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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

    Wed, Sep 30th - 7:28AM

    Genesis 25:27c-28


    †. Gen 25:27c . . who stayed in camp.

    Does that mean Jacob never ventured outdoors? No. After all, his family was pastoral; they lived in tents and spent their whole lives working outdoors. Staying in camp only means Jacob would rather come on home when the day was over, take a hot shower, eat dinner with his family, brush his teeth, and sleep between clean sheets rather than needing a bath out under the stars on the ground with creepy-crawlies.

    Esau wasn't dependable; and probably off away from home on one safari after another. But Jacob was always nearby, ready to lend a hand with the chores, shear the sheep, mend the fences, and help his mom get in a load of wood and water. He was like the ranchers in the movie Shane-- hard working and dependable --very unlike his wild and wooly brother who very likely scorned animal husbandry and thought of it as a life for losers.

    Jacob was a lot like his mom Rebecca. Although she too came from a family with servants, it wasn't below her to bring in the evening water when it was time. Jacob could have kicked back and lived the life of a spoiled rich kid and never lifted a finger to help out around the ranch, leaving it all up to the servants. But he didn't do that. No. Jacob was a working rancher: he pitched in wherever he could because it was his nature to make himself useful and productive.

    †. Gen 25:28a . . Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game;

    The Hebrew word for "favored" is from 'ahab (aw-hab') or possibly 'aheb (aw-habe') which mean: to have affection for.

    Family counselors will tell you that favoritism is harmful: and who from a large family doesn't already know that. But nevertheless it's just about near impossible to prevent favoritism. People are only human after all.

    Up to this point, Esau seems an okay kind of guy. No really serious faults are readily apparent. And he seems affable enough. On the pages of Old Testament Scripture, he isn't said to be a friendless loner, or an angry sociopath; nor into bad habits like drinking, gambling, murder, robbery, lies, laziness, fighting, disrespect for his parents, blasphemy, selfishness, foul language, or anything else like that.

    The only apparent difference between Esau and Jacob-- up to this point --is Esau's preference for roaming the great outdoors instead of putting in a day's work around the ranch. Jewish folklore lays some pretty heavy sins upon Esau. but none of them are listed here in chapter 25.

    For now, neither Isaac nor Rebecca have voiced any gripes against either one of their boys. Isaac does favor Esau more, but only because of the venison that he prepared for his dad on occasion-- which of course would appeal to Isaac because it was wild game rather than the meat of domestic animals. Guys sometimes feel more manly when they eat meat taken in hunting rather than from a local super market. Isaac is one of those men for whom this proverb rings true: The way to a man's heart is through this stomach.

    †. Gen 25:28b . . but Rebecca favored Jacob.

    Well, that's understandable. Jacob was religious, temperate, conscientious, and helpful: attributes Rebecca would certainly value; whereas Esau was secular, out hunting, and saw no value in his dad's religion whatsoever (Heb 12:15-17). And Jacob was very likely home a whole lot more than Esau; and made good company too. Guys like Esau tend to be center-of-attention addicts; and eclipse everyone else in the room to the point where you get the feeling they believe themselves the only ones in the whole wide world that count and the only justification for your existence is to be their audience.

    Rebecca was a no-nonsense kind of girl. I think she was very impressed by Abraham's chief steward because he was serious about his business and got right to it with no fooling around; plus he was a man of prayer too. I think all of that had a great deal of influence on Rebecca's decision to leave home with him.

    I suspect Rebecca saw that very same kind of character in Jacob; and it had more appeal to her than the swash buckling, great white hunter attitude that compelled Esau to go off on safari so often. Not that an adventurer's nature is bad or anything like that. But Rebecca preferred the company of disciplined, level headed, temperate men who take care of their families and put them first. The kind who take their responsibilities seriously and don't shirk.


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    Tue, Sep 29th - 9:24AM

    Genesis 25:26c-27b


    †. Gen 25:26c . . Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

    Isaac married Rebecca at forty (Gen 25:20). If Becky was 18 at her wedding, she would have been 38. Imagine waiting twenty years to have your first child? Quite a few modern marriages end long before then.

    †. Gen 25:27a . .When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors;

    Esau was the macho kind of boy dads are usually very proud of. He was a rugged, athletic man who preferred to sleep on the ground, under the stars, rather than between sheets. A real he-man; who, in our own day, would very likely own several guns; some of which would be brutal calibers like a .44 magnum revolver or a 10 ga. shotgun.

    But Esau was totally physical. The poor lad had no brain at all. He was brave, adventurous, and a natural at hunting, but that is about all you could say for him-- kind of like professional sports stars who only got into college because of their athletic ability, not especially for any academic accomplishments.

    Esau pegged the mark in virility; but at the same time rated a big fat zero in sense and sensibility-- a Neanderthal knuckle-dragger kind of guy. There was really no need for Esau to kill wildlife for fresh meat: as if the family were desperate for food; after all, Isaac was very wealthy in livestock.

    No. Esau hunted for sport, and his goal was not to help support the family, but to show-off his prowess, and to impress himself, and those around him.

    Esau excelled in outdoor survival skills: he was very definitely one-up on Jacob in that sphere; plus it gained him a level of admiration from his dad that exceeded the esteem Isaac held for Jacob.

    But for all his natural athletic ability, Esau placed no importance whatsoever upon things of eternal value. He was the classic man under the sun; viz: earthly, secular to the bone, and his so-called "needs" took the highest priority over everything. (cf. 1Cor 2:14)

    "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or impious person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal." (Heb 12:15-16)

    †. Gen 25:27b . . but Jacob was a mild man

    What's Genesis saying? That Jacob was a wimp; some kind of a mommy's boy? No. Far from it. The word for "mild" is from tam (tawm) which means: gentle; viz: temperate.

    The Bible's God holds gentleness in very high regard.

    "For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Ps 37:10-11)

    "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt 5:5)

    The koiné Greek word for "meek" in the third beatitude is praus (prah-ooce') which means essentially the very same thing as tam; viz: temperate; mild.

    Moses was meek (Num 12:3) and Christ was meek. (Matt 11:29, Matt 21:5)

    Webster's defines mild as: gentle in nature or behavior; viz: temperate; in other words: agreeable, approachable, reasonable, calm, mellow, and self-controlled.

    Non-temperate people could be characterized as moody, grudging, irritable, emotional, thin-skinned, unreasonable, irrational, reactive, defensive, confrontational, assertive; and around whom one has to walk on egg shells all the time.

    A temperate person, though mellow in demeanor, should never be assumed lacking in strength, courage, conviction, or self confidence. Anybody who's studied the lives of Moses and Jesus can easily testify that neither of those men were either timid, wimpy, or vacillating; no, they walked softly and carried a big stick.

    Jacob and his dad Isaac were temperate men; but could be assertive when the situation called for it. Temperate people like Jacob and Isaac pick their battles carefully, and avoid getting all riled up over trifles.

    That's all saying Jacob was mature and sensible; in contrast to his brother Esau who was carnal, immature, sensuous, and acted more like an adolescent than a grown man. Mature men take their responsibilities seriously, and their priorities are far different than a guy like Esau who just wants to have fun and adventure all the time.

    So anyway, in the economy of God, a person with tam is to be admired way over and above a rugged athletic he-man. It's okay to be a rugged athletic he-man. There's nothing eo ipso wrong in that. After all, David was a rugged he-man himself. But it's not okay to be one without tam. Well, that was Esau-- the picture of health and male virility, but he lacked tam. Esau was a rude, lewd, crude bag of pre-chewed food dude.

    Jacob was very different. It's true he was crafty, and maybe a bit dishonest at times; but he was no wimp I can assure you; and, on the whole, a very good man.

    Jacob was mellow: he didn't need to show off and win the applause of the crowd to feel good about himself. He was the strong silent type who enjoyed home life and ranching. He was productive, and that's where he found the most contentment in life.

    Jacob had the qualities that many good women look for in a husband. He was stable, enjoyed being at home with his family, worked an honest day's work, loved his mom, had no issues with women, and appreciated the value of religion.

    Jacob wasn't a grand-stander, nor a narcissistic show-off; nor the kind of guy to run off on adventures all the time or constantly move to where the grass was greener. He didn't leave home till he was 75, and even then it was only because he was on the lamb. Jacob was the kind of man who buys a home and stays in the same neighborhood until his kids are out of school.


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    Mon, Sep 28th - 8:13AM

    Genesis 25:23b-26b


    †. Gen 25:23b . . One people shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.

    Esau will come out first; therefore, chronologically, he's the eldest son. However, the right of primogeniture was taken from him and given to Jacob. That was God's sovereign prerogative as the paterfamilias of Moses' people.

     Biblically, the firstborn son's birthright isn't inalienable; rather, quite transferable to a younger sibling e.g. Rueben and Joseph (1Chrn 5:1), Mannasah and Ephraim (Gen 48:13-19), and David and Jesus (Ps 101:1 cf. Matt 22:42-45)

    †. Gen 25:24 . .When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.

    Multiple births in human beings arise either from the simultaneous impregnation of more than one ovum or from the impregnation of a single ovum that divides into two or more parts, each of which develops into a distinct embryo. Plural offspring developing from a single egg are known as "identical"-- they are always of the same gender, resemble one another very closely, and have similar fingerprints and blood types.

    Offspring produced from separate ova are "fraternal"-- not necessarily of the same gender; they have the usual family resemblance of brothers and sisters.

    Precisely of which type Jacob and Esau were, is difficult to tell. However, they are definitely not identical; either in physical appearance nor in personality, nor in speech.

    †. Gen 25:25a . .The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over;

    The word for "red" is 'admoniy (ad-mo-nee') which can refer to either red hair or to a reddish, rosy complexion. In Esau's case, it's difficult to know for certain which applied. That he was a hairy kid right from birth is uncontested. However, to avoid the association with red hair; some feel that the conjunction "and" should be inserted just after the comma, so that the verse would read: The first one emerged red, and hairy all over like a mantle.

    Jacob looked like most babies do at birth: a little cherub; bald and smooth skinned.

    Esau, in contrast, was not only hairy, but because of his fur, he was rough to the touch; sort of like a woolen G.I. blanket. Esau wasn't your typical cuddly little tykester. When Rebecca held him, it wasn't like holding a little boy, it was more like holding a grizzly bear cub, so to speak. Maybe that was a contributing factor in Rebecca's favoritism of Jacob? How many mothers can really warm up to a baby who looks like he'll morph into a werewolf any second?

    †. Gen 25:25b . . they named him Esau.

    The Hebrew word for Esau is from 'Esav (ay-sawv'); the meaning of which isn't known for certain. Some say it means rough-- like rough to the touch. Others think it might mean to cover, or envelop like a blanket --a distinct possibility given Esau's appearance as one covered with hair all over his body. (maybe even on his little tush too.)

    †. Gen 25:26a . .Then his brother emerged, holding on to the heel of Esau;

    Sibling rivalry between the two baby brothers was very intense. Jacob undoubtedly held on to Esau's heel to slow him down so he wouldn't get too far ahead-- and also an aggressive attempt to stop him from going first even though Esau was legitimately first in line to be born.

    †. Gen 25:26b . . so they named him Jacob.

    The Hebrew word for Jacob is from Ya' aqob (yah-ak-obe') which means: heel-catcher.

    Esau defined a heel-catcher like this:

    "Esau said: Was he, then, named Jacob that he might supplant me these two times? First he took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing!" (Gen 27:36)

    Supplanters take things by coup, usurping, artifice and/or treachery; e.g. Ray Kroc and the McDonalds® fast food chain.

    Right from the womb, Jacob desired supremacy over his brother Esau and struggled to get out ahead of him. How male infants can be so competitive at such an early age is a total mystery; but not impossible. Boys are competitive by nature, and don't like to come in second place; especially against a brother. For some strange reason, it is much easier for a boy to suffer defeat by a non-kin male opponent than by his own sibling.

    Jacob is one very Tricky Ricky who knows how to trip people up, and how to keep them from getting ahead, and how to cleverly separate them from what is rightfully theirs.

    That boy was born way too soon. He should have been on Wall Street; manipulating stocks, marketing derivatives, and raiding corporations. Jacob isn't usually portrayed in Scripture as a man of muscle and brute strength, but as a man of cunning and determination, a man who gets what he wants by patience, stealth, intelligence, and/or trickery rather than by brute force. Maybe he should have been a corporate lawyer?


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    Sun, Sep 27th - 8:21AM

    Genesis 25:23a


    †. Gen 25:23a . . and the Lord answered her: Two nations are in your womb, two separate peoples shall issue from your body;

    The Hebrew word for "nations" is from gowy (go'-ee); or the short version goy (go'-ee) which means: (in the sense of massing) a foreign nation; hence, Gentiles; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts.

    The words gowy and goy, are commonly used by modern Jews in referring to people who aren't Jewish. But the words goyim and goy do not especially mean non-Jews. Those words apply to all manner of people masses; both Jew and Gentile. There are other Bible examples where those words unmistakably apply to not only non Jews, but Jews too. For example:

    "I will make of you a great nation" (Gen 12:2).

    That promise was made to Abraham regarding his progeny. The word for "nation" in that verse (which in this case clearly refers to the people of Israel) is gowy, the same word describing both Jacob and Esau.

    Another example is Gen 18:17-18 where both Hebrews and Gentiles are referred to as goyyim:

    "Now the Lord had said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him?"

    In another instance; God gave His word that, while the universe exists, the people of Israel would never cease to be goy.

    "Thus said the Lord, Who established the sun for light by day, the laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is Lord of Hosts: If these laws should ever be annulled by Me-- declares the Lord-- only then would the offspring of Israel cease to be a nation before Me for all time." (Jer 31:35-36)

    So the people of Israel are still goy even to this very day.

    Gen 25:23a is an interesting development. God chose Sarah to be the one through whom Abraham's covenant would perpetuate-- likewise He chose Rebecca for the same purpose. It was through her that the covenant would perpetuate too. But Rebecca is somehow different. For reasons of His own, God waited for her to come along before getting down to business multiplying the seed promised in Gen 13:16.


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    Sat, Sep 26th - 7:49AM

    Genesis 25:21--22


    †. Gen 25:21b . . and the Lord responded to his plea, and his wife Rebecca conceived.

    The twins Jacob and Esau were born when Isaac was 60 years old. So Isaac and Rebecca had been trying to have children for about 19 years. There is no record that Abraham ever prayed concerning Sarah's infertility. He dealt with the problem in another way.

    Isaac, rather than follow the example of papa Abraham and sleep with one of the maids; did the wise thing by electing to petition God to cure his wife so they could have their own baby. There is of course no guarantee prayer will work for everyone, but it was just the ticket for them.

    Youngsters can learn from their parents mistakes. If there was one thing you can bet Isaac did not want in his family, it was another Ishmael. Not that Ishmael was a bad seed, but his place in Abraham's home was a catalyst in generating much friction and rivalry, and also caused an inheritance problem for Isaac; not to mention Abraham's eventual heartbreak of finally emancipating Hagar and thus sending her and Ishmael off to fend for themselves.

    †. Gen 25:22a . . But the children struggled in her womb,

    The word for "struggled" is from ratsats (raw-tsats') which means: to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively

    Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw. Those little tiny babies were trying to bust each other's skulls in there! The word ratsats is used just like that in a couple of places. (e.g. Jgs 9:53, Ps 74:12-13)

    But I think it is more likely that each wanted to dominate the other. A common use of the word ratsats is oppression. (e.g. Deut 28:33-34, Jgs 10:6-8)

    †. Gen 25:22b . . and she said: If so, why do I exist?

    That rendering is a bit murky. I think it would be better to paraphrase it: "If this is the case; then what am I doing here?"

    Although Genesis revealed in verse 22a that Rebecca was carrying more than one child, and that the children were struggling for domination in the womb, the author wrote from inspiration and hind sight while Rebecca herself had no way of knowing what was going on at the time. It must have appeared to her that she was having a difficult pregnancy and in grave danger of dying in child birth.

    That of course would make no sense at all to Rebecca because she was chosen for Isaac's wife by Divine providence; and her pregnancy was the result of Isaac's intercession. What was the point of going to all that trouble if she was only going to die right along with their first baby? In her mind, she certainly would have been much better off to have remained up north with her family than leave home with the servant to marry Isaac and lose her life bearing his child.

    †. Gen 25:22c . . She went to inquire of the Lord,

    Went where? Well . . Isaac had settled near Beer-lahai-roi, the very water source where Hagar met with God for her very first time. This record is the very first time Rebecca met with God too, and she very likely met with God right at the same place Hagar did.

    Hagar gave that spring of water its name Beer-lahai-roi in honor of her new best friend-- 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy --the god who was aware of her problems, and who was also interested in helping her deal with them.

    In the movie "Titanic" after looking at drawings a passenger made of some unusual women in Paris, and listening to him relate intimate details about them, the heroine turned and said: "You have a gift Jack. You see people."

    Well, God sees people too. Beer-lahai-roi was Hagar's secret garden, and I sometimes wonder if Isaac didn't settle there because of that. I believe that is where Rebecca went to talk with God about her boys. And why not? That spring had good karma. And if God was sympathetic with Hagar there, then why wouldn't He be sympathetic with Rebecca there too? 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy is the very best kind of god to have-- one who sees people.

    But suppose Rebecca had instead opted to pray from inside her tent? Would God have heard her from there? Yes, He would have heard (cf. Ps 139:7-12, Matt 6:6). It isn't necessary to resort to a special sanctuary, or a shrine, or take your case to a professional priesthood for mediation. People often pray from very unusual places; and get good results. (e.g. Jonah 2:1-3)

    If Jonah could pray and be heard from inside a smelly ol' fish's tummy, and if God can be worshipped elsewhere than a church (John 4:21-24) then I guess it should be okay if Rebecca prayed from inside her tent-- and it should be okay if somebody prayed from their car, or bedroom, or in the mountains on a hike, or even in the restroom at work.


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    Fri, Sep 25th - 7:58AM

    Genesis 25:19-21a


    †. Gen 25:19 . .This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac.

    The word for "son" is ben (bane) and is used like American's use a middle name. Isaac's whole name is: Isaac ben Abraham. It's a common idiom in the Old Testament, and found in the New Testament too.

    "They said: Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say? "I came down from heaven" (John 6:42)

    The Lord's Greek name is lesous (ee-ay-souce') which is equivalent to the Hebrew name Yehowshuwa' (yeh-ho-shoo'-ah) which means: Joshua.

    His dad's name in Greek is loseph (ee-o-safe') which is equivalent to the Hebrew name Yowceph (yo-safe') which means Joseph. So "Jesus, the son of Joseph" in hybridized English and Hebrew: is Joshua ben Joseph.

    NOTE: The English spelling of Hebrew words often disagree with the spellings used by Orthodox Jews because there is no set standard for rendering Hebrew words in English form as yet so it's not uncommon for discrepancies to occur.

    †. Gen 25:20a . . Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebecca,

    Forty years-old might seem a bit late in life to get married for the first time, but in those days, a forty year-old man was still quite young.

    The life expectancy of the average US male born in 2007 is 75.4 years. Isaac lived to 180; so at his marriage to Rebecca, he was about the equivalent of a modern 17 year-old. Jacob himself didn't marry Leah and Rachel and until he was over 80-- attesting to the robust health and longevity that men enjoyed in those days.

    †. Gen 25:20b . . daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean.

    The identity of Rebecca's mom remains a total mystery. By the time of Moses, uncle Laban was a large figure in Jewish history and you can safely bet the people of Israel were very familiar with that old rascal's ways. He mistreated not only Jacob, but also Leah and Rachel too, so he's not too popular with the people of Israel even today; seeing as how he was unkind and dishonest with their sacred ancestors and all.

    The holiday of Purim commemorates an Agagite named Haman, who tried to exterminate the Jews in Esther's day. Maybe there should be a memorial for Laban too. Although he wasn't a villain on the scale of Haman, he nevertheless made ol' Jacob's life pretty miserable there for a while.

    †. Gen 25:21a . . Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren;

    Oh no. Not again! It seems like all the really attractive girls among Terah's female grandchildren had some sort of infertility condition.

    Supposing Isaac never prayed for Rebecca. Would she have children? Absolutely! God gave his word to Abraham in Gen 17:19 that Isaac would become a very numerous people. So Rebecca, Isaac's divinely selected wife, was going to be a mommy; it was only a matter of time. But about one thing I think we can be sure of: Isaac didn't want to wait until Rebecca was ninety years old like his mom before having their first baby.

    This is now the second time that the people of Israel were perpetuated by a miracle-- proving they are no ordinary people, but a people who wouldn't exist at all if God hadn't willed them into existence and into perpetuity.


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    Thu, Sep 24th - 8:13AM

    Genesis 25:11-18


    †. Gen 25:11a . . After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac.

    With the death of Abraham, the covenant torch is passed on to the next patriarch. The promises now shift into Isaac's possession and it becomes his responsibility to take over as the family priest too.

    †. Gen 25:11b . . And Isaac settled near Beer-lahai-roi.

    Everyone else from Abraham's camp settled there too now that Isaac is the new godfather. All of Abraham's servants, all his livestock, all the camels, all everything; the whole shebang is Isaac's and follows Isaac wherever Isaac tells them to go. You know, it's very difficult to forget Hagar while the Bible continues to mention a very sacred spot dear to her own heart. But this is the very last mention of Beer-lahai-roi. It's as if Abraham's era is closing and now we move forward into Isaac's.

    †. Gen 25:12 . .This is the line of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's slave, bore to Abraham.

    Never once is Hagar listed as one of Abraham's wives. She was Sarah's slave; and nothing more. Genesis gives Ishmael's line only passing mention because the real focus lies along the covenant line. So we won't follow Ishmael's exploits after listing his progeny.

    †. Gen 25:13-16 . .These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the first-born of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedmah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names by their villages and by their encampments: twelve chieftains of as many tribes.

    Twelve tribes; just as God had foretold in Gen 17:20. These twelve "encampments" were little more than nomadic tent communities as compared to the more permanent fortified towns and hamlets that were common in the Canaan of Isaac's day.

    †. Gen 25:17 . .These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; then he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his kin.

    When Ishmael was "gathered to his kin" it wasn't to Abraham's clan but to his own: the Ishmael line. However, Abraham remained Ishmael's biological father whether Ishmael was legally his son or not. You can never change who sired you. Your genetic origin is impossible to reverse or alter; though it can be legally dissolved.

    †. Gen 25:18 . .They dwelt from Havilah, by Shur, which is close to Egypt, all the way to Asshur; they camped alongside all their kinsmen.

    The "they" in this verse are the kin of verse 17 unto whom Ishmael was gathered.

    Even though Ishmael's line isn't actually legal kin to Abraham's progeny, the line is still related to the other boys by blood and therefore genetic kinsman.

    The expression "all the way to Asshur" is probably better rendered "as you go to Asshur" or "on the way to Asshur"-- ancient Assyria, now modern day Iraq. The Ishmaelites lived along the main caravan route leading from Egypt to Assyria; which would be very advantageous if you were into international trading, which they were (cf. Gen 37:25-28).

    The precise locations of the Havilah and Shur of verse 18 are unknown; although it's fairly safe to assume that Havilah (sandy), and Shur delineated a region stretching from portions of modern day Jordan and Saudi Arabia, past Elat, across the northern Sinai Peninsula, and on over to Suez. In the time of Saul, Ishmael's territory was controlled by a people called Amalekites (1Sam 15:7).


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    Wed, Sep 23rd - 8:12AM

    Genesis 25:8c-10


    †. Gen 25:8c . . and he was gathered to his kin.

    Burials always follow the phrase "gathered to his kin". So the gathering happens as soon as the person dies; and prior to their funeral. The difference between gathering and burial is quite distinct in Jacob's case; who was interred no less than forty days after his passing, yet was gathered to his kin immediately upon expiring. (Gen 49:33-50:3)

    It would seem, therefore, that the employment of this idiom-- like the corresponding figure of speech: to lie down with one's fathers --refers to an ancient belief that despite Man's mortality, he possesses a rather durable component that survives beyond the death of his body. In other words: assassins may terminate the life of a human body; but they cannot terminate the life of a human soul. Not that it's impossible; it's just that only man's maker has the power to pull that off.

    "Don't be afraid of them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather be afraid of Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt 10:28)

    †. Gen 25:9a . . His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him

    Isaac and Ishmael were by far the oldest of all the boys. At the time, they lived reasonably close to each other and I would not be surprised if Ishmael came up to visit Abraham quite often and was always aware of his health. Abraham was 86 years old when his first son was born; so Ishmael would be going on 90 when his dad died. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 25:7)

    Like Isaac, Ishmael was an only child; that is until Isaac came along. But at first, he had Abraham all to himself for at least fifteen years.

    Both of these guys were older and wiser men by this time. I'm sure Ishmael understood that the loss of his birthright due to his mother's emancipation wasn't Isaac's fault. And Isaac harbors no ill will towards his half-brother for anything he may have done as a kid. After all, grown-ups are no longer the kids they grew from. The kids they were are long gone. It's not a good thing to hold grudges against people for the things they did when they were underage and didn't know any better.

    †. Gen 25:9b-10 . . in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought from the Hittites; there Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.

    No doubt when Abraham negotiated for this property, he anticipated his own eventual interment. Well, this cave is big enough to become a family crypt. Later, more of his progeny would follow him there.


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    Tue, Sep 22nd - 8:30AM

    Genesis 25:7-8a


    †. Gen 25:7 . .This was the total span of Abraham's life: one hundred and seventy-five years.

    Abraham resided in Canaan for 100 years; and outlived Sarah by 48. That's not the way it usually happens here in modern America. Wives typically outlive their husbands; and if you don't think that's true, just visit any one of a number of retirement communities. Men over 80 who can still walk on their own, and drive a car, are like the proverbial fox in a henhouse. As of 2009, the male/female ratio for people aged 85 and older was twice as many women as men.

    †. Gen 25:8a . . And Abraham breathed his last,

    Abraham lived to see Jacob's and Esau's fifteenth birthday. The twins were born when Isaac was sixty. And Abraham died when Isaac was seventy-five. So the boys got to know their grandpa pretty good before the old master passed on.

    Abraham lived a very brief life in comparison to his forbearers. From Noah's point of view, who lived to 950, Abraham practically died as a child. Out ahead in the new world, a man of a hundred years old will be considered just a kid. (Isa 65;19-20)

    The human life span has steadily declined since Noah's day, and now the average American, even with all the food, and the most advanced medical care in the world, only lives on average about 77 years or so.

    †. Gen 25:8b . . dying at a good age, old and contented;

    Too many people die at a bad age; viz: too soon-- for example all the teens who died in the Viet Nam war, and the ones currently being killed in Afghanistan.

    The word for "contented" is from sabea' saw-bay'-ah) which means: satiated. In other words: Abraham didn't die unfulfilled; he lived a very satisfying life: he touched all the bases.

    Thoreau once said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Well; that doesn't fit Abraham. He never wished his life had turned out differently.

    "Piety with contentment is great gain." (1Tim 6:9)


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    Mon, Sep 21st - 2:09PM

    Genesis 25:1-6


    †. Gen 25:1 . . Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.

    According to 1Chrn 1:32, Ms. Keturah wasn't really a full-fledged wife as Sarah had been, but was a wife of a different color altogether. She was a piylegesh (pee-leh'-ghesh) which means: a mistress or a paramour; viz: a concubine. So that Gen 25:1 really should be translated: "Abraham took another woman"

    It was considered okay in those days for men to sire children by concubines and nobody seemed to think much of it. But at Abraham's age!? Wow! Earlier, at Gen 17:17, Abraham considered himself much to old to father a child; and in truth, he was.

    "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age-- and Sarah herself was barren --was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 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)

    Not only was Sarah miraculously made fertile in her old age, but so was her husband Abraham. In fact his libido, and his fertility, were so well repaired that the old boy couldn't leave the ladies alone even after he was more than 140 years old! So the comment at Gen 24:1 wasn't meant to convey the idea that Abraham lacked vigor.

    †. Gen 25:2-4 . . She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurim, the Letushim, and the Leummim. The descendants of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

    According to a web site called Mr. Showbiz, Tony Randall, the Odd Couple sitcom star, became a first-time father at age seventy-seven in May of 1997 when his wife, then twenty-seven-year-old Heather Harlan, gave birth to their daughter Julia. A second baby came in June 98. Mr. Randall would have been ninety-eight when the first one graduated from college in 2019 had he lived.

    Others have brought children into the world during their later years too-- e.g. Clint Eastwood, Charlie Chaplin, and Cary Grant. Anthony Quinn had his thirteenth child at the age of eighty-one. Some men can father children late in life; although it's very risky. The chances for schizophrenia and other birth defects increase as men get older.

    Keturah's age is uncertain. But she was obviously young enough to have children; and in that day, women retained their strength pretty far up into life. However, by the time Sarah was ninety, she was past menopause.

    Where did Abraham find Keturah? Was she an Egyptian like Hagar? Was she maybe a local Canaanite; possibly from Ephron's clan, the guy who sold Abraham a plot for Sarah's cemetery? No. If Abraham wouldn't let Isaac marry a women of Canaan, then he sure wasn't going to sleep with one himself. Was she from Haran; Rebecca's home town? Nobody really knows and it doesn't even matter anyway. None of Keturah's children would share in the ownership of Eretz Israel-- only Isaac's progeny. It all went to him by Divine fiat.

    †. Gen 25:5 . . Abraham willed all that he owned to Isaac;

    Abraham had already willed all that he owned to Isaac even before any of Keturah's boys were born. The servant told Becky's family so back in chapter 24. This verse is just to make sure nobody forgets that Isaac is the only son that really matters.

    †. Gen 25:6a . . but to Abraham's sons by concubines Abraham gave gifts while he was still living,

    When Ishmael was cut loose back in chapter 21, there was no mention of gifts. In fact, they left home with hardly anything at all. Apparently, later on, Ishmael returned to visit his dad on occasion and Abraham eventually compensated him for the loss of his firstborn rights. Abraham's generosity towards his sons was a right thing to do.

    "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." (1Tim 5:8)

    Rather than stipulate his sons' inheritances in a written will, Abraham took care of them all while he was still alive; probably to make sure there was no squabbling over his estate in probate after he was dead and thereby possibly jeopardizing Isaac's future.

    †. Gen 25:6b . . and he sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the East.

    The "land of the East" is a general name for Arabia, which stretched away to the southeast and east of the point where Abraham resided in the south of Palestine. The northern part of Arabia, which lay due east of Palestine, was formerly more fertile and populous than now.

    Sending someone away is not really the same as driving them off; but more like a send-off; viz: a bon voyage (e.g. Gen 24:59). It's far more likely Abraham helped them all get settled outside of Canaan rather than leave them to the whims of fate. Once settled into their own territories, the other boys would be less inclined to muscle in on Isaac's turf or freeload off him in the event they fell onto hard times.


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    Sun, Sep 20th - 8:09AM

    Genesis 24:64b-67


    †. Gen 24:64b . . She alighted from the camel

    Suspecting that the man up ahead just might be her future husband, Rebecca took no chances of getting off on the wrong foot with impropriety. She could always get back up on the camel if it turned out the man wasn't her Isaac; but just in case . . .

    †. Gen 24:65a . . and said to the servant: Who is that man walking in the field toward us? And the servant said: That is my master.

    Well; the man approaching was much too young to be Abraham, and there was only one other person on the whole planet that Abraham's servant would ever call his master-- the heir apparent.

    †. Gen 24:65b . . So she took her veil and covered herself.

    Becky's veil was a full body wrap, similar to a burqa; not just a stylish hijab or a cute little semi-transparent scarf in front of her face. In Akkadian, the bride on her wedding day was called kallatu kutumtu, (the veiled bride).

    Also, in Akkadian; she was called pussumtu, (the veiled one), which means the same as kallatu, (bride). In that day, Rebecca's veil had both symbolic and socio-legal significance.

    It was an unmistakable signal to Isaac that among all those ladies riding along with his dad's servant that day; the burqa-ette was to be his wife.

    This meeting is interesting. We spent quite a bit of time viewing the character, the background, and the beauty of a really outstanding young woman in the beginning of this chapter. But it's all under wraps now in the presence of the groom. Becky is doing absolutely nothing to attract Isaac at this point. In fact, Isaac can't even see past the veil to what a gorgeous package of womanhood that Becky really is.

    The anonymous steward who went north to speak with Becky on Isaac's behalf, will now speak with Isaac on Becky's behalf. Thus, Abraham's steward will be an ambassador for both Isaac and Rebecca; and when he's done, Becky will know all she needs to know at this point about Isaac, and Isaac will know all he needs to know at this point about Rebecca; even before they meet each other for the very first time.

    †. Gen 24:66 . .The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.

    The steward's responsibility was to canvas Abraham's kin for a bridal candidate, engage the girl to marry Isaac, gain her consent to leave home, and then transport her safely back to Palestine. Next hurdle: Isaac's acceptance of the candidate. The marriage still isn't set in concrete yet until Isaac meets Becky and voluntarily accepts her to be his wife.

    But this phase of the romance is out of the steward's jurisdiction. It's not his responsibility to make the couple like each other. He only had to bring them together. (cf. John 6:44)

    †. Gen 24:67a . . Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah,

    That tent was once Abraham's home. His choice to donate it for Becky's temporary quarters was very thoughtful, and must have meant a lot to her; since at this point, Becky was far from home, family, and friends; and her future was in doubt. Meeting one's future in-laws can prove a bit scary for some. To be given Sarah's tent was a very good indication that Isaac's dad was pleased, and that the girl was okay by him.

    She, and her nurse, and her maidens would live in the donated domicile until such a time as the marriage was performed, or (if Isaac didn't like her) until she was sent back home. There's more to marriage than just business; after all, marriage is a union of two people-- and people have feelings. It's one thing to do your duty, but it's quite another to feel loved-- and marriage really ought to have some love in it after all.

    †. Gen 24:67b . . and he took Rebecca as his wife.

    The literal of that verse is: he took Rebecca and she became his wife. The meaning of "he took" Rebecca, is that Isaac accepted her. The meaning of "she became his wife" is that Rebecca accepted Isaac. So that the marriage was between two people who truly accepted each other; rather than between two people who were stuck with each other. It turned out that those two went together like a pair of old shoes: quite literally a match made in heaven.

    †. Gen 24:67c . . Isaac loved her,

    The word for "love" is from 'ahab (aw-hab') and means: to have affection for. This instance is only the second time in the first twenty-four chapters of Genesis where that word appears. The other was in chapter 22, just prior to the Akedah, when God asked Abraham to "Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you."

    So Isaac was genuinely fond of Rebecca just as much as Abraham was genuinely fond of Isaac The couple's union wasn't just another arranged marriage like so many of the others in that day; theirs was truly a romance.

    †. Gen 24:67d . . and thus found comfort after his mother's death.

    All too often, men experience very little happiness with their mothers during boyhood. A callous mom can easily become a boy's worst influence, and permanently warp his attitude towards women for the remainder of his life; even leading to male frigidity.

    But Isaac's mom wasn't like that at all. Sarah was not only a good mother to Isaac, but she was also a really good buddy too. In spite of her domineering personality, Sarah and Isaac had somehow managed to become good friends; and her loss left a big hole in his heart. It would take a very special girl to repair that hole. Well, Rebecca was just the one to do it. She not only replaced Sarah in the matriarchy, but she also replaced Sarah as the female buddy in Isaac's life.

    NOTE: Wasn't that a good story? Joseph's story is pretty good too. You know: Genesis is no country for a drudge. Only people with a heart can truly appreciate this book. For anybody else; it's just academic fodder for a bull session.


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    Sat, Sep 19th - 8:39AM

    Genesis 24:61b-64a


    †. Gen 24:61b . . So the servant took Rebecca and went his way.

    The 500 mile trip to Isaac's camp, which must have taken at least two weeks, was a great opportunity for Rebecca to become familiar with the manager of her spouse's goods. People bond well under hardship and under close knit circumstances. In the years to come, the friendship and trust that developed en route with Rebecca and the man, would really come in handy after she took over Isaac's home. We can easily guess what the primary topic of conversation was on the way back-- Mr. Isaac.

    "Oh, do tell me more about him. What's his favorite food? His favorite color? When's his birthday? Has he been a playboy, dating lots of girls? Is he mellow or is he thin-skinned and easily angered? What does he do in his spare time? How tall is he? Does he have many pet peeves? What color is his hair and eyes? How old is he? Does he have a sense of humor? Would he get upset if I burned the toast? Is he affable and approachable? Is he reasonable? Is he despotic? Is he generous with his money, or a miserly tight wad? Do you really think he will like me?"

    All those things, and lots, lots more, are very important to most brides and I have no doubt that Rebecca pried a great many things out of Abraham's steward concerning her Isaac. By the time they arrived, all of Becky's anxieties and fears about her future husband were resolved, and she was in love with that man before even meeting him for the very first time.

    You know, Becky only had the steward's word that there really was an Isaac. She herself had never seen him, her family had never seen him, in fact no one in her whole town had ever seen him. What if the entire story were a big hoax and the man was not telling the truth. Perhaps he was a smooth con man who actually had in mind to sell Becky into slavery down in Egypt.

    The farther and farther she got from home, the more danger Becky was in. The land was strange and hostile, Becky had no friends and no one to turn to if she might try an escape. She was in fact trusting her very life to an almost complete stranger. (cf. Phil 1:6)

    But that man's speech and his bearing were powerfully persuasive. He was able to convince Becky that he was genuinely Abraham's steward and that there really was an Isaac waiting for her at trail's end. Becky left home with one stranger to marry yet another stranger. But by the time they arrived, Abraham's trusty steward had proved himself to Becky that her escorts were all trustworthy men and only meant good by her.

    †. Gen 24:62 . . Isaac had just come back from the vicinity of Beer-lahai-roi, for he was settled in the region of the Negeb.

    Beer-lahai-roi was the source of water where Hagar met God for the very first time; and her experience caused the well to be named the way it was in Gen 16:13-14.

    Hagar's water source became not only somewhat of a holy monument, but also an important watering hole for people with flocks and herds down there in the Negev; thanks to a runaway slave girl.

    †. Gen 24:63a . . And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening

    The precise location of this field is uncertain. Since Isaac's ranch was in the Negev, near Hagar's well, that might be where this next scene occurred.

    There lacks a consensus opinion among Jewish scholars as to the precise meaning of the Hebrew word laasuwach, which is translated "walking" in some Bibles; and "meditate" in others. The JPS rendering, "walking" is based upon the Arabic saha. Tradition has it that Isaac was out in the field for reflection and prayer. What might he be praying about?

    Well, most likely about his impending marriage to a mail-order bride. If Rebecca was at all nervous, you can bet Isaac was just as nervous himself. These two were going to be joined at the hip for the rest of their lives and they had yet to even meet.

    †. Gen 24:63b-64a . . and, looking up, he saw camels approaching. Raising her eyes, Rebecca saw Isaac.

    I've heard the wording suggests a simultaneous meeting of the eyes. Isaac saw Rebecca just when she saw him. Rebecca couldn't be positive at that moment the man she saw was her future husband; but one thing Isaac knew: his dad's servant didn't leave home with female passengers. One of those women out there on the camels had to be meant for him.


    Comment (0)

    Fri, Sep 18th - 11:31AM

    Genesis 24:54-61a


    †. Gen 24:54-55 . .Then he and the men with him ate and drank, and they spent the night. When they arose next morning, he said: Give me leave to go to my master. But her brother and her mother said: Let the maiden remain with us some ten days; then you may go.

    Their request was reasonable. After all, this was all so sudden. They didn't even have a chance to announce the engagement nor organize a bridal shower. Becky's friends would all want to come over to the house and ooo and ahhh the jewelry and go nuts over the exotic fashions from Canaan. And they would all want to give her one last hug and wish blessings on her new life. What's so wrong with that? There's nothing wrong with that; but Abraham's wishes have to take priority in this matter. (cf. Luke 9:61-62)

    †. Gen 24:56-57a . . He said to them: Do not delay me, now that The Lord has made my errand successful. Give me leave that I may go to my master.

    Abraham probably had a pretty good idea how long his servant should be gone; and if the return was delayed, Abraham might begin to become anxious and wonder what was going on up there in Haran what with no internet email, telephones, HAM radio, telegraph, nor even any way to send a post card back home.

    Becky has now agreed to be Isaac's bride. She made that decision the moment she accepted clothing and jewelry that were offered to her in Isaac's name. The big question now is: how much longer does she wish to remain a maiden before becoming a married woman with a home of her own?

    †. Gen 24:57b-58 . . And they said: Let us call the girl and ask for her reply. They called Rebecca and said to her: Will you go with this man? And she said: I will.

    Exactly what so strongly motivated Becky to agree to leave home on such short notice is open to speculation. Some feel it was because, unknown to the writer of Genesis, she had been praying for The Lord's providence in this very matter of finding the right man. The events of the previous evening were enough to convince Becky that this was truly divine providence; and she wasn't about to procrastinate now and louse up her chances for God-given happiness and security. That man was leaving, and the soon-to-be Mrs. Isaac ben Abraham was not going to miss her ride; uh-uh, no way!

    †. Gen 24:59a . . So they sent off their sister Rebecca

    The word for "sister" is from 'achowth (aw-khoth') and isn't limited to siblings. It applies to all manner of female kin-- sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces; even to a lover, as in Song 4:9-12.

    You can imagine the flurry that went on in that house getting Becky's bags packed on such short notice. You can bet there was no joy around there that morning. An air of sadness marked her departure. Everyone was no doubt well aware they would likely never see Becky ever again. In those days, when somebody moved 500 miles away, they might just as well have gone to Pluto.

    †. Gen 24:59b . . and her nurse along with Abraham's servant and his men.

    The word for "nurse" is from yanaq (yaw-nak') and implies wet nursing. This may be an indication that, for reasons unspecified, Rebecca's mom was unable to breast feed her children. In Mesopotamia, wet nurses frequently had the additional duties of bringing up the child and acting as their guardian; viz: a nanny. The nurse (whose name is Deborah; Gen 35:8) was probably either Becky's first choice as personal assistant, or Deborah herself just couldn't part with her little Becky and volunteered to go along as a chaperon. It's not unusual for mentors, like Helen Keller's tutor Anne Sullivan, to become permanently bonded and dedicated to their charges.

    †. Gen 24:60 . . And they blessed Rebecca and said to her: O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads; may your offspring seize the gates of their foes.

    That prophetic bon voyage was undoubtedly an acknowledgement of the promises God made to Abraham following the Akedah (Gen 22:15-18). Abraham's steward spent the night in Becky's home; and while eating dinner and chatting, no doubt shared many wonderful events from Abraham's and Isaac's lives to which Becky's family must have listened just as spellbound as all of us who study Genesis in our own day and age.

    The Akedah surely must have been to them almost beyond belief that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice the very son in whom all the promises would be fulfilled. No wonder Becky was so ready to go. She just had to get on down there and see this man in whom God had taken such a particular interest.

    †. Gen 24:61a . .Then Rebecca and her maids arose, mounted the camels, and followed the man.

    The word for "maids" is from na'arah (nah-ar-aw') and means a young, underage girl. A Bible maid is just a lass, not really a grown up adult woman. She could be a pre teen or a late teen and any age in between. It wasn't unusual for a woman from a family of means to have a retinue of young girls in attendance. Becky's maids possibly were the children of her home's adult servants.

    Then too, young girls were often indentured into maid service. Sometimes it was because of parental greed, but often it was because the family was in poverty and desperate. In the last decade alone, many families in Afghanistan were forced to sell their children just to survive the Taliban ruin of their country. Sometimes young girls were fortunes of war in Becky's day and could be bought and sold at market; for example the Jewish damsel in 2Kgs 5:1-3 who helped Naaman get his leprosy cured.


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    Thu, Sep 17th - 7:56AM

    Genesis 24:34-53


    †. Gen 24:34 . . I am Abraham's servant: he began.

    I think it's commendable that this man, so far from home, didn't introduce himself by his own name but rather by the name of the one whom he represented.

    †. Gen 24:35 . .The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become rich: He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and burros.

    I love the way this man gives credit to Yhvh for Abraham's good fortune rather than to idols, heathen deities, dumb luck, brute force, fortuitous circumstance, and/or Abraham's business skills.

    It was important that the man tell Becky's family about Abraham's religion, and about his wealth, because in a moment he's going to drop a 2,000 pound bunker buster that will change their lives forever.

    †. Gen 24:36a . . And Sarah, my master's wife, bore my master a son in her old age

    Curiously, he doesn't mention Sarah's passing. But then, the Scriptures don't record every word that people ever spoke-- just excerpts really. Back in verse 30, Becky's entire experience at the spring is recounted in a very simple phrase: "Thus the man spoke to me."

    If Becky wasn't listening before, you can just bet your equity line that her little ears perked up like a NORAD radar station at the mention of Abraham's son. And not just a son, but a son born in Sarah's old age; which would mean that Abraham's boy was relatively young, or at least age-appropriate for her liking-- and maybe available too.

    Americans don't take marriage serious enough. It was life or death in those days. Ancient women didn't have the advantages of education, special rights, open promiscuity, and independence like the women in twenty-first century America. Family life was all that really mattered to the women of old. It was their career goal and it was their old age security. Single women were failures and most likely headed for poverty. And some even felt it was an evidence of Divine disfavor to become an old maid-- which only served to aggravate their despair even more. So when those women got married and/or had a baby; it was a very big cause for celebration.

    †. Gen 24:36b . . and he has assigned to him everything he owns.

    It's no doubt obvious by now to everyone in the house where the servant is going with his narrative. Why else would he tell of the son's inheritance if not to impress Becky's family in order to secure her for the son's bride?

    †. Gen 24:37-41 . . Now my master made me swear, saying: You shall not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I dwell; but you shall go to my father's house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son. And I said to my master: What if the woman does not follow me?

    . . . He replied to me: The Lord, whose ways I have followed, will send His angel with you and make your errand successful; and you will get a wife for my son from my kindred, from my father's house. Thus only shall you be freed from my adjuration: if, when you come to my kindred, they refuse you--only then shall you be freed from my adjuration.

    The "kindred" who might refuse the servant, includes the potential bride herself because Abraham said so at Gen 24:8.

    In the ancient East, daughters were often given in arranged marriages without their consent. And normally, if Becky's kin were to say she was going to marry Isaac, well then she was going to marry Isaac and that was the end of discussion. Up ahead, we'll see that very fate befall Becky's nieces: Rachel and Leah.

    But Abraham didn't want Isaac's bride to be purchased. No. In this case, Abraham broke with tradition and mandated the prospective bride herself cast the deciding vote. So if Becky refuses, the servant can't be blamed for dereliction of duty; and nobody is going to handcuff Becky and ship her off to Palestine via UPS ground. Abraham wants her to come down there of her own volition; and if not, then he'll look elsewhere . . . and no hard feelings about it.

    †. Gen 24:42-48 . . This portion is pretty much what went on before except that in this version, the family is told how Becky came to have the nose ring and the arm bands.

    Becky hadn't known till just now that the servant prayed for special providence prior to her arrival at the spring-- the part concerning drinking the maiden's water, and her serving the camels. Becky must have been totally astonished to think that the actual True God led that man, not just to her doorstep, but right smack dab to her footsteps. Wow!

    But she had no say in the negotiations at this point. Proposals were made to the senior members of the family in those days, not to the girl.

    †. Gen 24:49-51 . . And now, if you mean to treat my master with true kindness, tell me; and if not, tell me also, that I may turn right or left. Then Laban and Bethuel answered: The matter was decreed by Yhvh; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebecca before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master's son, as the Lord has spoken.

    Actually Bethuel himself didn't say anything. Laban spoke in proxy for him in the same way that the steward was now speaking as Abraham in Isaac's best interests. Bethuel and Laban may have had a quiet pow-wow off to the side and then Laban came forward and announced their decision.

    At this point, Becky would have normally become legally engaged to marry Isaac. But Abraham would not permit the marriage to be set in stone until the girl actually consented for herself. So it's not over yet.

    †. Gen 24:52 . .When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed low to the ground before the Lord.

    Abraham's steward is one of the most pious men in the Bible, and people like him can be very influential for God. If you've ever been in the presence of someone like him you know what I'm saying. All the prayers I learned as a child were rote; just a memorized litany of chant-like mantras. The first time I overheard someone pray candidly, from the heart, it was very moving.

    †. Gen 24:53 . .The servant brought out items of silver and gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebecca; and he gave presents to her brother and her mother.

    The gifts were a good-faith token that the servant meant what he said; and I've no doubt that had Becky ultimately refused, he would not have demanded them back.


    Comment (0)

    Wed, Sep 16th - 8:30AM

    Genesis 24:23-33


    †. Gen 24:23-25 . . Pray tell me; he said: whose daughter are you? Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night? She replied: I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. And she went on: There is plenty of straw and feed at home, and also room to spend the night.

    That did it. The identity of Becky's family was the final chop that felled the tree. Abraham's steward had no more doubts about the Lord's providence. At this point, he put the ring in Becky's nose and the bands on her arms.

    †. Gen 24:26-27 . .The man bowed low in homage to The Lord and said: Blessed be The Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His steadfast faithfulness from my master. For I have been guided on my errand by The Lord, to the house of my master's kinsmen.

    How utterly astounded Becky must have been that this stranger would give her all that gold for doing nothing more than watering him and his camels; and then his prayer to boot.

    I'm guessing that at this point, Becky began to suspect that something was up. There were men with Abraham's steward who were no doubt all intently observing this scene and gauging Becky's reactions throughout the whole incident. Looking at them, looking at the man, looking at his camels loaded down with all manner of stuff, and that there were more saddled camels than men to ride them; I think Becky began to get nervous because right then she took off out of there for home like a United passenger with scarcely seconds to spare to catch their connection from Chicago to Seattle.

    †. Gen 24:28 . .The maiden ran and told all this to her mother's household.

    Becky told the story to her mom's side of the family, which suggests that her dad Bethuel may have kept a concubine as well as a wife.

    Here's a possible scenario of what happened next.

    Becky's mom (whose name isn't given) has become anxious-- it's getting late, and her baby hasn't returned yet with the evening water supply.

    Then, WHAM! as sudden and unexpected as a California earthquake: an excited, out of breath Becky-girl comes crashing through the door with a shriek and a squeal; dropping her jug on the floor with a thud, sloshing water over the floor, accompanied by the incomprehensible jabbering of a flock of magpies-- gasping for air, lungs burning; she spits her tale as arms flash with gold, and the ring in her nose sparkles like a glimmering salmon lure every time she turns her head; which is quite often.

    At first, in dazed silence, everyone is paralyzed and nobody moves.

    Then, BOOM! the whole place erupts and people start scrambling. Chairs get knocked over, tables bumped out of their places, lamps teeter, and doors slam with the whump and concussion of incoming mortar rounds. People out in the courtyard are barking orders to the servants at the tops of their voices; as everyone bolts off from ground-zero in ten different directions like panicked North Koreans making emergency preparations to put Kim Jong-Un up for the night.

    Meanwhile, Becky's brother Laban (who just happens to be infected with a severe case of unbridled avarice) ignites the afterburners and sails out the door at Mach 2 on his way to fetch Abraham's steward.

    †. Gen 24:29-30a . . Now Rebecca had a brother whose name was Laban. He ran out to the man at the spring when he saw the nose-ring and the bands on his sister's arms, and when he heard his sister Rebecca say: Thus the man spoke to me.

    There's no record that Laban ever actually met Abraham in person, but Bethuel surely must have talked about him around the dinner table-- how the god of Noah had called uncle Abram to leave Mesopotamia and head south to the frontier. And caravans arriving from Egypt surely passed through Abraham's region, picking up news and information about the great sheik's exploits and the fact that Abraham's camp was very large; a community of at least a thousand people.

    Then; Shazaam! Abraham's steward seemingly materializes out of nowhere-- totally unexpected like Forrest Gump's friend Jenny after a long absence --with samples of Abraham's prosperity. That must have been really exciting: akin to news from early-day Texas oilfields.

    †. Gen 24:30b-31a . . He went up to the man, who was still standing beside the camels at the spring. He said: Come in, O blessed of The Lord;

    The word for "Lord" is actually YHVH and is the very name of deity the steward used in his prayer.

    Laban didn't actually worship Yhvh nor serve Him either. The steward's god was Yhvh; so for now, Yhvh would be Laban's god too. Becky's brother was a clever, Machiavellian manipulator. By feigning respect for the steward's god; Laban no doubt hoped it would work to advantage. Later we're going to discover that Laban's own personal religion was actually idolatry. He kept a supply of divine figurines in his home-- little statuettes called teraphim.

    †. Gen 24:31b . . why do you remain outside, when I have made ready the house and a place for the camels?

    Unlike Abraham's home, where Abraham ruled supreme, the daddy in Becky's home doesn't seem to have much voice or power in it. Bethuel's son, is the principle spokesman. He and his mom together seemed to run the place. Some husbands are happy with that kind of an arrangement so what the hey, if it works for them? It could be too that the daddy's health was not all that good and so he preferred letting his family manage the home.

    †. Gen 24:32 . . So the man entered the house, and the camels were unloaded. The camels were given straw and feed, and water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men with him.

    In those days, when somebody "entered the house" they actually entered a gateway into a courtyard bordered by living quarters and stables.

    Who took care of the animals? Probably servants. Which would indicate that Bethuel had done pretty well for himself in life. His home was spacious enough to shelter the servant and his detachment; plus he had enough provender and bedding for at least ten camels.

    Hmmmm. Makes one curious why Becky was out there fetching water. Why did she have to do it if they had servants? Well, I don't think she really had to; but Isaac's future bride was no narcissistic prima donna: she was one of those people who don't mind pitching in and getting their hands dirty. Privileged or no privileged; that girl was something.

    †. Gen 24:33a . . But when food was set before him, he said: I will not eat until I have told my tale.

    Always one for business, the man got straight to the point.

    †. Gen 24:33b . . He said: Speak, then.

    Who was it said: speak? Well, the nearest antecedent is Laban. You know, that boy reminds me of Sonny Corleone; the eldest brother in Mario Puzo's book "The Godfather". Sonny was headstrong, outspoken, and a slave to his passions; just like ol' Laban.


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    Tue, Sep 15th - 9:05AM

    Genesis 24:16d-22


    †. Gen 24:16d . . She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up.

    The "spring" in this case was a small pool of water fed by an aquifer, which is different than an artesian well; they gush, while aquifers seep.

    Some of the shafts of ancient man-made wells in that part of the world resemble mini open-pit mines; with steps hewn into the sides to facilitate access to the water for dipping jars and buckets. Becky's spring was likely constructed like that.

    †. Gen 24:17a . .The servant ran toward her

    The Hebrew word for "ran" is the same word used in Gen 18:2 and 18:7 to describe Abraham's movement when the three men appeared in his camp. Abraham was about 99 years old at the time and it's very doubtful he was able to move his legs all that fast. It's far more likely he just hastened.

    In any case, it was nevertheless essential that Abraham's steward not waste any time because Becky had strong legs and would surely be gone away home in a blink.

    †. Gen 24:17b . . and said: Please, let me sip a little water from your jar.

    It's amazing that a gorgeous young girl like Becky would allow a total stranger to approach her without protest or without screaming for help. Was she naïve? Was she foolish?

    Well . . maybe in that day, and around her town, you could trust people. But it would not be wise to do that in some parts of New York or Los Angeles. A seemingly honest appeal for assistance could very well be a distraction while an accomplice sneaks up behind you.

    Although Becky arrived first, ahead of the other girls, by now there may have been several others milling around the spring because that was the time of day for them to be there. In groups, they could all watch out for each other. Genesis doesn't tell about any of the others though because the spotlight is totally on Isaac's future bride.

    †. Gen 24:18a . . Drink, my lord: she said,

    The Hebrew word for "lord" is 'adown (aw-done') and is suitable for courteously addressing a male superior; whether actual or assumed; viz: fathers, aged men, kings, husbands, and/or God.

    †. Gen 24:18b . . and she quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and let him drink.

    The word for "quickly" is from mahar (maw-har') which means: to be liquid or flow easily; viz: nimble (the opposite of that would be the sluggishness of molasses in January) and implies to act promptly. I really like the way Becky responded. When people do things grudgingly, they often stonewall, perform slowly, and drag their feet just to show you they're annoyed. But Becky didn't hesitate. She gave water to the man whole-heartedly, sharply, and immediately.

    Whether she actually let him drink out of her hand is doubtful. Lowering the jar upon her hand merely indicates it was previously up on her shoulder or maybe on top of her head. Becky probably just supported it from underneath with one hand while tilting the top with the other so the contents would pour out and Abraham's steward could slack his thirst.

    †. Gen 24:19-20 . .When she had let him drink his fill, she said: I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking. Quickly emptying her jar into the trough, she ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.

    Flo-Jo Becky-- scurrying all over the place like a US Navy SEAL trainee in hell week. No time to waste if she was going to water all those camels before dark.

    The Arabian camel can drink more than twenty gallons of water in one sitting when it's very thirsty. I hope that man gave them some water earlier because he had ten camels and Becky could be hauling as much as 200 gallons. If her pitcher held five gallons, the weight would be about 41 pounds of water for each one of the forty trips she would have to make down and back up out of that spring. Wow that girl was fit! Well, she did it-- and all without any grousing about it.

    †. Gen 24:21 . .The man, meanwhile, stood gazing at her, silently wondering whether The Lord had made his errand successful or not.

    That man must have been totally blown away. The very thing about which he prayed barely five minutes ago was occurring right before his eyes and all so brisk and sudden too. This was just too easy and just too unbelievable. Could this really be of The Lord? He dared not let himself enjoy any success yet until he knew for sure.

    †. Gen 24:22 . .When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half-shekel, and two gold bands for her arms, ten shekels in weight.

    The word for "nose-ring" is nexem (neh'-zem) which just means ring, or jewel. Without a modifier, there is no way of knowing for sure if the ring is for the nose or the ear. However, in verse 47 up ahead, Abraham's steward will say he installed the ring in Becky's nose.

    The half shekel was a unit of weight and a media of exchange in those days. It weighed about 6.019 grams which is equal to about 92.87 grains. Typical .22 caliber lead bullets weigh approximately 40 grains apiece, so it would take at least two and a third of them to equal the weight of the ring. That's really not much, but if it's stuck in your nose or hanging on your ear I guess it would become noticeable after a while.

    The combined weight of the two bands was ten shekels, which is twenty times the weight of the ring; or about 1,857 grains; which is equivalent to forty-six .22 cal lead bullets.

    1,857 grains + 93 grains = 1,950 grains; which is equivalent to 4.06 troy ounces of gold. ( a troy ounce is equal to 480 grains) As of June 07, 2020 the commodity value of gold was roughly 1,687 US dollars per troy ounce. So to date, Becky's gold, in commodity value, was worth roughly 6,852 US dollars. (6,044 Euro)


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    Mon, Sep 14th - 10:06AM

    Genesis 24:11-16c


    †. Gen 24:11 . . He made the camels kneel down by the well outside the city, at evening time, the time when women come out to draw water.

    "evening time" is from an ambiguous word that indicates any time between high noon and sunset as opposed to morning which can indicate any time between sunrise and high noon.

    †. Gen 24:12 . . And he said: O Lord, God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with my master Abraham:

    This steward was truly a God-fearing man, and truly faithful to the one who sent him on this errand. His prayer is not self centered, but centered upon the best interests of his master's son. Incidentally, this is the very first prayer recorded in the Bible of any individual clearly requesting Divine providence.

    †. Gen 24:13-14 . . Here I stand by the spring as the daughters of the townsmen come out to draw water; let the maiden to whom I say "Please, lower your jar that I may drink" and who replies "Drink, and I will also water your camels"-- let her be the one whom You have decreed for Your servant Isaac. Thereby shall I know that You have dealt graciously with my master.

    This man didn't beat around the bush, nor begin reading from a siddur, nor a missal, nor did he chant by rote, nor blather in tongues. He gets right down to business and spells out his concerns in plain language. Let me say something very clearly: If you are the kind of person who has to pray in tongues because you don't have enough command of your own native language to express yourself in any other way, then maybe you should go back to school for a while.

    Of great interest is the steward's apparent lack of concern regarding the prospective bride's looks. Only God truly knew who would be right for Isaac, and Abraham's steward is not going to select a bride for his master's son like as if she's flesh on the line the way the sons of God did back in Gen 6:2. No; she must be hand-picked by God alone because He alone knows what's in a heart. If the girl that God chooses for Isaac is attractive; well that will be a bonus, but absolutely not the deciding factor.

    †. Gen 24:15 . . He had scarcely finished speaking, when Rebecca-- born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor --came out with her jar on her shoulder.

    As fortune would have it, the very first girl to arrive is Becky. Although she's related to Abraham, at this point Abraham's steward doesn't know who she is yet. In fact he's probably expecting to conduct many tiresome interviews; testing one girl after another until the right one shows up.

    †. Gen 24:16a . .The maiden was very beautiful,

    Some chafe at that passage and refuse to believe Genesis is talking about Becky's physical assets. However, later on, in Gen 26:6-7, Isaac will attempt his dad's old trick and say Becky is his sister; in order to save his skin. The reason Isaac gives for the lie is he believed the men of Gerar would be tempted to kill him because Becky was attractive. It is highly unlikely pagan men would take Becky away from Isaac just because she had a beautiful personality. As a rule, ancient men didn't fight over the nice girls; they battled for the alluring ones.

    †. Gen 24:16b . . a virgin

    Becky is three girls in one: a maiden, a virgin, and a virgin. What the heck you say? How is she two virgins?

    The word for "virgin" in 24:16 is bethuwlah (beth-oo-law') which can indicate a virgin, a bride; and also a city or state. Technically, bethuwlaw doesn't necessarily indicate a girl who's never slept with a man. The primary denotation is chronological, and the word simply indicates a mature young woman of marriageable age whether she is married or not; e.g. Joel 1:8, where a bethuwlah laments the husband of her youth.

    †. Gen 24:16c . . whom no man had known.

    That kind of wording says that Becky is not only all grown up, but she's a bethuwlah who still has her virginity. We have before us a gorgeous peach, not living with a man, neither has ever slept with a man.


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    Sun, Sep 13th - 8:39AM

    Genesis 24:3c-10


    †. Gen 24:3c-4 . . that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell, but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.

    The words "land of my birth" can also mean "to my country and to my relatives." That is exactly how the steward understood them because that is how he will narrate Abraham's instructions in Gen 24:38.

    I just bet Abraham was fully aware of the fate of the men of God who married the daughters of men back in the early parts of Genesis. Those men of God all died in the Flood right along with their impious wives.

    The influence of a non God-fearing spouse could prove fatal to Isaac's future. If he's going to serve and worship his dad's god, then he is going to have to marry a girl who fully appreciates and supports the prophecies regarding Abraham's progeny.

    Spouse hunting demands a level head and cold steel discernment or there is real risk in ending up like Solomon, one of the greatest of God's men, who was ruined by his marriages to women who didn't share his religious beliefs. (1Kgs 11:1-10)

    †. Gen 24:5-6 . . And the servant said to him: What if the woman does not consent to follow me to this land, shall I then take your son back to the land from which you came? Abraham answered him: You must not, for any reason, take my son back there!

    I think Abraham knew only too well just how much like sheep men are. When they fall in love, they'll literally sacrifice their lives to keep a woman; which is exactly what Jacob did. Rachel was a good girl; but she cost Jacob fourteen years of his life away from home in a foreign land with a bad influence: uncle Laban.

    Suppose Isaac went up north and feasted his glims on Rebecca? Well, up ahead we're going to find out that she was young, cute, and filled out in all the right places. I've seen what that does to men. I worked with a married man once who kept a young love on the side. He often used his wages to buy that girl jewelry while his wife and two little kids were housed in a ramshackle rental unit.

    It was too risky to let Isaac go up there. He might be tempted to remain with Rebecca if she refused to live so far off from her family. Isaac's future was in the land deeded to Abraham on oath; not up there in Mesopotamia; and his bride's place was with him and Yhvh; not with her family and Laban's idols.

    †. Gen 24:7 . .The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from my native land, who promised me on oath, saying "I will assign this land to your offspring" He will send His angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son from there.

    The identity of "His angel" is interesting. It's not referred to as one of His angels; just His angel. Jacob knew His angel as Yhvh; the divine benefactor he encountered on the way north during his flight from Esau. (Gen 28:12-15, Gen 48:17)

    NOTE: I sincerely believe that God Himself has never even once been to the Earth in person. He stays put, secluded in a sort of forbidden city somewhere apart from the cosmos and His business down here is conducted by a supreme celestial being who has the authority to speak for God, to speak as God, and to be respected as God. This supreme celestial being is curious in that it is capable of appearing in a fully functioning human body, viz: a living avatar. (eg. Gen 18:1-33, Ex 24:9-11, John 1:18)

    †. Gen 24:8-10a . . And if the woman does not consent to follow you, you shall then be clear of this oath to me; but do not take my son back there. So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him as bidden. Then the servant took ten of his master's camels

    Nobody is quite sure exactly when camels were domesticated. The earliest depiction of them in relief and cuneiform text as beasts of burden and transportation is sometime around 1100 BC.

    †. Gen 24:10b . . and set out, taking with him all the bounty of his master;

    The servant will need to demonstrate to the bride, and to the bride's family, that she'll be well taken care of. The servant of course didn't take along everything Abraham owned in total, but merely an adequate representation of his abundant wealth; which by inheritance, would all be Isaac's some day; and, by association, his future wife's too.

    Additional men accompanied the servant (Gen 24:32) who were very likely all armed (Gen 14:14); not only for the caravan's protection, but for the bride's as well. No doubt included among the camel's burdens were tents, victuals, provender, water, and appropriate accommodations for the bride's comfort on the journey back to Canaan. It was at least five hundred miles from Hebron up to Abraham's people in Mesopotamia, so the return trip couldn't possibly be made in a single day on camels and would necessitate overnight bivouacs in rugged country.

    †. Gen 24:10c . . and he made his way to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor.

    The Greek translation renders naharaim in dual form meaning, "two rivers", and from that arose the name Mesopotamia-- the land between the two rivers. Some feel that the name naharaim really means "the land along the river" or "the land within the river".

    It's a territory bounded approximately on the east by an imaginary north/south line drawn from Ar Raqqah Syria to Urfa Turkey. The southern and western borders are delineated by the Euphrates as it runs from Ar Raqqah Syria towards Gaziantep Turkey: an area within which at one time lay the kingdom of Mitanni. This is called Naharain in the Egyptian texts, and Naharima in the El-Armana letters.

    The details of the journey are passed over. It would have been fun to hear about the caravan's adventures. How they had to dodge a flock of ostriches that ran out in the road, and maybe how a lion came around at night and spooked everybody, or how one of the men fell asleep at the wheel and his camel ran off the road and hit a tree; stuff like that. But Genesis has priorities; and the journey's details were not one of them. In a blink, the caravan arrives; a trip that took maybe two weeks or so; and Rebecca rapidly becomes the prime focus. This chapter, after all, about the bride; rather than the groom.


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    Sat, Sep 12th - 9:22AM

    Genesis 24:1-3b


    †. Gen 24:1a . . Abraham was now old, advanced in years,

    Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen 21:25). The lad was 40 when he married Rebecca (Gen 25:20). So that makes Abraham 140 at this point in the record. But although Abraham was worn; he wasn't worn out. Abraham still had plenty of vigor left in him and would go on to live another 35 years and even father more children. As far as the Scriptural record goes, Abraham enjoyed excellent health at this point in his life and still had his wits about him too.

    †. Gen 24:1b . . and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.

    The "all things" at this point in the narrative would pertain to Abraham's economic prosperity because that's how his steward will represent him at verse 35.

    †. Gen 24:2a . . And Abraham said to the steward of his household, who had charge of all that he owned,

    It is impossible to identify the steward because his name isn't disclosed anywhere throughout chapter 24. It could be the Eliezer of Gen 15; however, many years have gone by since then. Abraham was eighty-six when Ishmael was born in chapter 16, and he is 140 in this chapter; so it has been more than 54 years since the last mention of Eliezer. The steward at this point in Abraham's home may even be Eliezer's son by now, but nobody really knows for sure.

    Abraham's steward is going to act as an ambassador-- not for Abraham, but for Isaac. Abraham, for reasons undisclosed, can't leave Canaan to do this himself. So the steward is dispatched as a proxy for Abraham to act in his son Isaac's best interests.

    †. Gen 24:2b-3a . . Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear

    Some Bible students construe Jesus' words at Matt 5:33-37 to mean that taking an oath is intrinsically a sin. But that's not the tenor of his words at all. What he really said in that passage is that taking an oath sets you up for a fall because for one thing; people are too quick to swear, and for another human beings cannot guarantee that unforeseen circumstances won't prevent them from making good on their oath. In other words: the nature of promises is that they are immune to changing circumstances. So unless you can see the future, then if at all possible, make your promises without sealing them with an oath because if you drag God into your promise; He's going to expect you to make good on it come hell or high water or risk getting called on the carpet to explain why you think so little of His name.

    "If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." (Num 30:2)

    Anyway: if taking an oath were intrinsically a sin, then God himself would be a sinner (e.g. Gen 22:15-18, Ps 89:3-4, Ps 89:35-37, Ps 110:4, Isa 14:24, Isa 45:23, Isa 54:9, Heb 4:3, et al). Jesus too would be in contradiction of his own teachings because he testified under oath that he was the Messiah; God's son. (Matt 23:63-65)

    †. Gen 24:3b . . by Yhvh, the God of heaven and the God of the earth

    Exodus 6:3 makes it appear that Abraham wasn't supposed to be aware of the name Yhvh. But here in Gen 24, Abraham made his steward swear by that very appellation; so there can be no doubt he was fully aware of it.

    The word for "thigh" is from yarek (yaw-rake') and has a couple of meanings. It can be the actual thigh (e.g. Gen 32:26, Song 7:1) and it can mean a man's privates. (e.g. Gen 46:26, Num 5:21)

    In those days, men didn't always raise their right hands to take an oath with each other-- sometimes they held sacred objects in their hand like we do today when a swearer puts their hand upon a Bible or a Torah Scroll. In this particular case in Genesis, the object held in the hand was a holy patriarch. Only twice in the entire Old Testament is an oath recorded taken in this manner. The first is here, and the other is Gen 47:29.

    NOTE: The similarities between the procurement of Isaac's bride, and that of the bride of Christ are remarkable. Neither of the fathers of the grooms go themselves to woo the brides; but rely upon a nameless servant who can be trusted to faithfully look out for the grooms' best interests. Guided by providence, the servants locate candidates, give them some gifts, explain their missions, tell of the wealth of the fathers, tell of the inheritances of the grooms, tell the candidates something of the grooms' genealogies; and are especially careful to explain the circumstances of the grooms' miraculous births.

    The candidates never see any photos or pictures of their potential husbands, are given no information disclosing the grooms' personalities, and are permitted to know only certain general details about the grooms and nothing more-- at first. At this point, the servants then press for a response, and proceed no further until the candidates make their decision. However, no one can force the bridal candidates to accept the grooms. The candidates must consent to join him of their own volition.

    After the candidates consent to go and be with the grooms, the servants then cull the candidates from their native people, and from their native lands, and safely escort them to the lands and peoples of the grooms. The grooms, upon receipt of the candidates, accept them just as they are, give them a nice home, and love and care for them to the very end.


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    Fri, Sep 11th - 8:34AM

    Genesis 23:10b-20


    †. Gen 23:10b-11 . . saying: No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and I give you the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.

    Ephron's generosity was no doubt sincere, but merely one more formality towards closing a deal on the property. Not wanting to appear a greedy beast profiteering on the loss of a man's wife, he first offered it to Abraham for free.

    That was actually a very kind show of respect for Abraham's grief. Abraham will pay for the property, and I have no doubt both men fully expected a monetary settlement; but not before Ephron first has an opportunity to make certain everyone in town sees him pay his respects for the dead of one of the most, if not the most, highly respected men in all of Canaan.

    †. Gen 23:12-15 . .Then Abraham bowed low before the people of the land, and spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying; If only you would hear me out. Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there. And Ephron replied to Abraham, saying to him; My lord, do hear me. A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver-- what is that between you and me? Go and bury your dead.

    The shekel of Abraham's day wasn't coinage; but rather, a unit of weight equal to 20 gerahs (Ezk 45:12) which is equivalent to 10 English pennyweights or 1/2 ounce troy. So it would take two of Abraham's shekels to equal one troy ounce of silver.  

    The average value of a troy ounce of silver as of June 04, 2020, was around 17.66 US dollars. So 400 full shekels would be worth about 3,532 of today's US dollars (3,148 Euro)

    No doubt Ephron had mixed feelings about the property. On the one hand, he, as well as his countrymen, would prefer it not be sold to a non Hittite. Yet they all admired Abraham and didn't want to disappoint him, especially during a time of bereavement.

    Ephron didn't actually ask for four hundred shekels. He merely told Abraham what the property was worth, but that its value meant nothing between friends; as if Abraham could have it for free. But it was really a subtle way of naming a price without actually coming right out and naming it; know what I mean?

    †. Gen 23:16 . . Abraham accepted Ephron's terms. Abraham paid out to Ephron the money that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites-- four hundred shekels of silver at the going merchants' rate.

    In those days they used a balance scale to weigh out precious metals for trading purposes. Merchant rates are typically less than consumer rates. So Abraham's 400 shekels would have been weighed out with a lighter set of counterweights than normal in order for him to buy the land at wholesale.

    †. Gen 23:17-18 . . So Ephron's land in Machpelah, near Mamre-- the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the confines of that field --passed to Abraham as his possession, in the presence of the Hittites, of all who entered the gate of his town.

    Abraham's purchase of Hittite territory was done in the presence of a goodly number of blue-blooded Hittite witnesses so there would be no basis for anyone to contest his rightful ownership. Abraham didn't purchase just the cave, but also the wooded grounds around it so that Sarah's gravesite was originally a very nice cemetery.

    But if you want to visit her burial site today, be forewarned. The region in and around Hebron is a political strife zone these days. The monumental shrine erected over the cave in which Abraham was buried makes this one of the great sights for visitors with an interest in scriptural history; but since there are frequently violent clashes between Arabs and Israelis in Hebron it is essential before visiting the town to check up on the current situation with the tourist information office in Jerusalem.

    Sarah's gravesite today (if indeed anybody knows where it really is) is covered by an Islamic structure called Al-lbrahimi Mosque; in honor of Abraham, Ishmael's dad. It should be pointed out that the Mosque isn't intended to promote Judaism's Yhvh, but rather, Islam's Allah.

    †. Gen 23:19-20 . . And then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre-- now Hebron --in the land of Canaan. Thus the field with its cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham, as a burial site.

    Not only a burial site, but also as a permanent real estate holding-- the people of Israel's very first piece of their very own country; which gives them legitimate roots there even prior to the Exodus; and way ahead of the Palestinians.


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    Thu, Sep 10th - 7:51AM

    Genesis 23:1-10a


    †. Gen 23:1-2a . . Sarah's lifetime-- the span of Sarah's life --came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba-- now Hebron --in the land of Canaan;

    This is the only woman in the entire Old Testament for whom an age is given at the time of her death. Isaac was 37 at this point, having been born when Sarah was 90 (Gen 17:17) and Abraham was 137 since he and Sarah were ten years difference in age (Gen 17:17). She lived in Canaan with her husband for 62 years and they never once owned their own home. They moved there when he was 75 and she was 65 --and Abraham at this point has 38 years on the clock yet to go.

    NOTE: If we were to assume Sarah's death immediately followed the Akedah, then Isaac would have been 37 when he and Abraham went to the mountain seeing as how his mom was ninety when the lad was born.

    †. Gen 23:2b . . and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her.

    Some people think it's weak and unspiritual to mourn for the dead. However; it is the very best way to let them go. People shouldn't stifle their heartbreak, nor steel themselves against it. I would rather see people get angry and withdrawn at the loss of their loved ones than to blow it off as just another passing phase of life.

    Sarah had quite a life you know. She was a strong pioneer woman-- taken into the palaces of a Pharaoh and a King. And she was selected by Almighty God to be the mother of the people of Israel, and of Messiah: Israel's ultimate monarch. Sarah was also a genetic path to the seed promised Eve back in Gen 3:15. We can't just put her in the ground as if she was a commoner no different than anybody else.

    †. Gen 23:3a . .Then Abraham rose from beside his dead, and spoke to the Hittites,

    Who is the most famous Hittite in the Old Testament? Give up? It's Uriah, Bathsheba's first husband; whose unwarranted death David instigated. (2Sam 11:1-27)

    †. Gen 23:3b-4 . . saying: I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.

    Abraham had no ancestral claim upon the land. So he had to appeal to the Hittites' sensibilities; and beg for some property. They, on the other hand, were in a straight because the land was their heritage and selling off some of their holdings would diminish the inheritances to be received by their heirs, and plus, the land would be lost forever; and to an alien yet.

    †. Gen 23:5b . . And the Hittites replied to Abraham, saying to him: Hear us, my lord: you are the elect of God among us.

    The word for "God"-- 'elohiym --is not really in that verse; an editor took the liberty to insert it. And the word for "elect" is from nasiy' (naw-see') which doesn't mean elect at all but means an exalted one; viz: a king or sheik. The Hittites had great respect for Abraham; and in their estimation he earned the right to a potentate's reception.

    †. Gen 23:5b . . Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold his burial place from you for burying your dead.

    By donating a sepulcher, instead of selling the land, the Hittites would retain ownership of the real estate and thus none would be lost to their posterity. In the future, they could pave over it for a mall, or dig up the whole thing with earth-moving machinery for a residential sub division.

    †. Gen 23:7 . .Thereupon Abraham bowed low to the people of the land, the Hittites,

    How many Jews today would bow to a Hittite, or to any other Gentile for that matter? Abraham was indeed a very humble man who never let his connection to God go to his head nor give him a superiority complex. Pride and Prejudice are two of the Jews' most widely known attributes in modern times; but they didn't get it from their ancestor; that's for sure.

    †. Gen 23:8 . . and he said to them: If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar.

    The sons of Heth (who were Hittites themselves) would act as the mediator between Ephron (a fellow Hittite) and Abraham (an Eberite: thus an outsider). It was only a formality, but nonetheless, an important cultural protocol in those days.

    †. Gen 23:9 . . Let him sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, which is at the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst.

    The location is favorable for Ephron because it's at the edge of his property line, so Abraham won't need an easement to access the site, nor will it be an eyesore stuck out in the middle.

    †. Gen 23:10a . . Ephron was present among the Hittites; so Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his town,

    Ephron didn't have to answer personally; but chose to of his own volition.

    People who actually lived in a town's proper, were the upper crust-- the merchants, bankers, judges, city managers, the mayor, and like that. It was important that those "who entered the gate of his town" be involved in a decision regarding property sales because of the potential impact upon their own interests.

    In those days, land owned by a clan like the Hittites defined the boundaries of their territory; and each family within a clan owned parcels of it. So when one of the families, like Ephron's for example, sold some of their parcel to a foreigner, the whole community suffered a permanent loss of territory.


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    Wed, Sep 9th - 10:11AM

    Genesis 22:13-24


    †. Gen 22:13 . .When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.

    The covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy a few centuries later would not have allowed Abraham to substitute a ram for Isaac. (Lev 27:28-29)

    According to a documentary I recently watched on NetFlix; approximately 2,000 Muslim butchers assemble for Mecca every year and slaughter something like 700,000 to 800,000 sheep to commemorate the ram that Abraham sacrificed in his son's stead. Islam of course believes the son was Ishmael instead of Isaac.

    The animals aren't consumed by the hajis. Instead; they're processed, packaged, and shipped to poor people around the world. Well; it would be nice if some of the people of Somalia and North Korea got a number of those sheep because they could sure use them. Ironically, Islamic militants have been thwarting efforts to get aid to the Somalian people. Where's the spirit of Mecca in that?

    †. Gen 22:14 . . And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh, whence the present saying: On the mount of God there is vision.

    Chabad dot org translates that like this:

     "And Abraham named that place, The Lord will see, as it is said to this day: On the mountain, the Lord will be seen."

    †. Gen 22:15-18 . .The angel of God called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said: By Myself I swear, God declares; because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your favored one, I will bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your seed, because you have obeyed My command.

    Abraham obtained God's oath because "you have obeyed My command". What command was that? The command to offer his son as a burnt offering (Gen 22:2). See? Abraham didn't make a mistake. He understood God perfectly; and would have slit Isaac's throat and burned him to ashes had not God pushed the stop button in the final moments.

    Far from being scolded for offering a human sacrifice, Abraham is highly commended for complying; and the promises God made in previous chapters are now reaffirmed. He lost nothing; but the rather, gained a spiffy bonus: the Almighty's oath.

    Concerning those promises: the first time around, God merely gave His word (which is normally good enough, and in and of itself quite immutable). Another time He passed between the pieces; thus notarizing the promises (double whammy). But this time, God anchored the promises with an oath (grand slam). That is extremely notable.

    Would Abraham have failed to obtain the promises had he refused to offer his son? No. He would still have obtained them because the original promises-- made prior to the oath --are unconditional and guaranteed by the immutability of God's integrity. What Abraham would have failed to obtain was the oath.

    So then, God has gone to every possible length to assure Abraham's seed of the certainty of those original promises with: 1) His testimony, 2) His passing between the pieces, and 3) His oath. You won't find God taking oaths very often in the Bible.

    This particular oath is part and parcel of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Deut 29:9-15.

    †. Gen 22:19 . . Abraham then returned to his servants, and they departed together for Beer-sheba; and Abraham stayed in Beer-sheba.

    Isaac isn't specifically named in either the return or the departure, except that the words "departed together" are highly suggestive of the very same togetherness of verses 6 and 8. And back in verse 5, Abraham told the servants that he and Isaac would both return. If Isaac had not been with Abraham on the return trip, the servants would have surely asked where he was.

    The Targums have a pretty interesting postscript at this point.

    T. And the angels on high took Izhak and brought him into the school (medresha) of Shem the Great; and he was there three years. And in the same day Abraham returned to his young men; and they arose and went together to the Well of the Seven, and Abraham dwelt at Beira-desheva. And it was after these things, after Abraham had bound Izhak, that Satana came and told unto Sarah that Abraham had killed Izhak. And Sarah arose, and cried out, and was strangled, and died from agony. (Targum Jonathan)

    †. Gen 22:20 . . Some time later, Abraham was informed: Milcah too has borne children to your brother Nahor:

    Just exactly how much time had passed after The Akedah until this announcement is uncertain but it was likely at least three days because that's how long it took Abraham's party to get back home. (Gen 22:4)

    Nahor was one of Abraham's brothers and Milcah was Abraham's niece through Haran, another brother: who was also Lot's dad. Milcah was Nahor's real wife. He also had a concubine named Reumah.

    †. Gen 22:21-24 . . Uz the first-born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram; and Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel”-- Bethuel being the father of Rebecca. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham's brother. And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore children: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

    Bethuel and Rebecca are the only two who really stand out in that list. However, Genesis records everybody because God, apparently for reasons of His own, thinks they're all important in some way.


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    Tue, Sep 8th - 8:42AM

    Genesis 22:11-12


    †. Gen 22:11 . .Then an angel of God called to him from heaven: Abraham! Abraham! And he answered: Here I am.

    This particular celestial messenger is not only going to speak about God, and speak for God, but will also speak for itself as God.

    †. Gen 22:12a . . And he said: Do not raise your hand against the lad, or do anything to him.

    There are some who feel that the angel stopped Abraham at this point because he misunderstood the instructions God gave to him back in verse 2; which were: "Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering"

    But an interpretation of that nature impugns the quality of Abraham's spiritual acumen as a man whom God said in Gen 20:7 was a prophet. Abraham no doubt understood his Master perfectly and knew just what he was expected to do. He had three days to pray about it and request confirmation.

    Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and that is exactly what he tried to do, and would have done; had not the angel stopped him in the nick of time. And the angel stopped him not because it was wrong. No. The angel stopped Abraham from killing Isaac because He had seen enough.

    †. Gen 22:12b . . For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me.

    The angel first speaks about God, and then he speaks for himself. In other words: if the angel isn't God; then he is certainly a very close approximation of God.

    Someone usually wants to know how a supposedly omniscient God didn't know till then that Abraham would go through with it. Well; in the Bible; the word "know" isn't limited to academic information. It often refers to experiential knowledge; like the difference between reading about the Atacama Desert in National Geographic and actually walking there, tasting the dust and feeling the sunshine on your arms.

    By omniscience, God has seen the future already even before it takes place. It's all laid out before him like an open road map. He can see every avenue and every city all in one glance. However; like a traveler; God hasn't actually been to each place yet.

    David, in Psalm 139, said God's spirit is omnipresent, i.e. God is everywhere and every place all at once in the now. However, I have yet to see a scripture clearly, conclusively, and without ambiguity attesting that God is everywhere and every place all at once in the past, present, and future, viz: the ability to transcend time, i.e. travel in time.

    God no doubt already knew ahead of time every single thing that would take place the day Abraham and Isaac were on that mountain. None of that took God by surprise. He saw it all ahead of time-- but; God had yet to be there and take part when it actually happened. Afterwards; God not only knew in His head that Abraham feared him; but God knew it in His heart too via personal experience; i.e. God's personal participation in the event confirmed in His heart what He already knew in His head.


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    Mon, Sep 7th - 8:27AM

    Genesis 22:9b-10


    †. Gen 22:9b . . Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood;

    This was a place where, apparently, Abraham had never worshipped before because he had to build an altar.

    †. Gen 22:9c . . he bound his son Isaac;

    If Isaac was old enough, and strong enough, to shoulder a load of firewood (Gen 22:6) then he was old enough, and strong enough, to get away from Abraham, who, at the time, was past 100 years old.

    NOTE: If perchance Gen 23:1 took place immediately following the Akedah, then Abraham would have been 137 at this point in the narrative seeing as how he and Sarah were ten years apart in age. (Gen 17:17)

    If they had not already talked it over, then when Abraham pulled out his rope and assayed to bind Isaac; the lad would surely request an explanation; don't you think?

    Had Isaac not consented to the ritual, then he could have easily escaped because Abraham was alone; he had no one to assist him to restrain Isaac: the servants having remained behind with the burro. Besides, Isaac had to agree or the whole affair would disintegrate into a ritual murder.

    Binding was for Isaac's own good. No doubt he was willing enough to die; but nobody is comfortable with injury. When the knife would begin to make an incision in Isaac's neck to sever his carotid artery, he might reach up and grab his father's hand, the meanwhile twisting and thrashing in a natural response to pain and fear-- similar to what most anybody would do in a dentist's chair without Novocain.

    The binding would help keep him still and avoid collateral damage; otherwise, Abraham might accidentally cut off Isaac's nose or poke him in the eye and quite possibly disfigure him horribly instead of succeeding in killing the lad in a humane fashion.

    †. Gen 22:9d . . he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

    That may seem impossible for a man of Abraham's age, but no specifications for altars existed at that time. They could be two feet high, ten, or just a rudimentary hearth of stones laid right on the ground like a campfire or in a shallow excavation like a wood pit barbecue.

    At that moment, even before Isaac was dead, and even before the tiniest spark of a fire was kindled: Abraham's offering of his son was complete. In other words: had God not wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son, He would have stopped the proceedings before Abraham laid his son on the wood because once that happens the offerer relinquishes control over his offering.

    From that point on; the offering belongs to God; and it becomes His prerogative to do with it as He pleases-- to kill Isaac or not to kill him was God's exclusive right and privilege. Bottom line is: it wasn't necessary for Isaac to be dead in order to count as a sacrifice: he only had to be laid on the wood of the altar to count.

    "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son (Heb 11:17-18)

    "Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?" (Jas 2:21)

    It's easily seen from those passages in James and Hebrews that not all human sacrifice is evil. In point of fact, in certain cases; it's the right thing to do. But the point is: James and Hebrews makes it clear that Isaac counted as an offering even though he was not slain.

    I just don't know why it is that people think that the 22nd chapter of Genesis teaches God's supposed abhorrence for all manner of human sacrifice when it is so obviously meant to convey the quality of Abraham's confidence in God's promise made at Gen 15:2-6.

    In other words: if Abraham was to go on to generate a posterity through his son whose numbers would be too many to count; then God would have to restore Isaac to life in order to make good on the promise; and according to Heb 11:17-19 Abraham was counting on that very thing. In other words: according to Jas 2:21-23, Abraham's willingness to kill his son validates Gen 15:2-6 where it's stated that Abraham believed God.

    †. Gen 22:10a . . And Abraham picked up the knife

    Abraham didn't just pick the knife up and hold it in his hand in some sort of symbolic gesture. No, he picked it up with the full intention of using it on his boy; as these next words of the narrative fully indicate.

    †. Gen 22:10b . . to slay his son.

    Do you think Abraham was messing around? I guarantee you he was NOT. He fully intended to slit Isaac's throat.


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    Sun, Sep 6th - 8:41AM

    Genesis 22:6b-9a


    †. Gen 22:6b-7 . . He himself took the firestone and the knife; and the two walked off together. Then Isaac said to his father Abraham: Father! And he answered: Yes, my son. And he said: Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?

    Oops! That's kind of like going out to a picnic and forgetting the hot dogs and hamburger buns. The Tanakh's translation of the Hebrew word 'esh (aysh) as firestone was probably an educated guess. 'Esh just simply means fire, with no stone implied.

    A convenient way to transport fire in those days was with a portable oven; viz: a fire pot (cf. Gen 15:17). So rather than a stone, which implies striking sparks, they most likely just brought along the camp stove, which held a receptacle for live coals. Fire pots in those days were the equivalent of modern propane-fueled camping equipment.

    Since Abraham was the patriarch, it was his prerogative, as well as his responsibility, to actually kill the burnt offering and set it afire; so he quite naturally took custody of the weapon and the coals; as Isaac no doubt fully expected him to.

    The word for "sheep" is either she (seh) or sey (say) which means: a member of a flock, which can be either a sheep or a goat. Neither the age nor the gender mattered in this instance because Scripture up to this point in time had not yet specified age or gender for a burnt offering.

    Abraham could have used kids and lambs, or ewes, nannies, or rams; it made no difference. Actually, Abraham might have offered birds too. Noah did in chapter 8-- but there was something special about this instance that Isaac somehow knew required something quite a bit more substantial than a bird.

    †. Gen 22:8a . . And Abraham said: God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son.

    Little did Isaac know the sheep of that day was to be him. Ol' Abraham and his half truths are at it again.

    †. Gen 22:8b . . And the two of them walked on together.

    This is now the second time Genesis says they walked together. Neither one led, nor brought up the rear, as in the case of so many husbands who leave their wives dragging along behind at the malls. Incidentally, the dialogue that took place between Isaac and his dad in verses 7 and 8 are the only recorded words they ever spoke to each other in the whole Bible.

    Arguments from silence insist that if something isn't clearly stated in the Bible, then it's inferred from the silence that there was nothing to state. In other words: according to the logic of an argument from silence, verses 7 and 8 are the only words that Isaac and Abraham ever spoke to each other their entire lives: which of course is highly unlikely.

    †. Gen 22:9a . .They arrived at the place of which God had told him.

    When did that happen . . God telling him? Genesis doesn't say. Jewish tradition says the site had an aural glow which Abraham and Isaac were enabled to see from a distance.

    Anyway it was now time to tell Isaac the real purpose of their pilgrimage.

    I can almost hear Isaac ask; "Dad, if I'm dead, then how will God make of me a great nation whose numbers exceed the stars of heaven? You told me He promised you that". Yes; God did promise Abraham that in Gen 15:4-5, and Gen 17:18-21.

    It is here where Isaac's great faith is revealed; but not so much his faith in God: rather, faith in his dad. Abraham's influence upon Isaac was astonishing; so much so that no doubt the lad believed right along with his dad that his death would only be temporary. Isaac was convinced that God would surely raise him from the dead in order to make good on His promises to Abraham.

    That young man really had fortitude; and incredible trust in his dad too. I'll tell you what: those two men deserve our deepest admiration. What an incredible display of faith and courage; both on the part of Abraham and on the part of his son Isaac.


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    Sat, Sep 5th - 7:42AM

    Genesis 22:2d-6a


    †. Gen 22:2d . . on one of the heights that I will point out to you.

    Precisely where the land of Moriah was, and the specific height God chose, is impossible to tell for sure. Abraham knew where the land was but he wouldn't know the exact spot until he got there.

    It's just as well to keep it a secret or otherwise somebody would turn it into a shrine; sort of like the so-called Garden Tomb, where people come from all over the world and make fools of themselves kissing the ground. Some would even take home souvenir jars of dirt too; so that by now, likely so much dirt would be gone that the site of Moriah would look more like a quarry than a high place.

    †. Gen 22:3a . . So early next morning, Abraham saddled his burro and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac.

    The Hebrew word for "saddled" is ambiguous. It doesn't necessarily indicate a device meant for transporting personnel; more likely tackling for cargo.

    Whether or not the servants were armed, Genesis doesn't say. And why only two I don't know either. But that was enough to look after the burro while Abraham and Isaac were gone. And it's not wise to leave one man all alone in the outdoors; especially in the wild country of early day Palestine what with no phone service nor radios, nor cars to flag down for help in that day.

    †. Gen 22:3b . . He split the wood for the burnt offering,

    It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that the servants did the actual wood cutting with Abraham supervising.

    †. Gen 22:3c-4 . . and he set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar.

    Apparently everyone hiked on foot. The burro was just used as a pack animal to haul food, water, tents, supplies, and the wood.

    Though it's stated Abraham "looked up" it doesn't necessarily mean the site was elevated above him. When Lot surveyed the Jordan valley, he was said to have "lifted up" his eyes. But the valley was about three thousand feet down below his vantage at the time. Lifting up one's eyes just simply means to look around, and survey the scene.

    Those three days gave Abraham plenty of time to think about what God expected him to do. Abraham must surely have been giving Isaac's future some serious thought. And he no doubt pondered the promises God made concerning the great nation that was to issue from his boy. It was very likely at this time that Abraham's faith in God's promises sustained his determination to obey and take Isaac's life.

    "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said "In Isaac your seed shall be called" concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead," (Heb 11:17-19)

    In other words: Abraham was so confident that God was going to somehow make of his son's progeny a great nation that he assumed, quite correctly, that though he slay Isaac and cremate his remains, the lad wouldn't stay dead for very long.

    †. Gen 22:5 . .Then Abraham said to his servants: You stay here with the burro. The lad and I will go up there. We will worship and we will return to you.

    Worship can be defined as respect paid to a better-- like when Abraham ran and bowed to the three men who came to his tent in chapter 18, and up ahead when he will bow to the sons of Heth in chapter 23.

    When we let a senior citizen go through a door ahead of us, we are saying we regard that person as better than we are. And when we move aside for a presidential motorcade, we say the same thing. That's a kind of worship. It's not an attitude of equality nor one of parity. True worship is an attitude of humility, inferiority, subordination, submission, and admiration.

    The God of the Bible is so superior and respectable that the seraphs in His throne room cover their faces and dare not gaze upon God. True worship recognizes God's supremacy and respects the sanctity of His person. Sinners are never allowed to barge in like drunken sailors, to gape and swagger, unwashed and uninvited. No, they crawl in, recognizing the depravity of Man and the extreme dignity of God. The burnt offering shows that Man not only risks death and incineration in God's presence: he fully deserves it.

    There exists adequate proof that Abraham was capable of dishonesty, so it's difficult to tell at this point if he was actually predicting their return, or misleading everyone with a fib so nobody would become alarmed and throw a monkey wrench into the works. It was Abraham's full intention to slay Isaac but I'm sure you can understand why he wouldn't want anyone to know that.

    However, Abraham was confident that Isaac wouldn't stay dead; that much is known for certain so I vote to give Abraham the benefit of the doubt and say he really did believe that he and Isaac come back together.

    †. Gen 22:6a . . Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac.

    Were Isaac not quite a bit grown up at this time I don't think Abraham would have made him carry the wood.

    But why not let the burro haul the wood to the site? Well; if you have never heard a burro bray up close and personal, I guarantee you would not want one to do it during a solemn church service. They are LOUD!


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    Fri, Sep 4th - 8:10AM



    Rabbis are quite divided as to the true meaning of Gen 22:2. Some feel Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and some feel he wasn't. There are some who feel that the angel stopped Abraham at this point because he was making a big mistake-- that Abraham misunderstood the instructions God gave to him back in verse 2; which were: And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering

    Targums, which were commonly taught in the synagogues prior to, during, and after Jesus' day, paraphrased that verse to mean just exactly what it implies: that Isaac was supposed to die.

    T. And He said: Take now thy son, thy only one whom thou lovest, Izhak, and go into the land of worship, and offer him there, a whole burnt offering, upon one of the mountains that I will tell thee. (Targum Jonathan)

    The verb "offer" is from 'alah (aw-law') which means: to ascend. Yosef Hallel, a rabbi who lived one or two generations before the Common Era, noted that 'alah is the same verb used with reference to a qorbanot offering, and does, in fact, imply "to slaughter" (e.g. Lev 17:8).

    Another rabbi, Zalman Sorotzkin, who lived in pre war Poland and post war Israel, said: "Abraham's going joyfully to slay his son [pre] atoned for his descendants refusal to go to the Holy Land." There are Midrash commentaries very similar to that line of thought.

    Some ancient Jewish commentators did in fact credit the father, Abraham, for slaying his son and they also credited Isaac for not only willingly offering his body, which was implied turned to ashes, but also for offering ¼ of his blood too. (Midrash HaGadol on Gen 22:19), (Sifra, 102c; b. Ta'anit 16a) and also (Mekhilta d'Rashbi, p.4; Tanh. Vayerra, sec.23)

    For what, or for whom, did Isaac willingly offer his body and blood? Was it for himself? Was it for his father Abraham? According to the Targums, it was for his future progeny, the people of Israel.

    T. And Abraham prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, and said: Thou art The Lord who seest, and art not seen. I pray for mercy before Thee, O Lord. It is wholly manifest and known before Thee that in my heart there was no dividing, in the time that Thou didst command me to offer Izhak my son, and to make him dust and ashes before Thee; but that forthwith I arose in the morning and performed Thy word with joy, and I have fulfilled Thy word.

    . . . And now I pray for mercies before Thee, O Lord God, that when the children of Izhak offer in the hour of need, the binding of Izhak their father Thou mayest remember on their behalf, and remit and forgive their sins, and deliver them out of all need. That the generations who are to arise after him may say, In the mountain of the house of the sanctuary of the Lord did Abraham offer Izhak his son, and in this mountain of the house of the sanctuary was revealed unto him the glory of the Shekinah of the Lord. (Jerusalem Targum)

    in another Targum:

    T. Now I pray for mercy before You, O Lord God, that when the children of Isaac come to a time of distress You may remember on their behalf the Binding Of Isaac their father, and loose and forgive them their sins and deliver them from all distress. (Fragmentary Targum)

    The same thought is also carried over in a prayer, still included in the additional service for the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which culminates with these words: Remember today the Binding Of Isaac with mercy to his descendants.

    The rabbis attested that the final resurrection of the dead would take place "through the merits of Isaac, who offered himself upon the altar." (Pesikta deRav Kahana, 32)

    NOTE: That comment asserts Isaac was consenting; which is probably very true.

    Some, completely ignoring Tradition, Midrashim, and the Talmud, have really gone off the deep end by claiming Gen 22:2 should be translated like this: And He said; “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer [with] him there a burnt offering."

    Doctoring the Scripture by inserting the word "with" impugns Abraham's intellect as a man whom God testified in Gen 20:7 to be a prophet. Abraham no doubt understood his Master perfectly and knew just what he was expected to do. He had three days to pray about it and ask for confirmation. Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and that is exactly what he tried to do.


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    Thu, Sep 3rd - 8:28AM

    Genesis 22:1-2c


    †. Gen 22:1a . . Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test.

    This particular section of scripture deals with an ancient incident known in sacred Jewish literature as The Akedah (the binding of Isaac). The Akedah portrays the very first human sacrifice ever performed in the Bible by someone who is extremely important to the people of Israel.

    The test coming up wasn't meant to measure Abraham's loyalty; rather, to ascertain the quality of his trust in the promise that God made to him concerning Isaac's future.

    "Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." (Gen 17:19)

    †. Gen 22:1b-2a . . He said to him: Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And He said: Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love,

    The Hebrew word for "favored one" is yachiyd (yaw-kheed') which means sole. So then, Isaac wasn't just Abraham's favored son; he was also Abraham's only son because when the old gentleman emancipated Ishmael's mom Hagar, he relinquished legal kinship with her children. Relative to nature; Ishmael is Abraham's son, but relative to the covenant; he's no son at all.

    "Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son" (Heb 11:17)

    The Greek word translated "only begotten" is monogenes (mon-og-en-ace') which never refers to a special child, rather, always to an only child. Examples are located at Luke 7:12, Luke 8:42, Luke 9:38, John 1:14, John 1:18, John 3:16, John 3:18, and 1John 4:9.

    Isaac was about three to five years old when Hagar and Ishmael moved out. Some time has gone by; and in this chapter, Isaac is now old enough to shoulder a load of wood, and to ask an intelligent question based on experience and observation; so he wasn't a little kid in this incident.

    Why did God say; whom you love? I think it's so we'd know how Abraham felt about Isaac. There can be no doubt that he would sorely miss this boy if ever something should happen to him.

    When people truly love their kids, they will die protecting them. They'll quite literally run into a burning building if need be and/or step in front of a bus.

    Normal parents are very protective like that when they truly love their kids. People who love their kids don't drown them to please a boy friend, don't leave them unattended in the car and go inside a bar for a drink; don't let them go off with strangers, and don't let them go to the mall or to the playground all by themselves when they're little.

    †. Gen 22:2b . . and go to the land of Moriah,

    There are only two places in the entire Old Testament where the word Moriah appears. One is here in Genesis and the other in 2Chrn 3:1.

    According to tradition, Genesis' land of Moriah is the same as the mount Moriah in 2nd Chronicles-- the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem --which is bordered by the world famous Wailing Wall. Some justification for the tradition is found in verse 14, where Abraham named the location Adonai yireh, from which came the expression; "On the mount of the Lord there is vision".

    However, Jerusalem's temple site isn't a three day trek on foot from Beer sheba; nor would it have been necessary for Abraham to pack in his own wood since Jerusalem's locale was well-forested in his day.

    In reality; the precise geographic location of the land of Moriah remains to this day a total mystery; which is probably for the best because by now there'd likely be an Islamic mosque constructed on the site were its location known.

    †. Gen 22:2c . . and offer him there as a burnt offering

    The Hebrew word for "burnt offering" is 'olah (o-law') which is a very different kind of offering than those of Cain and Abel. Theirs were minchah (min-khaw') which are usually gifts rather than atonements. They're also voluntary and bloodless.

    Some say that Abraham's offering shouldn't be translated "burnt" and others say it should.

    No doubt the best translator of 'olah within the context of the Akedah is the prophet Abraham himself. The very fact that he hewed wood, took a source of fire with him up the mountain, constructed an altar, put the wood on the altar, and then bound and positioned Isaac upon the wood and the altar; tells me that Abraham fully understood that when his divine master said 'olah He meant for the man to cremate his son.

    The evidence that Isaac also fully understood that 'olah implied incineration is when he asked his dad: "Father; here are the wood and the fire: but where is the sheep?"

    There are some who insist that Abraham misunderstood God. They say he was only supposed to take Isaac along with him up on the mountain and they together were to offer a burnt offering. What's the appropriate response to that?

    Well; as I stated: Abraham was a prophet (Gen 20:7). Also; Abraham had three days to think about what he was asked to do. Had Abraham the prophet any misgivings about human sacrifice-- any at all --he surely would have objected and/or at the very least requested a clarification. I'm confident that's true because of the example of his rather impudent behavior recorded in the latter part of the 18th chapter of Genesis.

    God ordered Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering. That means he will have to slit Isaac's throat; and then cremate his remains. Why isn't Abraham recoiling and getting in God's face about this with a vehement protest? The inference is quite obvious. Abraham didn't believe human sacrifice wrong. In other words: for Abraham, human sacrifice was a non-issue or he would have surely objected to it.

    NOTE: A technical point often overlooked in the "human sacrifice" debate is that in every instance banning the practice in the Old Testament, it is underage children that are condemned as offerings-- innocent children; viz: babes; and in particular, one's own. (e.g. Lev 18:21, Lev 20:2-5, Deut 12:31, Deut 18:10, cf. 2Kgs 16:3, 2Kgs 17:31, 2Kgs 23:10, 2Kgs 21:6, Ps 106:34, Ezk 20:31, Ezk 23:37, Jer 7:31, Jer 19:4, Jer 32:35).

    I have yet to encounter an instance where God expressed abhorrence at sacrificing a consenting adult.

    FYI: There is no record of God banning the practice of sacrificing consenting adults up to the time of Abraham's day. Had God banned it later in Moses' day, the ban wouldn't count because divine law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction; i.e. it isn't retroactive.

    Also to consider: were all adult sacrificing wrong, then Christ's crucifixion for the sins of the world would be null and void.


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    Wed, Sep 2nd - 10:07AM

    Genesis 21:22-34


    †. Gen 21:22a . . At that time

    While Hagar and Ishmael were busy re-inventing their lives; a seemingly trivial event occurred in Abraham's life. These kinds of events may seem superfluous, but they're actually pretty handy for giving us some insight into Abraham the man; i.e. his personality.

    †. Gen 21:22b . . Abimelech

    It is very possible that Abimelech is a royal title rather than a personal name, sort of like Pharaoh or Caesar, since in the title of Psalm 34 the name Abimelech is applied to the king of Gath, who is elsewhere known by his personal name Achish. (1Sam 27:2-3)

    †. Gen 21:22c . . and Phicol, chief of his troops,

    Phicol's name sounds funny in Hebrew. It's Piykol (pee-kole') which means: mouth of all. His name, like Abimelech's, could also have been a title; especially since it implies that he was a spokesman. I'm sure you've heard people say: "And I think I speak for all when I say this; yada, yada, yada; etc, etc, etc." Maybe that's what his name "mouth of all" implies. At any rate, he was Abimelech's chief of staff and apparently his right hand man-- a military man, and trusted.

    †. Gen 21:22d . . said to Abraham: The gods are with you in everything that you do.

    Abimelech knew first hand that Abraham could do no wrong. And even when he did, his god was right there to bail him out. That is an extremely envious position. What if you knew that God would protect you no matter how dumb, stupid, and clumsy you were in life-- that in spite of your bad investments, accidents, poor judgment, bad decisions, worthless friends, failed romances, and overspending, you still came out on top? Well . . that is just how it went for Abraham. He was bullet proof.

    †. Gen 21:23a . .Therefore swear

    chuckle) Ol' Abimelech is nobody's fool. He was burned once by Abraham and wasn't about to be suckered again. From now on he will accept Abraham's word only if he gives his oath on it first. You know; trust is an easy thing to lose, and very difficult to regain.

    †. Gen 21:23b . . to me here by the gods

    The Hebrew word for "gods" is a nondescript label for any number of celestial beings; both real and imagined. But I kind of suspect the one Abimelech referred to was the god who appeared to him in the dream; in other words; Abraham's god: Yhvh.

    †. Gen 21:23c . . that you will not deal falsely with me or with my kith and kin, but will deal with me and with the land in which you have sojourned as loyally as I have dealt with you.

    It's a non aggression pact. But why would Abimelech go to all the trouble? And why would he, a king, travel to Abraham's camp rather than summon him to appear? Did he fear that Abraham, a man befriended by a supreme being, might become so powerful that he would attempt to conquer Abimelech's kingdom? I think so. Abraham's medicine was strong. He had a connection in the spirit world to a god with the power to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and to strike people with serious maladies. It would be perfectly human for Abraham to take advantage of his supernatural affiliation and use it to advantage.

    With a man like Abraham, Abimelech probably figured a preemptive strike would be out of the question. It is better to strike a treaty while conditions permit. After all, Abraham owed Abimelech one for letting him off after lying to him about Sarah. Good time to call that in.

    †. Gen 21:24 . . And Abraham said: I swear it.

    NOTE: There are Christians who would soundly condemn Abraham for swearing based upon their understanding of Matt 5:33-37.

    I can almost hear Abimelech and Phicol start breathing again. I think both of those men were more than just a little worried about their safety on Abraham's turf.

    That settled, Abraham has a matter of his own to discuss; and now's a good time for it, seeing as those men were being very humble; at least for the moment.

    NOTE: There are well-meaning folk who feel it's wrong for God's people to be confrontational; and base their reasoning on Matt 5:3, Matt 5:5, Matt 5:9, and Matt 5:39. But other than Isaac, I don't think you could find a more gracious man in the Old Testament than Abraham. He didn't have a hair-trigger temper, a spirit of vengeance, nor did he declare war over every little disagreement.

    Abraham picked his battles with care, and conducted them intelligently-- same with Moses, of whom the Old Testament says: was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Num 12:3). Jesus was meek too (Matt 11:29 and Matt 21:5) but could be very confrontational when the circumstances called for a heavy hand. (Matt 23:13 36)

    †. Gen 21:25-26 . .Then Abraham reproached Abimelech for the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. But Abimelech said: I do not know who did this; you did not tell me, nor have I heard of it until today.

    Abraham may have previously reported the incident to a bureaucrat, who then tossed the complaint in a file cabinet somewhere and soon forgot about it because this is the very first time Mr. Abimelech has been made aware of the problem. Sometimes you just have to cut through the red tape and go straight to the top.

    †. Gen 21:27-29 . . Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a pact. Abraham then set seven ewes of the flock by themselves, and Abimelech said to Abraham: What mean these seven ewes which you have set apart?

    This was not a local custom; whatever it is, because Abimelech is totally puzzled by it.

    †. Gen 21:30 . . He replied: You are to accept these seven ewes from me as proof that I dug this well.

    A reasonable assumption is that Abraham-- thoroughly disgusted with Gerar's bureaucracy, and having no confidence in Abimelech's oath --shrewdly purchased a water right so the government's thugs would have to step off and leave him be.

    †. Gen 21:31-32 . . Hence that place was called Beer-sheba [well of seven], for there the two of them swore an oath. When they had concluded the pact at Beer-sheba, Abimelech and Phicol, chief of his troops, departed and returned to the land of the Philistines.

    Abraham swore to live peaceably with Abimelech. And he in turn swore to let Abraham keep the well that he dug. Did Abimelech swear by a god or just give his word? Genesis doesn't say. But only Abraham's god is named in this pact. Possibly they both swore by that one.

    †. Gen 21:33 . . Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the name of The Lord, the Everlasting God.

    Actually, that verse is supposed to read like this: "and invoked there the name of Yhvh, the everlasting god."

    NOTE: It's commonly assumed that because of Ex 6:2-3, Abraham wasn't supposed to have known the name Jehovah; but obviously he did.

    The word for "tamarisk" is 'eshel (ay'-shel) which can mean a tamarisk tree; and it can also mean a grove of trees; of any kind. The grove was probably somewhat like a private garden where Abraham could have some solitude in prayer. Groves were popular as places of religious devotion and worship and of public meetings in both Canaan and Israel. It was in a garden where Jesus prayed his last great prayer in John 17 just before being arrested.

    Backyards can serve as "gardens" too. Here in the part of Oregon where I live, row houses have become a common style of residential housing construction; which is really sad. The people living in them don't have any backyard to speak of like my wife and I do in an older home.

    When we look out the big windows on the east side of our house, we see trees and shrubs and grass and an old mossy playhouse I built for my son and his friends many years ago; and lots of urban wildlife too: birds, raccoons, skunks, huge banana slugs, and squirrels and such. That backyard gives us a feeling of escape and privacy: it's very soothing; like a week-end getaway except that it's every day.

    The planners of New York City's central park had the very same idea in mind. Opponents of the park groused about the valuable real estate that would be lost to public recreation; but many of the residents of Manhattan wouldn't trade their park for all the thousands and thousands of diamonds the De Beers company is hoarding in their vaults.

    Not long ago one of Manhattan's abandoned elevated rail lines was converted into a park and it's already immensely popular as an escape. Human beings need their tamarisks; even holy human beings need them. (cf. Mark 6:46 and John 6:15)

    †. Gen 21:34 . . And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.

    It wasn't actually the Philistines' land in Abraham's day; but was theirs during the times when one of the authors of Genesis edited this chapter.


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    Tue, Sep 1st - 8:19AM

    Genesis 21:17-21


    †. Gen 21:17a . . God heard the cry of the boy,

    I don't think Ishmael, at near eighteen, was bawling his eyes out like a little girl. The Hebrew word is qowl (kole) and/or qol (kole) which basically means a voice, a noise, or a sound. It's very first use in the Bible is at Gen 3:8 where the Lord was heard walking about in the garden of Eden.

    Ishmael's "cry" was likely a plea for help; i.e. prayer; which wouldn't be surprising seeing as how the lad was under Abraham's wing for something like seventeen years. Also Abraham was highly recommended as his own family's rabbi. (Gen 18:21)

    NOTE: God had promised Hagar and Abraham that He would multiply Ishmael (Gen 16:10, Gen 17:20). So, prayer or no prayer, God cannot allow Ishmael to die before generating a posterity.

    †.  Gen 21:17b-18 . . and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her: What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.

    Now we're back on personal terms; and the angel speaks to Hagar by name rather than by her previous status as a slave; which would be inappropriate at this point because she's been emancipated.

    This particular angel wasn't an apparition but rather just a voice-- granted a very unusual voice. First it spoke for God, then it spoke as the God who would make good on the promise that God made to Hagar at Gen 16:10-11 and the one He made to Abraham at Gen 21:13.

    †. Gen 21:19 . .Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink.

    I bet the water was right there all the time but Hagar was so exhausted and distraught that she hadn't seen it. Everybody gets that way once in a while. Sometimes the answer to our problem is right under our noses but oftentimes can't see it because we're just too upset and/or distracted at the time.

    †. Gen 21:20a . . God was with the boy and he grew up;

    I don't know why so many Christians and Jews have such a low opinion of Ishmael. How many of his detractors are able to boast that God was with any of them as they grew up?

    †. Gen 21:20b . . he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman.

    Archery must have become a traditional skill in Ishmael's family. One of his male progeny, Kedar, produced a clan of bowmen who used their skills not only in hunting, but also in warfare. (Isa 21:16-17)

    †. Gen 21:21a . . He lived in the wilderness of Paran;

    The Wilderness of Paran encompassed a pretty big area. It was south of the Negev, on the Sinai peninsula, roughly between Elat on the east and the Suez canal on the west.

    To look at that region today you'd wonder what appealed to Mr. Ishmael; but apparently it was a whole lot more pleasant in his day 3,900 years ago; which wouldn't surprise me since the Sahara itself was at one time verdant, pluvial, and inhabited.

    †. Gen 21:21b . . and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    A girl from Egypt was apparently a better choice than the girls of Canaan; from among whom Abraham would later not want a wife for his son Isaac (Gen 24:3-4).

    I wonder how Hagar traveled to Egypt. Did she go on to become prominent in the caravan business? I bet you one thing. She was very careful that her boy did not get himself hitched to a Sarah-type personality. And no way would Hagar ever have one for a mother-in-law either.


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

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