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STERILE  5'1m*f RT: Abraham calls Sarah his sister

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of reporters are
salted throughout the audience.)

ABIMELECH -- (enters wearing ornate robe, crown and sandals,
crosses to podium) Good morning, I am Abimelech, King of Gerar.

(unrolls scroll, reads)

The reason I called this press conference is to announce a cure
for the disease which has plagued our palace for many weeks. The
plague was apparently caused by the god of a Hebrew man named
Abraham. Abraham has prayed to his god and the plague has been
lifted from our palace. That's all I have to say at this time.

(rolls up scroll)

REPORTER -- Your majesty, can you tell us the nature of the
plague that affected your palace?

ABIMELECH -- Well, it's... it's rather embarrassing really. The
plague was not painful or disfiguring. It merely prevented my
wives from getting pregnant.

REPORTER -- Can you tell us when you first noticed that your
wives were not getting pregnant?

ABIMELECH -- Yes. As many of you know, I have dozens of wives.
And for a long time it seemed that two or three of my wives were
getting pregnant every month. Then a few weeks ago, new
pregnancies ceased. It was like a door slammed shut.

REPORTER -- What made you think that it was the god of this
Hebrew named Abraham who has slammed the door?

ABIMELECH -- He said so.

REPORTER -- The god said so?! This god spoke to you?!

ABIMELECH -- Yes. He came to me in a dream one night and said to
me...

(imitates)

"You are as good as dead because of the woman you have
taken; the woman Sarah is married to Abraham the Hebrew."

I said...

(imitates)

"Lord, I admit that I took the woman as my wife. But I assure
you, I never touched her! Lord, will you destroy an innocent
nation? The Hebrew Abraham told me Sarah was his sister! And
when I asked her, she told me Abraham was her brother! I have
done this with a clear conscience and clean hands."

Then this god told me...

(imitates)

"Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have
kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you
touch her. Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and
he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return
her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die."

So, I returned Sarah to her husband, the Hebrew Abraham prayed
for me. And, well, this unfortunate incident is now over. My
wives are getting pregnant again.

REPORTER -- Are you saying that this god of Abraham actually
prevented you from even touching Sarah?

ABIMELECH -- You know, that's the funny thing. Sarah is a VERY
attractive woman. Very desirable. But as soon as she came to the
palace, I lost all interest in her. I thought it was MY will.
But it turned out that this god of the Hebrews was responsible.

REPORTER -- Why would a god go to all the trouble to protect a
woman from a king?

ABIMELECH -- I asked Abraham that very question. He told me that
several years ago, his god had promised him that he would
some day become the father of millions of people. But as yet,
Sarah has not been pregnant. Abraham thinks that if there was
even the vaguest possibility that "I" fathered the child, the
god of Abraham wouldn't get credit for a miraculous birth. So,
Abraham's god made sure that any future babies would not be
credited to me by letting everyone know that I never laid a hand
on her.

REPORTER -- Abraham lied to you. Why didn't you just have him
killed for bringing such misery to your palace?

ABIMELECH -- For the same reason. Both Abraham and Sarah have
this special covenant with their God. He won't let anyone touch
either of them until their destiny is fulfilled.

REPORTER -- Surely you could have at least had Abraham pay a
ransom to get his wife back.

ABIMELECH -- As a matter of fact, I paid him.

REPORTER -- You paid Abraham?!

ABIMELECH -- Hey, this god of Abraham's is powerful enough to
prevent every one of my wives from getting pregnant! I'm not
messing with him. Besides, this covenant that Abraham has with
his god goes both ways. Anyone who harms Abraham gets harmed.
According to the covenant, anyone who blesses Abraham will be
blessed. I consider the payment to Abraham to be an investment
in future blessings.

REPORTER -- But how do you know this investment will pay off?

ABIMELECH -- Because Abraham has done this before.

REPORTER -- Done what before?

ABIMELECH -- Actually, Abraham pulled this stunt in Egypt a few
years ago. He told Pharaoh, King of Egypt that Sarah was his
sister too. And Pharaoh took Sarah as his wife. And Pharaoh's
family got a plague too.

REPORTER -- Why would Abraham lie... twice?

ABIMELECH -- He thought that if he didn't lie, the kings would
kill him to get his wife. He was apparently less convinced than
I am that his God could protect him.

REPORTER -- This guy is really a piece of work!

ABIMELECH -- Be careful how you talk about him! He's got God on
his side. If God is for you, who can be against you!

(exits)

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