumably most people were right handed, and strapped their sword on the left hand side of the body. Guards probably were lazy and frisked Ehud for weapons only on the left hand side of his body; but because he was left-handed, his sword was strapped to his right side ( Judges 3:16), and he got past Eglon’s guards (basically you draw your sword across your body).

In 2 John, the letter that John wrote to the ‘elect lady’ may have been to an actual lady, or it may have been to a local church.

and your final question; what happened to Potiphar’s wife? This one I suppose we can only speculate as we’re not told what happened to her later as the story is about Joseph. If you are into reading books; John Lennox’s book on Joseph is well worth a read and has a chapter about Joseph’s temptation. As Lennox points out,

Potiphar, we are told, responded angrily, though perhaps the text carefully avoids saying with whom he was angry. He ordered Joseph to be incarcerated in the special prison reserved for the king’s prisoners. So far as we know, there were very few prisons in the ancient world, but, as we saw in connection with the evidence for slavery in the Middle Kingdom, there are records of prisons in Egypt. The fact that Potiphar did not have Joseph executed, the usual punishment for adultery, may indicate that he had suspicions about the veracity of his wife’s story and wished to give Joseph, who had been a huge asset to him, some benefit of the doubt. Potiphar probably had no option but to keep such suspicions to himself in order to avoid his own status being threatened by scandal. After all, there were no other witnesses; the house was empty. This fact has led some commentators to put part of the blame on Joseph for acting unwisely in going into an empty building with a woman who had been constantly pestering him. Of course, he may not have known it was empty. It probably was a large house, and she may well have chosen her moment carefully. Whatever happened, there is an obvious warning for us today: people should avoid finding themselves alone with people of the opposite sex in situations where they could easily compromise in unforeseen ways.

Lennox, John. Joseph . Crossway. Kindle Edition.

hopefully a few helpful thoughts and resources? Great questions. :slight_smile:



I don’t think that it is difficult to understand that land was important to the people of the ANE :blush: and with that in mind here is a little info on the caves. Even though this event precedes most of the history that we connect with Israel as a nation particularly what I call the ‘connection to the land’, not in a political or cultural sense, but in the sense of believing that where Yahweh was that was the ‘land’ and that is where one would be at home.
Two examples of this found in Scripture are 2 Ki 5:15–19LEB, the story of Naaman who is cleansed from leprosy and tries to show his gratitude to Yahweh but Elisha refuses to accept his offer of gifts and in response, Naaman asks for ‘dirt’?
And 1 Sam 26:17-19 the story of David and Saul’s cat and mouse in the wilderness. David again spares Saul and they have a brief exchange of words. Pay attention to David’s response. What is it that David fears to lose? The inheritance of Yahweh, the ‘land’.

According to the Genesis sources, not only Sarah but Abraham too was buried there, as were Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah. Such traditions leave little doubt that Machpelah must have been a national shrine throughout the biblical period, even though the biblical sources outside Genesis are silent on the matter. After the Western Wall in Jerusalem, it has remained throughout history the most sacred monument of the Jewish people. It is traditionally identified with the site the Arabs call the ḥaram el-khalil, “the sacred precinct of the friend (of God),” in present-day Hebron. The magnificent surrounding wall of hewn stones goes back at least to the time of Herod. During the Byzantine period a church was built over the sepulcher, but Jews were allowed to pray within the area. After the Arab invasion and conquest of the Land of Israel in the seventh century C.E., the church was converted into a mosque. In 1267 Sultan Baybars forbade Jews and Christians to enter the cave. Thereafter, “infidels” were not allowed to ascend beyond the seventh step of the outer wall leading to the court of the mosque. This situation endured for the next 700 years until Hebron was liberated by the Israel Defense Forces in June 1967. Jews, Christians, and Muslims were then given the freedom to worship inside the cave.
Sarna, N. M. (1989). Genesis (pp. 158–159). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

It might also be helpful to read gen 23:17-20 as a legal transaction much like a modern real-estate transaction.


Yes. It involves reading 10 chapters a day which takes me about 15 minutes. I think that Proverbs and Acts are in every monthly rotation. Don’t be too impressed with me! It is a lovely system and I started it with the caveat that I would have no guilt if I missed a few days here or there. I want it to be a discipline and desire,not a legalistic, checklist kind of thing. So I am experiencing this panoramic view of the Bible as it were. It’s quite exciting. And along the way I run into this questions or peculiarities. I was inspired to try this when my dad was diagnosed with cancer over 5 years ago and he realized in the 6 months he had left to live , he didn’t know as much about God as he wanted to. So he dug deeply into the Bible. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late. I highly recommend Prof Horner’s approach. It is manageable and fun. Thank you for your informative responses to all my questions. I shall dig in!

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@matthew.western ok I have had a chance to read what you proffered and they were all spot on! thank you for expanding my mind. The breeding genetics was fascinating. And I adore John Lennox’s speaking and writing.

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You’re welcome. Glad it was a little helpful. :slight_smile: