Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vayera Summary

Avraham sees three angels in the guise of men and offers them hospitality. They tell him that in one year’s time Sarah will bear him a son. G-d tells Avraham that He plans to destroy Sodom because of their wickedness. Avraham bargains unsuccessfully on their behalf. The angels arrive in Sodom and spend the night with Lot. The inhabitants of the city prove their wickedness and the angels save Lot and his family, as G-d destroys the city. Because Lot’s wife turns to watch the destruction, she becomes a pillar of salt. Lot’s two daughters, fearing that they are the only survivors of global destruction, get their father drunk and have sexual relations with him. They become pregnant and bear sons. One daughter names her son Moav and the other names her son Amon.
Avraham and Sarah migrate to Gerar, and claim that they are brother and sister. Avimelech takes Sarah to become his wife, but is warned by G-d in a dream that he will die if he touches her. Avimelech returns Sarah to Avraham and gives him sheep, cattle and servants. He also offers Avraham his choice of land.
G-d fulfils His promise to Sarah, she becomes pregnant and gives birth to Yitzchak. As Yitzchak grows up, Sarah sees Hagar’s son Yishmael playing games that endanger his life, in order that Yishmael be Avraham’s sole inheritor. She tells Avraham to expel Hagar and Yishmael from the house and, after confirmation from G-d that this is what he must do, Avraham agrees. Hagar wanders into the desert with her son, but their water and supplies are soon used up. She abandons Yishmael but an angel appears to her, and tells her that G-d has heard and answered the prayers of her son, and shows her a spring of water. They remain desert dwellers, and Hagar takes an Egyptian wife for Yishmael.
At that time, Avimelech, and Pichol his minister of defence, come to Avraham and seal a pact with him, that he not harm them or their children or grandchildren. Avraham castigates them about their servants confiscating the wells that he has dug. They swear, and call the place Be’er-Sheva to remember the oath.
G-d tests Avraham by commanding him to offer Yitzchak as a sacrifice. Avraham sets off, accompanied by his son and two servants. After three days they arrive at the designated mountain. Avraham and Yitzchak proceed alone. Yitzchak is bound on the altar, but as Avraham holds the knife over his throat to slaughter him, an angel appears and commands him not to harm the child because G-d now recognises his loyalty. Avraham offers a ram that is caught in thorns in place of his son. The angel appears again and promises that G-d will bless him and his descendants. Avraham calls the place Hashem Yira’eh. They return to the waiting servants, continue together to Be’er-Sheva, and dwell there.
The Parsha concludes with the genealogy of Abraham’s brother Nachor, and mentions the birth of Nachor’s granddaughter Rivka (Rebecca).

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