I think you’re reading too much into it, Mp. Even the king complained that Sarah, herself, perpetrated the story about her being Abraham’s sister. So it’s not like she wasn’t in on it.
You also have to know the contextual part of the story. Why did Abraham have these fears about his wife? Was he dealing with cultures that killed men for their wives? I don’t know. Why, too, didn’t Abraham put his entire trust in the Lord? Did he doubt that Yahweh could deliver him? Or, that it worked so well the first time, decades earlier, that he decided to do it again? Again, I don’t know. I don’t know what his understanding was of his God; however, Yahweh did deliver Sarah back to Abraham with no extra mileage on the odometer.
Your opinions are steeped in the notion that Jehovah really wasn’t a player in this story because, in your mind, he doesn’t exist. If you’re correct, then the story isn’t worth the paper it was written on. Too many ex-dubs, in my view, dump Jehovah with the Witnesses, so he gets much of the blame. But if one examines the Law of Moses, it’s very impressive in its mercy and justice; and though it could be strict, it’s an incredible work that has influenced many of the world’s legal systems.
This is from a paper on Abraham and the incident with Pharaoh you might find of interest:
The story of how Sarah ended up in the royal palace is now available in the recently discovered Genesis Apocryphon, and the account is a thoroughly plausible one. Pharaoh’s regular title in this document, “Pharaoh Zoan, King of Egypt,” shows him to be one of those many Asiatics who ruled in the Delta from time to time while claiming, and sometimes holding, the legitimate crown of all Egypt. The short journey from Canaan into his Egyptian domain is described in significant terms: “now we crossed (the border of) our land and entered the land of the sons of Ham, the land of Egypt,” as if the family was definitely moving from one spiritual and cultural domain to another. This is interesting because the Book of Abraham lays peculiar emphasis on the Hamitic blood of this particular pharaoh as well as his anxious concern to establish his authority—always a touchy point with the Delta pharaohs, whose right to rule was often challenged by the priests and the people of Upper Egypt. In his new home, Abraham, an international figure in the caravan business, entertained local officials both as a matter of policy and from his own celebrated love of hospitality and of people.
One day he was entertaining three men, courtiers of Pharaoh Zoan, at dinner. Abraham would host such special delegations again, in Canaan: there would be the three heavenly visitors whom he would feast “in the plains of Mamre” (Genesis 18:1-8), and the “three Amorite brothers” whom he would have as guests. The names of these last three were Mamre, Armen, and Eshkol. Mamre and Eshkol are well-known place names, and if we look for Armen, it is a place name, too, for in the Ugaritic ritual-epic tale of Aqhat, it is the “man of Hrnmy” who hosts “the Lords of Hkpt [Ht-ka-ptah = Egypt, i.e., Memphis]” who come from afar. If this seems to put Abraham’s party in a ritual setting, its historicity is vindicated by the name of the leader of the palace delegation, who is called ?RQNWŠ. B. Z. Wacholder explains this as “an early transliteration of archones,” designating its bearer as “the archon, the head of the household,” and obviously indicating Hellenistic influence. But archones is neither a name nor a title, and the “early transliteration” leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, we find in Pharaonic times, in the employ of Sshmt.t, the divine lady of the eastern Delta, the very district where our little drama is taking place, a busy official and agent bearing the title of Hr-hknw, “the Lord of Protection,” whose business was to police the area and keep an eye on foreigners, with whom he was Pharaoh’s contact man; he is, in fact, according to Hermann Kees, none other than our old friend Nefertem, the immemorial frontier guard of the northeastern boundary, the official host, border inspector, and watchdog (or rather watch lion) of the foreigners coming to Egypt—especially from Canaan.
Nothing could be more natural than to have this conscientious border official checking up on Abraham from time to time and enjoying his hospitality. And since it was his duty to report to Pharaoh whatever he considered of interest or significance on his beat, it is not surprising that a report of ?RQNWŠ and his aides to the king contained a glowing account of Abraham’s dazzling wife. Her beauty had already caused a sensation at the custom house, according to a famous legend. If nothing else, her blondness would have attracted attention among the dark Egyptians: the Midrash reports, in fact, that Abraham had warned her against this very thing: “We are now about to enter a country whose inhabitants are dark-complexioned—say that you are my sister wherever we go!” This admonition was given as the family passed from Abraham’s homeland in northern Mesopotamia (Aram Naharaim and Aram Nahor) into Canaan—clearly indicating that the people of Abraham’s own country were light-complexioned.
In reporting to Pharaoh, his three agents, while singing the praises of Sarah’s beauty in the set terms of the most sensuous Oriental love poetry, make a special point of mentioning that “with all her beauty there is much wisdom in her,” lauding her “kindness, wisdom, and truth” even above her other qualities. They went all out in their description not only because the subject was worthy of their best efforts, but because they hoped to put themselves in good stead with the king by both whetting and satisfying his desire. The royal reaction was immediate. Asiatic pharaohs were polygamous and aggressive: “Sarah was taken from me by force”; without further ado the king “took her to him to wife and sought to slay me.” Josephus says that this pharaoh deserved the punishment he got because of his high-handed manner towards the wife of a stranger. But as we all know, Abraham was saved when Pharaoh was assured by Sarah herself that he was her brother and would thus not stand in the way of their marriage; instead of being liquidated, he was, therefore, as the brother of the favorite wife, “entreated...well for her sake” (Genesis 12:16).
Sarah on the Lion Couch
Abraham was saved and Pharaoh was pleased and everything was all right except for poor Sarah. It was now her turn to face the test of the lion couch! As we have seen, not only the royal altar but also the royal bed was a lion couch. And this was to be more than a test of Sarah’s virtue, for should she refuse, the king would be mortally offended—with predictable results for the lady. His unhesitating move to put Abraham out of the way had made it clear enough that His Majesty was playing for keeps. After all, three princesses of the royal line had already been put to death on the lion altar for refusing to compromise their virtue (Abraham 1:11), and there was no indication that Sarah would be an exception.
The story of Sarah’s delivery from her plight follows the same order as the stories of Abraham and Isaac. First of all, being brought to the royal bed “by force,” she weeps and calls upon the Lord to save her, at which time Abraham also “prayed and entreated and begged...as my tears fell.” As he had prayed for himself, so the patriarch “prayed the Lord to save her from the hands of Pharaoh.”
And though experience may have rendered him perfectly confident in the results, it was the less-experienced Sarah who was being tested. The prayer for deliverance closely matches that on the first lion couch: “Blessed art thou, Most High God, Lord of all the worlds, because Thou art Lord and master of all and ruler of all the kings of the earth, and of whom thou judgest. Behold now I cry before Thee, my Lord, against Pharaoh Zoan, king of Egypt, because my wife has been taken from me by force. Judge him for me and let me behold Thy mighty hand descend upon him.” Even so Abraham had prayed for deliverance from the altar of “Nimrod”: “O God, Thou seest what this wicked man is doing to me,” with the whole emphasis on the king’s blasphemous claims to possess the ultimate power in the world: in both cases Abraham is helpless against the authority and might of Pharaoh, but still he will recognize only one king, and he calls for a showdown: “that night I prayed and begged and said in sorrow...let thy mighty hand descend upon him...and men shall know, my Lord, that Thou art the Lord of all the kings of the earth!” This is exactly the point of Abraham’s prayer in the Ma?aseh Abraham Abinu and Abraham 1:17, where God says, “I have come down...to destroy him who hath lifted up his hand against thee, Abraham, my son.”
So while all “that night Sarah lay upon her face,” calling upon God, Abraham “without the prison” also prayed “that he may not this night defile my wife.” It was, as one might by now expect, just at the moment that Pharaoh assayed to seize Sarah that an angel came to the rescue, whip in hand: “As Pharaoh was about to possess Sarah, she turned to the angel who stood at her side (visible only to her) and immediately Pharaoh fell to the ground; all his house was then smitten with plague, with leprosy on the walls, the pillars, and furniture.” Whenever Pharaoh would make a move toward Sarah, the invisible angel would strike him down. To justify such rough treatment of the poor unsuspecting Pharaoh, the Midrash explains that he was not unsuspecting at all: “an angel stood with a whip” to defend her, because she told Pharaoh that she was a married woman, and he still would not leave her alone. According to all other accounts, however, that is exactly what she did not tell him, having her husband’s safety in mind. The almost comical humiliation of the mighty king in the very moment of his triumph is an exact counterpart of the crushing overthrow of “Nimrod” at the instant of his supreme triumph over Abraham. “His illicit lust was checked,” says Josephus, “by disease and stasis—revolution,” suggesting that his kingly authority was overthrown along with his royal dignity and prowess.
What saved Sarah, according to the Aramaic Genesis Apocryphon, was the sending by El Elyon, the Most High God, of a rw? mkdš or rw? b?yš?, which Avigad and Yadin render “a pestilential wind” and “a wind that was evil,” respectively. Other scholars however, prefer “spirit” (of plague) to “wind,” and while mkdš is not found in the dictionary, miqdash, which sounds exactly the same, is a very common word indicating the dwelling place of God, so that rw? mkdš suggests to the ear “the angel of the presence,” such as came to rescue both Abraham and Isaac on the altar. Rw? b?yš? in turn suggests to the ear “the spirit of fire,” reminding us of a number of accounts of a mysterious being who stood with Abraham in the flames when he rescued him from the altar. The confusion of the rescuing angel with the wind is readily explained if our Aramaic text was written from dictation, as many ancient documents were.
The showdown between the two religions is staged in both stories by the king himself when he pits his own priests and diviners against the wisdom of the stranger and his God, the test being which of the two is able to cure him and his house. An early writer quoted by Eusebius says, “Abraham went to Egypt with all his household and lived there, his wife being married to the king of Egypt who, however, could not approach her.... And when it came about that his people and his house were being destroyed he called for the diviners (Greek manteis), who told him that Sarah was not a widow, and so he knew that she was Abraham's wife and gave her back to him.” The first part of the statement is supported by the Genesis Apocryphon, which says that Sarah lived two years in Pharaoh's house, during which time he was unable to approach her. During that time she was in no danger of his wrath, however, since as far as Pharaoh was concerned it was not her reluctance but only his illness that kept them apart.