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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Theology / A Daily Genesis Welcome Guest
    A Daily Genesis
          A systematic commentary on the whole book of Genesis

    Mon, Aug 31st - 9:06AM



    Genesis 21:14d-16

     

    †. Gen 21:14d . . And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

    The wilderness of Beer-sheba is about 50 miles south of Hebron.

    The Hebrew word for "wandered about" is from ta'ah (taw-aw') which means to vacillate. Webster's defines "vacillate" as: to waver in mind, will, or feeling; viz: to hesitate in choice of opinions or courses. (cf. Jas 1:8)

    As often as Hagar traveled up and down the land of Palestine with Abraham over the years, she no doubt knew her way around; so she's not blundering through the woods like a lost hiker.

    At this point, Hagar is thoroughly rattled and doesn't really know what to do next or even how she and Ishmael are going to survive in a land where no State programs for unemployed single mothers existed. And to top it off; she's a freed slave who now has to make all her own decisions and fend for her child and for herself on her own rather than simply comply with the demands of a master who provided for all her daily necessities.

    Slavery has its pluses and minuses; its upsides and its downsides; and it's not always to a slave's benefit to give them their walking papers. There's a provision in the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God that allows for a slave to remain a slave for life of their own free will. The law applies to anyone living as a citizen in the land of Israel, whether Jew or Gentile. (Ex 21:2-6, Lev 24:22)

    Many of the slaves that were liberated after the American Civil War found themselves in the throes of instant poverty: unable to either read or to write, with no place to live, and zero prospects for gainful employment. I'm not saying slavery is a good thing. I'm only saying that, all things considered, it might be the better option for some people.

    I met guys in the Army who re-enlisted for the security of a steady paycheck, free meals, free health care, paid vacations, and rent-free/mortgage-free accommodations. They had to relinquish a degree of their freedom for those benefits, but in their minds, it was not a bad trade-off.

    †. Gen 21:15-16 . .When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes, and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought: Let me not look on as the child dies. And sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.

    The word "child" is misleading. The Hebrew is yeled (yeh'-led) which can also mean: a lad. Webster's defines a lad as: a male person; of any age between early boyhood and maturity; viz: boys and/or youths.

    Ishmael was hardly what modern Americans might call a child. He was near to eighteen years old at this time; if he was circumcised at fourteen and Isaac was weaned at three. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5, Gen 21:8)

    One can only guess at the grief in Hagar's heart. Her life had come down to this: a lonely, impoverished, homeless death out in the middle of nowhere. In her distress Hagar had forgotten about her friend 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy the god who sees people and knows their troubles. And she had forgotten all the predictions He made back in Gen 16:10-12 concerning Ishmael's future. There is just no way her son can be allowed to die at this time.

    When God's people lose confidence in His statements, they usually always get themselves into trouble. If only Hagar had trusted God, she wouldn't have despaired regarding Ishmael's life. He was perfectly safe. Don't you see? He had to live so God could keep His promise to multiply him; and so he could become a wild-burro of a man, and so he could live near the people of Israel like God predicted. So even if Hagar had perished all alone in the wilderness, Ishmael would have gone on to survive without his mother because his divine guardian would have seen to it.

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    Sun, Aug 30th - 7:50AM



    Genesis 21:13-14c

     

    †. Gen 21:13 . . As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed.

    Abraham certainly must have been worried what would become of Ishmael; so God reassured him his biological boy would be just fine.

    I think it's significant that God didn't refer to either Hagar or to Ishmael by name, probably because the emphasis here is upon Divine purpose instead of upon people.

    †. Gen 21:14a . . Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar.

    The Hebrew word for "bread" is lechem (lekh'-em) which just simply means food (for man or beast), which therefore includes grain. So Abraham didn't necessarily send the poor woman out on her own with a ration of bread and water like some sort of hardened criminal, but very likely provisioned Hagar and his son Ishmael with enough camper-grade food stuffs to keep them going for a while.

    NOTE: Bread back in those days was very nutritious. It was all made from heirloom, organic grains; even leavened bread was organic. It was made with naturally-soured dough rather then cultured yeast.

    But it's puzzling why Abraham didn't provide them with an escort; at least until they reached the safety of a village or a town. That suggests to me that Abraham fully believed God's promise to "make a nation of him" which implies that God Himself would look out for them from here on in.

    †. Gen 21:14b . . He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child,

    I would have hated to observe that scene. Abraham didn't dispatch a servant or a butler to equip Hagar. He did it himself. And he didn't just bring the provisions out to her and set it down at her feet. No. He put them up on her shoulder himself. You have to stand close to someone to do that; close enough to look them right in the eyes.

    There's no record of ever any ill will between Hagar and Abraham, nor any between him and his boy Ishmael either. Those three were truly family in every sense of the word-- mom, dad, and child. There couldn't have been a dry eye nor a cheerful face at any time during this excruciating farewell. If you've ever experienced something so upsetting as to make you nauseous, lead-bellied, and lose your appetite; then you know what I'm talking about. Anybody who can read this story without feeling the slightest twinge of compassion for any one of those three; has got to be the most insensitive clod on earth.

    †. Gen 21:14c . . and sent her away.

    The phrase "sent her away" is from the Hebrew word shalach (shaw-lakh') which is a versatile word that can be used of divorce as well as for the emancipation of slaves. In other words: Hagar wasn't banished as is commonly assumed; no, she was set free; and it's very important to nail that down in our thinking because if Abraham had merely banished Hagar, then her son Ishmael would have retained his legal status as Abraham's eldest son.

    Technically, Ishmael retained his status as one of Abraham's biological sons (Gen 25:9) but not legally; no, Ishmael's legal association with his father was dissolved when Abraham emancipated his boy's mother.

    I believe it's important to emphasize that Hagar and Ishmael weren't cut loose because they were no longer worthy to live in Abraham's camp any more. No. It was only as a measure to expedite God's future plans for Isaac. Even if Sarah hadn't proposed the idea of emancipating Hagar, I suspect that God would have eventually required it so anyway.

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    Sat, Aug 29th - 10:08AM



    Genesis 21:9-12

     

    †. Gen 21:9 . . Sarah saw the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing.

    At this point, Ishmael was around 17 or 18 years old. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5, Gen 21:8)

    It's hard to tell what kind of sport Ishmael was involved in. Some feel that he, the firstborn son, was picking on Isaac the younger sibling; and that's probably true because Gal 4:29 suggests that Ishmael was a bit of a bully. Others feel he was mocking the weaning party. But actually, nobody knows for sure. Maybe he was just swinging on an old tire in the backyard, and while Sarah was absently mindedly looking over there, a scheme spawned in her head.

    Not only was Ishmael Abraham's son, but, by law, he was Sarah's boy too. (Gen 16:1-2). But Sarah rejected Ishmael and never was much of a mom to him. So Ms. Hagar went through all that for nothing. On top of that, she was still a slave; and had no husband. She was, in reality, a single mom saddled with a child that she never really wanted in the first place.

    All of this created a home life that had become intolerable for everyone involved. Hagar gloated over Sarah's barrenness. Sarah, in turn, blamed Abraham for Hagar's attitude, and Ishmael, according to Gal 4:29, harassed Isaac (no doubt out of a spirit of sibling rivalry). Abraham loved Ishmael and was no doubt soft on Hagar. Plus, to make matters even worse; there were some very serious legal complications.

    Ishmael's legal position was quite an advantage. As Abraham's firstborn son, he had a right to a double portion of his father's estate (cf. Gen 48:22).

    NOTE: The reason Joseph inherited a double portion is because Jacob transferred the right of the firstborn to him after Reuben messed around with one of his father's servant-wives. (Gen 49:3-4, 1Chr 5:1)

    †. Gen 21:10-11 . . Sarah said to Abraham: Cast out that slave-woman and her son, for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac. The matter distressed Abraham greatly, for it concerned a son of his own.

    NOTE: By the customs of that day, Ishmael was Sarah's son too; though not by blood.

    How does a good and decent man like Abraham disown his own flesh and blood? If Ishmael were a gang-banger, a drug addict, an Islamic terrorist, or a career criminal it would be different. But he was really a pretty good kid and Abraham totally loved him. Being the lad's biological father, I'm sure Abraham felt very responsible for Ishmael's welfare. He and Ishmael had been a team together for seventeen or eighteen years. You just don't dissolve a bond like that as if giving away old clothes to Good Will.

    †. Gen 21:12 . . But God said to Abraham: Don't be distressed over the boy or your slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued for you.

    The lad would always and forever be one of Abraham's biological sons; that couldn't be undone with any more ease than recalling the ring of a bell. However; in the case of slave mothers; there was a way to break Ishmael's legal ties to Abraham; and the way was actually quite to Hagar's advantage.

    The common law of Abraham's day (e.g. the Code of Hammurabi and the laws of Lipit-Ishtar) stipulated that if a slave-owner disowned his child's in-slavery biological mother; then the mother and the child would lose any and all claims to a paternal property settlement with the slave-owner.

    The catch is: Abraham couldn't just send Hagar packing, nor sell her. In order for the common law to take effect; Abraham had to emancipate her; which he did.

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    Fri, Aug 28th - 7:43AM



    Genesis 21:1-8

     

    †. Gen 21:1 . . God took note of Sarah as He had promised, and God did for Sarah as He had spoken.

    Because God's word is sometimes slow and long in coming to pass, people are often inclined to scoff at what it says and lose confidence in His testimony. The Word told Noah that a flood was coming. Well . . it was many years before it arrived and by the time it came, only Noah and his family were prepared for it.

    God also promised a Messiah. But so many years have gone by since, that many now believe one will never come. God also promised He will personally round up the people of Israel and lead many of them back to their own land, and restore their covenanted boundaries, where they will become the center of world power and the seat of religious instruction. Some, giving up on that possibility, have suggested that today's troubled Israeli occupation is the fulfillment of that promise.

    Abraham came into Canaan when he was seventy-five, and Sarah sixty-five. That was twenty five years before this section. He is now one-hundred, and she ninety. Women that age cannot have children. So no one can ever give credit to those two for engendering Isaac. Although Isaac was conceived and born in the natural way, he was not a natural child. The credit must be given to a miracle. The people of Israel exist today only because El Shaddai willed them into existence.

    †. Gen 21:2a . . Sarah conceived

    That's not all that happened. The author said back in Gen 18:11 that Sarah's periods had stopped. So sometime prior to Isaac's conception, her periods came back. I wish I could have seen the look of shocked excitement and incredible joy in their faces when she showed Abraham the blood. He may have been grossed out a little, but I can guarantee you he was extremely thrilled because it meant Sarah's plumbing was back online.

    Her blood was the sunrise of a new day. Not just another day like all the others, but the beginning of an era of complete change in their lives. They would never be the same again. Parenthood is an irreversible state. It makes no difference if the children die, or leave home, or disown their moms and dads. After once children are engendered, those parents are always the parents. They were the two people who brought the children into the world and it can never be undone.

    Abraham had pinned all his hopes upon God's promise and now he realized he should have never doubted. God truly is a man of His word after all. (cf. 49:22-23)

    Yes, those who trust in the Bible's God don't have to worry about whether or not they have done something stupid and made a fool of themselves. He made good on His promise to give Sarah a baby boy, and some day He will make good on the promise to bring His people all home again.

    †. Gen 21:2b-3 . . and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken. Abraham gave his newborn son, whom Sarah had borne him, the name of Isaac.

    This is now the second son of Abraham for whom God chose the name. The first was Ishmael. That's quite an honor. It may not set well for many parents though. I think most of us would rather pick names for our own children ourselves; but Abraham is pretty good at obedience for the most part. God said the boy's name would be Isaac and that's what Abraham named him. Isaac, by the way, is the only one of the three patriarchs whose name God does not change later in their life.

    Naming a boy is very significant. The man who does the naming is legally declaring the boy to be his own son even if he isn't the biological father. (cf. Matt 1:21 and Matt 1:25)

    †. Gen 21:4 . . And when his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him.

    Isaac is the very first male in the family on record to be circumcised precisely on the eighth day in compliance with the covenant's stipulation. I just want to point out that circumcision was not Abraham's idea. It was his response to El Shaddai's earlier mandate in Gen 17:10-14.

    †. Gen 21:5 . . Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    Ishmael would have been fourteen (Gen 16:16) and Sarah ninety, since she and her husband were ten years difference in age. (Gen 17:17)

    †. Gen 21:6 . . Sarah said: God has brought me cheer; everyone who hears will laugh with me.

    Sarah's words are a double entendre. Isaac's name in Hebrew means laughter; so God not only gave her a bundle of joy, but cheer for her soul too.

    †. Gen 21:7 . . And she added: Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would suckle children! Yet I have borne a son in his old age.

    Well nobody in their right mind would have. Sarah was just too old. And actually, Abraham was too old too.

    "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old" (Rom 4:19)

    "And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore." (Heb 11:11-12)

    †. Gen 21:8 …The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

    The age of weaning varied in ancient times; usually in the neighborhood of 2 to 5 years. Bible weaning implies a whole lot more than just putting a child on a bottle. It means they can speak and understand a language, feed themselves, brush their teeth, clothe themselves, and potty alone. In other words, you could pack them a bag and send them off to live with your aunt. (e.g. 1Sam 1:22-2:11). Samuel was at least three years old when his mom packed him off to live with the high priest. (2Chr 31:16)

    So Isaac was very likely around the same age as Samuel when Abraham and Sarah threw a weaning party for him. It was a day of good celebration and they were very proud of their little boy. He was past a major milestone and well along his way to independent manhood.

    Weaning isn't always a joyous occasion for some families. It can be a time passed over in deep sorrow for the parents of handicapped kids. Abraham and Sarah were very fortunate that their boy wasn't afflicted with Down's syndrome, Autism, or a neurodegenerative disease like Tay-Sachs.

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    Thu, Aug 27th - 12:28PM



    Genesis 20:9-18

     

    †. Gen 20:9a . .Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him: What have you done to us? What wrong have I done that you should bring so great a guilt upon me and my kingdom?

    The very first God-given prohibition against adultery was given at Gen 3:16. Whether Abimelech was aware of it is unknown; but regardless, his culture believed it to be immoral. This is very interesting. Compare Rom 2:14-15.

    †. Gen 20:9b-10 . .You have done to me things that ought not to be done. What, then-- Abimelech demanded of Abraham --was your purpose in doing this thing?

    Abimelech is totally perplexed. The thing Abraham and Sarah perpetrated made no sense to him whatsoever. The best part of this is the scolding that Abimelech laid on the sacred couple. Abraham was a prophet. Prophets are supposed to be not only inspired; but also exemplary. But in this case, Abimelech, a pagan, was more righteous than a "holy" man.

    †. Gen 20:11 . . I thought-- said Abraham --surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.

    Abimelech didn't dispute that point; so I think it's probably safe to assume Abraham was correct in his estimation of Gerar's culture.

    †. Gen 20:12a . . And besides, she is in truth my sister,

    Abraham, true to form, exercised his usual brand of flexible morality. Yes, what he said was technically true. But it was not the whole truth; it was a half-truth: a deliberate deception, told with the intent to mislead.

    †. Gen 20:12b . . my father's daughter though not my mother's;

    The covenant that Moses' people later agreed upon with God, forbids intimacy between half-siblings.

    "The nakedness of your sister-- your father's daughter or your mother's, whether born into the household or outside --do not uncover their nakedness." (Lev 18:9)

    That rule mandates excommunication for men who marry their half sister. And within the terms and conditions of the covenant; there is neither forgiveness nor atonement for it.

    "If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; they shall be excommunicated in the sight of their kinsfolk. He has uncovered the nakedness of his sister, he shall bear his guilt." (Lev 20:17)

    However, Israel's covenanted law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction. Abraham lived many years before it was enacted; so he was immune to its taboos and punishments (Deut 5:2-4, Gal 3:15-18). That's an important Bible axiom; viz: when something isn't illegal; then it doesn't go on one's record as a broken law. (Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13)

    †. Gen 20:13 . . So when God made me wander from my father's house, I said to her: Let this be the kindness that you shall do me-- whatever place we come to, say there of me: He is my brother.

    Right about here Abimelech probably began scratching his head and wondered what kind of crazy religion Abraham practiced anyway. And he probably wondered what in the world God ever saw in this man to go to such lengths to protect him. A liar is not a good influence for God. It disgraces God, and makes His religion look stupid to outsiders.

    "You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For it's written that the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:23-24)

    "And now what do I have here? --declares the Lord. For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock --declares the Lord. And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed." (Isa 52:5)

    The people of God shouldn't be living in such a way as to bring disgrace to their sovereign.

    "Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness." (2Tim 2:19)

    "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life becoming of your calling, for you have been called by God." (Eph 4:1)

    †. Gen 20:14-15 . . Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. And Abimelech said: Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.

    In other words: I don't care where you go as long as it's a great ways off from me!

    Abimelech didn't owe Abraham a single penny for anything. And God didn't order him to make restitution. He isn't trying to gain Abraham's good will by these gifts. With friends like Abraham; who needs enemies? But rather; he was showing God his intentions to mean well by Abraham; in spite of Abraham's foul deed.

    †. Gen 20:16 . . And to Sarah he said: I herewith give your brother a thousand pieces of silver; this will serve you as vindication before all who are with you, and you are cleared before everyone.

    Abimelech is really too kind. By the money, he told everyone that it was just a misunderstanding. In paying a fine to Abraham, he is publicly apologizing for taking the man's wife home with him; and Sarah's honor was protected because it is saying that she wasn't promiscuous like some woman I could name who have an itch to sleep with men in power.

    †. Gen 20:17-18 . . Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children; for the Lord had closed fast every womb of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

    Abraham's ultimate chagrin was having to pray for the very people whose lives he almost ruined with his nefarious scheme.

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    Wed, Aug 26th - 7:44AM



    Genesis 20:4-8

     

    †. Gen 20:4a . . Now Abimelech had not approached her.

    It wasn't unusual in the ancient world for new additions to a harem to undergo a period of beautification; like Esther did. But I think something else happened. God may have tampered with Abimelech's ability to breed. In verse 17 it's revealed that God fixed it so no one in Abimelech's house could have children, including him. Do I have to spell it out? Hint: the problem can sometimes be remedied with Viagra; which wasn't available in that day.

    †. Gen 20:4b . . He said: O Lord, will You slay people even though innocent?

    There is an important principle in play here; and it's this: ignorance is no excuse. Though Abimlech wasn't aware of that principle; God was and saved the man's life by stopping him before he inadvertently crossed a line. Compare Num 15:27-29 where Israel's covenanted law stipulates that even when people sin inadvertently they have to bring a sin offering to the Levites.

    "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19:12)

    The "secret faults" about which the psalmist prayed weren't skeletons in his closet; but rather, sins about which he was totally unaware.

    †. Gen 20:5 . . He himself said to me "She is my sister" and she also said "He is my brother." When I did this, my heart was blameless and my hands were clean.

    I can just about guarantee that Abimelech is developing a very strong dislike for the Abrahams right about now. He knew of Abraham's prosperity and about his skill in war. But what he hadn't known till now was that Abraham could be a bit dishonest at times. You can bet that really ticked Abimelech off. He just never expected a man like Abraham to pull a stunt like that. And the wife was in on it too! They were like grifters setting up a mark for a sting. That had to agitate the old boy just a bit; don't you think?

    †. Gen 20:6 . . And God said to him in the dream: I knew that you did this with a blameless heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. That was why I did not let you touch her.

    If Abimelech had touched Sarah, God would have taken it very personal. Those kinds of sins are the very worst because it's one thing to appear in court for stealing a car, but it's quite another to appear for stealing the judge's car. In other words: a sin against God is a trespass rather than just an ordinary act of conduct unbecoming.

    †. Gen 20:7 . .Therefore, restore the man's wife-- since he is a prophet, he will intercede for you --to save your life. If you fail to restore her, know that you shall die, you and all that are yours.

    This is the Bible's very first appearance of a prophet; which in Hebrew is nabiy' (naw-bee') and simply means an inspired man; viz: a man influenced, moved, and/or guided by a divine connection.

    Abraham wasn't the first of God's inspired men. The earliest was Abel. (Luke 11:50-51)

    There's no record of Abraham ever foretelling future events like Isaiah and Habakkuk. So then, just because someone is inspired doesn't necessarily mean they're some sort of prognosticator.

    Divine inspiration is a very mysterious thing. People can be inspired and not even know it because God's influence is paranormal, and impossible to detect with the five natural senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Every Christian is supposed to be inspired (1Cor 2:11-15, 1Cor 12:7, 1John 2:26-27) which makes an inspired Bible teacher's job a whole lot easier.

    This is also the very first place in the whole Bible where the word "intercede" appears. Webster's defines it as: to intervene between parties with a view to reconciling their differences; viz: mediate.

    When you stop to think about it; mediation between God and Man by a human being is quite remarkable. It implies that the human being who mediates has to first be at peace with God or they would be in need of a mediator themselves before they could mediate for someone else (cf. Gal 6:1).

    I think it goes without saying, that mediators, then, have to be righteous first before they can qualify as candidates for the activity. This section in Genesis says a lot about Abraham's standing before God in spite of his bad habit of lying about Sarah.

    Who mediated for Abraham in those days? There's but one textual possibility and that's Mr. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God back in chapter 14.

    But I don't think Abimelech was much impressed with Abraham's inspiration. The man was now a proven liar; and lost whatever credibility he might have once had in Gerar.

    "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking smell: so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor." (Ecc 10:1)

    However, do you think Abimelech needed to be told twice? No way. He got on it lickety split at first light. But not because he feared Abraham. No, because he feared Abraham's god. Maybe Abraham's word was no good; but his god's word certainly was and Abimelech really took it to heart.

    †. Gen 20:8a . . Early next morning, Abimelech called his servants and told them all that had happened;

    Under normal circumstances Abimelech probably wouldn't have bothered to tell them what was going on. But since they were all in the same boat as he, and all inflicted with the same reproductive malady, I think he felt they deserved an explanation. I think he also wanted to set their minds at ease about their condition so they would know it wasn't permanent if only they sent Sarah back to her husband; a move which they would certainly question if he didn't give them a reason why.

    †. Gen 20:8b . . and the men were greatly frightened.

    They had good reason to be frightened. God gave them a token that He meant business by tampering with their ability to breed. So they knew something serious was afoot and that their king's nightmares weren't just bad dreams brought on by cheap Russian vodka tainted with fallout from Chernobyl.

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    Tue, Aug 25th - 7:48AM



    Genesis 20:1-3

     

    †. Gen 20:1a . . Abraham journeyed from there to the region of the Negeb and settled between Kadesh and Shur.

    In Moses' day, Kadesh was a jumping off point just prior to crossing over Wadi Araba into the region of Moab. (Num 20:14-16)

    According to freytag & berndt's map of Israel/Sinai: Kadesh is located approximately 46 miles southwest of Beer-sheva near El Quseima Egypt about 15 miles south of the town of Nizzana. Just northeast is the wilderness of Shur; a region adjoining the Mediterranean to the north, and the Suez Canal to the west. Shur extends somewhat south along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez.

    The very first mention of Kadesh was during El Ched's punitive expedition in Canaan. (Gen 14:7)

    No doubt the En-mishpatite people returned to Kadesh and told everyone about the heroic sheik who defeated the Babylonian contingent and set them free from El Ched's grasp. So Abraham was a legend in that area and everyone greeting him would very likely show him much respect.

    Abraham didn't actually settle down in Kedesh itself, but rather, nearby. He may have been camped in the exact spot where Ms. Hagar met the angel of the Lord in chapter 16; and at this point, she's still living at home with Abraham and Sarah.

    †. Gen 20:1b . .While he was sojourning in Gerar,

    Gerar hasn't been fully identified, but the site may be along one of the branches of Wady Sheri'a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast southwest of Gaza and 9 miles from it. Gerar was apparently a prosperous city situated along a major caravan route; and Abraham was by this time a wealthy and powerful chieftain who would quite naturally make periodic trips to Gerar's railhead to auction off some of his livestock; and in turn, purchase much needed goods and hardware to supply his ranch. Gerar's location along the Mediterranean seaboard also made it a lucrative city in trade with foreign merchants.

    Genesis indicates that Gerar belonged to the Philistines, and it leads us to assume that Abimelech was their king, but experts are quite certain that Philistines didn't occupy this region until after the time of Abraham; in fact only a short time before the Exodus. It's likely, however, that the author of Genesis would quite naturally refer to the region as it was known in his own day. The town certainly existed in the Philistine period, because it's mentioned in connection with Asa, who defeated the Ethiopian host under Zerar and pursued them in their flight unto Gerar (2Chrn 14:13). In addition to Um Jerrar, another place in the vicinity known as Jurf el-Jerrar has been thought by some to be the site of Gerar.

    According to ERETZ Magazine, issue 64, Abimelech's land is an ample valley with fertile land and numerous springs of water 

    †. Gen 20:2 . . Abraham said of Sarah his wife: She is my sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

    Does this sound familiar? Abraham has lied about his relationship to Sarah more than once. If he really believed God's promise to make of him a great nation, then he wouldn't worry about anybody killing him because dead men don't become great nations without children. Yes, he had Ishmael. But God said he and Sarah would have a boy together named Isaac. That boy was yet to be born. So Abraham will stay alive to engender Isaac.

    We might ask: what in the world did Abimelech want with a woman Sarah's age anyway. She was at least 89 years old by this time. But God had given Abraham's wife renewed vitality to bring a child into the world. So I don't think Sarah looked her age at all. I think she looked a whole lot younger; and with creamy, glowing skin too. But it could also be that Abimelech was up in years himself so that a girl of 89 would look pretty good. At my own current age of 70, a woman in her 40's is a chick to me.

    †. Gen 20:3 . . But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him: You are to die because of the woman that you have taken, for she is a married woman.

    This was an extremely dangerous situation for Sarah now that she was fertile. She was destined to bear Isaac and there could be no question about who the father was. It had to be Abraham. So if Abimelech were allowed to sleep with her, it would never be conclusive that Abraham was the true biological father.

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    Mon, Aug 24th - 7:57AM



    Genesis 19:31-38

     

    †. Gen 19:31 . . And the older one said to the younger: Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to consort with us in the way of all the world.

    It's doubtful the girls meant the whole planet was void of men; probably just the region where their cave was. It was isolated and lonely; and the nearest cities where they might have met men were either now gone or simply unsuitable for polite society. The girls became concerned that their dad would pass away with no heir to carry on his name. I haven't a clue why they'd be concerned about that because to be honest, there was certainly no advantage to being related to Lot right then; he was flat broke with no estate to bequeath whatsoever.

    Poor things. With no television, or radio, or newspapers, they had no way of knowing what was going on elsewhere in the world or where to go for help. Ironically; hardly fifty miles from there, right across the valley, was Abraham's camp. He had at least four hundred men mature enough to go to war-- and certainly many more than that who would just love to meet Lot's girls. But for some reason the lasses didn't think of them.

    Some people have assumed that Lots daughters were very young because Lot had said back in Gen 19:8 that they had not known a man. Duh. Look where they lived. Sodom. Those girls were at risk of becoming old maids in that city. Other of Lots daughters were married, but apparently, there just wasn't enough normal men to go around.

    Its interesting that the girls seemed to think that oedipal relations weren't a bad thing, which is no doubt because of their upbringing in a society that apparently thought nothing of it.

    †. Gen 19:32 . . Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may maintain life through our father.

    It's certainly to Lot's credit that he would never approve of their plan while sober. We might wonder what they were doing with wine. Of all the things to take with them, why that? Well; it was part of their first-aid kit. In those days, wine was an essential; and not just for boozing it up. (e.g. Luke 10:34, and 1Tim 5:23)

    It's amazing that some people have actually accused recently-widowed Lot of raping his own daughters. Webster's defines rape as: forceful sexual intercourse with a woman by a man without her consent. The element of force is missing in this event; and the girls were certainly consenting since the whole sordid affair was their own idea. You know whose consent is missing? Lot's. This is clearly a case of male rape if ever there was one.

    Then there are others who attempt to invalidate the truthfulness of the narrative by claiming a man Lot's age couldn't possibly breed two nights in a row. Maybe in our own day that might be true for some men, but in Lot's day men were a lot more virile than they are now. Jacob had to accommodate four women in his home, often on consecutive nights; and he was well over seventy-five years old at the time.

    †. Gen 19:33 . .That night they made their father drink wine, and the older one went in and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose.

    Well now; there's something about the birds and bees that isn't widely taught in high school Health classes. It's actually possible for women to rape men because the male reproductive system can be stimulated to function even when men don't even think about it. Those parts of a man's body pretty much have a mind of their own, so to speak, and it's not impossible for even men with no feelings below the neck to father children. Apparently, the male reproductive system has a back-up control center separate from the brain down low on the spine somewhere. I recall reading about that in either Discover or Scientific American, but can't remember the specifics.

    †. Gen 19:34-38 . .The next day the older one said to the younger: See, I lay with Father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go and lie with him, that we may maintain life through our father. That night also they made their father drink wine, and the younger one went and lay with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose.

    . . .Thus the two daughters of Lot came to be with child by their father. The older one bore a son and named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. And the younger also bore a son, and she called him Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

    The Ammonites' and the Moabites' land overlapped somewhat. Ammon's land was more or less between the Arnon and the Jabbok rivers. The center of it would be just about where the modern cities of Madaba and 'Amman exist today.

    At this point, Lot's life disappears from the pages of Bible history. His death and burial aren't recorded; nor any more of his exploits. The lives of Lot's daughters disappear from the pages of Scripture too. Just think. They came from a wealthy, privileged family and ended up foraging and surviving practically like human wildlife all because their dad and mom just had to live in Sodom; a place whose morals totally vexed Lot, yet he chose to raise his family there anyway (2Pet 2:6-8).

    Christ's grandmother Ruth was a Moabite woman; ergo: Christ was biologically related to Abraham's nephew just as much as he was related to Abraham. However, in the Bible, the fathers determine a male child's tribal identity rather than the mothers so you won't find Lot in Christ's genealogies because the official line to Jesus is through Isaac.

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    Sun, Aug 23rd - 9:04AM



    Genesis 19:27-30

     

    †. Gen 19:27-28 . . Next morning, Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and, looking down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of the Plain, he saw the smoke of the land rising like the smoke of a kiln.

    Poor guy. Now he began the very same vigil that so many relatives of airline crashes suffer, waiting for some news, hoping against hope, that their loved ones somehow survived. And if they didn't, were their bodies recovered? Abraham really did love his nephew. I think it saddened the old boy's heart when Lot went off on his own down into the valley. If only he had stayed in the place of blessing, up in the highlands, this wouldn't have happened. And you know what goes through your mind at a time like that? "Would of - Should of - Could of". Sort of like closing the gate after the horses are already out.

    †. Gen 19:29 . .Thus it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain and annihilated the cities where Lot dwelt, God was mindful of Abraham and removed Lot from the midst of the upheaval.

    Lot was very fortunate to have an uncle like Abraham. Funny though, I don't remember Abraham praying specifically for Lot. In fact Abraham's intercession was generic, targeting only the citizens of Sodom in general, rather than Lot in particular.

    Lady GaGa once sang that a boy she liked couldn't read her poker face. Well, God looks on the heart instead of one's face. He saw through Abraham's silence, detected the old man's real concerns, and commiserated with him. That's why believers should always be candid with God in their prayers. He will find out what's really on our minds no matter; so we might just as well get down to business and spell it out to begin with. (cf. Heb 4:16)

    †. Gen 19:30a . . Lot went up from Zoar and settled in the hill country with his two daughters

    Apparently Zoar didn't turn out to be the Pleasantville Lot hoped it might be.

    The word for "hill country" is har (har) which means: a mountain or range of hills. It's the very same word used to describe the kind of terrain where Noah's ark came to rest in Gen 8:4, except there it's plural.

    Why Lot didn't move back on up to his uncle's ranch is uncertain. You know, that kind of makes me wonder why Lot stayed in Sodom after his uncle rescued him from the clutches of El Ched. Surely they must have talked about Lot returning to the highlands with Abraham where he and his family would be safer.

    Genesis doesn't specify just exactly which direction Lot went. Both the east and the west from the Jordan valley are hilly. But it was most likely the eastern side, that is: if a later mention of Lot's domain is any indicator.

    "When all the warriors among the people had died off, the Lord spoke to me, saying: You are now passing through the territory of Moab, through Ar. You will then be close to the Ammonites; do not harass them or start a fight with them. For I will not give any part of the land of the Ammonites to you as a possession; I have assigned it as a possession to the descendants of Lot." (Deut 2:16-19)

    Moab was a district east of the Dead Sea, extending from a point some distance north of it and down to its southern end and is today part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Its eastern boundary was indefinite, being the border of the desert; which is irregular. The length of the territory was about 50 miles and the average width about 30. It's a high tableland, averaging some 3,000 ft. above the level of the Mediterranean and 4,300 ft. above that of the Dead Sea.

    The aspect of the land, looking at it from the western side of the Dead Sea, is that of a range of mountains whose western side plummets very abruptly down to the Jordan valley. Deep chasms lead down from the tableland to the Dead Sea shore, the principal one being the gorge of the river Arnon, right across from the kibbutz at En Gedi.

    Ruth was from Moab, and it was also where Naomi lost her husband. The Moabites were Abraham's kin because they're the progeny of not only his nephew Lot; but also of his dad Terah (Gen 11:27). Unfortunately, there has been some bad blood over the years between Lot's family and the people of Israel. The most notable incident being when King Balak hired that wicked prophet for profit Balaam to curse Israel as they traveled past his country prior to entering the promised land after their exodus from Egypt. (Num 22-24)

    †. Gen 19:30b . . for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar;

    Well I can believe that just from reading about Haiti's earthquake. Large scale disasters just seem to breed looting, theft, vandalism, and violence. That entire region around Sodom was in utter chaos and the local farms and ranches were destroyed so that fresh food was scarce. And if Zoar's morals were anything like Sodom's then Lot probably figured it would be next on God's hit list.

    Imagine the situation if all of a sudden supermarkets had nothing to sell you. No meat, no produce, no milk, no cereal, no rice, no pasta, no yogurt, no eggs, no bottled water, no batteries, no bathroom tissue, no soap, no nothing. Whatever people have, they'll hoard. And the have-nots would then begin to take it away from those who have. In Lot's day, there was no such thing as FEMA, the National Guard, the Red Cross, nor any other kinds of relief organizations. When the ancients were beset by droughts and famines; the poor often had no choice but to migrate to new diggings, indenture themselves, or turn to robbery and theft.

    †. Gen 19:30c . . and he and his two daughters lived in a cave.

    It's really not too bad to start out in a cave-- kind of like being born in a barn --but it's sad to end up in one at the end of your days with nothing to show for all of the years of your life. My own dad was a case in point. He chased the brass ring all his life, and ended up dying penniless on welfare. Lot and the girls became homeless drifters.

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    Sat, Aug 22nd - 8:48AM



    Genesis 19:17-26

    †. Gen 19:17 . .When they had brought them outside, one said: Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in The Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.

    The messengers won't be going along. They're to stay behind to supervise the holocaust.

    Up till now, it appeared that God intended to destroy only Sodom. But now His complete plan is unveiled. The whole plain was doomed-- all five cities of the Siddim confederation, and all of their agriculture to boot --including the livestock and all the wildlife and all the pets; plus the children, and all the adults. A total civil, cultural, environmental, and economic melt-down.

    Compare that to Rev 18:2-24 where it appears that the global economy is left a complete collapse just as rapidly as the twin towers of the World Trade Center were brought down.

    †. Gen 19:18 . . But Lot said to them: Oh not so, my Lord!

    The word Lot used for "Lord" is 'Adonay (ad-o-noy') which is a proper name of God only; in comparison to the word 'adown (aw-done'); which is a lesser-ranking lord than Yhvh. When the men first arrived in Sodom, Lot addressed them as 'adown because he wasn't aware as yet that they were of Divine origin.

    It's significant that the men didn't scold Lot for calling them 'Adonay. So then, speaking with those messengers was all the same as speaking with God, and that, it seems, is exactly how Lot now perceived them.

    Lot was a righteous man (2Pet 2:8) but lacked commitment. He never really grew in grace and the knowledge of God. Abraham's nephew was no more spiritually mature at this point than when he left his mentor and relocated to the Jordan Valley.

    God instructed Abraham to walk before Him and to be perfect (Gen 17:1). But when Lot moved out, he apparently never really took up a walk with God; but instead found a home for his family among impious pagans; who would certainly discourage Lot from getting too serious about his religion.

    "Do not be misled; bad company corrupts good character." (1Cor 15:33)

    "good character" in this instance is related to Lot's association with God. Watch how he resists God's leading.

    †. Gen 19:19 . .You have been so gracious to your servant, and have already shown me so much kindness in order to save my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die.

    Listen to this man! He calls himself "your servant" yet opposes his master's wishes. Next, he expresses gratitude for the successful rescue, yet implies his rescuer doesn't know what He's doing by sending him into the hills. Why on earth would God send Lot to the hills if the disaster was headed that way too? Lot isn't being rational and objective; no, he's being emotional and reactive; which people under stress usually are.

    †. Gen 19:20 . . Look, that town there is near enough to flee to; it is such a little place! Let me flee there-- it is such a little place --and let my life be spared.

    Lot surely must have known that town was just as wicked as Sodom but he still wanted to live there anyway as if his future was any more secure in that town than the one he was just leaving. And why he thought a "little place" was a good place to live is a mystery. But then such is the human mind. Little country towns seem more cozy and wholesome than the big city to some of us. But all towns are populated with human beings; and human beings are human everywhere.

    †. Gen 19:21-22 . . He replied: Very well, I will grant you this favor too, and I will not annihilate the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, flee there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there. Hence the town came to be called Zoar.

    Zoar is from Tso' ar (tso'ar) which means little. So maybe we could nick-name it Smallville?

    †. Gen 19:23-25 . . As the sun rose upon the earth and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulfurous fire from the Lord out of heaven. He annihilated those cities and the entire Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground.

    What a sight that must have been. The people in Smallville probably thought the world was coming to an end! Fiery hail fell out of nowhere. Everything all around them ignited and went up in flame and heat with a suffocating, smelly pall filling the whole valley like a nuclear winter. Talk about scorched earth!

    Jude 1:7 says the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was an "eternal" variety of fire. The Greek word is aionios (ahee-o'-nee-os) which means unending; viz: perpetual.

    Opponents contend that if the fire really was unending then it would still be out there. But it's far more likely that "eternal" refers not to the fire's characteristics; but to its source-- the smoldering impoundment depicted at Isa 66:22-24 and Rev 20:10-11.

    †. Gen 19:26 . . Lot's wife looked back, and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt.

    If the chronology of the text is strict, then Lot's wife turned into salt after their arrival in Zoar rather than along the way.

    I can just imagine the look of fear that came over people in town when they saw her like that. She didn't die in the conflagration, but she died just the same.

    Her "looking back" was obviously more than just a curious gaze. Lot's wife was no doubt thinking of returning; and hoping against hope that enough of Sodom would survive the incendiary attack so they could search the ruins for their daughters' remains. It's sad when the only way to stop some people from doing something contrary to God's wishes is to strike them with a disability and/or take their life. (cf. 1Cor 11:26-30)

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    Fri, Aug 21st - 8:33AM



    Genesis 19:14-16

     

    †. Gen 19:14a . . So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters,

    It's been questioned that in a town famous for its gay men; what's with these marriages? Well; Genesis doesn't really say that Sodom's men were gay. Stay with me on this because it requires an explanation.

    "Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)

    The koiné Greek word for "fornication" in Jude's statement is ekporneuo (ek-porn-yoo'-o) which means: to be utterly unchaste.

    A lack of chastity is exemplified by any number of immoral activities including, but not limited to immodesty, indecency, public exposure, nudity, adultery, incest, living together, casual sex, swinger sex, wife swapping, sex between consenting adults, sex between consenting minors, sex between teachers and consenting students, sex with a sex toy, sex with a mannequin and/or sex with an inflatable doll, male and/or female prostitution, LGBT, suggestive postures, etc.

    To be "utterly" unchaste implies not just a preference for those kinds of carnal gratifications, but an addiction to them.

    The word for "strange" is heteros (het'-er-os) which means: other or different. That could be taken to indicate bestiality but I think what it really refers to is unnatural sex; in other words: men sleeping with women isn't strange but rather quite the norm. But men sleeping with men is rather strange; viz: queer; which Webster's defines as: unconventional; in other words out of the ordinary.

    Now, maybe the men of Sodom weren't gay; but their preference for the males under Lot's roof instead of the females strongly suggests they were at least bisexual. A man, or a woman, need not be psychologically gay to fall under the condemnation of going after strange flesh just so long as they go after it.

    Sons-in-law and daughters are plural. So Lot had at least two more daughters living outside the home with husbands. They will stay behind; and burn to death; and so will Lot's grandchildren, if any.

    Where were the sons-in-law when the flash went off back in verse 11? Didn't it effect them? The flash actually only effected those who tried to break down the door. Lot's sons-in-law were out in the streets that night along with everyone else because Genesis said in verse 4 that everyone in Sodom to the last man was present. Apparently, after the mob's attempt to lay hands on the angels proved unsuccessful, Lot's sons-in-law remained nearby to see what would happen next.

    †. Gen 19:14b . . and said: Up, get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city. But he seemed to his sons-in-law as a jester.

    Lot's daughters had married Sodom men, with very sorrowful results. Lot's in-laws didn't share his religious principles, and had no interest whatsoever in his god. The husbands were counted among Sodom's citizens who were "very wicked sinners against the Lord."

    Sodom was not only a bad environment for a man of God to build a life and a career, but it was also a very bad place to raise a family. Lot gave his daughters in matrimony to unholy men and now the girls are going to die right along with the rest of Sodom; and possibly some of Lot's grandchildren burned to death too. That's an awful high price to pay to achieve one's personal ambition.

    But after watching a number of documentaries on NetFlix; I'm convinced that there are capitalists, Wall Street traders, lobbyists, sweat shop managers, and influence peddlers capable of walking over the bones of their own children in order to succeed and/or survive in the worlds of finance, apparel, and politics.

    †. Gen 19:15-16a . . As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying: Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city. Still he delayed.

    In verses 10, 12, and 16, the messengers are called men. In verses 1 and 15, they're called "angels". In verses 17 and 21, they're called "he". In verse 18, Lot called them 'Adonay. In verses 21 and 22, they speak in the first persona as "I". When you put it all together, it's apparent that God visited Sodom as a pair of male human beings. Just exactly how He is able to do that is a bit of a mystery. Some say that the messengers were avatars.

    The word for "delayed" is mahahh (maw-hah') which means: to question or hesitate, i.e. (by implication) to be reluctant; viz: hang back.

    I can best picture this with a scene from John Steinbeck's novel: "The Grapes Of Wrath". When the day came for the Joad clan to move out of their shack from the impoverished Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California during the economic depression of the 1930s, Ma Joad spent a few last minutes alone inside going through a box of mementos.

    She had lived in Oklahoma many years, since she was a young bride-- raised her family there and enjoyed the company of her kin. As she held up an old pair of earrings, looking at herself in a mirror, it pierced her heart to see etched in her face the many years that she had lived as a hard-scrabble sharecropper; and that it was all now coming to naught. Her clapboard home was soon to be flattened by a bulldozer.

    I can imagine that the Lots walked through the rooms in their house, reminiscing all the things that took place in their home over the years. As the girls grew up, maturing into young women, they made marks each year on a doorjamb to record their height. They looked at the beds where each girl slept for so many nights from their youth; and Mrs. Lot thought back to the days when she gave homebirth to each one in turn, read bedtime stories, and rocked them all to sleep accompanied by soft lullabies.

    Leaving a home of many years rends the soul; most especially if kids grew up there too. When I was about eleven, my parents sold the place where I had lived since toddlerhood. I had a life there out in nature with boyhood pals: fishing and hunting and exploring. It was so idyllic. Then we moved.

    I was never the same after that. My heart was in that first home and never left it. Subsequently, I became withdrawn, introverted, and disconnected; never really succeeding in replacing my boyhood pals with new friends who could give me a sense of belonging.

    When ol' Harry Truman perished in the Mount Ste. Helens blast back in 1980, I totally understood why he chose to remain instead of fleeing to safety. That mountain, and his lodge, had been an integral part of Harry's life for just too many years. Mr. Truman felt that if that mountain went, then life wouldn't be worth living any more. He decided to go with the mountain rather than see it go and leave him behind to live without it.

    †. Gen 19:16b . . So the men seized his hand, and the hands of his wife and his two daughters-- in the Lord's mercy on him-- and brought him out and left him outside the city.

    The word for "mercy" in that verse is from chemlah (khem-law') which means: commiseration; which Webster's defines as: feeling sympathy for and/or feeling sorrow or compassion for. Unless one's feelings are in the mix, their commiseration is merely polite.

    Does anybody out there reading this feel the plight of Lot's family? Can you feel any of their pain? Can you feel their sorrow? Do you feel any sympathy for them at all? None? Well . . anyway; God did. Yes, He was going to burn their home down and kill the daughters who stayed behind. But God took no pleasure in it whatsoever.

    "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that The Lord brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?" (Lam 1:12)

    Is the Lot family's fate nothing to you-- all you online who journey with me today through the 19th chapter of Genesis? Just another Bible story? Well . . those were real people you know.

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    Thu, Aug 20th - 8:43AM



    Genesis 19:5-13

     

    †. Gen 19:5a . . And they shouted to Lot and said to him: Where are the men who came to you tonight?

    Everyone was bellowing and clamoring; like impatient fans at wrestling matches, cage fights, and Roman coliseums; demanding their pound of flesh and pools of blood.

    †. Gen 19:5b . . Bring them out to us, that we may be intimate with them.

    Since all the people of Sodom were in on this-- men, women, children, old and young alike --it becomes frightfully obvious the townsfolk desired far more than just stimulating gratification. They were looking for entertainment of the vilest sort imaginable-- quite possibly a filthy stage show of unspeakable acts; maybe including bestiality and bondage.

    Exactly what the people of Sodom intended to do with the messengers is not said; but Jude 1:7 states that the people were accustomed to "strange flesh" which suggests that they used men and women's bodies for rather perverse purposes.

    Other than Jude's information, the Bible is silent on this matter. It's as if the author drew a curtain over Sodom and said: This is just too shocking. I'm not going to spell out what the people of Sodom wanted to do with the two men under Lot's roof. You will just have to use your imagination.

    †. Gen 19:6-7 . . So Lot went out to them to the entrance, shut the door behind him, and said: I beg you, my friends, do not commit such a wrong.

    No doubt those people interpreted Lot's comment that they were "wrong" as judgmental. It was certain to provoke a hostile response in the typically indignant manner in which evil people can be expected to act when somebody criticizes their conduct.

    †. Gen 19:8 . . Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please; but do not do anything to these men, since they have come under the shelter of my roof.

    A culture that would sacrifice its own family members to protect the guests under its roof is difficult for westerners to understand; for example pashtunwali, the culture of the Pashtun people of Afghanistan. One of its principles-- nanawatai (asylum) --refers to the protection given to a person against his or her enemies. People are protected at all costs; even those running from the law must be given refuge until the situation can be clarified. This was demonstrated when Osama bin Laden was provided special protection by a group of Pashtuns in Abbottabad.

    Nanawatai can also be applied when the vanquished party in a dispute is prepared to go in to the house of the victors and ask for their forgiveness. (It is a peculiar form of "chivalrous" surrender, in which an enemy seeks "sanctuary" at his enemy's house). A notable example is that of Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Wounded, he evaded the enemy and was aided by members of the Sabray tribe who took him to their village. The tribal chief protected him, fending off attacking tribes until word was sent to nearby US forces.

    †. Gen 19:9a . . But they said: Step aside! This fellow; they said; came here as an alien, and already he acts the judge!

    People like the Sodomites instinctively know that what they're doing is wrong, but God pity the soul that dares to tell them so because their kind's feelings don't get hurt by criticism; instead, they get angry.

    Lot called them friends, but when push came to shove, they regarded him as an outsider. And one thing you just don't do as an outsider is impose either your values or your beliefs upon others. They will deeply resent you for it-- whether you are right or wrong has nothing to do with it.

    †. Gen 19:9a . . Now we will deal worse with you than with them. And they pressed hard against the person of Lot, and moved forward to break the door.

    Talk about a thoughtless lynch mob! Those people totally forgot that not that long ago Lot's uncle saved them all from slavery in a foreign land-- and this is how they reciprocate Abraham's kindness; by assaulting his nephew?

    †. Gen 19:9b-11 . . But the men stretched out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And the people who were at the entrance of the house, young and old, they struck with blinding light, so that they were helpless to find the entrance.

    (chuckle) That'll learn em' to keep one eye shut when somebody trips a flare. The flash was totally unexpected and must have startled Lot right out of his socks. Up to now, he was given no hint that the two men under his roof were anything but ordinary travelers. "Giminy! Where did all that light come from? There was no thunder. Was it some sort of stealth lightening? How'd you guys do that anyway? Is it patented?"

    Normally it takes about twenty minutes for visual purple in the human eye to adjust to darkness after a sudden burst of bright light. The flash didn't actually damage anyone's eyesight so that they went blind. It just made their surroundings difficult to see, like when someone pops your photo in dim light with a camera.

    The situation now takes on a desperate atmosphere of survival. The crowd has turned into an ugly mob; and it's fight or flight-- no other options. The Lord's messengers chose flight because their purpose was not to remain in Sodom, but to leave it in ashes.

    †. Gen 19:12-13 . .Then the men said to Lot: Whom else have you here? Sons-in-law, your sons and daughters, or anyone else that you have in the city-- bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place; because the outcry against them before The Lord has become so great that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.

    Lot was like Noah in that his kin, no matter whether they were pious or impious, had the option of going out with him to safety if they wanted.

    Lot's head must have been reeling. Only just a few hours ago he was laid back, catching up on all the latest news and gossip at the gate; and on the way home to eat dinner with his family at the end of another routine day. In a succession of rapidly developing events beyond his control; within 24 hours, before the next sunrise, he would lose his home, his way of life, all his friends, his career, and all the wealth and possessions and property and livestock the Lots had accumulated in the 24 years they had lived in the land of Canaan.

    My gosh! He is so caught off guard and must have been terribly shocked at the tone of those two men. The awful realization of who they were and why they came to Sodom slowly began to gel in his befuddled mind.

    I feel so sorry for him and his family. Calamity, like a 9.0 earthquake right out of the blue, pounced on them, and came to ruin their life. They will take nothing with them but some suit cases, the clothes on their backs, and the breath in their lungs. Lot was a well-to-do cattle baron; but he is just a few hours away from poverty and losing his entire life's work in a fiery inferno. (cf. 1Cor 3:11-15)

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    Wed, Aug 19th - 7:57AM



    Genesis 19:1-4

     

    †. Gen 19:1a . . And there came two angels to Sodom

    The word for "angels" is from mal'ak (mal-awk') from a root meaning to dispatch as a deputy; viz: a messenger; specifically of God, i.e. an angel and/or a prophet, priest or teacher-- someone who speaks for and/or represents another.

    Mal'ak doesn't eo ipso indicate a celestial being; because the word is focused more on an office or a function rather than a person. According to verse 3, these angels were capable of consuming food the same as were Abraham's human guests up in Hebron. According to verse 10, they were gender specific; viz: males. So from all outward appearances, these particular mal'aks were normal, fully functioning human beings.

    †. Gen 19:1b . . in the evening,

    The word for "evening" is 'ereb (eh'-reb) which technically means dusk; which Webster's defines as: the darker part of twilight after sundown. It's the same word as the evenings of Gen 1:5-31.

    'ereb is a bit ambiguous. In spite of its technical meaning; 'ereb doesn't eo ipso indicate twilight. It can also indicate any daytime hour between high noon and sunset e.g. Sam 17:16 where Goliath taunted Israel twice a Day-- once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.

    On the surface, the two men appear to be ordinary travelers pulling into town for the night after a day's journey. That's a sensible choice. Sodom was walled, and much safer than camping out in the field where they would be vulnerable to brigands and/or wild animals. In those days, the Jordan valley had lions in it and Canaan was still pretty much out on the lawless frontier.

    †. Gen 19:1c . . as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.

    In those days the gate vicinity was an important civic location where people could pick up the latest news and conduct public business like elections, marriages, notary public, municipal court, rallies, and soap-box speeches. It was in the gate of Bethlehem where Ruth's husband Boaz defended her cause and claimed the woman of Moab for his wife. (Ruth 4)

    Lot probably wrapped up every one of his days at the gate before going on home; kind of like an ancient Miller time. Even today, either a newspaper or a television news program caps the day for many men in America.

    †. Gen 19:1d . .When Lot saw them, he rose to greet them

    Don't miss this man's courteous manners. Even living amongst the wickedest people in the whole region, Lot still practiced his uncle's brand of hospitality. No doubt a result of the years he spent under Abraham's wing. Actually Lot was a very good man in spite of his town's reputation. He stood out like a carnation blooming in a landfill.

    †. Gen 19:1e-2a . . bowing low with his face to the ground, he said: Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant's house to spend the night, and bathe your feet; then you may be on your way early.

    Bowing low is both an act of worship and/or deference to one's superiors. The word is shachah (shaw-khaw') the same word used at Gen 22:5 for Abraham's worship during the course of offering his son Isaac as a burnt offering; and during Abraham's bargaining with Heth's kin at Gen 23:7.

    The word for "lords" that Genesis' author chose for the messengers is 'adown (aw-done') which is a nondescript title of respect and can apply to ordinary human beings like as in Rachel's respect for her father Laban in Gen 32:35.

    Coupled with hospitality, was no doubt Lot's fear for these stranger's safety. Lot knew Sodom, and knew what might happen to those men if they stayed anywhere else but in his home and behind his walls.

    Exactly why Lot took an interest in these men's safety isn't stated. It could be that they were gentle and unarmed; thus, by all appearances, easy prey for the town's rather undignified forms of entertainment.

    †. Gen 19:2b . . But they said: No, we will spend the night in the square.

    Their response was most likely a customary refusal, with the intention of accepting Lot's hospitality only after some polite resistance to test the sincerity of his offer. Their response to Lot is somewhat different than the response of the men who visited Abraham. Those accepted Abraham's offer immediately, and without resistance.

    †. Gen 19:3 . . But he insisted, so they turned his way and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

    The Hebrew word for "unleavened" is matstsah (mats-tsaw') which essentially refers to an unfermented cake or loaf; in other words: bread made with sweet dough rather than sour dough.

    In this day and age of cultured yeast it's not easy to explain what the Bible means by leavened and unleavened. Well; the primary difference between the two terms isn't ingredients; rather, the primary difference is age; for example:

    "Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven" (1Cor 5:8)

    If there is an old leaven, then there must be a new leaven; just as there is an old wine and a new wine.

    Old leaven can refer to a batch of dough that's going bad, i.e. fermented; which, given time, dough will do on its own without the addition of yeast because all flour, no matter how carefully it's milled and packaged, contains a percentage of naturally-occurring fungi. New leaven, then, would refer to a time in the life of the dough before the flour's naturally-occurring fungi has time to spoil the product; for example:

    "So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders." (Ex 12:34)

    That gives an idea of how quickly God moved the people out of Egypt after slaying all the firstborn. They had made bread with unfermented dough for that night's meal in accord with the law of the Passover instituted in the 12th chapter of Exodus.

    Anyway, point being; Lot served his guests fresh bread made with fresh dough rather than day-old bread or bread made with dough that's been sitting around for a while. Bread made with sour dough is reasonably safe to eat, we know that, so serving his guests bread made with aged dough wouldn't have been a health issue. I like to think that Lot served his honored guests unleavened bread as an act of courtesy rather than necessity. Giving people your best, rather than your less than best, shows that you think highly of them; which is doubtless the very meaning of unleavened in 1Cor 5:7-8. (cf. John 14:15 and John 14:23)

    †. Gen 19:4 . .They had not yet lain down, when the townspeople, the men of Sodom, young and old-- all the people to the last man --gathered about the house.

    The word for "men" is from 'enowsh (en-oshe') : an ambiguous word that means: a mortal; a human being in general (singly or collectively). It can also mean: husband, person, and people.

    So it wasn't just the males; it was everybody, young and old, gathered around Lot's door. All of the women, all of the kids, and all of the men. The entire town. It was an event, and nobody wanted to miss it.

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    Tue, Aug 18th - 10:03AM



    Genesis 18:23-33

     

    †. Gen 18:23a . . Abraham came forward

    Abraham "came forward" in that he became somewhat assertive in this next scene. He was sort of like a godfather to the Sodomites, in spite of their decadence. That is amazing; yet, is so typical of the really holy men in the Bible to intercede for people who certainly didn't deserve it. (e.g. Ex 32:30-35)

    There's nothing intrinsically wrong in taking the initiative to speak with God. After all, if people always waited for God to speak first before they ever said a word in prayer, hardly anybody would talk to God at all. Not that God is shy, it's just that He rarely ever says anything out loud, so a normal person would tend to think The Almighty was indifferent to His creations. But that just isn't true. We know from the Bible that God desires a rapport with everyone.

    Some people wait until they're desperate and out of options before turning to God. But it is so insulting to treat God like a spare tire or a First Aid kit. It's better to begin a rapport with Him early, now, before a crisis occurs. (cf. Prov 1:24-33)

    †. Gen 18:23b . . and said: Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?

    The answer to that is of course a resounding YES!

    "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me." (Deut 5:9)

    FAQ: How is that fair: holding children responsible for what their parents do?

    A: Ex 20:5-- along with Ex 34:7, Num 14:18, and Deut 5:9 --is often construed to mean that children are held responsible for their parents' sins; but that isn't it. What we're looking at here is collateral damage. It is apparently God's prerogative to get back at people by going after their posterity and/or the people they govern.

    There's a horrific example of collateral damage located at Num 16:25-34. Another is the Flood. No doubt quite a few underage children drowned in that event due to their parents' wickedness. The same no doubt happened to the children in Sodom and Gomorrah. Ham's punishment for humiliating Noah was a curse upon his son Canaan. And during Moses' face-off with Pharaoh, God moved against the man's firstborn son along with all those of his subjects.

    There are times when God chooses to punish people by going after not only themselves; but also the things that pertain to them; including, but not limited to, their progeny. I don't quite understand the logic of that kind of justice; but then again: I don't try; I just go along with it; primarily because it's futile to find fault with God.

    Although Lot was living in a very bad environment, and among very bad people who caused him much mental and emotional stress (2Pet 2:4-9) it didn't eo ipso make Lot himself a bad man. In the final analysis, when it was time to make an end of Sodom, God made a difference between Lot and Sodom and got him out before it was too late. It's horrible to contemplate that some civilizations are so far gone that it's necessary to nuke 'em from orbit and start all over from scratch.

    †. Gen 18:24-25 . . What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?

    I think Abraham's question was more rhetorical than anything else. Of course the Judge of all the earth deals justly; no true man of faith would ever seriously question his maker's integrity.

    †. Gen 18:26-33 . . And the Lord answered: If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake. Abraham spoke up, saying: Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five? And He answered: I will not destroy if I find forty-five there. But he spoke to Him again, and said: What if forty should be found there? And He answered: I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.

    . . . And he said: Let not my Lord be angry if I go on; what if thirty should be found there? And He answered: I will not do it if I find thirty there. And he said: I venture again to speak to my Lord; what if twenty should be found there? And He answered: I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty. And he said: Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time; what if ten should be found there? And He answered: I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten. When the Lord had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place.

    I'm guessing Abraham stopped at ten because he assumed there had to be at least that many righteous in Sodom who didn't deserve to die; but according to Peter; he was wrong. There was only one: and that's all there was in Noah's day too. (Gen 7:1)

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    Mon, Aug 17th - 8:59AM



    Genesis 18:21-22

     

    †. Gen 18:21a . . I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me;

    The word for "outcry" is from tsa'aqah (tsah-ak-aw') which means: a shriek. The same word was in chapter 4 to describe the cry of Abel's blood from the ground and also in Exodus to describe the cry of Moses' people under the heel of Egyptian slavery.

    Have you ever been so annoyed by someone's speaking that you wanted to cover your ears, close your eyes, grit your teeth and just yell out: SHUT. . . UP!

    Sodom was so bad that even the Earth itself couldn't tolerate them any longer; it just wanted to cover its ears, close its eyes, grit its teeth and shout ENOUGH ALREADY! Sadly, there are some people of whom it can be honestly said that the world is a much better place without them.

    But isn't Yhvh supposed to be omniscient? Then why does He have to go investigate for Himself to see if the reports coming across His desk regarding Sodom are true? And isn't He supposed to be omnipresent? Then why is Yhvh talking as if He hasn't been down to visit Sodom lately? Because . . Abraham wasn't talking to the supreme of all beings in person. He was talking to a celestial messenger with the authority to act on God's behalf: to speak for God, to speak as God, to be spoken to as God, and to use God's name for itself.

    The supreme of all beings is remote, and removed; concealed within a forbidden city and intense illumination where nobody can either see Him, approach Him, nor relate to Him, nor even so much as listen to His actual voice. (John 1:18, John 5:37, 1Tim 6:16)

    The Old Testament's Yhvh is a most surprising, enigmatic being.

    The Old Testament's Yhvh fills Man's need for someone who relates well to Man, and also relates well to the hidden being, so that Man and the inaccessible, hidden being can maintain a viable diplomatic relationship with each other.

    Targum authors, at a loss to explain the existence of what they perceived as two persons named Yhvh, labeled the second one "The Word of the Lord God" which is a pretty good expedient since words are used to communicate, and to convey thoughts and ideas. Talmudic writers identified the second Yhvh as the angel Metatron-- a celestial being whose name is his Master's. The New Testament follows the thinking of the Targums in identifying one of the Yhvhs as God's word.

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

    †. Gen 18:21b . . if not, I will take note.

    Doesn't everyone have a right to face their accuser and defend themselves? Yes. That is one of America's basic human rights; and also a Divine law (Num 35:30, Deut 17:6-7, Deut 19:15). Yhvh can't just act upon rumors and hearsay like some sort of heavenly kangaroo court. No, He has to investigate, and establish the truth of every fact for Himself before moving against Sodom. Their judgment will be fair, and the case against them so air-tight, that even Sodom will have to agree they have whatever's coming to them.

    Along that same line; the dead won't go into the flaming sulfur depicted at Rev 20:11-15 without a fair trial. They'll be given ample opportunity to defend themselves; and to know exactly why God feels they deserve to die.

    "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every thoughtless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12:36-37)

    "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the irreverent of all the irreverent acts they have done in an irreverent way, and of all the harsh words irreverent sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14-15)

    The Greek word for "convict" is from elegcho (el-eng'-kho) and means: to confute, to admonish. So nobody will be sent to Hell arbitrarily. The case against them will be made in a summary and professional manner-- evidence will be introduced, and witnesses called for testimony. Yhvh was given reports that the Sodomites were doing bad things; and now He will go and see for Himself if those reports are, in fact, true or not. The Bible's Yhvh is, after all, a rational, objective jurist rather than an emotional, reactive vigilante.

    †. Gen 18:22 . .The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before The Lord.

    A plausible scenario is that all three men began walking towards Sodom, and then one (earlier identified as Yhvh) stayed behind to conduct a private meeting with Abraham.

    The Targums say Abraham interceded for his nephew, but it would appear from the Scripture that he interceded not just for Lot, but also for the citizens of Sodom too. And that's to be expected. After all, Abraham was their savior; the one who rescued them all from that awful Chedorlaomer back in chapter fourteen. He couldn't just sit on his hands now and let them all die without making any effort to save them from the wrath of God.

    This is somewhat ironic. It's as if Abraham saved the people from El Ched only to be barbecued in Sodom; viz: sort of like the cops shooting a felon during his arrest, taking him to the hospital to save his life, then hauling him into court after he's well enough to stand trial so he can be given the gas chamber.

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    Sun, Aug 16th - 10:25AM



    Genesis 18:16-20

     

    †. Gen 18:16 . .The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them to see them off.

    Looking down towards Sodom is probably just another way to say aiming for Sodom.

    Many of us just see our visitors out the front door. But, you know, it wouldn't hurt to see them out to their cars too. Maybe even carry a few things for them.

    The site of Sodom has never been found. Some believe it was at the south end of the Dead Sea; but that's really only a guess. The destruction was so severe and so complete that it's just impossible now to tell where it was.

    †. Gen 18:17 . . Now the Lord had said: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,

    Now there's a pretty good yardstick of your standing with God. Do you know what is on His agenda for tomorrow? Me neither. God doesn't confide in me for the slightest thing. I don't even know what brand of toothpaste He uses in the morning let alone His daily schedule.

    †. Gen 18:18 . . since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him?

    Divine purposes for Abraham elevated him to a very high degree of importance above ordinary human beings; and God regarded the old boy not as a servant, but as a member of Yhvh's inner circle of confidants. In point of fact; one of His buddies (Isa 41:8). That is amazing.

    †. Gen 18:19 . . For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his progeny to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right, in order that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.

    In order for Yhvh's statement to be meaningful it has to imply that Abraham possessed a knowledge of what is just and right in harmony with what Yhvh feels is just and right rather than a humanistic knowledge. The US Supreme Court's justices obviously don't have a knowledge of what is just and right in harmony with Yhvh's because they seldom agree on anything and their rulings are opinions rather than absolutes.

    Getting all of Abraham's progeny to do what is just and right has been a bit of a challenge for Yhvh down through the centuries. Some have; but typically not all.

    NOTE: Yhvh's prediction no doubt included Ishmael, so I wouldn't be surprised if by the time Abraham emancipated his mom, the boy had more of "the way of the Lord" under his belt than quite a few modern pew warmers.

    †. Gen 18:20 . .Then the Lord said: The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave!

    It's true that the people of Sodom indulged in sexual impurity; but that's not the only thing about their manner of life that chafed God.

    They weren't just your every-day, average garden variety of sinners. According to Gen 13:13, they were not only very wicked sinners; but very wicked sinners "against The Lord"; in other words: they were insolent; which Webster's defines as: exhibiting boldness or effrontery; viz: impudence.

    People like that are defiant to the bone-- they make a point of standing up to others and asserting their independence and they don't care whose feelings get hurt by it.

    Some of The Lord's statements, spoken to shame His people, shed additional light on the nature of Sodom's wickedness.

    "For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their actions are against The Lord, to rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, and they display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it." (Isa 3:8-9)

    "What I see in the prophets of Jerusalem is something horrifying: adultery and false dealing. They encourage evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. To Me they are all like Sodom, and [all] its inhabitants like Gomorrah." (Jer 23:14)

    "Only this was the sin of your sister Sodom: arrogance! She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility; yet she did not support the poor and the needy. In their haughtiness, they committed abomination before Me; and so I removed them, as you saw." (Ezk 16:49-50)

    Sodom is widely reputed for its carnal depravity. but as you can see from those passages above, they were a whole lot more unrighteous than that. One of the most interesting of their sins was that they did nothing to discourage wickedness. They actually applauded evildoers and encouraged them to keep it up. Added to that was arrogance, and a lack of charity-- indifference to the plight of the poor --and haughtiness, dishonesty, partiality, insulting the glory and dignity of God, and bragging about all of it.

    Since God had not yet proclaimed any official laws specifically prohibiting the Sodomites' conduct, then He really couldn't prosecute them in that respect. So then, what was His justification for nailing them? It was for the very same attitude that nails everybody; both pre Flood and post-Flood.

    "This is the condemnation: that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." (John 3:18-21)

    So then, the Sodomites were not only indifferent to God's wishes; but they deliberately avoided knowing them just as Moses' people themselves did in later years to come.

    "But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which The Lord of hosts hath sent in His spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from The Lord of hosts." (Zech 7:11-12)

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    Sat, Aug 15th - 9:37AM



    Genesis 18:9-15

     

    †. Gen 18:9a . .They said to him: Where is your wife Sarah?

    So far, Sarah has been hearing about her impending child only from her husband. But now, the speaker is intent that she should hear the news from somebody a little higher up the food chain.

    †. Gen 18:9b . . And he replied: There, in the tent.

    At this point, the speaker no doubt intentionally raised his voice a bit to ensure little Miss Eavesdropper would hear what he had to say.

    †. Gen 18:10 . .Then one said: I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!

    Some versions read: "The Lord said". But the word Yhvh is nowhere in the Hebrew of that verse.

    NOTE: Some translations of the Bible are not purely translations. They're actually amalgams of translation + interpretation. Caveat Lector

    So on the face of it, the stranger is making two predictions. 1) he'll be back around again, and 2) Sarah is going to have a son.

    †. Gen 18:11 . . Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah had stopped having the periods of women.

    Some things can't be postponed indefinitely.

    "To everything there is a season: a time for every purpose under heaven" (Ecc 3:1)

    There is a time in life for children: if it's missed, there's no going back and making up for lost time. Many an independent woman has been painfully awakened by her biological clock-- putting off children to get ahead in her career, and then one day; it's either too late, too inconvenient, or too difficult.

    Let's say that a girl puts off conception until she's, say; 32-34. Think about that. By the time her first child is ready for kindergarten, she'll be pushing 40. Mothers that old could actually be classified as late bloomers because the average age of first-time mothers, depending upon where they live, is around 20-24; and in many cultures; it's a lots earlier than that. Let me tell you something that should go without saying: it's much easier to be a young mother than an old one.

    And age makes a difference for the children too. As women age, their minds mature bringing them ever closer to that dreaded generation gap; viz: it is much easier for a young mother to relate to her young children than an older woman; who oftentimes can no longer hear the bell, if you know what I mean.

    Some things wait for no man. Sunset is one of those things. Relentlessly, hour upon hour, the sun moves across the sky towards its inevitable rendezvous with the western horizon. Our lives are just like that. Sunrise - Sunset. Game over.

    †. Gen 18:12a . . And Sarah laughed to herself, saying: Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment

    Sarah was no doubt thinking to herself that if this stranger knew how old she was; he wouldn't be making such a ridiculous prediction.

    †. Gen 18:12b . . with my lord so old?

    Actually, at this time in his life; Abraham himself had some problems and probably could benefit from a little Viagra; if you know what I mean. (cf. Rom 4:19, Heb 11:12)

    There's another problem associated with the aging process that doesn't get a lot of press these days in an era of older parents. Men aren't born with all their sperm cells at once the way women are born with all their eggs at once. The men's little guys are manufactured fresh on a daily basis, so as men age, their sperm cells are progressively of a lower quality than the previous batch because the men's bodies are deteriorating with age; subsequently there's a higher risk of birth defects in children fathered by aging men.

    There's also the reality of a progressively decreasing sperm count in aging men so that even if their little guys are viable, it's increasingly difficult to put enough soldiers on the front lines to win the battle. But even that's only if elderly men's wells haven't run dry; if you know what I mean. The people in Sarah's day probably knew all this by practical life-experience rather than by scientific study and discovery.

    †. Gen 18:13-14 . .Then Yhvh said to Abraham: Why did Sarah laugh, saying; Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am? Is anything too wondrous for Yhvh? I will return to you at the time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.

    Yhvh didn't quote Sarah verbatim-- He actually paraphrased her words to say what she meant; rather than what she spoke. That's important to note; and tells me that it really isn't all that important to quote Scripture precisely so long as you don't lose, or change, its meanings. There's a lot of that in the New Testament; and certainly in the Targums too.

    It isn't said exactly from whence the voice of Yhvh came: whether it was one of the men speaking or a voice in the air. However, Yhvh did show up and do "as He had spoken." (Gen 21:1)

    †. Gen 18:15a . . Sarah lied, saying; "I didn't laugh" for she was frightened.

    Sarah hadn't actually laughed out loud, but "to herself". When she realized that one of the men could read her thoughts, she became nervous: and who wouldn't?

    †. Gen 18:15b . . But He replied: You did laugh.

    Most men would have jumped right to their wife's defense. Abraham had at least 300 armed men in his camp who would do anything he asked; but knowing by now exactly who these men really were, Abraham kept his cool.

    The word used to describe Abraham's visitors is 'iysh (eesh) which is a gender-specific word that means: a man as an individual or a male person. It is also the word used to specify the male gender among the animals taken aboard the Ark. (Gen 7:2)

    This passage strongly suggests that Abraham and Sarah saw Yhvh as a fully functioning man. As to whether the person they saw was an actual human being or a human avatar; I don't know and I'm afraid to even hazard a guess.

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    Fri, Aug 14th - 9:14AM



    Genesis 18:1-8

     

    †. Gen 18:1a . .The Lord appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre;

    The Hebrew word for "appeared" is ra'ah (raw-aw') which doesn't necessarily indicate a visible apparition. The word is really ambiguous. It has several meanings; one of which simply indicates a meeting. It's certain that Jehovah was present during this meeting but uncertain whether He was physically present; though not impossible. (cf. Ex 24:9-11)

    The three men upon whom we are about to eavesdrop are said by some to be angels; but the Hebrew word for angel is nowhere in the entire narrative.

    This visit occurred very shortly after the last one because Isaac wasn't born yet and his birth had been predicted in 17:21 to be little more than a year away.

    Mamre's terebinths were a grove of oak trees situated near modern day Hebron about 20 miles south of Jerusalem at an elevation of 3,050 feet above sea level.

    †. Gen 18:1b-2a . . he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him.

    It wouldn't be accurate to think of Abraham's tent as something akin to a hiker/camper's basic portable shelter. Bedouin sheiks lived in pavilions, since they served as the family's home.

    The entrance of the tent likely had a large canopy over it like a roofed porch so that Abraham wasn't sitting out in the sun, but rather in the shade. Poor guy's heart must have stopped when he looked up at these three guys just standing there saying nothing. I'm not sure if Abraham was aware at this point that one of those men was Yhvh. So his next reactions are very interesting. They reveal just how hospitable this rich and famous sheik was to total strangers.

    †. Gen 18:2b-3a . . As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said: My lords,

    Abraham was 99 so I don't think he actually sprinted. The word ruwts (roots) can mean either to run or just simply to hurry.

    The word for "lords" is from 'adown (aw-done') and/or the shortened 'adon (aw-done') which mean: sovereign (human or divine. 'Adown is a versatile word often used as a courteous title of respect for elders and or superiors; for example Sarah spoke the very same word of her husband at Gen 18:12, Rachel addressed her dad by it at Gen 31:5, and Jacob addressed his brother Esau by 'adown at Gen 33:8.

    †. Gen 18:3b-5a . . if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on-- seeing that you have come your servant's way.

    There was a custom in the Olde American West that when travelers came by your spread, it was considered neighborly to offer them a meal and some tobacco, along with water and provender for their horses. This sometimes was the only means of support for off-season, unemployed cowboys known as drifters and saddle bums; but what the hey, you took the good with the bad; no questions asked.

    Traveling was neither a tourist's vacation nor a Sunday drive in Abraham's day. No cushy motels, no gas stations or convenience stores. It was very far in between communities and few people along the way so a camp like Abraham's was a welcome sight in that day.

    You can imagine how refreshing it would be on a hot day to soak your feet in a tub of cool water and recline in the shade of a big oak tree. In an era without refrigeration, electric fans, and/or air conditioning, that was just about the best there was to offer. Anyway it all just goes to show that Abraham was a very hospitable man, and really knew how to make people feel at home.

    †. Gen 18:5b . .They replied: Do as you have said.

    There is something here important to note. Although the text says "they" replied, it doesn't mean all three men spoke at once, nor spoke in turn. If only one in a group speaks, and the others are silent, it's understood to mean the others are consensual; and that the one speaks for all if no one objects or has anything to add.

    †. Gen 18:6-8a . . Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said: Quickly, three seahs of choice flour! Knead and make cakes! Then Abraham hurried to the herd, took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to a servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them;

    The word for "calf" is from baqar (baw-kawr') which means: beef cattle or an animal of the ox family; of either gender.

    It's interesting that Abraham served beef. In the early days of olde California; the Spanish Franciscans raised cows primarily for their hides and tallow; and found a ready market for those products in the east. Tallow of course was used for candles, soap, and lubricants; and the hides for leather goods like shoes, gloves, saddles, reins, and hats. In those days, pork and fowl were the preferred table meats. It was actually the change-over from pork to relatively cheap Texas longhorn beef that fueled the cattle baron era of the 1800's.

    The word for "curds" is from chem'ah (khem-aw') which means: curdled milk, or cheese. Later to come Kosher laws would forbid serving dairy and meat together; but in Abraham's day it didn't matter.

    The only ingredient listed for the cakes (which probably resembled English muffins) is choice flour, suggesting that Sarah made them with fresh dough rather than from a batch of dough that's been sitting around for a while.

    With a little imagination, one could confect a pretty decent deli sandwich from what Abraham put on their plates. Anyway, all this took an appreciable amount of time; like preparing a thanksgiving dinner from scratch; including butchering the turkey. Plus, they cooked in those days by means of open flame and/or wood-fired ovens so it's not like Abraham served the men packaged meals warmed up in a microwave oven.

    Poor Sarah; she must have been stressed due to the unexpected guests messing up her daily routine. She probably hadn't planned to do any serious cooking that day till later on towards evening when it was cooler. Women of that day literally did slave over a hot stove, and many still do today in parts of the world. In point of fact, the September 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine contains an article about this very thing.

    †. Gen 18:8b . . and he waited on them under the tree as they ate.

    Targum authors-- convinced the men were celestial beings --couldn't believe they would actually partake of food. According to them, the foods were before them, but they didn't actually eat it.

    T. and [Abraham] served before them, and they sat under the tree; and he quieted himself to see whether they would eat. (Targum Jonathan)

    In major English versions of the Hebrew Bible-- e.g. The JPS and the Stone --Gen 18:8 is translated "they ate". It isn't translated that Abraham stood by to see if they would eat, nor is it translated they pretended to eat, nor that they appeared to eat. Genesis is quite clear: the men actually dined on the food that Abraham set before them. (cf. Chabad.org)

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    Thu, Aug 13th - 9:26AM



    Genesis 17:18-27

     

    †. Gen 17:18 . . And Abraham said to God: O that Ishmael might live by Your favor!

    Ishmael is sometimes thought of as a sort of red-headed step child, but I tend to think that Abraham really did love the boy. I can see that love at work here when Abraham requested God's providence for him lest he become marginalized and forgotten.

    †. Gen 17:19a . . God said: Nevertheless, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son,

    God had nothing personal against Ishmael; but he was not quite what The Lord had in mind for the covenant's future. The one to perpetuate it had to be special; viz: he couldn't be a "wild-burro of a man" nor "his hand against every man's hand". In other words: God much preferred a peaceable man.

    †. Gen 17:19b . . and you shall name him Isaac;

    Isaac's name is Yitschaq (yits-khawk') which means: laughter or mirth; sometimes in a bad way such as mockery. In other places in the Old Testament, he goes by the name of Yischaq (yis-khawk') which means: he will laugh, or, he thinks it's funny. (perhaps as a memorial to Abraham's mirth at hearing the news of Sarah's imminent pregnancy.)

    †. Gen 17:19c . . and I will maintain My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring to come.

    Much of the covenant is of little interest to the average Gentile; but one portion of it is very significant. It's this:

    "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen 22:18)

    The blessing is generally related to the people of Israel.

    "Salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22)

    And specifically related to Christ.

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

    †. Gen 17:20 . . As for Ishmael, I have heeded you. I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and exceedingly numerous. He shall be the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation.

    That quite literally came true. Ishmael really did engender twelve chieftains. (Gen 25:12-16)

    I don't know why so many people seem to think that Ishmael was only so much trash to throw out and discard, like as if he were second-hand dish water or something. No one should ever forget that he was Abraham's flesh and blood; his first son and Abraham really loved that boy. God blessed him too; and took care of him. He was circumcised in Abraham's home, which made him a permanent member of Abraham's community; so modern Arabs do have a legitimate claim to Abraham as their patriarch; but of course they have no such claim upon Isaac, or upon Isaac's blessings.

    †. Gen 17:21a . . But My covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.

    Looks like the Abrahams will be going shopping for a crib, a stroller, and a car seat. Nothing like news of a baby to make the daddies start looking at their budgets. :-)

    †. Gen 17:22 . . And when He was done speaking with him, God was gone from Abraham.

    Don't you just hate it when a supervisor lays down the law and then turns on their heel and leaves the room? It immediately tells everyone that their boss's agenda is not open to discussion.

    †. Gen 17:23 . .Then Abraham took his son Ishmael, and all his home-born slaves and all those he had bought, every male in Abraham's household, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that very day, as God had spoken to him.

    That was well over 300 grown men; not counting boys. (Gen 14:14)

    †. Gen 17:24-27 . . Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. Thus Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on that very day; and all his household, his home-born slaves and those that had been bought from outsiders, were circumcised with him.

    Abraham was typically very prompt and did things in a timely manner. Trouble is; every male in camp was disabled all at once. Thank goodness nobody attacked right then or the PowerPuff Girls would have been forced to man the guns.

    NOTE: Ishmael was thirteen when he was circumcised. It would be another year before Isaac was born, and possibly three after that before Isaac was weaned; making Ishmael at least seventeen or eighteen when Abraham emancipated his mom.

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    Wed, Aug 12th - 8:55AM



    Genesis 17:15-17

     

    †. Gen 17:15 . . And God said to Abraham: As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her Sarai, but her name shall be Sarah.

    Sarah's original name was Saray (saw-rah'-ee) which means: dominative.

    Webster's defines "dominative" as: to exert the supreme determining or guiding influence on-- in other words: bossy. Dominative isn't a desirable female personality; assertive and controlling isn't something for a truly spiritual woman to be proud of.

    Sarah (saw-raw') means: a female noble; such as a Lady, a Princess, or a Queen. It's much preferable for a woman to be known as a lady or a princess than as a dominatrix.

    Changing Sarai's name didn't actually change her personality; but it certainly reflected her new God-given purpose. It was like a promotion to knighthood. The child she would produce for Abraham became a very important, world-renowned human being out of whom came kings and statesmen; and ultimately the savior of the world.

    If I were required to pick just one woman in the Bible to venerate, it wouldn't be Christ's mom; no, it would be Isaac's mom. Sarah is the supreme matriarch over every one of the Messianic mothers who came after her.

    †. Gen 17:16 . . I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she shall give rise to nations; rulers of peoples shall issue from her.

    Sarah now had a calling from God just like her slavette Hagar; who herself was given a calling from God on the road to Shur. Sarah's calling was not much of a calling. She wasn't called to go off to some foreign country as a missionary, nor to open and operate hostels and orphanages in impoverished lands, nor head up a local chapter of the March Of Dimes, nor muster an army like a Joan of Arc. All in the world Sarah had to do for God was just be Isaac's mom.

    I once heard a story about a lady who summarily announced to her pastor that God called her to preach. The pastor thought for a second and then inquired: Do you have any children? She answered: Yes. So he said: My; isn't that wonderful? God called you to preach and already gave you a congregation.

    Motherhood isn't a marginal calling. It is a serious calling that carries tremendous responsibility, because the hands that rock the cradles quite literally do rule the world. A mother can either ruin a child's potential or enhance it; she can raise a decent human being, or raise a sociopathic monster.

    The media typically focuses on physical child abuse while usually overlooking the kind caused by mental cruelty. There are children out there whose self esteem and sense of worth are in the toilet just by being in the home of a thoughtless mother.

    One child can enrich the lives of millions of people, and it's the moms who bring them into the world, pick their boogers, change their dydees, teach them how to brush their teeth and say their prayers, stay up late with their fevers, get them in for their shots, pack them off to school, take them to the park, drive them to ToysRus a thousand times, and cry at their weddings.

    The dads have it easy. It's the moms who really pay the price for a child's future. But a mom can just as easily destroy her child's future by abuse and neglect. There are moms who have about as much love for their children as a dirty sock or a broken dish; and regard them just as expendable.

    But Sarah won't be like that. When she gets done with Isaac, he will be a well adjusted grown-up having a genuine bond of love and trust with his mom and zero gender issues with women. Isaac will see in Sarah the very kind of girl he would like to marry; and when that one does come along, he won't let her get away.

    †. Gen 17:17 . . Abraham threw himself on his face and laughed, as he said to himself: Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?

    God had previously promised Abraham an heir but this is the first time He actually specified who the biological mother would be. Was Abraham skeptical? Not this time. No; he just thought it was hilarious for two old sag-bottomed, bloated cod-fish gasbags like he and Sarah to have children. In other words: You've gotta be kidding!

    "Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-- since he was about a hundred years old --and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." (Rom 4:19-21)

    Mark Twain once commented that faith is believin' what you know ain't so. Well; that probably doesn't apply to Abraham because the Bible says he was "persuaded" which is quite a bit different than faith in something for which you have no good reason to believe is true.

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    Tue, Aug 11th - 9:35AM



    Genesis 17:9b-14

     

    †. Gen 17:9b . . you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant.

    The word "keep" is from shamar (shaw-mar') which means, properly: to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard, to protect, attend to. The general meaning in this particular instance is: to preserve.

    †. Gen 17:10 . . Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.

    Circumcision didn't begin with Abraham. It was practiced in Egypt as early as 2400 BC.

    Circumcision doesn't serve to improve a man's physical appearance. Men were created whole; and after God finished the six days of creation, He inspected everything and graded it all very good. So circumcision doesn't correct design errors; but actually mars a man's natural appearance. It renders him somewhat disfigured so that he no longer bears a precise resemblance to his ancestor Adam-- nor will he ever again. A circumcised man is still a human being; just altered somewhat.

    The surgery doesn't impair sexual function so we can rule out the possibility that God imposed circumcision on Abraham and his male progeny for the purpose of discouraging romance. After all if a man's genital nerves were to be disabled, it would be very difficult for men to procreate-- and that would conflict with God's promise to Abraham that he would be fruitful and become very numerous.

    †. Gen 17:11 . .You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

    The word for "sign" is from 'owth (oth). It's the very same word for the mark upon Cain, and the rainbow of Noah's covenant. An 'owth not only labels things, but also serves as a memory preserver; like the Viet Nam war memorial. Abraham's circumcision, like rainbows and war memorials, is one of those "lest we forget" reminders of important events.

    NOTE: The "covenant between Me and you" isn't the covenant between God and the Jews as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. That's an important distinction.

    †. Gen 17:12-13a . . And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days. As for the home-born slave and the one bought from an outsider who is not of your offspring, they must be circumcised, home-born, and purchased alike.

    Home-born slaves were those born while Abraham owned its parents. The classification was reckoned Abraham's offspring; viz: his sons; thus indicating that the Hebrew word zera' is ambiguous and doesn't always identify one's biological progeny.

    The Bible doesn't call ritual circumcision a baptism but it sure looks like a species of baptism to me. Take for example the crossing of the Red Sea. The New Testament calls it a baptism (1Cor 10:2) yet none of the people under Moses' command got wet; they never even got damp. So baptisms come in a variety of modes, and for a variety of purposes.

    The implication is obvious: all males in Abraham's community (viz: his kingdom) have to resemble Abraham in order to be bona fide registered members; which means that a male Jew's genetics alone are not an eo ipso connection to Abraham. He has to undergo the surgery too.

    †. Gen 17:13b-14 . .Thus shall My covenant be marked in your flesh as an everlasting pact. And if any male who is uncircumcised fails to circumcise the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his kin; he has broken My covenant.

    The "kin" in this regard is primarily Abraham but in later years came to include one's tribal identity. Say a man's biological father was a biological member of the tribe of Issachar, and for one reason or another never got around to circumcising his son.

    Well; until the son submits to the ritual, he cannot be counted among Issachar's progeny. In point of fact, he cannot be counted as anybody's progeny; not even Abraham's though Abraham is his biological ancestor.

    This may seem a petty issue but in matters of inheritance, can have very serious repercussions for the un-circumcised man. He's not only cut off from his kin, but also from Abraham's covenant guaranteeing his posterity ownership of Palestine and points beyond to the north, the south, the east, and the west. The little piece of turf now occupied by the State of Israel is but a parking lot in comparison to what God promised Abraham back in Gen 13:14-15.

    Also included in the "covenant between Me and You" is the promise to always be the god of Abraham's posterity. Well; until the uncircumcised son undergoes circumcision, Yhvh is not his god.

    To give an idea of just how serious God is about this ritual: After Moses was commissioned to represent God in the Exodus; Yhvh rendezvoused with him and came within an inch of taking his life over this very issue.

    "Now it came about at an inn on the way that Yhvh met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said: You are indeed a bloody bridegroom to me. So He let him alone." (Ex 4:24-26)

    That should be a sobering warning that anyone representing God is supposed to set the example in all things. It's not do as I say, nor even do as I do; but do as I have done.

    Anyway, non-circumcised Jewish males aren't counted among Abraham's community; and that was a law way before it was incorporated into the Jews' covenanted law as per Ex 12:48-49 and Lev 12:2-3.

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    Mon, Aug 10th - 8:46AM



    Genesis 17:6-9a

     

    †. Gen 17:6 . . I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and kings shall come forth from you.

    The only king who really matters is Messiah.

    "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matt 1:1)

    †. Gen 17:7a . . I will maintain My covenant between me and you, and your offspring to come,

    The word for "maintain" is quwm (koom) which means: to rise (in various applications, literal, figurative, intensive and causative). The very first instance of that word is Gen 4:8.

    "Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him."

    That's kind of negative. Here's a passage that really says what God meant.

    "Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock; but shepherds came and drove them off. Moses rose to their defense, and he watered their flock. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said: How is it that you have come back so soon today? They answered: An Egyptian protected us from the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock." (Ex 2:16-19)

    The "offspring to come" was Isaac's and Jacob's rather than every last one of Abraham's posterity.

    †. Gen 17:7b . . as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages,

    Abraham's covenant is permanent; has never been annulled, deleted, made obsolete, abrogated, set aside, given to another people, nor replaced by another covenant. In point of fact, even Christians benefit from Abraham's covenant. (Eph 2:11-22 and Gal 3:26-28)

    God promised Abraham He would guard the safety of this particular covenant Himself personally. The covenant God made with Moses' people as per Deut 29:9-15 neither supersedes, amends, nor replaces the covenant God made with Abraham in this chapter (Gal 3:17). Attempts been made to package all the covenants into a single security like a Wall Street derivative similar to a collateralized debt obligation (CDO). But that just creates a bubble and is really asking for trouble.

    †. Gen 17:7c . . to be a god to you and to your offspring to come.

    This part of the covenant is somewhat conditional. It will only include those among male Hebrews that undergo the circumcision coming up in the next few passages.

    †. Gen 17:8a . . I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come,

    Ownership of the land is realized not only in Abraham's progeny alone. God said He assigned the land not only to his offspring, but to "you" too. Abraham didn't get to take possession of his promised holdings while he was here, but in the future, he will.

    "You will keep faith with Jacob, loyalty to Abraham, as You promised on oath to our fathers in days gone by." (Mic 7:20)

    "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:11)

    "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb 11:8-10)

    †. Gen 17:8b . . all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding.

    Abraham's progeny may not always occupy the land, and they may not always be in control of it; but it remains deeded to them forever.

    †. Gen 17:8c . . I will be their god.

    The wording of the covenant thus far hasn't been specific regarding the identity of Abraham's offspring for whom El Shaddai will be their god. Later on it will become clear that only the line through Isaac is effected. Neither Ishmael nor any of the other brothers were granted rights to the land.

    †. Gen 17:9a . . God further said to Abraham: As for you,

    The next covenant is totally a guy thing; and incorporated into Israel's covenanted law (Lev 12:2-3, John 7:22). The ladies are not a part of this one because Abraham's progeny isn't engendered by the ladies; it's engendered by the guys. The ladies are just baby mills. In the Bible, children inherit their tribal affiliation and their family names from the fathers rather than the mothers.

    This creates an interesting legality in Christ's case since there was no immediate male involved in his conception. So then, the closest male in his biological family tree defaults to Eli, his mother's father; which is how the Lord obtained his biological position in the line of David and the tribe of Judah. (The Lord's connection to the line of Solomon was via adoption rather than genetics. I'll elaborate that issue when we get to Jacob's precedent in chapter 48)

    All other considerations aside, the men of Abraham's line don't even have to mate with women who are biologically related to Abraham because the ladies don't perpetuate Abraham's line; the guys do. A Hebrew woman who bears the children of a Gentile perpetuates Gentiles. Kids born in that situation are not Abraham's offspring. Those are a Gentile man's offspring.

    "That when an idolater or a slave cohabits with an Israelitish woman; their child is illegitimate." (Yevamoth 99a, v36)

    In other words, the child of a foreign man is not Abraham's biological progeny. That fact alone should be very sobering for any Hebrew woman intent upon marrying a Gentile. Her children won't be identified with Abraham. They will be non Hebrews with no Divine connection to either Abraham, or to Abraham's covenant. Her grandchildren will be Gentiles too; and on and on.

    Every Hebrew woman who willingly, and willfully, bears the children of a Gentile is nothing in the world but a traitor to Abraham's community, and spits upon the sacred covenant that God made with her ancestor. She is no better than Esau who valued his birthright on a par with a lousy bowl of soup.

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    Sun, Aug 9th - 7:49AM



    Genesis 17:2-5

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Sat, Aug 8th - 9:13AM



    Genesis 17:1

     

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

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

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

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

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

    Webster's defines almighty as: having absolute control over everything; which of course includes power over not just money and politics; but also power over all that there is; e.g. magnetism, electricity, gravity, inertia, wind, thermodynamics, pressure, fusion, radiation, light, and of course the power of life; which is a power that nobody yet as of this date has been able to figure out. Humanity knows even less about the power of life than it knows about the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

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

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

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

    The Hebrew word translated blameless is somewhat ambiguous. A common meaning is "without blemish". Abram of course wasn't free of blemishes; but according to Gen 26:5, God was satisfied with his performance.

    Walking with God was introduced back at Gen 5:22-24. Enoch had it down pat; but apparently Abram had a ways to go. Very few qualify as the kind of people with whom God prefers to associate. He's picky that way.

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

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

    Another way then, that we might translate Gen 17:1b, is like this:

    "Walk in My ways and be consistent."

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    Fri, Aug 7th - 8:47AM



    Genesis 16:13-16

     

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

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

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

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

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

    The KJV translates it: Thou God seest me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Thu, Aug 6th - 9:27AM



    Genesis 16:9-12

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Wed, Aug 5th - 8:50AM



    Genesis 16:4-8

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In my 76+ years journeying through this life, I've discovered there are lots of people out there aching for someone to take them seriously. They don't like being marginalized; they don't like being made to feel unimportant, inferior, unnecessary, expendable, mediocre, and stupid-- they want to count; they want to matter, they want to be noticed and they want to be heard. I've no doubt that is the very reason behind the success of social networking; e.g. blogs, twittering, online forums, FaceBook, MySpace, and Instagram, et al.

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

    NOTE: An extreme case of what we're talking about here is Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber. Ted isn't an especially violent man. He has some ideas and the only way the friendless, isolated loner could think of to get the world to listen was blast people to pieces at random.

    Ted's frustration kind of reminds me of a friend who, when he was in grammar school, had a crush on the little girl sitting in front of him. My friend couldn't think of a way to talk to the girl, so he spit on her hair. It sure got her attention, and that right quick.

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    Tue, Aug 4th - 7:45AM



    Genesis 16:1-3

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Mon, Aug 3rd - 7:49AM



    Genesis 15:15-21

     

    †. Gen 15:15a . . As for you,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Jacob:

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

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

    and Joseph:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sometimes the context contains both the singular and the plural.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Sun, Aug 2nd - 9:59AM



    Genesis 15:11-14

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    †. Gen 15:14c . . with great wealth.

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

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    Sat, Aug 1st - 7:52AM



    Genesis 15:7-10

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    About Me

    Name: Clifford Weber
    ChristiansUnite ID: weberhome
    Member Since: 2015-05-11
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon, United States
    Denomination: Conservative Baptist
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