Having A Go At Genesis

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Webers.Home

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#81
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Gen 10:1 . .These are the lines of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of
Noah: sons were born to them after the Flood.

The tenth chapter is a tiresome list of genealogies that some have found
interesting enough to devote entire books; generating a catalogue of nations
connecting Noah's descendants to the ancient civilizations and even today's.
But I'm going to comment upon only a few salient features.

Gen 10:5 . .These are the descendants of Japheth by their lands-- each
with its language-- their clans and their nations.

Diverse languages didn't appear right away. First came the tower of Babel. It
was after that when people's languages became what we might call
"foreign".

Gen 10:8-9 . . Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty
warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before The Lord; that is why it
is said: Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before The Lord. The first centers of
his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar.

At first, mankind was scattered out in individual clans, and leadership was
pretty much restricted to local patriarchal Dons and Sheiks.

But Nimrod wasn't content with local rule. He was resolved not only to be
head and shoulders above his neighbors-- not only to be eminent among
them but to lord it over them.

The same spirit that actuated the mighty men and the men of renown prior
to the Flood, (by reason of whom the Flood came) now revived in Nimrod.
There are some in whom ambition, achievement, and affectation of dominion
seem to be bred in the bone. Nothing short of hell itself will humble and
break the proud, domineering spirits of men such as those.

Nimrod is interesting. He's a Nephilistic personage with humble beginnings:
first as a professional hunter; probably supplying meat to frontier towns and
selling pelts at trading posts. That was likely Nimrod's career path up until
his exploits became famous and he began to realize it was far more
profitable to go into politics.

Lots of great men, some good and some bad, had humble beginnings--
Abraham Lincoln, King David, and even Hitler. Timely circumstances, and
fortuitous events, catapulted those blokes up to very high levels of control
over their fellow men.

A contemporary case in point is former US President Barak Hussein Obama:
a man who had little to no chance of winning a US Senate seat had it not
been for his shoo-in opponent's carnal indiscretions.

From thence, the voting public's disgust with the Republican party, coupled
with their infatuation with the color of Mr. Obama's skin (he's not really
Black, he's mulatto), practically assured his election to America's highest
federal office. He was but a junior senator with like zero executive
experience; yet there he was flying around the world in Air Force One.

To this very day Nimrod is still known as the outdoorsman who would be
king. He was such a famous icon of that day that his example became
descriptive of others who worked their way to the top like he did-- men of
vision, daring, energy, strong personal ambition, and dogged perseverance.

The common personality trait, among such men, is their strong desire not
just to govern, but to quite dominate people. There are those for whom it
isn't enough to win; no, it isn't enough for people like that to win: everyone
else has to lose. They don't want 50% market share, nor even 90% no,
they're content with nothing less than 100%

Actually, Nimrod was one of the great men of history, though so little is
written about him. He was the first statesmen to successfully unite the
world; and it was such a solid unity that only divine intervention could bring
it down.

Gen 10:21a . . Sons were also born to Shem, ancestor of all the
descendants of Eber

Descendants of Eber (most notably Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) became
known as Eberites: a.k.a. Hebrews.

Gen 10:32 . .These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their
generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the
earth after the Flood

What I find very interesting about the nations divided in the earth is their
diversity of progress. When Europeans came to the continental US, they
found indigenous peoples who were, from all appearances, perpetual cave
men. They never had an iron age. Heck, no metal age at all; except maybe
copper here and there.

Long, long after the Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnons evolved into
Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Spaniards, and Portuguese; the American
Indian was still using stone tools, living in rudimentary shelters, and walking
everywhere he went. His greatest obstacle to travel was distance because
they had neither horses nor wheels. It was like they were a people whom
time forgot.
_
 

Webers.Home

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#82
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Gen 11:1 . . Everyone on earth had the same language and the same
words.

The Hebrew word for "language" is from saphah (saw-faw') which means:
the lip. The one for "words" is from idabar (daw-baw') which means: a word
(as spoken or written)

Spoken languages are a combination of words and lips; viz: vocabulary and
pronunciation, i.e. accent and inflection. It's one thing to know the words of
a language, but it is quite another to speak them with the correct
pronunciation. In that day, everyone used the same words and spoke them
alike.

Gen 11:2 . . And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a valley
in the land of Shinar and settled there.

The name "Shinar" was of course given later because these early migrations
were to lands heretofore uninhabited. According to Gen 10:10, Shinar
became Nimrod's turf.

The amount of time elapsed between Noah's bender and this migration isn't
stated in the Bible-- plus; there's really no way to tell which part of the
world was "the east" in the author's day.

Here in the USA, the Great Continental Divide is an east/west determinant.
Funny thing is, if you're located in Phoenix Arizona, then Billings Montana is
to your continental east even though geographically, it's almost directly
north; so when you see directions like "east" and/or "west" in the Bible, it's
probably best to NOT think cardinal points on a compass.

For example in the case of the Magi of Matt 2:1. As best as we can tell, their
city was somewhere east of the meridian that runs north/south through the
Jordan River Valley but that kind of an east is continental rather than
geographical so there's really no telling where they came from.

This particular migration was "from" the east; which means pioneers from
among Noah's progeny, whose numbers at this point are totally unknown,
went out west looking for greener pastures. Although the region of Shinar
has not yet been precisely pinpointed, we can take a relatively educated
guess at it.

"In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. The Lord
delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, together with some of the
vessels of the House of God, and he brought them to the land of Shinar to
the house of his god; he deposited the vessels in the treasury of his god."
(Dan 1:1-2)

The "Shinar" of Daniel's day is apparently the region where ancient Babylon
was located. Babylon's location today is marked by a broad area of ruins just
east of the Euphrates River, approximately 90 km (56 mi) south of Baghdad,
Iraq. It's part of an area commonly known as the Fertile Crescent; a very
large region arching across the northern part of the Syrian Desert and
extending from the Nile Valley to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In the
early post-Flood years, this region was very lush. But today much of it is arid
wasteland.

Gen 11:3a . .They said to one another: Come, let us make bricks and burn
them hard. (Brick served them as stone).

Brick are blocks of clay or other ceramic used for construction and
decorative facing. Bricks may be dried in the sun but are more usually baked
in a kiln. They cost relatively little, resist dampness and heat, and can
actually last longer than some kinds of stone.

Brick was the chief building material of ancient Mesopotamia and Palestine.
The inhabitants of Jericho in Palestine were building with brick about 9,000
years ago (7,000 bc). That's about 5,000 years before Abraham's day.

Sumerian and Babylonian builders constructed ziggurats, palaces, and city
walls of sun-dried brick and covered them with more durable kiln-baked,
often brilliantly glazed brick, arranged in decorative pictorial friezes. Later
the Persians and the Chinese built in brick, for example, the Great Wall of
China. The Romans built large structures such as baths, amphitheaters, and
aqueducts in brick, which they often covered with marble facing.

Gen 11:3b . . and bitumen served them as mortar.

According to Webster's, bitumen is any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons
(as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that occur naturally
or are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (e.g.
petroleum).

The stuff can be deadly if one isn't careful because once your feet become
stuck, they are very difficult to extract; as the museum at the La Brea tar
pits in Los Angeles attests. But it's a handy building material too. Noah
sealed the ark with a bituminous material, and Moses owed his life to it. (Ex
2:1-10)

Gen 11:4 . . And they said: Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with
its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered
all over the world.

Magnificent cities have a way of attracting tourism, commerce, and industry.
People want to come and visit, and to live there. Politically, their scheme
made good sense. More people equals more prosperity; resulting in more
power and control over the region-- and of course the larger their tax base
the more city services they could provide citizens; including an effective civil
defense program.

There's nothing really intrinsically wrong in building a large beautiful city.
But in their case, it wasn't the right time for it. God wanted the post
Flooders to move out and populate the entire globe, rather than accumulate
in one local region.

Towers served a variety of purposes in the ancient world. Some were used
as look-outs, others were used as tombs, and yet others were used as
bloody altars for human sacrifices.

The purpose intended for the tower of Gen 11:4 isn't stated but guessing
from the wording, I'd say it was intended to be a grand monument; sort of
like the 630 foot stainless steel Gateway Arch in Ste. Louis Missouri, or a
magnificent minaret like the 239-foot Qutab Minar in Delhi India. Something
like that would certainly go a long ways towards getting the Shinarians the
renown they sought.

But their wish that the tower's top be in the sky suggests their primary
motive was to use its facade to display a variety of gods popular in that day.
There's towers like that right now that in the city of Madurai in the South
Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the banks of River Vaigai.

The towers are literally festooned with hundreds of gods. So if your favorite
god is up there somewhere, there's no need for you to leave town and go
on a pilgrimage elsewhere to worship. People love their religion. So if you
give them the liberty and the means to practice it; they'll love you forever.
Tolerance is good politics. If only Islamic fundamentalists understood this.
_
 

Webers.Home

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#83
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Gen 11:5 . .Jehovah came down to look at the city and tower that man
had built,

That verse presents an interesting theological problem. Wouldn't it make
better sense by saying Jehovah looked down, instead of saying He "came"
down? Why bother to come down? Doesn't the Bible's God see all and know
all? Isn't God omniscient? Can't He see everything from right where He is?

Well; the fact of the matter is: the Being that most of us think of as the
highest of all beings, has never been to our world in person, and I don't
think He ever intends to come to our world in person.

"No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten, who is in the bosom
of the Father, he has declared Him." (John 1:18, cf. 1Tim 6:16)

"You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form" (John
5:37)

FAQ: But didn't Moses hear God's voice at the giving of the Ten
Commandments?

A: No, the voice he heard was that of an angel. (Acts 7:53)

I think we are going to have to concede that the Jehovah of Gen 11:5 isn't
the highest of all beings, rather, a subordinate being whose name is his
master's. In other words: this subordinate being has the authority to use
God's name for itself; which of course means it has to be obeyed and spoken
to as God because we are going to find out in the book of Genesis that this
being speaks for God and speaks as God; plus, his name shows up in the
very first of the Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus where Jehovah
says "I am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt". Pretty
amazing.

» This shouldn't be offensive to Christians seeing as how Christ has been
granted the very same privilege (Phil 2:9-11, cf. Dan 7:13-14)
_
 

Webers.Home

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#84
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Gen 11:6 . . and Jehovah said: If, as one people with one language for all,
this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to
do will be out of their reach.

I don't think Yhvh objected to the people's unity per se. I mean, after all; it's
Christ's wish that his church be unified (John 17:1-26, 1Cor 1:10). I think
what He objected to was the direction that humanity's unity was taking; and
it was no doubt similar to the direction depicted below.

"Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the
earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against Yhvh and
against His anointed. Let us break their chains-- they say --and throw off
their fetters." (Ps 2:1-3)

Gen 11:7 . . Let us, then, go down and confound their speech there, so
that they shall not understand one another's speech.

"let us" is the language of Gen 1:26 when God created man. Exactly who
accompanied Yhvh on this mission isn't stated; but it's difficult to imagine
Him traveling solo without an entourage of some sort. (cf. Gen 28:12 and
Matt 25:31)

Gen 11:8 . .Thus the Lord scattered them from there over the face of the
whole earth; and they stopped building the city.

The language barrier was only a temporary delay because later on the city of
Babylon was eventually built. But at this point in time, the world had no
choice. It was just impossible to continue. Incidentally; the entire world has
never again been unified in a singular endeavor like it was on that tower.

Gen 11:9 . .That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord
confounded the speech of the whole earth; and from there the Lord
scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

In time, people did branch out and colonize the whole planet. But barely
anything is said in the Bible about the world in the years between Babel and
Abraham.

Gen 11:10a . .This is the line of Shem.

Well; that's pretty much about it for the other brothers. From now on, the
Bible will direct its focus mainly upon Shem's line. But not all. Just specific
ones that are connected to Abraham's covenant; and ultimately to Messiah.

Noah was a pretty simple kind of guy. He probably tore apart the ark for its
wood and built a home, and barns, and whittled fence posts and split rails to
corral his livestock. The rest of the ark's lumber he could distribute to his
sons and grandchildren for their own ranches after setting aside enough
firewood for many years to come.

He more than likely stayed pretty close to where the ark went aground and
remained behind when the others migrated out west. After all, if Noah could
raise food right where he was, plus his grapes, then why move away? He'd
seen it all anyway and lived the adventure of a lifetime.

Gen 11:10b . . Shem was 100 years old when he begot Arpachshad, two
years after the Flood.

That would make Shem about 97 years old when the flood began.

Gen 11:11 . . After the birth of Arpachshad, Shem lived 500 years and
begot sons and daughters.

Each of the patriarchs probably had at least as many daughters as well as
sons even though girls' names are rarely listed in the record.

Gen 11:12-25 . .When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he begot Shelah.
After the birth of Shelah, Arpachshad lived 403 years and begot sons and
daughters . .When Nahor had lived 29 years, he begot Terah. After the birth
of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and begot sons and daughters.

Included in the genealogy of Gen 11:12-25 was a man named Eber. His
name carries on to this day in a people well known as Hebrews; for the Old
Testament word for Hebrew is 'Ibriy (ib-ree'); which means an Eberite; viz:
a descendant of Eber.

At that point in time, the human life span was noticeably decreasing.

Noah lived 950 years (about the same as his antediluvian forebears), but
Shem lived only 600. It became even worse by the time of Nahor; who only
lived to 148. Today, even the healthiest among us begins to decline as early
as our mid thirties; with an average life expectancy of not even 80. This
problem has baffled scientists for years and no one seems to know yet just
why our body cells age and deteriorate so fast. Whoever solves that problem
will get very rich from it, that's for sure.

God introduced tongues during the Tower Of Babel incident to break up
world unification. Apparently it was God's judgment that world unification in
those days was not a good thing. Well; the language barrier remains in place
today; so I'm assuming that world unification in our day is still not a good
thing.

In other words: today's world is an imperfect world. But according to 2Pet
3:1-13 and the 21st chapter of Revelation, a new world order is on its way;
a perfect world that can be trusted with unification so there will be no need
for a control measure to thwart global rebellions against God and all that He
stands for.
_
 

Webers.Home

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#85
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Gen 11:26-27 . .When Terah had lived 70 years, he begot Abram, Nahor,
and Haran. Now this is the line of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and
Haran; and Haran begot Lot.

By the time of Terah, Shem's line had slipped away and no longer
worshipped Yhvh in spite of their solid spiritual heritage.

"Then Joshua said to all the people: Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel;
"In olden times, your forefathers-- Terah, father of Abraham and father of
Nahor --lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods." (Josh 24:2)

Because their dad worshipped other gods, the two brothers, Abram and
Nahor, grew up as idolaters until Noah's god stepped in and broke the chain:
appearing to Abram, and instructing him to leave his relatives, and get out
of Ur.

One has to wonder what happened with Terah. His grandfathers Shem and
Noah actually came off the ark and saw the Flood for themselves but that
was waaaaay back when. Time has a way of turning history into legend; and
anon into myth, folklore, and superstition.

NOTE: One of the problems associated with the credibility of the Flood is
finding evidence for it; and a significant portion of that problem is related to
the Flood's duration. The actual downpour lasted a mere forty days; and the
standing water was gone within a year; which just isn't enough time. It
takes water millennia to erode permanent features in the earth's lithosphere.

And on top of that, once the rain stopped, the Flood's waters were
essentially static like a lake or a swimming pool. In order to cause erosion of
any significance, water has to move; as a river or a stream, or as waves
along the sea shore; not stand still.

When I was a kid, the presence of sea shells and fossils way up on the sides
and tops of mountains was thought to be evidence of the Flood, but now we
know that they got up there by tectonic forces rather than by the Flood.

You know it hasn't been all that long ago that people began putting some
faith in continental drift. It's been barely a century since German
meteorologist Alfred Wegner proposed that Earth's dry land had once been a
single continent then gradually began separating. He was soundly mocked
and dismissed by his contemporary scientific community.

Not anymore they don't. Now pretty near all the geological scientists are in
agreement that the earth's prominent mountain ranges were produced by
the grinding, colliding, buckling, and subduction of massive sections of the
earth's crust.

Gen 11:28 . . Haran died in the lifetime of his father Terah, in his native
land, Ur of the Chaldeans.

The Grim Reaper cares not for the age of its victims, whether young or
whether old. Haran died before his dad. Many a parent has buried their
children before they even had a chance to live.

You know, anybody can die; it's not all that difficult; and people don't have
to be old nor do they have to be especially intelligent. Even the young, the
inexperienced, and the stupid do it all the time.

"For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered: in days to
come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die." (Ecc
2:16)

"For the time of mischance comes to all. And a man cannot even know his
time. As fishes are enmeshed in a fatal net, and as birds are trapped in a
snare, so men are caught at the time of calamity, when it comes upon them
without warning." (Ecc 9:10-12)

"Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets: do they live for ever?"
(Zech 1:5)

Gen 11:29 . . Abram and Nahor took to themselves wives, the name of
Abram's wife being Sarai and that of Nahor's wife Milcah, the daughter of
Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.

Nahor married a niece; the daughter of his brother Haran. And Abram,
according to Gen 20:12, married a half sister; the daughter of his father
Terah. Such close marriages were later forbidden in the covenant that
Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and
Deuteronomy.

But as Genesis has shown all along, at this early date close marriages were
neither forbidden nor particularly dangerous from a genetic point of view,
and so were not uncommon. Adam's family married among themselves; and
so did Noah's. They really had no choice about it. There just weren't any
other people available for spouses at the time.

Inbreeding was neither a sin nor a problem in those days. But it sure is now.
You wouldn't dare engender children with a sister or a brother or a niece
nowadays. The risk of birth defects is just too high. It's notable that as
longevity decreased, so did the margin of safety in marrying relatives. The
quality of the human body was seriously deteriorating.
_
 

Webers.Home

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#86
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Gen 11:30 . . Now Sarai was barren, she had no child.

This is the very first recorded incident of a human reproductive malfunction.
Other than the reduction in longevity; the human body seems to have been
running on all eight cylinders up to this point. But who was the problem; was
it Abram or Sarai? It was Sarai because Abram later engendered a child by
one of Sarai's servant girls.

One of the first horrors the human family witnessed was Abel's death. No
one had ever seen a human being dead before. And now this. A woman who
couldn't conceive. It must have been stunning and unbelievable. All the
women in history up to this point were cranking out babies like rabbits and
mice.

But this was double bad for Sarai. Not only could she not have a family of
her own, but you know how the tabloids feed on unusual events. Well . . this
was one for the books. Sarai, in her day, was a true freak of nature.
Everyone would point at her and whisper in hushed tones: Look! There she
is! That's the one we saw on 20/20.

She must have felt terribly inferior, and you can just imagine what that did
to her self esteem too. Sarai was a gorgeous piece of work, but her womb
had no more life in it than a stack of 8x11 Xerox paper.

I'm a man; so how can I possibly understand Sarai's personal grief? Only
another barren woman can understand what Sarai must have felt. There are
women who don't care about children. But Sarai doesn't strike me as one of
those. And even if she didn't care for children, it would have still been a
comfort in her mind to know that at least she could have some if she wanted
to.

"There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not; "It
is enough" -- the grave; the barren womb, the earth that is not filled with
water; and the fire." (Prov 30:15-16)

Gen 11:31a . .Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot the son of
Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and they
set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans for the land of Canaan;

Ur's ruins are located approximately midway between the modern city of
Baghdad Iraq, and the head of the Persian Gulf, south of the Euphrates
River, on the edge of the Al Hajarah Desert. The site of Ur is known today as
Tall al Muqayyar.

In antiquity, the Euphrates River flowed near the city walls; and thus Ur was
favorably located for the development of commerce and for attaining political
dominance. The biblical name "Ur of the Chaldees" refers to the Chaldeans,
who settled in the area about 900 BC. By the 4th century BC, the city was
practically forgotten, possibly as a result of a shift in the course of the
Euphrates River.

Water played an important role in the location of ancient civilizations. The
Sahara desert, for example, was once a pluvial region with lakes. When
geological forces caused the loss of rainfall and surface water, the Sahara
became the dry waste it's famed for today and consequently its inhabitants
had to relocate.

Ur was enclosed by oval walls thirty feet high, which protected not only the
city, but two harbors as well. Sir Leonard Woolley discovered that the
inhabitants benefited from well-planned streets, and houses with high
standards of sanitation. They appear to have been constructed to remain
cool in the hot summers and some may have been two-storied. House walls
adjoined the streets. Homes featured an inner courtyard onto which their
rooms faced; just like Judah's home in the Charlton Heston movie Ben Hur.

Gen 11:31b . . but when they had come as far as Haran, they settled
there.

According to Gen 12:1, God took an interest in Abram while he was in Ur,
before he left with Terah to travel to Haran. After sharing his vision with
Terah, the dad quite possibly became interested in a new life himself, having
recently lost a son. The land where he then lived held bad memories and,
probably not wanting to lose touch with any more of his family if Abram
were to move away, he suggested that they all travel together; which is a
perfectly good idea considering the dangers they were likely to encounter en
route.

But the dad didn't have the heart for it really. The old gentleman decided to
settle in Haran instead of going all the way to Canaan like the original plan
called for.

From Ur, Canaan is dead west and just about the same distance as Haran.
But instead of going directly to Canaan, they went north, following the trade
routes. I think I would have too. Terah's family was a lot safer going from
town to town along the fertile crescent. It would take longer to get to
Canaan, but they would be in better shape upon arrival.

There are some who like to keep their foot on the gas and push on through
when they travel. But that is very tiring. It's far better to stop often, eat,
and rest before moving on. The towns along the northern route could
provide them with needed supplies for the journey too.

But Haran (modern Charran or Haraan) is too far out of the way really. It's
clear up in Urfa Turkey on the trade route to Ninevah. Terah could have
turned south a lot sooner and gone on down to Canaan via Damascus. But I
think that by then, he'd lost interest in Canaan and decided that Haran was
the place for him. And Abram, probably not wanting to leave his dad alone
there, stayed on too.
_
 

Webers.Home

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#87
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Gen 11:32 . .The days of Terah came to 205 years; and Terah died in
Haran.

Terah lived a relatively long life for his day. His son Abram only lived to 175.

But I sometimes wonder if Terah didn't cut his life short by staying in Haran.
Did he forget about God's call to Abram to go to Canaan?

Seeing as how Terah didn't serve Noah's god, rather, other gods (Josh
24:2), it's only natural that he wouldn't take Yhvh's call seriously. Noah's
god wanted Abram to live down in Canaan. But because of his dad, Abram
didn't go there. How unfortunate that parents can actually be a hindrance to
their children associating with God whole heartedly.

Gen 12:1. .The Lord said to Abram: Go forth from your native land and
from your father's house to the land that I will show you.

Stephen said Abram was still living in Ur, and hadn't moved up to Haran yet
when God called him to leave his kin (Acts 7:2-3). There's no record of any
interaction with God all the while that Abram lived in Haran. Jehovah was
silent, and waiting for Abram to get with the program and do as He said--
leave his kin and head on out to a country of God's choosing. When he
finally departed, Abram was not yet informed of his precise destination. (Heb
11:8)

The Lord made several promises to Abram at this time.

Gen 12:2a . . I will make of you a great nation,

Greatness is arbitrary. Some say numbers best represent greatness, while
others feel that accomplishments, prosperity, health, and contributions to
mankind define greatness. In that last aspect; no other nation on earth has
contributed more to the benefit of mankind than the people of Israel. It is
through them that sinful men of all nations may obtain a full ransom from
the wrath of God. Israel is also destined to become the seat of world power,
economic prosperity, and the center for religious studies.

Gen 12:2b . . And I will bless you;

Abram became a very wealthy man; with enough male servants to field a
respectable army. He also enjoyed long life and good health; and the
admiration of his neighbors.

Gen 12:2c . . I will make your name great,

Nobody is more famous than Abram. Even people who never heard of
George Washington, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, or Genghis Khan, know
about Abram. He is connected to the three most prominent religions in the
world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And his name is always held in the
very highest regard. Abram isn't known for nefarious deeds nor bloody
conquests. He is known as the friend of God, and as a role model for all
decent God-fearing people everywhere all over the world.

Gen 12:2d . . And you shall be a blessing.

There are some people that the world is well rid of like conceited
entertainers, neighbors from hell, thin skinned defensive people with raging
tempers, habitual liars, cry babies, people who falsify information, sully
reputations, ruthless businessmen, con and scam artists, unscrupulous
lawyers, crooked cops and dishonest politicians, insurance frauds, Wall
Street sociopaths, managers on a power trip, hackers, and the like.

But Abram was none of those. He was a very gracious, honorable man; the
kind of guy you would thank God for. But most of all, Abram is the
progenitor of Messiah-- the savior of the world.

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of
Abraham" (Matt 1:1)

Messiah is the one who makes it possible for sinners to escape the judgment
of God. You can't be a better blessing than that.

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be
lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God
so cared for the world that he donated His one and only son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send
His son into the world to condemn the world, but to rescue the world
through him." (John 3:14-17)

NOTE: The reference to Moses' serpent is located at Num 21:4-9

Just as Moses' people were spared certain death by doing no more nor less
than looking to Moses' serpent; so believers today are spared certain death
in the reservoir of brimstone depicted at Rev 20:11-15 by doing no more nor
less than looking to Christ's crucifixion.

Gen 12:3a . . I will bless those who bless you, and curse him that curses
you;

That curse works both ways; viz: it prevents God from cursing Abram. This
is very important because were God to curse Abram, for any reason, any at
all; He would have to level a curse right back at Himself.

God as much as granted Abram immunity from any, and all, of the curses
listed at Ex 34:6-7, Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1 69 that God
is obligated to slam Moses' people with for breaching the covenant that they
agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Modern Judaism insists that Deut 29:14-15 retroactively binds Abraham to
the covenant. But Deut 5:2-3 and Gal 3:17 clearly exempt him.

Gen 12:3b . . And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

The Hebrew word translated "in you" is a bit ambiguous. It can also mean
"through you" and/or "by means of you".

Abram eventually found out that the above prediction concerned a great
grandson of his.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad."
(John 8:56-57)

The "blessing" in focus is no doubt the one below.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that
whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did
not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should
be spared through Him. (John 3:16-17)

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for
the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 12:4a . . Abram went forth as the Lord had commanded him,

Although Abram didn't "went forth" exactly when God told him to; he finally
did; and that's what counts. Jonah didn't "went forth" when he was told to
go either, but God prepared a large fish to persuade him to stop fooling
around and get a move on; and he finally complied.

Gen 12:4b . . and Lot went with him.

That was an err on Abram's part. He was told to leave his native land and to
leave his father's house. He wasn't supposed to take any relatives along with
him: and Lot wasn't a child; he was a grown man capable of operating a
ranch on his own so it's not like Abram would have abandoned Lot an
orphan.

Gen 12:4c . . Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

That hardly seems like a sensible age to reinvent one's self and begin a new
life; but Abram was relatively young yet in his own day, and still had 100
years of life left to go.

Gen 12:5 . . Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother's son Lot, and all
the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired
in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan; and they arrived there.

I'm pretty sure Sarai anticipated this move. Abram had probably been
talking about it ever since God appeared to him in Ur so I seriously doubt it
disrupted her life like a bolt out of the blue.

From Haran (Haraan Turkey) it's well over 400 miles south to the West Bank
in Palestine. You can imagine the difficulty of making such a trip what with
no automobiles, no trains, no buses, no taxi cabs, no airplanes, no paved
surface highways, and no graded roads. It was all trails and dirt paths; and
all on foot, or on the back of an animal, or in a cart pulled by an animal.

People traveled like that for millennia before powered conveyances were
invented and became widespread. Practically all modern means of travel
were invented in the 20th century AD.

In only just the last 120 years or so of Man's existence has there been
airplanes and horseless carriages. Man went from the Wright Brothers to the
moon in just sixty-six years.

The previous thousands of years before Karl Benz's production of gasoline
powered motorwagens; people were very slow moving, and travel was
arduous, inconvenient, and totally earth-bound. In those days, a pioneer's
greatest obstacle to migration was distance.

It's significant that Abram wasn't required to dispose of his worldly goods in
order to follow God. Abram later became an exceedingly rich man and God
never once asked him to give it all away to charity.

Riches are bad only if they have such a hold upon a person that they must
compromise their integrity to hang on to it. For that person, it's better to be
poor. But it would be wrong to impose poverty upon everyone because not
everyone is consumed with survival, avarice, and greed.

Gen 12:6 . . Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the
great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the
land.

The Canaanites were Canaan's descendants-- Noah's bad-apple grandson.

The Canaanites probably didn't have complete control of the land at this
time, merely a presence, same as Abram. But they were definitely in
progress of getting control. By the time Joshua invaded, roughly four
hundred years later, Canaan's clan was pretty well rooted in Palestine.

Abram's welfare wasn't improved by coming out west to Canaan. His home
town Ur was a modern city with decent accommodations. But out on the
frontier, it was rugged. Palestine in that day was no Utopia. It was more like
the conditions which faced our own early day American pioneers and
settlers. There were communities scattered here and there, but for the most
part, it was wild, wooly, and untamed.

Abram, now paying attention to God, is going where he's told and moving in
all the right directions. The next two moves are preceded by altars; upon
which, we can safely assume, were offered the traditional Noah-style burnt
offering. Altar sites were hot-spots; viz: locations for making wireless
contact with God; sort of like what the Temple at Jerusalem became in later
years.
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 12:7a . .The Lord appeared to Abram

Exactly how or in what form God appeared to Abram isn't said. God's
appearances aren't always visual. Sometimes an appearance is merely an
audible voice; or a dream, an angel, a burning bush, a breeze, a column of
smoke, or even an eerie glow.

Gen 12:7b . . and said: I will assign this land to your heirs.

This is the very first instance of a Divine promise made to Abram regarding
ownership of Palestine; and it probably bounced right off his skull like a
sonar ping. But later on, God will repeat that promise again and again until it
finally sinks in. Repetition is, after all, a proven learning aid.

Gen 12:7c-8 . . And he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared
to him. From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel and
pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and he built
there an altar to the Lord and invoked the Lord by name.

Eusebius Onomasticon, placed Bethel twelve Roman miles north from
Jerusalem, on the road to Neapolis. The site today is represented by the
modern town of Beitin, a village which stands on a knoll east of the road to
Nablus; roughly 2½ miles northeast of Ramallah El-Bira.

Ai hasn't really been pinpointed yet but is identified either with the modern
Haiyan, just south of the village Deir Dibwan or with a mound, El-Tell, to the
north.

This is only the second time in Scripture where it's said human beings called
upon God by a name. The first was Gen 4:26. What name might Abram have
used to invoke God? The name Yhvh was well known by this time, and
Abram addressed God by it on numerous occasions (e.g. Gen 13:4, 14:22,
15:8, 21:33, and 24:3).

God's demeanor towards Abram was sometimes that of an officer in wartime
who doesn't tell his troops in advance the location of their next bivouac.
Instead he orders them to march in a certain direction, only later telling
them when to stop and set up camp. So Abram went in the direction he was
commanded to go; not really knowing his destination or the why. For the
time being, Abram didn't need to know the why-- he only needed to know
which way.

Free now from the harmful influence of his dad's pagan idolatry, Abram
revived the religion of his sacred ancestors and began calling upon God the
same way they did; and he got his travel orders that way too. Each time he
worshipped at the altars, God told him what to do, where to go next; and
sometimes even shared some personal data along with His big plans for
Abram's future.

Abram was doing pretty much what Adam did in the garden; meeting with
God in the cool of the day; so to speak. Only Abram did it differently
because he was a sinful being, whereas, in the beginning, Adam wasn't; so
he didn't need an altar, at first.

Gen 12:9 . .Then Abram journeyed by stages toward the Negev.

"Negev" is from negeb (neh'-gheb) and means: to be parched; the south
(from its drought); specifically, the Negev or southern district of Judah;
occasionally Egypt (as south to Palestine). The Negev is generally considered
as beginning south of Dhahiriya; which is right in between Hevron and Be'ér
Sheva; and as stretching south in a series of rolling hills until the actual
wilderness begins, a distance of perhaps 70 miles.

To the east, the Negev is bounded by the Dead Sea and the Arabah, and to
the west the boundaries are generally Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. It's
a land of scanty springs and sparse rainfall. The character of its soil is a
transition from the fertility of Canaan to the wilderness of the desert--
essentially a pastoral land, where grazing is plentiful in the early months and
where camels and goats can survive, even through the long summer
drought.

Today, as through most periods of history, the Negev is a land for the
nomad rather than the settled inhabitant, although abundant ruins in many
spots testify to better physical conditions at some periods. The east and
west directions of the valleys, the general dryness, and the character of the
inhabitants, have always made it a more or less isolated region without
thoroughfare.

The great routes passed along the coast to the west or up the Arabah to the
east. Against all who would lead an army up from the south, this southern
frontier of Judah presented a tough obstacle in the old days. The Negev is
slated for a make-over when the Jews return to their homeland.

"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and
blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and
shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel
and Sharon; they will see the glory of The Lord, the excellency of our God."
(Isa 35:1-2)

"Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The
burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the
haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow." (Isa
35:6-7)

Lebanon's glory of old was timber; especially cedars (1Kng 4:33). Sharon
was known for its flowers (Song 2:1) and Carmel for its orchards (Isa 33:9).
How God will get timber, flowers, and orchards to flourish in the Negev
should be interesting.
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 12:10 . .There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to
Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.

Famines were usually the result of things like low humidity, lack of rain,
and/or plagues of insects and plant diseases.

Abram fully intended to return to Canaan just as soon as the famine ended.
The move to Egypt was a temporary expedient, rather than the result of
irrational panic. Famine might seem to some as an excuse for Abram to
return to Haran. But Abram wasn't retreating. His destiny did not lie in
Haran. It lay in Palestine-- period! --no going back.

I've heard more than one commentator say that Abram was out of God's will
when he left Canaan and moved to Egypt. It is really impossible to know
that for sure. Compare Gen 46:2-4 where God instructed Jacob to migrate to
Egypt during a severe famine.

So, I'm inclined to give Abram the benefit of the doubt. Back at Shechem,
Abram began the practice of erecting altars and calling on grandpa Noah's
god. Each time he moved, he built a new altar. And each time he did that,
God gave him new travel orders. Since the text doesn't suggest otherwise; it
should be okay to assume Abram went down to Egypt under the very same
divine guidance as the other places he moved to.

Gen 12:11 . . As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai: I
know what a beautiful woman you are.

Abram was about nine years older than Sarai; so she was over 66 years-old
when this event occurred because according to Gen 12:4, Abram was
seventy-five when they left Haran. Sarai was amazing. Even at 66+ years
she drew admiring glances.

Abram's acknowledgement of Sarai's beauty appears to have been
somewhat out of the ordinary; but that's no surprise. After a number of
years of marriage, it isn't uncommon for men to take their wives for
granted; and to stop taking notice of them after a while.

Gen 12:12 . . If the Egyptians see you, and think "She is his wife" they will
kill me and let you live.

Egypt had an active presence up in and around Canaan prior to Abram's day
and perhaps the conduct of their frontier consulates was somewhat less than
honorable at times. So of course the people of Canaan would quite naturally
assume all Egyptians were pigs just like many people today assume that all
Muslims are vicious because of the Muslim terrorists who flew airplanes into
the World Trade Center.

Gen 12:13 . . I beseech you; say that you are my sister, that it may go
well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.

Abram didn't have to entreat Sarai to go along with his scheme. According to
Gen 18:12 and 1Pet 3:6, she regarded her husband's authority above her
own.

This scene is useful for exemplifying the gracious nature of this amazing
man of God. Though he was a king in his own home, Abram wasn't a callous
despot like Kim Jong Un and/or Robert Mugabe who care little for either the
feelings or the welfare of their citizens.

Abram was shrewd. He was not only concerned about saving his skin, but
also about taking advantage of his being Sarai's kin; and actually that part
of it did work out pretty well. However, I would have to scold him on this
point because his conduct reveals a lack of confidence in God's promises
back in Gen 12:2-3 and Gen 12:7.

He has to be kept alive to engender heirs so God can make good on His
promise to give them the land of Canaan. No one could kill Abram at this
point; not even a Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Not even The Almighty God
Himself could kill Abram at this point because it was too late for that.

God passed His word back at Shechem that he would make of Abram a great
nation and He can't go back on it without seriously compromising His own
integrity. Some people might be inclined to call that a character weakness;
but to those of us relying upon God to honor His word, His integrity is the
very basis of our confidence. God's promises-- especially His unconditional
promises --are not only human-proof; but God-proof too.
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 12:14 . .When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw how very
beautiful the woman was.

When men talk about a woman's beauty, they're not talking about the
sterling character of a woman like Ruth; no, they're talking about the
physical attributes of a woman like Queen Vashti in the book of Esther. (cf.
Gen 6:1-2)

How did the Egyptians see Sarai was a looker? Well, the dress code for
women in her day was nothing like the totally unflattering burqas that Islam
imposes upon women in our day.

Depicted in a wall painting in the tomb of an Egyptian nobleman named
Khnum-hotpe, at Beni-Hasen on the Nile river, dating from about 1900 BC,
is a Semitic troupe passing customs to enter Egypt. The women are wearing
form-fitting, highly colored, sleeveless wrap-around dresses whose hems
stop at mid calf. Their décolletage swoops from the left shoulder to just
under the opposite armpit, leaving that side's shoulder completely bare.

Their hair-- fastened by a thin white ribbon around the forehead and
covered with neither a shawl, nor a scarf, nor a hijab --falls loosely over
bosoms and shoulders, and there are stylish little curls just in front of the
ears. Adorning their feet are dark brown, half-length boots. In attire like
that, a woman filled out in all the right places would be very easy to notice.

Gen 12:15a . . Pharaoh's courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh,

Webster's has a couple of definitions for "courtiers". They are people in
attendance at a royal court; and they are also people who practice flattery.
Apparently Pharaoh's toadies kept their eyes out for appealing women to add
to their sovereign's harem; and thus gain for themselves his favor and
approval.

Their sighting of Sarai wasn't just happenstance. Entry into Egypt in those
days was tightly controlled and the only way in was past specified check
points. At one time in Egypt's past, there existed a long chain of forts,
watchtowers, and strong points designed to watch over immigration and
possible invasions by the Sand People from the east. The "wall" stretched
north and south across the desert approximately along the same path as
today's Suez Canal. Each check point was manned by armed soldiers
accompanied by officials of the Egyptian government; sort of like the
customs agents and border patrols of the modern world today.

Gen 12:15b . . and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's palace.

Not good. A woman in the harems of that day would never have a home of
her own nor freedom to travel. Never would she be allowed to pursue
romance nor to associate with her friends and relatives ever again.

Gen 12:16 . . And because of her, it went well with Abram; he acquired
sheep, oxen, jack donkeys, male and female slaves, jenny donkeys, and
camels.

Life is much better when you're connected. Because of Sarai, Abram was a
bit of a celebrity and thus treated very well.

So Abram is getting rich. After all, his sister is in the White House. You think
anyone is going to cheat him or make him pay full price for goods and
services? No way. If anything, people were more than willing to give him lots
of expensive gifts and deep discounts, hoping to remain in Pharaoh's good
graces by doing so.

But what's going on in Pharaoh's boudoir at night? There is just no way
Abram could block that out of his mind. If only he had believed God's
promise, Sarai's honor wouldn't be in such immediate danger of
compromise. Abram could have swaggered into Egypt totally fearless of
Pharaoh and his country; and kept his wife within her own camp, safe and
snug among her own people.

Gen 12:17 . . But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty
plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Abram.

I, for one, don't blame Pharaoh for any of that. It was totally Abram's fault.
Pharaoh and his courtiers were duped into thinking Sarai was available. How
could they have known she was spoken for?

Our hero didn't tell the Egyptians about his adventures with The Lord. All he
could think about was how to survive and stay alive. ¡Error! If he had
instead been a faithful witness for God, rather than looking out for his own
skin, I think things would have gone much better for Abram and Sarai down
there in Egypt.

But now they will be forcibly deported; in shame and disgrace. So, instead of
being a positive influence for their god, they became a very bad one. God's
people are supposed to believe in their god, and reflect that confidence to
others; and at the very least they ought to be honest. And God's people
should never be reluctant to tell others about their religion even if those
others appear to be pagan heathens.

Gen 12:18-20 . . Pharaoh sent for Abram and said: What is this you have
done to me! Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you
say "She is my sister" so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife;
take her and begone! And Pharaoh put men in charge of him, and they sent
him off with his wife and all that he possessed.

One can scarcely blame Mr. Pharaoh for blowing his top. Nobody likes to be
duped, especially monarchs.

Just exactly how Pharaoh found out that Sarai was Abram's wife is not said.
Probably the very same way King Abimelech discovered the truth about her
in a later incident. Here's how that will go when we get there later on. (Gen
20:1-7)

From a totally humanistic point of view, it would appear that God is terribly
unfair. I mean, after all, Pharaoh and Abimelech couldn't possibly have
known that Sarai was married, especially when both she and her husband
were telling people otherwise. But these incidents are valuable to reveal that
sin is just a wee bit more complicated than Man's inadequate little sense of
right and wrong and fairness is able to fully comprehend.

Well anyway; as the texts says: Abram acquired female slaves during this
brief stopover in Egypt; and quite possibly one of their names was-- you
guessed it --Ms. Hagar: the mother of Ishmael, the father of the Arab world;
from whence ultimately came Muhammad and the religion of Islam. Just
goes to show that chaos theory may not be 100% right, but it isn't 100%
wrong either.
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 13:1-2 . . From Egypt, Abram went up into the Negeb, with his wife
and all that he possessed, together with Lot. Now Abram was very rich in
cattle, silver, and gold.

The word for "rich" is from kabad (kaw-bad') which means: to be heavy, i.e.
in either a bad sense (burdensome, severe, dull) or in a good sense
(numerous, rich, honorable); causatively, to make weighty (in the same two
senses); viz: which is why, I guess, we call the rich "loaded"

So the rich are not only wealthy, but weighted down too. It was a piece of
cake for Abram to pull up stakes and move around wherever God wanted
before he got so wealthy. Now it will be an undertaking especially without
power tools and mechanized conveyances.

NOTE: Though it's not stated, I think it's probably pretty safe to assume that
Lot enjoyed the very same privileged status in Egypt that his uncle Abram
did due to their mutual relationship to Sarai; so that Lot came up out of
Egypt a very prosperous cattle baron.

Gen 13:3-7a . . And he proceeded by stages from the Negeb as far as
Bethel, to the place where his tent had been formerly, between Bethel and
Ai, the site of the altar that he had built there at first; and there Abram
invoked the Lord by name.

. . . Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that
the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were
so great that they could not remain together. And there was quarreling
between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and those of Lot's cattle.

Pasture can support only so many head of cattle per acre, and the land was
just recently recovering from a famine. Lot's drovers were squabbling with
Abram's over available grass; and probably the available water too. If those
men had barbed wire in that day, I'm sure they would have strung it. Then
the shootin' would have really started up!

Gen 13:7b . .The Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land.

How do you suppose Abram's and Lot's squabbling looked to the pagans?
When God's people can't get along, outsiders become disgusted with them
and they sure won't be influenced for God in a good way when Moses' people
are fighting amongst themselves like that.

Years ago, when I was a young welder just starting out on my own, I rented
a small room in a daylight basement from a man who was the senior pastor
of a medium-sized Seventh Day Adventist church in the Portland Oregon
area. He and his wife radiated the luster of polished spirituality whenever I
spoke with them out in the yard, but in my location under the floor of the
house, I could overhear their bitter quarrels upstairs behind closed doors.
Was I favorably inclined to attend his church? No.

Gen 13:8-9a . . Abram said to Lot: Let there be no strife between you and
me, between my herdsmen and yours, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole
land before you?

Palestine was still pretty much a wild frontier in the 20th century BC.
Actually very little of it was private property. And what with no Bureau of
Land Management, the land out west from Ur was pretty much up for grabs
to anyone who had the moxie to take it. Abram and Lot remind me very
much of early day American pioneers and cattle barons.

Gen 13:9b . . Let us separate.

It wasn't an easy thing for Abram to be firm with his kin, and it was a
weakness in his spiritual life from day-one. He and Sarai were supposed to
leave their kin and come to Canaan alone. He wasn't supposed to take along
a nephew. But Abram just couldn't leave Lot behind. So now he and Lot are
separating with bad blood between them. And Lot's future is very uncertain
down in that God-less country away from his uncle Abram's patronage.

Gen 13:9c . . if you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go
north.

Even though there was some bad blood now between Abram and Lot, the old
boy remained a gracious man. Being the senior of the two, Abram could
have claimed first dibs on the land. But he waived the privileges of rank, and
gave his nephew the choice. But, in point of fact, Abram made Lot a promise
that he could in no way guarantee to honor; because it was God who
ultimately dictated where Abram was to dwell in the land.
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 13:10 . . Lot looked about him and saw how well watered was the
whole plain of the Jordan, all of it-- this was before the Lord had destroyed
Sodom and Gomorrah --all the way to Zoar, like the garden of the Lord, like
the land of Egypt.

The Jordan Valley slopes southward like a ramp from an altitude of roughly
685 feet below sea level at the Sea of Galilee to an elevation of 1,384 feet
below sea level at the Dead Sea. Water was Lot's primary concern and there
was plenty of it down there in that valley 4,000 years ago. Along with
overflow from the Sea of Galilee, was an abundance of wadis and streams
draining into the Jordan Valley from the highlands.

In its heyday, the Jordan poured about 1.3 billion cubic feet of water per
year into the Dead Sea. Today-- due to dams, diversions, and pumping -
only about 2 or 3 percent of those ancient billions reach the sea. In the last
century alone, the Sea's level declined 80 feet in just the sixty years
between 1939 and 1999.

Eighty feet may not seem like much depth, but when it's considered that the
surface area of the Dead Sea is roughly 235 square miles; we're looking at
something like 3.56 cubic miles of water. If all that water were to be packed
into a single cube, it's sides would be 1.527 miles in length, i.e. 8,062 feet.
There are currently no man-made structures on earth that tall.

In Abram's day, the Jordan Valley in the region between the Dead Sea and
the Sea of Galilee was well watered, fertile, and very appealing to a cattle
baron like Lot. It had some pretty good jungles too: home to lots of fierce
lions at one time.

NOTE: The Israel of today is just a dried up husk of its former environmental
glory. For example: Israel's lions, now extinct, once inhabited forests (Jer
5:6) mountain caves (Nahum 2:12) and the Jordan Valley (Jer 49:19).
Israel's bears (2Kgs 2:24) were eradicated in the early 20th century. The
closest kin to the bears that once roamed wild there are the Syrian brown
bears kept in the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem.

What the world sees today in Palestine little resembles the land of milk and
honey into which Joshua brought Moses' people some 3,500 years ago; and
there's their own breaches of the covenant to thank for it.

"Even all nations shall say: Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this
land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?

. . .Then men shall say: Because they have forsaken the covenant of the
Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them
forth out of the land of Egypt: for they went and served other gods, and
worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom He had not given
unto them: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring
upon it all the curses that are written in this book" (Deut 29:24-27)

A menu of the curses is on public display at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26,
and Deut 28:1-69.

Gen 13:11a . . So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, and
Lot journeyed eastward.

Today a descent down to Jericho from Bethel (modern Beitin) would be close
to a 4,000 foot drop in elevation. Whooee! That'll sure make your ears pop!

Gen 13:11b . .Thus they parted from each other;

To me, it would have made better horse sense in a foreign land to
consolidate their holdings-- sort of an Abraham & Lot Inc. --instead of
maintaining two separate independent enterprises. But I guess Lot had
ambitions and wanted to be his own man.

Either Lot had more mettle than uncle Abram; or was just downright
reckless because he had the moxie to go off on his own into a totally strange
region with absolutely no assurance that God would travel with him.

Explorers like Columbus, Cortez, Balboa, and Magellan had that kind of
nerve; they were strong, arrogant, and confident. But I don't think Abram
ever was like that. I seriously doubt he would have left Haran at all had not
God called him to it. I believe it was only the assurance of divine patronage
that gave Abram the courage to travel far from home in that day.

Gen 13:12a . . Abram remained in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in
the cities of the Plain,

Cities in that day didn't in any way resemble the huge sprawling
metropolises of the present. We would no doubt regard them as little more
than fortified hamlets. Some of the cities of the plain were Sodom, Admah,
Zeboiim, Gomorrah, and Bela; which is Zoar. Jericho was in existence then
too and no doubt a major population center in that region.
_
 

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Gen 13:12b . . pitching his tents near Sodom.

Logistically that was a pretty sensible arrangement. By living amongst those
cities, Lot had a ready market for his livestock; and a source of goods and
services he could use out on the ranch. There was something special about
Sodom that magnetized him though because he eventually moved his family
into town.

I think Mrs. Lot may have had a little something to do with that. Not too
many women enjoy rough-country living out in the middle of nowhere. Most
prefer being near the conveniences of neighbors, shopping, and services.

Gen 13:13 . . Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked sinners
against the Lord.

The precise location of ancient Sodom is uncertain. Some feel it was sited at
the south end of the Dead Sea; but it's difficult to know for sure. According
to Gen 14:1-3, the communities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and
Zoar were situated in an area of the Jordan Valley the Bible labels "the vale
of Siddim; which is the salt sea". Meaning of course that it was the salt sea
when somebody wrote that section but wasn't always inundated in the
ancient past.

The Hebrew word for Siddim means flats; viz: a flood plain; for example
river valleys; which are of course subject to seasonal flooding. Personally, if
it were me; I would have emplaced my community at the north end of the
vale rather than south since the north end was the better location for a
ready supply of fresh water from the Jordan River for homes and farming.

The author's choice of words is curious. The flatlanders weren't just sinners;
they were "very wicked" sinners; and not just very wicked sinners, but very
wicked sinners "against" the Lord; which suggests outright insolence,
impudence, and defiance; viz: standing up to God and asserting one's
independence.

NOTE: Everything in Genesis occurred quite a few years prior to the
institution of the Ten Commandments so God couldn't prosecute the vale's
people for breaking any one specific law as per the covenant that Moses'
people agreed upon with God in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and
Deuteronomy. He actually came down on them for pretty much the same
reason He came down on the antediluvians: for ignoring Him.

"And Yhvh said: My Spirit shall not strive with man forever (Gen 6:3a)

"And this is the condemnation: light is come into the world, and men loved
darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

John 3:19 is pretty much a blanket indictment that God can use any time He
wishes to justify coming down on people.

How could the people of the vale be adjudged defiant if they had no clue
God disapproved their lifestyle? Well; it's interesting that we today tend to
count only published men like Isaiah and Jeremiah as prophets. But God has
had numbers of prophets out and about in the ancient world whose names
we've never heard of.

For example: at 1Kgs 19:14, Elijah complained that he was one man alone
standing for God in Israel; but unknown to him, Obadiah had hidden a
hundred prophets in a cave. (1Kgs 18:4 and 18:13)

Abram is listed as a prophet (Gen 20:7). And in point to fact, God has had
prophets out and about ever since Abel (Luke 11:50-51). But the most
notable prophet in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah was a priest named
Melchizedek. (Gen 14:18-20. According to Mal 2:7, priests aren't just for
rituals; but also for teaching.

Malachi labels priests Jehovah's "messengers" which is from the very same
Hebrew word for angels; which tells me we should never assume that the
word "angel" eo ipso indicates a celestial emissary. It could just as easily be
a human agent on a divine mission.
_
 

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Gen 13:14-15 . . And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had parted from
him: Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and
south, to the east and west, for I give all the land that you see to you and
your offspring forever.

Oh the irony of it! If Lot went off only to the Jordan Valley to stake a claim
for his own progeny, then he didn't go far enough away because from
Abram's vantage he could see eastward clear across the Jordan valley and
over into Moab (the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan) and far past the five
cities of the Plain. So Abram, and his progeny, were promised eternal
ownership of not only the highlands of Canaan, but in addition, also the
whole Jordan Valley where Lot moved-- and beyond.

Gen 13:16 . . I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if
one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be counted.

I just hope Abram remembers what God said the next time he feels inclined
to fib in order to save his skin. Will he never catch on that he cannot die
until God makes good on the promises regarding his progeny?

Abram's biological progeny descend not only from Isaac, but also from
Ishmael and the other boys too. But his progeny shouldn't be construed to
be exactly equal to the number of bits of dust that make up the earth's soil.
The expression is a common Old Testament colloquialism for very large
quantities (e.g. Gen 41:49, Josh 11:4, Judg 7:12, 1Sam 13:5, 2Sam 17:11,
1Kgs 4:29, Job 29:18, Ps 78:27; et al).

The meaning is that they would simply become too numerous to count. Later
God will liken the number of Abram's offspring to the sand at the beach.
Same thing there too-- not the precise number of grains, but a number so
great that any attempt to count them would be futile; and the stars too.

Abram lived somewhere in the neighborhood of the 20th century BC;
roughly five hundred years after completion of the Pyramid of Khafre at
Giza. So Abram lived about 4,000 years ago. Millions and millions of Abram's
kin have lived and died since then. And it's not over yet, not by a long sea
mile.

NOTE: Not only were civilizations in Egypt great at this time, but elsewhere
too; for example the ancient city of Harappa that was once located in the
Indus River Valley of northwest India: a site now located in Pakistan.
Harappa was a fairly large city of something like 23,500 people; and still in
its heyday during the time of Abram. And the Maya, famous for their
apocalyptic calendar; were blooming in and around what is now the Yucatán
Peninsula. By the time of Abram, people had really spread out from the
tower of Babel; and world development was happening by leaps and bounds.

In Messiah's future millennial kingdom, Abram's people will multiply
exceedingly because they will all enjoy very long life spans and engender
large families. The Bible says that a man of 100 years age in Israel will be
regarded as a mere child in that era. (Isa 65:20)

Abram's offspring truly cannot be tallied; not now or ever. Only The
Almighty could ever get the number right because all the souls belonging to
Abram, among both the dead and the living, have become so numerous.

Gen 13:17 . . Up, walk about the land, through its length and its breadth,
for I give it to you.

It's notable that God said: I give it to you. The land was Abram's possession
right then and there and no one can ever take it away from him. Not even
Almighty God can take it away from Abram now because once The Lord
gives His word, He is bound to it like a ball and chain (Rom 11:28-29). That
should be a comfort to Moses' people, throughout all the ages, that once
God gives His word on something, He has to make good on it.

"May your steadfast love reach me, O Lord, your deliverance, as you have
promised. I shall have an answer for those who taunt me, for I have put my
trust in your word." (Ps 119:41-42)

Although Abram lacked sovereign control over his real estate at the time, it
was his possession nevertheless.
_
 

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Gen 13:18a . . And Abram moved his tent, and came to dwell at the
terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron;

Hebron (Hevron) itself is today a city of over 70,000 people located about 20
miles south of Jerusalem at an elevation of 3,050 feet above sea level.
Hebron is sacred in Jewish history; but a very dangerous place to live today
what with all the Palestinian troubles going on in Israel.

The Hebrew word for "terebinths" is 'elown (ay-lone') which means: an oak,
or other strong tree. Oaks, especially the very old large ones, were
important meeting places. Near where I live in Oregon, there's a site called
Five Oaks, named after the five oak trees that once thrived there. In pre
white man days, local Native Americans met at those trees for pow-wows.

Mamre, an Amorite named up ahead in Gen 14:24, was one of Abram's
allies. The oaks of Mamre were apparently named after him; who some
believe was a local sheik or a chieftain.

In Abram's day; Canaan was thinly populated. It was in fact a land of no law
and no order. The inhabitants lived in a state of constant readiness. The
widely scattered townships were veritable islands in the middle of nowhere;
and vulnerable to daring attacks by the desert nomads. Suddenly, and when
least expected, those predatory nomads sprang upon unwary people with
indiscriminate butchery, carrying off cattle and crops. It was probably for
that very reason that Abram was allied with Mamre.

Gen 13:18b . . and he built an altar there to the Lord.

Abram's altars testify to the fact that his worship wasn't restricted to a
special location. Later; Israel's covenanted law would do that very thing; but
Abram wasn't under its jurisdiction so he was at liberty to sacrifice wherever
it pleased him. This is an important Bible axiom; viz: law cannot be broken
where it doesn't exist. (Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13, Gal 3:17)

NOTE: It was in the interests of trade that Egypt, in 3,000 BC, was the first
great power to stretch out its tentacles towards Canaan. A hard diorite
tablet, listing the details of a ship's cargo of timber for Pharaoh Snefru, is
stored in the museum at Palermo. Its date is 2,700 BC. Dense woods
covered the slopes of Lebanon then. The excellent wood from its cedars and
meru (a kind of conifer) were just what the Pharaohs needed for their
elaborate building schemes.

Five hundred years prior to Abram's day, there was already a flourishing
import and export trade on the Canaanite coast. Egypt exchanged gold and
spices from Nubia, copper and turquoise from the mines at Sinai, and linen
and ivory for silver from Taurus, leather goods from Byblos, and painted
vases from Crete. In the great Phoenician dye works, well to do Egyptians
had their robes dyed purple. For their society women, they bought lapis
lazuli blue-- eyelids dyed blue were all the rage --and stibium, a cosmetic
which was highly prized by the ladies for touching up their eyelashes.

The coastal communities of Canaan presented a picture of cosmopolitan life
which was busy, prosperous, and even luxurious; but just a few miles inland
lay a world of glaring contrast. Bedouin attacks, insurrections, and feuds
between towns were common.

A much more profitable enterprise than pillaging villages in malicious and
barbaric fashion, was to hold them hostage; kind of like the plight of the
villagers in the movie: The Magnificent Seven. To avoid being murdered and
ravaged, the villagers gave the lion's share of their Gross National Product to
the bullies. It was just that sort of scenario that resulted in the capture of
the cities of the Plain while Lot was living down there among them.

» Though I would not care to live in Abram's day; I can't help but envy some
of his advantages. There was no light pollution, no noise pollution, no air
pollution, no water pollution, no soil pollution, and no aquifer pollution. All
his fruits and vegetables, all of them, were 100% organic. In his day there
were no insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides.

Nobody fattened pigs, sheep, fowl, and cows with genetically modified
grains-- overcrowded and standing ankle deep in their own droppings --in an
intrinsically unsanitary concentrated animal feeding operation; so there was
no E.coli 0157:H7 to fear.

All livestock was grass-fed outdoors on open pasture lands, which produces
a medically, and nutritionally, superior grade of meat compared to grain.
The cattle themselves were healthier too and had no need of antibiotics to
keep them from getting sick in nasty, dirty feed lots. And chickens weren't
hybridized to produce breasts so immense and out of proportion that the
poor things can scarcely stand up on their own two feet.

NOTE: Most kinds of cattle are herbivores, i.e. they are not designed to
subsist on grain. If they are fed too much grain for too long a time, cattle
develop digestive and intestinal problems; possibly even death. However,
seeing as how grain fattens cattle faster than roughage, grain is the
preferred fodder in feed lots where cows are on their final steps to the
slaughter.
_
 

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Gen 14:1 . . Now, when King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar,
King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of nations.

Shinar was the whole of Babylonia; Ellasar was the leading tribe in its
southern part; and Elam was the original kingdom of Persia.

The Hebrew word for "nations" is gowy (go'-ee) a word wielded by some
Jews as a racial epithet to indicate non-Jewish peoples. But gowy isn't really
all that specific. The people of Israel are called gowy at Gen 18:18, and
Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, is called a gowy at Gen 25:23. Gowy
really just simply indicates a massing; e.g. a herd of animals and/or a horde
of locusts; which when extended, indicates a particular people; e.g. Iroquois,
Maya, Inuit, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, Japanese, and/or Arabs, et al.

Mr. Tidal was probably the chief of a large confederacy consisting of
mongrel, multi racial people; possibly a tribal area in northeastern
Babylonia. America is a perfect example of Tidal's confederacy because it's a
melting pot of assimilation, intermarriage, and diverse races, cultures,
languages, and nationalities. The only true Americans in America are its
indigenous peoples. Everybody else is either an immigrant or the posterity of
an immigrant.

At one time, Amraphel was thought to be Hammurabi; the great king of
Babylon. But it's now widely agreed that Hammurabi didn't arrive on the
scene until many years later. The other kings remain a mystery too, having
not yet been archaeologically identified.

Gen 14:2 . . made war on King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah,
King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela,
which is Zoar,

None of these men were "kings" in the fashion that we today think of
royalty. They were more like mayors, sheiks, or chieftains. And they didn't
actually have extensive realms; nor very much jurisdiction beyond the very
community each one dominated.

Canaanite cities weren't really serious municipalities; but rather more like
fortified hamlets-- much like the strategic villages in Viet Nam; except that
just about all Canaanite towns were enclosed within stone walls made of
rough boulders about six feet in diameter. Archaeologists call this type of
wall a Cyclops wall. The boulder walls were usually combined with an
escarpment and reinforced with earthen revetments.

Canaanite towns doubled as forts; places of refuge in time of danger,
whether from sudden attack by nomadic bands or from civil wars among the
Canaanites themselves. Towering perimeter walls invariably enclosed small
areas, not much bigger than Ste. Peter's Square in Rome. Each of these
town-forts had a water supply, but weren't really suitable for housing large
populations in permanent homes.

Inside the walls lived only the chieftain, the aristocracy, wealthy merchants,
and even sometimes Egyptian representatives. The rest of the inhabitants of
the township-- the ranchers and farmers, the vassals and the servants and
the serfs-- lived outside the walls; often in tents or simple mud hogans or
wattle huts. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all lived in tents; viz: pavilions.

In Tell el-Hesi, probably Eglon, the town proper was just over an acre. In
Tell es-Safi, formerly Gath, it was twelve acres. In Tell el-Zakariyah,
formerly Megiddo, the same amount. Gezer, on the road from Jerusalem to
Jaffa, occupied just over twenty acres. Even in the more built up area of
Jericho, the inner fortified wall, the Acropolis proper, enclosed a space of
little more than five acres; yet Jericho was an important city and one of the
strongest fortresses in the country.

So the five cities of the Plain were nothing to brag about-- well, maybe in
their day they might have been notable enough amongst their
contemporaries.

Gen 14:3 . . all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the
Salt Sea.

In its early history; the valley was home to the Sedom Lagoon. Back then,
water from the Red Sea was able to ebb in and out of the lagoon because
the region hasn't always been land-locked like it is today. At one time the
Jordan River had an easy outlet to the gulf of Aqaba. But over time, tectonic
forces altered the region; preventing drainage into the gulf and trapping
water in a huge basin from which they cannot now escape.
_
 

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Gen 14:4a . .Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer,

Apparently El Ched was the instigator behind the extortion scheme holding
Sodom and its neighbors economically hostage. The other kings who came
along with him to Canaan were just reinforcements to back his play. You
have to wonder how The Ched ever found the Valley of Siddim in the first
place and what in the world motivated him to travel so far from home.

Ched's home turf, Elam, is a well-known tract, partly mountainous, whose
western boundary, starting on the northeast side of the Persian Gulf,
practically followed the course of the lower Tigris. It was bounded on the
north by Media, on the east by Persia and on the west by Babylonia. The
Assyro-Babylonians called the tract Elamtu, expressed ideographically by the
Sumerian characters for Nimma or Numma, which seems to have been its
name in that language. As Numma, or Elam, apparently mean height, or the
like, these names were probably applied to it on account of its mountainous
nature.

Another name by which it was known in early times was Ashshan-- or
Anshan --or Anzan, (Anzhan) --one of its ancient cities. The great capital of
the tract, however, was Susa (Shushan), whence its Greek name of Susiana,
interchanging with Elymais, from the semitic Elam. Shushan is famous for its
stories of Esther and Nehemiah.

The modern-day city of Ahvaz Iran is a pretty good locator for the region of
Elam. If you have a map handy you can readily see just how far The Ched
traveled to reach the Jordan Valley. Even if he came straight over by
helicopter, it's at least 780 miles.

It's amazing the distances that conquerors traveled on foot and the backs of
animals in ancient times. Hannibal crossed the Pyrenees and the Alps, with
elephants no less, to attack northern Italy. (The Alps have so eroded since
that Hannibal would have difficulty following the same track today.) But
even just getting to the far sides of those mountain ranges from Carthage
was itself an arduous journey sans mechanical conveyances. It's no surprise
then that the Second Punic War lasted nigh unto seventeen years.

In the past; it took armies a long time just to get to the battlefields before
they even did any fighting. Invaders from China thought nothing of skirting
the Himalayas and entering India via the Khyber Pass in order to conduct
campaigns in the Ganges River Valley. I really have to wonder sometimes
how commanders kept their armies from becoming discouraged by all that
travel and by all that time away from home.

That situation actually befell Alexander the Great. After eight years and
17,000 miles, his weary army refused to campaign anymore in India and
mutinied at the Hyphasis River (today's Beas). Abandoning his ambition to
conquer lands and peoples more distant to the east of Greece than any man
before him, including his father Philip, the young commander had no choice
but to turn back.
_
 

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Gen 14:4b . . and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

El Ched wouldn't get wind of that right away of course. There was no email,
no radio, no sat-com, no land line, no snail mail, no cells, nor television, nor
telegraph, nor aircraft, nor motorized conveyances in that day so it would
take some time for an overland caravan to return and tell him how the
federation of five towns in the Valley refused to cough up their payments.

Meanwhile the local sheiks had some time to prepare themselves for attack
while The Ched organized an expeditionary force.

Gen 14:5-7 . . In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who
were with him came and defeated the Rephaim at Ashteroth-karnaim, the
Zuzim at Ham, the Emim at Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill
country of Seir as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.

. . . On their way back they came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and
subdued all the territory of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt
in Hazazon-tamar.

Ched took no chances that any nearby clans would come to the aid of the
Valley people. So before launching his attack against the Federation, he first
subdued everyone in the region roundabout who might be sympathetic to
their cause. The Ched was a very shrewd commander.

Dr.Nelson Glueck, a leading Palestine archaeologist, has this to say about El
Ched's conquest:

"A punitive expedition developed into an orgy of annihilation. I found that
every village in their path had been plundered and left in ruins, and the
countryside laid waste. The population had been wiped out or led away into
captivity. For hundreds of years thereafter, the entire area was like an
abandoned cemetery, hideously unkempt, with all its monuments shattered
and strewn in pieces on the ground."

The invasion first crushed all the sheiks north, east, and then west of the
Dead Sea before it reached the communities of Siddim, against whom the
invasion had been mounted in the first place. The purpose was no doubt to
eliminate the possibility of an attack from the rear while Ched was occupied
fighting the Federation.

Dr.Glueck identifies Ashtaroth Karnaim, where The Ched encountered the
Rephaim, as two adjacent cities in southern Syria, Tell Ashtarah and Sheikh
Sa'ad, which was called Carnaim in New Testament times. The name
Ashtarah comes from the name of the Greek moon goddess Astarte ,
equivalent to the Babylonian god Ishtar and the Canaanite goddess of
sensual love Ashtaroth, whose worship was one of the sources of gross
immorality among the Canaanites.

After defeating the Rephaim, Ched smashed the Horites in Mount Seir-- a
mountainous region somewhat to the southeast of the Dead Sea --Esau's
future turf. Then he went to El-Paran, in the southern wilderness, and then
returned to Kadesh, on the western side of the Dead Sea where he crushed
the people in a region that would later belong to the Amelekites. He also
defeated a contingent of the Amorites, who were very probably the
dominant tribe in Canaan at that time.

Some identify Hazazon-tamar as En-Gedi. If this identification is correct,
then Hazazon may be Wady Husasah, northwest of 'Ain Jidy.

Another suggestion, which certainly seems very likely true, is that Hazazon
tamar is the Thamara of Eusebius, Onomasticon (85:3; 210:86), the
Thamaro, of Ptol. xvi. 3. The ruin Kurnub, 20 miles west-southwest of the
south end of the Dead Sea-- on the road from Hebron to Elath-- is supposed
to mark this site. My maps aren't too detailed in that area but Karnub seems
to be in a region triangulated by Dimona, Arad, and Be'er Sheva.

Anyway, after thus neutralizing all who might stand in his way, Ched's
confederated army then turned its full attention to the five communities in
the Plain. And woe and behold, Abram's nephew Lot was right smack in the
middle of it all.

Gen 14:8-9 . .Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of
Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, went forth
and engaged them in battle in the Valley of Siddim: King Chedorlaomer of
Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of
Ellasar-- four kings against those five.

That was probably a wise move. If each town had remained behind its own
walls, defending against El Ched individually on its own, he could have
conquered them very easily one at a time. By combining their forces, and
meeting him in the open, they stood a much better chance. But valley
dwellers were no match for a seasoned expeditionary force. The men from
Babylonia were battle-honed veterans.

Gen 14:10 . .The Valley of Siddim was full of slime pits. The kings of
Sodom and Gomorrah fled and fell into them while the rest fled to a
mountain.

The Hebrew word translated "slime pits" is be'er (be-ayr') which is
everywhere but maybe three places translated "well" as in water wells
and/or cisterns. Some Bibles translate it "bitumen pit" but bitumen and
slime are interpretations rather than translations. The pits apparently were
natural features in the valley; viz: random sink holes.

NOTE: The level of the Dead Sea dropped a record five feet in 2012; and in
the years between 1939 and 1999 it dropped eighty feet. The Sea's
shrinkage has been a major problem for decades, with it's shoreline
retreating as much as a mile in some spots. The process destabilizes the
ground surrounding it, causing massive sink holes that have actually
devoured whole villages.

The Hebrew word for "fell" is very ambiguous and could just as easily be
translated "got down". Compare Gen 17:3 where Abraham fell on his face.
In other words: the chieftains of Sodom and Gomorrah jumped down into
some of those naturally-occurring pits like Army fox holes for cover and
concealment.

Gen 14:11-12 . . The invaders seized all the wealth of Sodom and
Gomorrah and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot,
the son of Abram's brother, and his possessions, and departed; for he had
settled in Sodom.

Talk about riches to rags! Lot went from a prosperous cattle baron to a slave
in sixty minutes (so to speak).

The word for "provisions" is 'okel (o'-kel) which means: food. Victuals were
an important spoil of war in those days when supply lines were totally
nonexistent. There were no heavy-drops from cargo planes, nor helicopters
to ferry in MRE's, medicine, FNG's, ammo, potable water, and things of that
nature. When El Ched's army needed re-supply, they had to take it from
their vanquished-- ergo: they were highly motivated; because if they
wanted to eat, then they had to fight; and they had to win.
_
 

Webers.Home

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Gen 14:13a . . A refugee brought the news to Abram

It was a trek from Sodom to Abram's camp. He was way up in Mamre; and a
goodly portion of it uphill-- very uphill. At any rate, news of Sodom's
overthrow meant that Lot was captured; or maybe even dead. One way or
the other, Abram had to find out if his nephew was still alive-- kind of like
John Wayne looking for his two nieces in "The Searchers".

Gen 14:13b . . the Hebrew,

This is very first appearance of the word "Hebrew", which is 'Ibriy (ib-ree')
and means: an Eberite; viz: a descendant of Eber. It can also mean "the
other side" which implies that Abram may have been known as one who
came from the other side of the Euphrates river-- sort of like Mexican,
Central, and South American immigrants who cross the Rio Grande from
Mexico into Texas. But more likely he was called Eberite because of his
family's lineage. Eber was first mentioned back in Gen 10:21.

NOTE: Hebrews weren't Jews in Abram's day; no they were Gentiles. It was
Abram's eventual progeny who became Jews-- specifically people genetically
and/or religiously associated with Judah: Jacob's fourth son: patriarch of the
Messianic tribe (Gen 49:8-12, Heb 7:14).

The word for "Jew" is yehuwdiy (yeh-hoo-dee') which means Judah-ite; and
doesn't appear in the Bible until 2Kgs 16:6; many, many years after the
Exodus.

Gen 14:13c . . who was dwelling at the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite,
kinsman of Eshkol and Aner, these being Abram's allies.

Abram had become a shrewd sheik. The best way to survive on the frontier
is to team up-- especially with someone that all the others know and fear.
That way most everyone will leave you alone because they don't want to
deal with your friends. The terebinths (oaks) belonged to Mamre, a well
known Amorite in that region. His kin, Eshkol and Aner, were Abram's
friends too.

That tactic pays off in many of America's penal systems too. First thing a
new inmate has to do is join a gang or otherwise he'll be prey for all of
them.

Gen 14:14a . .When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken
captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering three
hundred and eighteen,

The word for "retainers" is chaniyk (kaw-neek') which means: initiated; i.e.
practiced. This is the one and only place in the entire Old Testament where
chaniyk is located so it's difficult to know precisely what Genesis means by
it; but seeing as how the retainers' origin is mentioned, chaniyk probably
refers to their unusual degree of loyalty (cf. John 10:30). In other words: it's
my guess those men comprised Abram's personal body guards; viz: his
retinue-- a sort of ancient Secret Service.

Abram was their sheik by birth, rather than by conscription. So these
particular men weren't mercenaries; but rather more like his very own sons.
They were men of deep gratitude for their master's providence; and every
one of them, to a man, were more than willing to die for him.

Though Abram was by nature a man of peace, he was prepared to fight in
the event it became necessary. In the wild untamed land of Palestine
4,000+ years ago, men without mettle didn't survive very long. And even
today, it's still true that a strong man armed, keeps his goods. (cf. Luke
11:21)

They numbered 318. If we assume that each one was married, then the
number of persons doubles to 736. If each man had at least one child, then
the number triples to 954. A plausible scenario is that Sheik Abram's camp
was a community of at least 1,000 people-- a fair sized town. When this
man broke camp, it was a serious caravan.

Gen 14:14b . . and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

At this early date, there was neither a region, nor a town, in Canaan
colonized and named after Jacob's son Dan. There wasn't even one in Moses'
day. It wasn't until Joshua 19:40-48 that Dan's tribe received their portion
of Canaan. So Dan's name could very well be a later editorial insertion.

It's unthinkable that Abram would leave his camp and his wife, and all the
women and children unprotected while he and his warriors traveled miles
from home. So it's reasonable to expect that some of his Amorite allies
remained behind to reinforce Abram's camp while he was out of town.

Gen 14:15a . . At night, he and his servants deployed against them and
defeated them;

Very commendable for a former city slicker. Abram, no doubt coached by
Mamre, employed excellent Bedouin guerrilla tactics against a well-armed,
seasoned foe of superior numbers. After his scouts located The Ched's
caravan, Abram dogged him, waiting for an opportunity to attack in
circumstances to his advantage. When the time came, he did it under cover
of darkness, rather than in daylight; and came at them from more than one
direction, which would help to create confusion, chaos, and panic amidst
Ched's army.

El Ched's men were probably laid back, stuffed full of stolen food and sleepy
with booze; and proud of themselves for their victories; totally unsuspecting
anyone remaining in Canaan would have the moxie to take them on. Having
no flares, nor Claymores, nor barbed wire, mines, nor flashlights, night
vision capability, nor motion detectors, or early warning systems of any
kind; Ched's forces were easily surprised and routed.
_