After the Battle of Siddim, God appears to Abram saying that even though he has his steward who he wants to appoint as an heir, he should wait for one from his “bowels” instead, and that the numbers of his heirs will be as the stars. (Around 10,000 on a dark night. Not that many considering that the creator of the stars should be aware that those 10,000 are only a tiny fraction of what is out there, outside our own galaxy and beyond. Perhaps this is what the writer of this meant).
To return to the story of Abram being prepared for greatness, after the discussion of the greatness of Abram’s descendants, God tells him to sacrifice some animals:
A three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. He divides them up, except for the birds. When the birds of prey came to eat them, Abram chases them away (verses 9-10).
He falls into a deep sleep, during which he dreams that God tells him of how his heirs will be strangers (we know in Egypt), this dream says “a strange land”. Writing with hindsight, this is retrospective history, and not a prophecy. Also we know the exile in Egypt was only a metaphor for Babylon, and that it didn’t really happen.
This chapter serves to introduce the reader to the story of Abraham’s great-grandson’s abduction to Egypt and how his family follow him into eventual “captivity”, that is after they’d become wealthy as a result of their association with Joseph, and then their offspring becoming slaves under different kings, over 400 years. It also names the people of Canaan and beyond, which, when interpreted by exegesis, turn out to all be descended from Noah.
There is no evidence that the Jews were ever captive slaves in Egypt. It is very possible that some of the workers who worked on the great edifices built by the Egyptians eventually migrated to Palestine, but a people, descended from a single ancestor, numbering over a million bodies, no. There’s absolutely no evidence for this, nor for the existence of a man named Abraham and his family.
There is however ample evidence for the origins of the people claimed to be the descendants of Noah having pre-existed the time of the mythical story of the flood, and thereby, not being descendants of the original Semitic people.
In chapter 16, Abraham grows tired of waiting for the promised son, so he accepts the offer his wife, Sarai makes, to sleep with Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid who conceives, and bears a son.
Not content with having had sex with the slave (either against her will, or otherwise), Abraham tells Sarai to deal with Hagar whichever way she chooses, which makes Hagar afraid after Sarai dealt “hardly” with her. She runs away.
An angel appears to her, asks her “what’s wrong”? She tells the angel she’s fled from Sarai. The angel tells her to return and to submit.
The mythological ancestry of the birth of the ancestor of the Arabs aside, there are the issues that today’s feminism and human rights have to find abhorrent. How anyone living in the 21st century can simply accept that this behaviour: taking a woman as a slave away from her home, purely for the breeding of a nation, possibly raping her, and then letting her be abused by her mistress, and eventually being turned out with her son, flies in the face of all humanitarianism. I find the story unnecessarily harsh, leaving me with nothing to respect about these characters.