Did God lie in Genesis 18:12-13?


Sarah laughed (source: lovejoyfeminism|Patheos)

Did God lie in Genesis 18:12-13?

According to Jewish scholar Yael Shemesh He did:

"In one case we even find God twisting the truth in order to preserve amicable relations between Abraham and Sarah and to prevent Abraham’s feelings from being hurt. Upon overhearing the prediction that she was about to become pregnant, Sarah laughs, “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?” (Gen. 18:12); God, however, quotes her in Abraham’s hearing as having said, “Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?” (Gen. 18:13), making no reference to Abraham’s inadequacy. This episode was used by the Sages of the Talmud as a proof-text showing that it is permitted to deviate from the strict line of truth in order to establish peace (BT Yeb. 65b; BT B.M. 87a)."
- Yael Shemesh, Lies by Prophets and Other Lies in the Hebrew Bible, 2. Lies in the Bible  (paper|Bar-Ilan University), p. 4.

I would say that, in this instance, this scholar does not seem to quote Sarah in an honest way. He omits the Hebrew word “balah” (בָּלָה), in verse 12, which indicates that Sarah stated “I am waxed old” (KJV).

So God did not lie when he quoted Sarah as saying:
“Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?” (Gen. 18:13).

Yes, God did not tell Abraham that Sarah also said “am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?” (Genesis 18:12b) but does God have to tell everything to Abraham? Do we always have to tell everything someone else said? Is this always lying? I don’t think so.

Sarah did not respect her husband. Nevertheless, God spared Sarah’s reputation, in the eyes of Abraham. This was God’s undeserved, merciful choice…

And here is something you might have missed…

God did the same for Abraham towards Sarah! (Genesis 17:17)


Bible translation by scholar yael Shemesh, unless otherwise indicated.

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