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Author Topic: Genesis; The Road To The Top
Sa:ji:sdo:de
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Gen 14:19-24


†. Gen 14:19-20a . . He blessed him, saying: Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your foes into your hand.

At this point in time, Abram's relationship with God was very satisfactory. 'Elyown had nothing critical for Mel to say of Abram; and Mel verified that God was the reason behind Abram's success in battle. David's too.

"In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall (2Sam 22:30)

"He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze. (2 Sam 22:35)

"Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle" (Ps 144:1)

etc.

There are Christians who, allegedly for conscience sake, are totally against all war and violence. They fail to appreciate that peace, liberty, and human rights are preserved in an evil world only by force of arms.

Conscientious objectors-- while refusing to put themselves in harm's way standing guard over their family and their country, and to lend a hand in keeping the world a relatively safe, stable place to live, sacrificing their own lives and futures if need be --don't seem to mind taking advantage of the abundance of benefits purchased by the blood of others whom they despise as baby killers and war mongers.

†. Gen 14:20b . . And [Abram] gave him a tenth of everything.

According to Heb 7:1-4, this particular tenth regarded only the recent spoils of war; not of all Abram's estate in its entirety. So then, tenths should be reserved for times when you know in your heart that it was God who engineered your success.

Just exactly how King Mel disposed of Abram's tenth isn't stated; but typically contributions back then went towards a local priest's support. This principle would apply of course only if Mel was useful to Abram as a priest; viz: a source of spiritual counseling and/or a mediator between himself and God, otherwise Abram would owe him nothing.

But enough of that. A comprehensive dissertation on the Melchizedekian order is located in the New Testament's open letter to the Hebrew people.

†. Gen 14:21 . .Then the king of Sodom said to Abram: Give me the persons, and take the possessions for yourself.

Sheik Bera was very grateful to Abram, and asked only for the return of his fellow citizens; but not for the return of their stolen goods. Abram was more than welcome to keep it all as his reward for rescuing the people of the Plain. Although Bera and his citizens were very wicked, this is one time I have to give him some credit for showing excellent propriety.

But Abram refused. There was just no way he was going to get rich by exploiting his own neighbors' misfortunes. Although he had a perfect right, within the customs of that day, to all the spoils of war, (a tenth of which he already gave to Melchizedek) he waived it in favor of looking out for Sheik Bera's best interests. I tell you, this man Abram was incredibly gracious; and his manner of life, as a rule, made his religion, and his god, look pretty good.

†. Gen 14:22-23 . .But Abram said to the king of Sodom: I swear to the Lord God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth; I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say: It is I who made Abram rich

When you get down to it; a person's reputation is all that really matters in life; because it's really the only thing we take with us when we pass on. Abram didn't want to be known as someone who got rich through the misfortunes of others. And that is exactly what would have happened had he agreed to Bera's suggestion. You can imagine what that would have done to his influence for God in that region; and how it would have ruined Abram's own self respect. It would be awful indeed if people round about gossiped that Abram's only motive for rescuing his nephew was for profit.

Abram didn't need Bera's stuff anyway. What the heck; he had plenty back home already. Why be greedy? I mean: how much does it really take to satisfy? Does a man really have to own every skyscraper, every square foot of real estate, every drop of water, every cow, pig, and chicken, every inch of agricultural land, every fruit and vegetable seed sold around the world, every watt of electricity, every telephone system, every share of stock in a blue chip company, every software program, every car dealership, every oil well, every refinery, every electric generating plant, every natural gas supplier, a monopoly on insecticide and weed killer, every utility, and every hotel and apartment building before he feels he has enough?

When will Walmart's corporate managers finally say "Lets stop expanding. We have enough market share". They never will because Walmart's greed and its predatory nature knows no bounds.

As I watched a NetFlix documentary about corn production; the producers visited a chemical plant that makes high fructose corn syrup. The manager of the plant was asked how much market share his product had. After answering, he was then asked how much market share he would like to have; and he answered "all of it"

The Supreme Almighty God, who had so blessed Abram thus far, would surely continue to do so. Abram had far more personal honor and self respect than the predatory
ENRON traders who took advantage of forest fires in California to raise the State's electric rates.

†. Gen 14:24 . . For me, nothing but what my servants have used up; as for the share of the men who went with me-- Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre --let them take their share.

Abram's only request was replacement of his own provisions that his troops consumed during the mission. He didn't permit them to take a share of the spoils; and since they were his slaves; they had no say in it. But his Amorite allies spoke for themselves. If they wanted anything, it was their own decisions about it and Abram didn't interfere. I mean, after all; the cities of the plain owed the Amorite guys at least a little something as compensation for saving their bacon.

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Gen 15:1-6


†. Gen 15:1a . . Some time later, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.

This is the very first record of a vision in the Bible. The Hebrew word is machazeh (makh-az-eh') and it appears in only four places in the entire Old Testament; which is pretty amazing considering the volume of prophecy the Old Testament contains.

Visions aren't always visible scenes, but sometimes contain only audible words; and this is one of those instances. It wasn't the Lord who came to Abram in a vision: it was His word; viz: this vision was something heard rather than seen i.e. a message.

†. Gen 15:1b . . Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to you;

The vision informed Abram that Yhvh intended to protect him; which was a good thing because quite possibly Abram at this time was feeling a bit anxious that a counterattack might be organized up in Shinar and return to Canaan for revenge with a much larger force than the one recently defeated.

†. Gen 15:1c . .Your reward shall be very great.

In other words; his reward would be much greater than the one he just recently forfeited. In those days, it was winner takes all; but Abram had not exercised that option.

Below is an ancient take on the event.

T. Thereupon was the word of the Lord with Abram in a vision, saying: Fear not; for if these men should gather together in legions and come against thee, My Word will be thy shield: and also if these fall before thee in this world, the reward of thy good works shall be kept, and be prepared before Me in the world to come, great exceedingly. (Targum Jonathan)

†. Gen 15:2a . . But Abram said: O Lord God, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless,

Apparently Abram misunderstood God back in Gen 12:2 when He promised to make of Abram a great nation; even though God restated the promise at Gen 12:7 and Gen 13:15 and clearly meant Abram would engender biological progeny. However, I think the man had grown so accustomed to Sarah's sterility that it just never occurred to him that God's promise might actually be literal.

†. Gen 15:2b . . and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

Eliezer wasn't Abram's blood kin; however, by common law in Canaan, he was Abram's default heir apparent in the absence of natural progeny.

†. Gen 15:3 . . Abram said further: Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir.

When a man without children died in that day, common law stipulated that his chief steward got it all and had a legal right to pass it all on to his own son. Abram had no real estate, but if he did, then Eliezer would get that too in the event Abram died with no blood heir. Sarai? Well, she'd probably stay on as Eliezer's concubine.

But the real danger at this point wasn't to Abram's gold, silver, slaves, herds, and women; but to the promises that God made to Abram concerning his heir. Those would pass to Eliezer too.

†. Gen 15:4-5 . .The word of The Lord came to him in reply: That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir. He took him outside and said: Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He added : So shall your offspring be.

On a good clear night, it's possible to see roughly 6,000 stars with the naked eye; but don't bother to try and count them because you will certainly lose track before you're done; especially if the Milky Way is overhead. Well . . it finally sank in that God's promise was literal and that's when one of the most significant events in history took place.

†. Gen 15:6 . . And he believed in Yhvh; and He counted it to him for righteousness.

That is the very first time anything "righteous" was said about Abram in Genesis; and it resulted not from piety, but rather, from belief.

The Hebrew word for "belief" is horribly ambiguous. 'Aman can mean, among other things: (1) to build up or support, (2) to foster as a parent or nurse, (3) figuratively to render (or be) firm or faithful, (4) to trust or believe, (5) to be permanent or quiet, (6) to be morally true or certain, and (7) to rely upon.

Any choice I make from that list would be entirely arbitrary; but my money is upon trust and reliance because at that moment, Abram began seriously pinning his hopes on God to do something about his childless situation.

The thing to note is that Abram's hope wasn't based upon wishful thinking. No; he had a testimony from God to justify his confidence.

According to the first chapter of Genesis; the cosmos-- all of its forms of life, matter, and energy --is the result of intelligent design. Do people gain a degree of righteousness when they believe that chapter is true? No; I mean, even demons believe that chapter is true; and fat lot of good it does them because there are no personal guarantees in that chapter; it's entirely academic.

But how about this?

"I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me. And this is the will of the One who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what He gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day." (John 6:38-40)

Whether people do or don't rely upon and/or trust that statement will have no effect upon its outcome; viz: it is going to happen. However, their doubt will cost them a degree of righteousness because John 3:38-40 isn't academic; no, it's a personal guarantee.

/

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Gen 15:7-10


†. Gen 15:7a . .Then He said to him: I am The Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans

God here identifies Himself as Yhvh. That may seem unimportant but there are those who claim Abram was unaware of that name because of Ex 6:3. But it just goes to show you that sometimes the Bible is not all that easy to understand.

One thing we should never overlook about Abram is that, although he was a Hebrew, he was never a Jew. He and his wife Sarai were both Gentiles whom God selected to engender the people of Israel. There was nothing particularly special about Abram. In fact he came from a city, and a family, of idolaters. (Josh 24:2)

So God began by reminding Abram of his roots. Abram was a Babylonian; and it was God who took an interest in him, and the one who got him out of there and gave him a future. It wasn't Abram's idea to re-invent himself; nor was it Abram's idea to pack up and leave his native country. Actually, if not for God's interference, Abram would've still been back at Ur, living like a pagan.

†. Gen 15:7b . . to assign this land to you as a possession.

God gave this man a future. Abram was a nobody, going nowhere in Ur. Of His own sovereign volition, God moved into Abram's life and made a difference. He'll do the very same thing again later on with Jacob.

Some Gentile Christians are way too puffed up with religious pride. It wouldn't hurt a few of them to consider their own roots once in a while too because they have absolutely nothing to brag about.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

. . . But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Eph 2:1-7)

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Eph 2:11-13)

†. Gen 15:8 . . And he said: O Lord God, how shall I know that I am to possess it?

When men struck deals in those days, they gave each other a token of their word. What Abram requested was sort of akin to a notarized signature. That's interesting because though Abram believed God's promise of a biological heir; he didn't really have all that much confidence in God's promise of the heir possessing Canaan. In other words: Abram wanted a token of God's good faith.

During this dialogue, Abram has been calling God by the title 'Adonay (ad-o noy') which means Lord, Sovereign, and/or Master (as a proper name for only God) This is, in point of fact, the very first instance in the Bible of somebody addressing God by that title. It is precisely what everyone should call God only when they are serious about living in compliance with His will.

So please don't ever address your maker as Lord, Sovereign, and/or Master unless you mean it. It is very insulting, and quite meaningless, to refer to someone as your commander when you have no intention of doing what they say or if you're going about it in a half-hearted manner.

"And why do you call me Lord and Master and do not what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

"A son honors his father, and a servant his lord. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a lord, where is the respect due me?-- protests the Lord of Hosts." (Mal 1:6)

†. Gen 15:9-10 . . He answered: Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young bird. He brought Him all these and cut them in two, placing each half opposite the other; but he did not divide the [young] bird.

A full grown "turtledove" is a towr (tore). Young birds are a gowzal (go-zawl'); a nestling, quite possibly still covered in chick down. Of all the animals that God specified, the gowzal is the only one that wasn't mature. How Abram knew to cut the mature ones in two pieces is not stated.

The ritual that is about to take place amounted to a notary public. Abram wanted God's name on the dotted line and this is the way God chose to do it. This ritual may look silly and barbarous to modern Man, but it was serious business and may very well have been a common custom for sealing pacts in the Canaan of that day.

/

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Gen 15:11-14


†. Gen 15:11 . . Birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

The only responsibility that Abram had in this ritual was to set it up. So it was his job to protect the carcasses from damage and keep the scene clear of interference from people and critters who had no business there.

†. Gen 15:12 . . As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great dark dread descended upon him.

At this point, Abram is placed in a condition that is much more powerful than a trance. It's the sleep of anesthesia-- the very same kind of sleep that God put Adam into when he amputated organic tissue from his side to make the woman at Gen 2:21-22.

In this condition, Abram is totally powerless to either participate or to interfere; nor would he want to anyway. It's God who's putting His name on the dotted line; not Abram. This entire ritual is for Abram's benefit; and his alone, because Abram didn't have to reciprocate and promise God one single thing in return. God is the one who voluntarily obligated Himself, and now He is going to notarize his word per Abram's request; to set Abram's mind at ease regarding a biological heir, and the heir's possession of Canaan.

This pact, that God made with Abram, is totally unconditional. No matter what Abram did from now on, nothing would place himself in breach of contract because God alone is in obligation. There is nothing in the pact for Abram to live up to; therefore it was impossible for Abram to endanger either his own, or his posterity's, permanent possession of the land of Palestine. They may lose their occupation of it from time to time, but never their possession. And best of all, the contract that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Deut 29:9-5 cannot endanger the security of this covenant because theirs was introduced too late to make a difference.

"And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham as a promise." (Gal 3:17-18)

Law grants blessings on condition, but promises grant blessings with no strings attached and nothing asked in return.

"As far as the gospel is concerned, [God's people] are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and His call are irrevocable." (Rom 11:28-29)

†. Gen 15:13 . . And He said to Abram: Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years;

God predicted three things concerning Abram's offspring (not Abram himself) that would occur over a 400 year period:

(1) They would be resident aliens, (2) They would be oppressed, and (3) They would be slaves.

From the time Jacob moved his family down to Egypt, until the day Yhvh's people left under Moses' leadership, was only about 210 years. But according to Ex 12:40-41 the people of Israel were supposed to have dwelled in Egypt 430 years.

Paul said that Israel's covenanted law, (enacted about a month after the people of Israel were liberated from Egypt) came 430 years after Abram's covenant. (Gal 3:16-18)

The data is somewhat sketchy, but from what exists, it appears that an all inclusive 430-year period began with Abram's covenant scene in Gen 15. But God didn't say Abram himself would be effected by the prediction. He said Abram's progeny would be. Ishmael doesn't count as Abram's progeny in respect to the land. So the holy progeny began with the birth of Isaac; which occurred about 30 years after Abram's covenant was ratified. So the 400 year period of Gen 15:13 apparently began with Isaac. Even though he himself was never a slave in Egypt, Isaac was nevertheless an alien in lands not belonging to him; and later, his son Jacob would be too.

Abram's holy progeny were resident aliens in at least three places-- Canaan, Egypt, and Babylonia. Jacob lived, not only in Canaan and Egypt, but also on his uncle Laban's ranch in Haran; which is up in Turkey.

Precisely why the entire 430 year period is reckoned in Ex 12:40-41 as "the length of time that the Israelites lived in Egypt" is totally unknown; except that it reflects the Septuagint's version; which is a Greek derivative of ancient Hebrew texts no longer available.

†. Gen 15:14a . . but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve,

That of course refers to the famous plagues that occurred in Egypt during Moses' confrontation with one of its Pharaohs; culminating in the death of the firstborn of man and beast during the Passover.

†. Gen 15:14b . . and in the end they shall go free.

Actually they didn't "go" free like the English text suggests; but rather, were set free-- viz: liberated --because on their own, they would never have been able to do it. It was at that time that the people of Israel learned the true connotation of the name YHVH. It's not just another divine moniker. It identifies God as a savior; which Webster's defines as a rescuer.

"God also said to Moses: I am Yhvh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as 'El Shadday, but by my name Yhvh I did not make myself known to them." (Ex 6:2-3)

Those three men knew the moniker; but their association with 'El Shadday was not on the basis of a savior. Their association was on the basis of a provider; viz: providence; which can be defined (in their case) as God's kindly patronage.

†. Gen 15:14c . . with great wealth.

The "great wealth" was in the form of voluntary plunder. (Ex 11:1-3, Ex 12:33-36)

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Gen 15:15-18a


†. Gen 15:15a . . As for you,

Abram must have begun to wonder if maybe he too was in danger of oppression and slavery.

†. Gen 15:15b . .You shall go to your fathers in peace;

Have you ever wondered how you'll die-- by accident, poison, in a violent mugging, disease, cancer, car wreck, a fall, hit in the head by a tree limb, or from a random bullet in a drive-by shooting? People often die suddenly and totally unexpected. Many people die a very unhappy death-- miserable, alone, unloved, and unfulfilled.

God promised Abram that he would not die like that. His death would be tranquil and calm and actually quite satisfactory. He would experience no fears, no anxiety, and no regrets.

†. Gen 15:15c . .You shall be buried at a ripe old age.

Death stalks each and every one of us like a hungry predator, waiting for its chance to do us in. We just never know.

"Jesus told them: The right time for me has not yet come; but for you any time is right." (John 7:6)

Abram had the envious advantage of knowing he would live a full life before he died. Everyone should be so lucky!

†. Gen 15:16 . . And they shall return here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

God mentioned only one of the nations living in Canaan. Why was He going to delay transferring possession of the land until the iniquity of the "Amorites" was brimming-- why them and not the others? Probably because God promised Abram that He would bless those who blessed him.

Well . . the Amorite men-- Mamre, Eshkol, and Aner --were Abram's friends and allies during the recent military campaign to rescue Lot; so that the ultimate destiny of Canaan hinged upon the decadence of just one tribe: the Amorites. Sometimes it really pays to have God-fearing friends in this world; for example:

Jacob:

"And Laban said to him: Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that Yhvh has blessed me for your sake". (Gen 30:27)

"The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and Yhvh has blessed you wherever I have been". (Gen 30:30)

and Joseph:

"When Joseph's master saw that Yhvh was with him and that Yhvh gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

. . . From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, Yhvh blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of Yhvh was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field". (Gen 39:3-5)

†. Gen 15:17 . .When the sun set and it was very dark, there appeared a smoking oven, and a flaming torch which passed between those pieces.

The Hebrew word for "oven" is tannuwr (tan-noor') which means: a fire pot. But it's not just a simple bucket of coals. It was actually portable kitchen equipment, especially for baking fresh bread. There are several passages in the Bible where ovens are connected with Divine judgment. (e.g. Ps 21:9-10, Mal 3:19-21, Matt 13:40-43)

†. Gen 15:18a . . On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram,

This is now the second covenant that God made with His creation. The first one was with every living creature back in chapter nine. That one is often called Noah's Covenant. But this covenant, well known as Abraham's Covenant, is somewhat different. It's not made between God and every living creature, but between God and one specific human being and his progeny.

/

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Gen 15:18b-21


†. Gen 15:18b . . saying: To your offspring I assign this land,

The word for "offspring" is zera' (zeh'-rah) which means: seed; figuratively, fruit, plant, sowing-time, and progeny. Zera' is one of those words that is both plural and singular-- like the words sheep and fish. One sheep is a sheep, and a flock of them are called sheep too. So the context has to be taken into consideration; and even then there can still be ambiguity

Here's an instance where the meaning of zera' is obviously one child.

"Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, meaning: God has provided me with another offspring in place of Abel. For Cain had killed him". (Gen 4:25)

Here's an instance where the meaning is clearly more than one child.

"And He said to Abram: Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years" (Gen 15:13)

Sometimes the context contains both the singular and the plural.

"Abram said further: Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir. The word of the Lord came to him in reply: That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir. Yhvh took him outside and said: Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He added: So shall your progeny be". (Gen 15:3-5)

†. Gen 15:18c-21 . . from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgasites, and the Jebusites.

If you have a map handy, it's instantly apparent just how huge a piece of real estate that God assigned to Abram and his offspring. It's very difficult to precisely outline the whole area but it seems to encompass a chunk of Africa east of the Nile, (including the delta), the Sinai Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Onan, UAE, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

The "river of Egypt" is very likely the Nile since there was no Suez Canal in that day. The Euphrates is Iraq's eastern border. The distance from Cairo Egypt to Al Basrah Iraq is about 983 miles as the crow flies.

That's roughly the distance from San Diego to Abilene Tx. The distance from Aden Yemen to Hilab Syria is about 1,698 miles as the crow flies; which is just a tad under the crow-distance from Los Angeles to Chicago.

I'm talking about some serious square mileage-- roughly 1,538,370 of them; which is more than Ireland, United Kingdom, Scotland, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Finland combined! Currently, Israel, at its widest east to west dimension, across the Negev, is less than 70 miles; and south to north from the Gulf Of Aqaba to Shemona, about 260; comprising a square mileage of only 8,473: a mere half of 1% of the original land covenanted to Abram.

God has yet to give Abram's seed complete control over all of his covenanted land. In point of fact, the boundaries were very early on temporarily reduced for the time being. (Num 34:1-12)

The temporary boundaries run from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to the Jordan River; and from the southern tip of the Dead Sea northward to a geographic location which has not yet really been quite accurately identified. Ezk 47:15 says the northern border passes along "the way of Hethlon" which some feel is very likely the valley of the Nahr al Kubbir river which roughly parallels the northern border of modern day Lebanon, and through which a railroad track lies between An Naqib on the Mediterranean coast to Hims Syria.

The next event in Abram's life has repercussions all the way to the World Trade Center-- September 11, 2001. The son produced by his union with Hagar went on to become the father of the Arab world; and ultimately, Muhammad: the inventor of Islam.

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Gen 16:1-3


†. Gen 16:1 . . Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

It's entirely possible that Abram purchased Ms. Hagar while they were all down in Egypt during the famine back in chapter 12.

The word for "maidservant" is shiphchah (shif-khaw') which is a female slave (as a member of the household). So, Hagar wasn't just another skull in the slave pool. As a member of the household staff, she merited a measure of respect. Hagar probably seemed like a daughter to ol' Abram in spite of her slave status.

It's my guess that Hagar was Sarai's personal assistant similar in status to that of Anna: lady Mary's maid in the popular television series "Downton Abbey".

The duties of a lady's maid typically include helping her mistress with make up, hairdressing, clothing, jewelry, shoes, and wardrobe maintenance. I think all-in-all; Hagar had it pretty good; that is, until this fertility issue came along to spoil everything.

†. Gen 16:2a . . And Sarai said to Abram: Look, the Lord has kept me from bearing.

Sarai's logic, at least from a certain point of view, was reasonable. She was likely familiar with Gen 1:22 and 1:28, where fertility was stated to be a blessing; therefore, in her mind at least, infertility was an evidence of God's disfavor.

There's a rare defect in women that is just astounding. I read about it in the Vital Signs column of Discover magazine. The defect, though rare, is most common in otherwise perfectly gorgeous women-- girls like Sarai --and seems to be somewhat hereditary. Their birth canal is a cul-de-sac; viz: a blank pouch. There's no ovaries, no fallopian tubes, no uterus, and no cervix. One of the first clues to the presence of the defect is when girls are supposed to start menstruating, but don't.

The story I saw was of a young Mexican girl (I'll call her Lupé). Young, beautiful, and filled out in all the right places; Lupé came to a clinic for an examination to find out why she wasn't having periods and that's when they discovered she didn't have any generative plumbing.

Lupé was devastated, not only with the news that she would never have any children of her own, but to make matters worse; in her home town's culture, fertile girls are highly valued and respected, while the sterile ones are treated like expendable grunts-- char-girls and slave labor. Lupé left the clinic with the full weight upon her heart that in spite of being a ten, and in spite of her feelings to the contrary, she would have to spend the rest of her youth solo because no man in her community would want her; and even among her own kin Lupé would be looked upon as cursed and untouchable.

I'm not insisting Sarai had the same problem as Lupé. It's only one possibility from any number of fertility problems; e.g. hostile womb, anovulation, tubal blockage, uterine issues, etc. But unbeknownst to Sarai, God wanted her biological progeny to be a miracle baby rather than a natural baby; and why God didn't keep Abram informed about that I can only speculate: but won't.

†. Gen 16:2b . . Consort with my maid; perhaps I shall have a son through her.

This is the very first instance in the Bible of the principle of adoption. According to the customs of that day, a Lady had the right, and the option, to keep a female slave's children as her own if the Lady's husband sired them. No one bothered to ask Ms. Hagar how she might feel about it because slaves had no say in such arrangements.

†. Gen 16:2c . . And Abram heeded Sarai's request.

Sarai wasn't specifically named in God's original promise of offspring; so Abram may have figured that any son he produced could qualify as the promised seed. This is one time he really should have gone to one of his altar and inquired of The Lord what to do. But it was an innocent mistake, and totally blindsided Abram because what he and Sarai did wasn't out of the ordinary in their own day.

†. Gen 16:3 . . So Sarai, Abram's wife, took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian-- after Abram had dwelt in the land of Canaan ten years --and gave her to her husband Abram as concubine.

Hagar no doubt was attracted to any one of a number of fine unattached young men in Abram's community; but due to circumstances beyond her control, she was doomed to a lonely limbo of unrequited love. Her lot in life, though no doubt very comfortable and secure, was, nonetheless, probably tainted with an unfulfilled longing that robbed her of true peace and contentment.

Abram was ten years older than Sarai; so he was 85 at this point in time; which is equivalent to about 43 of our own years of age.

The word translated "concubine" is 'ishshah (ish-shaw') --a nondescript word for women (cf. Gen 2:22-23) which just simply indicates the opposite side of Adam's coin.

Concubines in those days weren't adulteresses. They had a much higher status than that. Webster's defines a concubine as: a woman having a recognized social status in a household below that of a wife. So they weren't quite as low on the food chain as a mistress or a girl toy. They at least had some measure of respectability and social acceptance; and they had a legitimate place in their man's home too. But, at the same time, they were not a real wife. They were, in fact, quite expendable. When a man was tired of a concubine, he could send her away with nothing. They shared no community property, nor had rights of inheritance.

If Hagar had truly been Abram's wife, then she would have enjoyed equality with Sarai as a sister-wife. But she didn't. Hagar continued to be a slave, and there is no record that she and Abram slept together more than the once. She didn't take up a new life married to Abram; and Abram never once referred to her as his spouse. He always referred to Hagar as Sarai's slave. The tenor of the story is that Sarai gave her maidservant to Abram as a wife, but not to actually marry him. Sarai's intention was that Hagar be a baby mill; nothing more.

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Gen 16:4-8


†. Gen 16:4 . . He cohabited with Hagar and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became lower in her esteem.

Before this incident, Hagar knew her place and was humble and self effacing around Sarai, but afterwards she regarded her mistress as somewhat less of a woman than herself. There's no record of Hagar gloating over Sarai, but sometimes women communicate just as effectively with "looks" as they do with words.

†. Gen 16:5 . . And Sarai said to Abram: The wrong done me is your fault! I myself put my maid in your bosom; and now that she sees that she is expecting, I am lowered in her esteem. The Lord decide between you and me!

Sarai attempted to take the high moral ground by insinuating that had Abram been a real man, he would've seen that sleeping with Hagar was a bad idea and refused. Therefore it was his fault for not putting a stop to her idea before things got out of hand.

People accuse God of the very same thing all the time. In their mind's eye, if God were really as wise, loving, omniscient, and all-powerful as He's alleged to be, then He would never have put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to begin with; and when the Serpent tempted Eve, He would have stepped in and put a stop to it before things got out of hand. Therefore, they conclude, it's not the human race's fault for being what it is: it's God's fault for not protecting us from our own stupidity.

†. Gen 16:6a . . Abram said to Sarai: Your maid is in your hands. Deal with her as you think right.

Abram should never have given Sarai carte blanche to do as she pleased with Hagar. In her mood, it would surely get out of hand and go too far. But he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Abram had to live with Sarai. He could get by without Hagar's good will; so hers was sacrificed to keep peace in the home.

Most men would do the very same thing in his place because it isn't easy for a man to live with an indignant woman. In point of fact, I would put an indignant woman even higher on the graph of difficulty than a weeping woman.

Note that Abram didn't refer to Hagar as "my wife"; nor even as "my concubine". He referred to her as "your maid". It's sad, but obvious that Abram was ashamed of himself for sleeping with Hagar just to make his wife happy; and took care to distance himself from Sarai's maid so she wouldn't get any ideas that Abram had an attachment for her.

†. Gen 16:6b-7 . .Then Sarai treated her harshly, and she [Hagar] ran away from her. An angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur,

Old Testament angels aren't necessarily celestial beings; seeing as how the Hebrew word simply indicates a deputy and/or a messenger.

The road to Shur went south from Abram's camp; so possibly Hagar's intent was to return home to Egypt. At this point, she was a runaway slave and must have been feeling very lonely, very unimportant, and very unsure of her future. No one cared for her soul, whether she lived or died-- and, where was she to go? Maybe her parents would take her back in when she got home. But how was she to explain the baby?

Genesis doesn't say, but Hagar could have hitch-hiked a ride with a caravan. It's hard to believe a woman in that day would dare attempt a journey that far on foot, and all by herself.

Shur is the name of a desert region east of the Suez Canal and extending down along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez. Shur means "wall" and may refer to the mountain wall of the Tih plateau as visible from the shore plains. The position of Shur is defined as being "opposite Egypt on the way to Assyria" (Gen 25:18). After crossing the Red Sea, the people of Israel entered the desert of Shur (Ex 15:22) which extended southward a distance of three days' journey. The region is referred as being close, or adjacent, to Egypt. (1Sam 15:7 and 1Sam 27:8)

†. Gen 16:8a . . the angel said: Hagar, slave of Sarai,

It should be pointed out that the angel didn't refer to Hagar as Abram's wife; but as Sarai's slave-- additional clues that Hagar and Abram were never married otherwise her status would be that of Abram's spouse rather than Sarai's slave.

This is the very first instance in the Bible record where somebody addressed Ms. Hagar by name. What I like best is that although her human masters aren't recorded calling her by name, a messenger of God-- higher in dignity and rank than either Abram and Sarai --did call out to her by her own name.

†. Gen 16:8b . . where have you come from, and where are you going?

At first the angel probably impressed Hagar as just another friendly traveler. But there was something very unusual about this mysterious stranger. He knew Hagar's name, and he knew she was a slave; and he knew her mistress' name too. And he also knew Ms. Hagar was preggers. That had to break the ice quite nicely don't you think?

†. Gen 16:8c . . And she said: I am running away from my mistress Sarai.

Somehow the angel won Ms. Hagar's confidence, and she was comfortable talking about herself. There's a very real possibility that the angel was the first person to take a genuine interest in Hagar's feelings for a long, long time.

In my 73+ years journeying through this life, I've discovered there are lots of people out there aching for someone to take them seriously. They don't like being marginalized; they don't like being made to feel unimportant, inferior, unnecessary, expendable, mediocre, and stupid-- they want to count; they want to matter, they want to be noticed and they want to be heard. I've no doubt that is the very reason behind the success of social networking; e.g. blogs, twittering, online forums, FaceBook, MySpace, and Instagram, et al.

One of the four common characteristics of seemingly level-headed Muslim men who become suicide bombers is the wish to devote themselves to a cause higher than themselves; viz: they desire to make their lives count for something. Those kinds of personalities are good candidates for martyrdom.

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Gen 16:9-12


†. Gen 16:9 . . And the angel of the Lord said to her: Go back to your mistress, and submit to her harsh treatment.

That was no doubt the last thing Ms. Hagar would consider doing; even in a pinch. But the Lord had plans for Hagar's baby about which she was unaware up to this point.

†. Gen 16:10-11 . . And the angel of The Lord said to her: I will greatly increase your offspring, and they shall be too many to count. The angel of Yhvh said to her further: Behold, you are with child and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for Yhvh has paid heed to your suffering.

I don't think any of us can possibly imagine just how incredulous Hagar must have been at the stranger's words. He as much as assured her that the pregnancy would go well and she would deliver safely. He even suggested a name for her baby; which the angel predicted would be a boy. His name, by the way, would be Yishma' e'l (yish-maw-ale') which means: God will hear; or just simply: God hears; or: God is aware. In other words: God had a sympathetic awareness of Hagar's distress; together with a desire to alleviate it; which is pretty much the definition of compassion.

What a great day for Hagar! She actually met a divine being who cared about her state of affairs and was favorably inclined to do something about it. And every time she called out little Ishmael's name, it would remind her to pray and share her feelings with the god she met on the road to Shur. The angel would make it possible for her to endure Sarai's harsh treatment; so He sent her straight back to it. (cf. Gen 24:40, Gen 48:16, 2Cor 12:7-9)

And besides; though the circumstances weren't perfect, little Ishmael would fare better under his father Abram's kindly patronage and mentoring than among the irreverent polytheists down in Egypt. Abram was also very wealthy, so that Ishmael lacked nothing during the approximately 17 years of his life in Abram's home.

†. Gen 16:12a . . He shall be an untamed-burro of a man;

Some people just can't be domesticated-- right fresh out of the womb, they're mustang-defiant to the bone. Poor Hagar. Her boy was going to be difficult.

My wife is a kindergarten teacher and every so often she gets kids in her class-- just little five year olds, and almost always boys --that cannot be controlled. Their parents fear them, and they frighten the other kids. They're demon seeds-- stubborn, strong willed, totally self centered, self absorbed little Czars who see no sense in either doing as they're told or concern for the feelings of others. They are dangerous, and thank God my wife gets them while they're small. Heaven help the teachers who cope with them in the upper grades.

†. Gen 16:12b . . his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him;

T.E. Laurence (Laurence of Arabia) discovered for himself the truth of that prediction. After all of Laurence's work to unite the Arabs and lead them in combat to drive the Turks out of Damascus, the various tribes simply could not come to terms upon a central government for managing the city. So the task defaulted to the British; viz: the Arabs won the conflict, but England won the city.

Anyway, Mr. Ishmael was definitely not a team player by nature. This is the kind of guy that supervisors dread. They're defensive, assertive, confrontational; and don't do well in groups-- always generating friction and discontent. It's either their own way, or the highway; and they do not like to be told what to do.

That's not always a bad thing if people like that are channeled into occupations that require rugged individualism. Nowadays these people can be enrolled in sensitivity classes and taught how to be civil. And there are seminars available for those who have to work with difficult people. Unfortunately, most of the problem is hereditary so it's not an easy thing to make go away. However, it's not impossible for these strong-willed, toxic types to learn a measure of civility and self discipline when they put their minds to it.

Ishmael's personality-- which was engendered by one of the most holy men who ever lived; not by some evil minded career criminal --must have passed along to his progeny because the Arab world has never been famous for uniting and getting along amongst themselves. No one would ever dream of criticizing Abram's parenting skills, but here is a difficult child that came from the old boy's own genes; thus demonstrating again that otherwise good parents can produce a demon seed and shouldn't be blamed for the way the seed ultimately turns out.

Ishmael is well known as the father of the Arab world. But does that mean each individual Arab is a wild burro? No, of course not. Stereotyping and/or profiling, is a very bad thing because it's an oversimplified opinion, and fails to take into account individual qualities. The Arab people as a whole could safely be characterized as Ishmael-ish, but certainly not each and every one.

†. Gen 16:12c . . He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.

Ishmael would dwell "alongside" his brethren, but not necessarily amongst them. This was no doubt a portent of the difficulty of uniting Arabs; which has been attempted a number of times with The United Arab Republic, The Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan, the Federation of Arab Republics, the Arab Islamic Republic, and the United Arab Emirates.

Probably the religion of Islam has done more to unite Arabs than any political arrangement of the past has managed to do. Unfortunately, Muslims themselves can't even get along all that well and their regional differences have become a major impediment to peace in the Mid East.

I can't lay all the blame for the Mid East's troubles at the door of Arabs; but of one thing I am totally convinced: there is never going to be peace in that part of the world until (1) the religion of Islam is eradicated; and (2) the Arabs' wild-burro personality is neutralized.

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yhvh, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa 11:9)

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Gen 16:13-16


†. Gen 16:13a . . And she called Yhvh who spoke to her: You Are El-roi

The author of Genesis was privy to the identity of the mysterious person speaking with Hagar but she wasn't, and that's why she gave him a name of her own. But I cannot be certain what it is because there seems no consensus among translators how best say it in English; neither in Jewish bibles nor in Christian bibles. In Hebrew; the words are: 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy

The 1985 JPS Tanakh translates it: You are El-roi

The Stone Tanach translates it: You are the God of Vision

Chabad.org translates it: You are the God of seeing

The KJV translates it: Thou God seest me

The NIV Translates it: You are the God who sees me

The 2011 Catholic Bible translates it: You are God who sees me.

Hagar, familiar with many gods in the Egyptian world, was unsure of the identity of this particular divine being speaking with her so she gave it a pet name of her own. I like it because her god is a personal god, one that meant something just to her-- rather than some scary alien way out in space who doesn't care one whit about individuals. Hagar's god knew about the baby and gave the little guy a name. That is a very personal thing to do and must have been very comforting to a girl at the end of her rope.

What took place between these two travelers is very precious. They met as strangers, but before they parted, one named the other's baby and became godfather to a runaway slave's child. The other gave her new god a pet name to remember him by. Hagar's experience was very wonderful.

†. Gen 16:13b . . by which she meant: Have I not gone on seeing after He saw me!

The rendering of 16:13b is more or less an educated guess because the Hebrew in that verse is very difficult. She could have said: Have I here seen him here who sees me? In other words: The god who knows me is in this place? I can appreciate her surprise. You might expect to find God in a grand Italian cathedral, but certainly not along a dusty road in the middle of nowhere. And you might also expect a divine being to speak with a President Barak Obama or a Pope Benedict, but certainly not to an insignificant nobody who meant very little to anybody.

†. Gen 16:14 . .Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it is between Kadesh and Bered.

Heretofore, this particular source of water had no specific name. Beer-lahai-roi is another Hebraic toughie. It could mean: The well of him who knows me.

Kadesh is located nearby El Quseima Egypt about 15 miles south of the border town of Nizzana. Just northeast of there is the wilderness of Shur; a region adjoining the Mediterranean to the north and the Suez canal to the west. Shur extends somewhat south along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez.

But the well wasn't there. It was between Kadesh and Bered. The Onkelos Targum renders Bered as Chaghra', which is the usual equivalent of Shur, while the Jerusalem Targum renders it Chalutsah, which is also Shur (Ex 15:22). So precisely where Hagar's well was located is totally unknown so far. It was just somewhere between Kadesh and Shur.


FYI: I don't think those of us living in modern industrialized countries like the U.S.A. appreciate the importance of water in Hagar's part of the world. Those of us in the Pacific Northwest and/or Hawaii sure don't. But without water; people die, plants wither, birds fall out of the sky, and livestock eventually drops dead.

Water, in the form of humidity, fog, and/or liquid is literally life itself in some parts of the world; ergo: to have that celestial being meet with Hagar at a source of water in the Mideast is very significant; and only one of many such meetings people in the Bible experienced with God and/or His designated messengers.

†. Gen 16:15 . . Hagar bore a son to Abram, and Abram gave the son that Hagar bore him the name Ishmael.

Hagar must have told her master about the experience and darned if the old man didn't believe her story and comply with God's choice of name for the boy. Taking part in naming a boy was serious business in those days. In doing so, Abram officially and publicly accepted Ishmael as his legal son. The boy was supposed to be Sarai's son too, but there's no record she ever really accepted the lad.

†. Gen 16:16 . . Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

That was about eleven years after Abram entered Canaan (Gen 12:4) and 14 years before Isaac's birth (Gen 21:5). Both of Ishmael's parents were Gentiles. Hagar was an Egyptian and Abram was a Babylonian.

According to ancient Judaism, the angel who spoke with Hagar was God's word-- The Memra' of sacred Jewish literature.

T. And she gave thanks before the Lord whose Word spake to her, and thus said, Thou art He who livest and art eternal; who seest, but art not seen! (Targum Jonathan)

T. And Hagar gave thanks, and prayed in the Name of the Word of the Lord, who had been manifested to her, saying; "Blessed be You, Eloha, the Living One of all Ages, who has looked upon my affliction." For she said; "Behold, You are manifested also to me, even as You were manifested to Sara my mistress." Wherefore she called the well: The Well at which the Living and Eternal One was revealed. And, behold, it is situate between Rekam and Chalutsa. (Jerusalem Targum)

So then, it's pretty well established in the Old Testament book of Genesis, in the New Testament book of John, and in the Targums, that God's mysterious Word is actually the Yhvh of the Old Testament.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:1-3)

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Gen 17:1


Thirteen years go by since Ishmael's birth; enough time for Abram to easily forget God's covenanted promises. Abram was prospering materially, Ishmael was growing into young manhood, the land was at peace, and quite possibly Abram and Sarai had by now given up all hope of ever having any children of their own because Sarai, at 89, is past the age of bearing children.

Abram had no way of knowing, but God was just insuring that Sarai couldn't possibly have children of her own except by a miracle, rather than via natural reproduction. In other words; it appears to me that it was God's wish that He be the paterfamilias of Sarai's one and only son; and therefore the paterfamilias of the special line that descends from the son; viz: Jacob.

Till now, God spoke of a covenant with Abram only one time (Gen 15:18). In this chapter God will use that word no less than thirteen-- nine times it will be called "My" covenant, three times it will be called an "everlasting" covenant and once it will be called the covenant "between Me and you"

†. Gen 17:1a . .When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him: I am El Shaddai.

"Shaddai" is from Shadday (shad-dah'-ee) which means: almighty. The word "El" is not actually in the original Hebrew text but was penciled in by translators. God's declaration could just as well be worded: I am all-mighty.

Webster's defines almighty as: having absolute control over everything; which of course includes power over not just money and politics; but also power over all the powers of nature; viz: quantum mechanics, magnetism, electricity, gravity, inertia, wind, thermodynamics, pressure, fusion, radiation, light, and of course the power of life; which is a power that nobody yet as of this date has been able to figure out how it works.

The power of life is so far a mystery about which man knows even less than he knows about the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Anyway; this is the very first occurrence of the word Shadday in the Bible; and from here on in, from Genesis to Malachi, without exception, it will always refer to the Bible's God; and used to identify no other person. Almighty became a name of God (cf. Rev 1:8) and was God's special revelation of Himself to Abram.

Although Abram was aware of God's other name YHVH it was not by that name that Abram became familiar with his divine benefactor. Abram's progeny would get to know God better by the name Yhvh because it's a name of God with special emphasis upon the aspect of rescue; whereas Shadday has special emphasis upon providence.

†. Gen 17:1b . .Walk in My ways and be blameless.

Very few qualify as the kind of people with whom God prefers to associate. He's picky that way.

This concept of walking with God was introduced back at Gen 5:22-24. Apparently Enoch had it down pat; but Abram had a ways to go.

A principle woven throughout both the Old Testament and the New is that worship is meaningless when it's unaccompanied by pious conduct. Take for example the first 23 verses in the first chapter of the book Isaiah.

Yhvh's people were attending Temple services on a regular basis. They were bringing sacrifices and offering. They observed all the feasts, and all the holy days of obligation. They prayed up a storm; and they kept the Sabbath. But Yhvh rejected every bit of their covenanted worship because their personal conduct was unbecoming. In other words: their conduct didn't compliment their worship. Yhvh was disgusted with their hypocrisy: they made Him angry and gave Him a headache.

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Gen 17:2-5


†. Gen 17:2-3a . . I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous. Abram threw himself on his face;

The Hebrew word for "threw" is naphal (naw-fal') and first appeared in Gen 14:10. It doesn't mean Abram dropped like a sack of ready-mix concrete. It just means he lowered himself face down into a prone position.

This is the very first time it's recorded that Abram (or anyone else) got into a face-down prone position in the presence of God. But why would Abram do that? In what way did God appear to him that motivated that reaction? The institution of the covenant of circumcision is, in point of fact, the only other instance where it's recorded that Abram met with God in the (deliberate) prone.

When Moses met God at the burning bush (Ex 3:2) he only turned away so he wouldn't look at God; but didn't lie down. He stayed on his feet; but was told to remove his sandals: a requirement which is seen only twice in the entire Old Testament: once at Ex 3:5 and the other at Josh 5:15; the reason being that Moses and Joshua met with God on holy ground.

The Hebrew word for "holy" is qodesh (ko'-desh) and it has no reference whatsoever to sanitation. It simply means consecrated; viz: a sacred place or thing dedicated to God for His own personal uses.

In many homes in the Orient; it's the custom to remove your shoes before entering people's domiciles because shoes track in filth from the outside that hosts want neither in their homes nor on their floors and rugs. True, holy ground is dirt; but it's God's dirt, and apparently He doesn't want somebody else's dirt soiling His: thank you very much.

Abram may have ordinarily met with God via voice only; but this instance may have been a close encounter of a third kind. Some have suggested God appeared to Abram as the Shekinah of 1Kgs 8:10-11; which, even that can be quite disturbing for some.

I don't think Abram learned the prone posture in church, Sunday school, yeshiva, or synagogue. It was a spontaneous, voluntary reaction on his part. Apparently God was okay with it because He didn't scold Abram nor order him back up on his feet.

People react differently to the Bible's God. Some, like Abram, Daniel, and Jesus sometimes get down prone on their faces. We needn't worry too much about it though. Most of us will never have a close encounter with The Almighty. But if it ever happens, I don't think you'll need someone to tell you what to do. Unfortunately though, there are people inclined to stare at God like a curiosity. That is not wise.

"Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for the Lord had come down upon it in fire; the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up. The Lord said to Moses: Go down, warn the people not to break through to the Lord to gaze, lest many of them perish." (Ex 19:18-21)

Word to the wise: If God appears? Don't look . . . unless invited to.

†. Gen 17:3b-4 . . and God spoke to him further: As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the father of a multitude of nations.

That announcement regards nations rather than individuals. Abram is well known as the father of the Jews, but he is also father of more than just them. The majority of Abram's progeny is Gentile and a very large number of those are Arabs.

Besides Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham also engendered Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Over the years millions of people have descended from those eight men who are all Abram's blood kin; both Jew and Gentile.

†. Gen 17:5 . . And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations.

Abraham's original name was 'Abram (ab-rawm') which means: high, or exalted father. In other words: a daddy; as the respectable head of a single family unit. Abram's new name 'Abraham (ab-raw-hawm') means: father of a multitude of family units. In other words: not just the paterfamilias of a single family unit; but the rootstock of entire communities.

Abraham is a father on two fronts. He's a biological father to the people of Israel due to their natural association with Jacob; and he's a non-biological father to Christians due to their supernatural association with Christ.

"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal 3:29)

Some people try to construe Gal 3:29 to mean that Gentile Christians are somehow spiritual Jews. But according to Eph 2:11-22 and Gal 3:26-28 that just isn't true. And besides: Abraham was a Gentile.

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