When going to Egypt, Abraham asked Sarah to pretend she was his sister. It was a lie, though she was his half-sister, she was also his wife. Abraham feared being killed if he was known to be her husband, but not if he was thought to be only her brother.
“10Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his
wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; 12and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13“Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.” Genesis 12:10-13
You would think Abraham would learn. But no, he does it again. He went to Gerar in the land of the Negev and again asked Sarah to pretend to be his sister.
“Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.” Gen. 20:2.
It was only by God’s intervention that Sarah was restored to Abraham. And so these two instances were not the brightest moments in the history of Abraham. From fear Abraham lied and deceived other men. Did he teach his son to do better?
In Genesis 26 when Abraham’s son, Isaac with Rebekah went down to Gerar of the Philistines, Isaac fears the same fate and lies to the new Abimelech (a title and not a personal name), telling the men that she was his sister (Gen. 26:6). Actually, she was his cousin and his wife. So Isaac lives but his wife is prey for the ruler who is always on the lookout for another woman. These were scary times.
Young people may not remember this, but besides Saddam Hussein’s other evils, he had two sons who terrorized Baghdad by cruising the streets always ready to pick up the beautiful girls to make them sexual objects. Parents literally hid their daughters lest they be seen by these predators. I’m sure it was much like this in Abraham and Isaac’s day. It may give new purpose to the full veil so many women in the middle east wear. If Sarah and Rebekah had their faces covered, their beauty would not be seen. But I digress.
Knowing that fathers influence sons, there’s little doubt that Abraham influenced Isaac in the most important aspects of his character. This influence would include a willingness to deceive. But thankfully the influence was also in the great faith Abraham had in God. Great men of faith are rarely ever perfect. Their weaknesses are often passed on to the children. But if God is most important to the man, that faith will be demonstrated a hundred ways so that they children follow his faith too.
One last point. There are recessive and dominant traits which parents pass on to their children. When parents are genetically similar, those similar traits statistically will likely show in the children. It’s like this in non-genetic things like faith and character. An Isaac is likely to pick up the spiritual strengths of Abraham if they are also in Sarah. And Sarah and spiritual strength to spare. Parents, remember that if you work together to raise your children so that both of you reflect a strong faith in God, it is more likely that your children will have a deep love for God. Be encouraged by this because your children are imitating you.