Noah (Lk 3:36-3:36)

“The son of Cainan,

The son of Arphaxad,

The son of Shem,

The son of Noah,

The son of Lamech.”


τοῦ Καϊνὰμ τοῦ Ἀρφαξὰδ τοῦ Σὴμ τοῦ Νῶε τοῦ Λάμεχ


Thus, we have about 10 generations from Noah to Abram, about 400 years if you go by the first born.  Once again, this is based on Genesis, chapters 5-10, and 1 Chronicles, chapter 1:3-27.  Luke said that Shelah was the son of Cainan (τοῦ Καϊνὰμ), the son of Arphaxad (τοῦ Ἀρφαξὰδ), the son of Shem (τοῦ Σὴμ), the son of Noah (τοῦ Νῶε), the son of Lamech (τοῦ Λάμεχ).  Lamech was the father of Noah.  Genesis, chapters 6-8, details Noah’s ship building and the famous Noah’s ark.  Shem was the oldest of the 3 sons of Noah, the favorite of the biblical authors.  The descendants of Shem will become the Semites.  Some believe that the word Semite comes from his name Shem.  Shem had five sons in Genesis, chapter 10.  Shem became the father of Arphaxad or Arpachshad two years after the flood, so that this Arphaxad lineage became the most important.  When Arphaxad had lived thirty-five years, he became the father of Shelah.  However, in this list in Genesis, there is no mention of Cainan as the son of Arpachshad, except in the Greek Septuagint.  Instead, Canaan was the son of Ham, the brother of Shem.

Uz (Jer 25:20-25:20)

“I went to

All the mixed people,

All the kings

Of the land of Uz.”

Next up on Jeremiah’s world tour was the land Uz, where Job lived. Exactly where Uz was seems difficult to ascertain. Uz was probably in Edom, south of Israel, in northern Arabia or southern Jordan. In Genesis, chapter 10, Uz was the first born son of Abram, whose father was Shem, who in turn had Noah as his father. Thus Uz was the great grandson of Noah. There also was a place in southern Syria with this name. Uz was the first born of Nahor and Milcah, the brother of Abraham in Genesis, chapter 22. Thus this country of Uz could have been named after any of these people so that it was a mixed people with some Israelites.

The covenant and circumcision (Gen 17:1–17:27)

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty.  Walk before me, and be blameless. I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.”

Thirteen years later, Yahweh appeared to Abram when he was 99.  Again there is talk of a covenant but in the sacerdotal tradition.  Here it is not Yahweh but El Shaddai, the almighty one, another name for God, who asks Abram to walk with God and be blameless.  This covenant or alliance with Abram will make his descendents ‘exceedingly numerous.’

“Then Abram fell on his face.  And God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you.  You shall be the father of a multitude of nations.  No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham.   I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.  I will make you exceedingly fruitful.  I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.  I will give to you and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting perpetual possession.  I will be their God.”

Abram falls on his face, and God tells him that he will be the father of a multitude of nations.  No longer will his name be Abram, but Abraham ‘exalted ancestor’ or ‘father of many.’  This is the name change from Abram to Abraham.  Throughout generations there will be an everlasting covenant.  Abraham will get the land of Canaan, the land where he was living as an alien, as a perpetual holding.  This designated land is less than the Yahweh covenant, since it only includes Canaan, not all the land from Egypt to the Euphrates.

“And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you.  Every male among you shall be circumcised.  You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.  Throughout your generations, every male shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring.  Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.  Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people.  He has broken my covenant.”

This sacerdotal covenant alliance story emphasizes male circumcision as the main part of the covenant.  Circumcision becomes a big deal.  It has been practiced among many ancient and contemporary groups for either religious or hygienic reasons to cut the foreskin of the penis.  In fact, despite their differences Islamic males practice circumcision also.  Every male shall be circumcised by removing the flesh of the foreskin, when he is eight days old.  This includes even male slaves born or brought into the house.  So be careful if you are going to be a slave.  The uncircumcised male should be cut off from his people because he had broken the covenant.

 “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her.  I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations.  Kings of peoples shall come from her.’  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, ‘Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’  Abraham said to God, ‘O that Ishmael might live in thy sight!’ God said, ‘No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you.  I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous.  He shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.’  When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.”

Then God said to Abraham that you shall not call your wife Sarai, but Sarah, the princess. She will be blessed and give you a son.  Nations and kings shall come from her.  Abraham laughed at this.  How can a child be born to a man that is 100 years old and his wife who is 90 years old?  Obviously this was a problem that just occurred since the older patriarchs were having children in their old age.  Perhaps they had younger wives. The name of Sarah’s child would be Isaac, who would have an everlasting covenant.  Once again, the son is named before the birth, or even before the pregnancy.  Abraham reminded God of Ishmael.  So Ishmael will be blessed as the father of twelve princes and a great nation, but the covenant will be with Isaac.

“Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  His son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised.  All the men of his house, slaves born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.”

That very day, Abraham at age 99, his son Ishmael at age 13, and all the male slaves in his house were circumcised.  So far, the two covenant requirements for Abraham are walk blameless with Yahweh and be circumcised.

The birth of Ishmael (Gen 16:1-16:16)

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children.  She had an Egyptian slave girl whose name was Hagar.  Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that Yahweh has prevented me from bearing children.  Go in to my slave girl.  It may be that I shall obtain children by her.’  Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.  So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.  He went in to Hagar, and she conceived.  When she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.  Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you!  I gave my slave girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May Yahweh judge between you and me!’ But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Your slave girl is in your power.  Do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.”

The barren Sarai had an Egyptian slave girl named Hagar.  So she went to Abram and said since Yahweh had prevented her from having children that he should have sex with her slave girl so that she might have a child.  After ten years in Canaan, Abram said okay and took Hagar as a wife.  He had intercourse with Hagar and she conceived.  However, Hagar looked with contempt at Sarai.  Sarai complained to Abram, but he said that Hagar was her slave girl so that she could do as she pleases.  Sarai got upset and treated Hagar badly, so that Hagar ran away.  Here we have the first surrogate mother who gets treated harshly. Having a second wife for a righteous man was not a problem.  Thus the first triangle relationship did not end well, especially for Hagar.

”The angel of Yahweh found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  And he said, ‘Hagar, slave girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai.’  The angel of Yahweh said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her.’  The angel of Yahweh also said to her, ‘I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be numbered or counted.’   And the angel of Yahweh said to her, ‘Now you have conceived and shall bear a son.  You shall call his name Ishmael, for Yahweh has given heed to your affliction.  He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him.  And he shall live at odds with all his kinsmen.’   So she named Yahweh who spoke to her, ‘You are  El-roi, a God of vision.’ For she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.  It lies between Kadesh and Bered.  Hagar bore Abram a son. Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.”

Now the angel of Yahweh appeared to Hagar at a spring of water on the way to Shur, near Egypt.  She admitted that she was running away from her mistress Sarai.  This angel of Yahweh told her to return and call her son Ishmael.  Although he will have many descendents, he will be at odds with nearly everyone, including his own family.  Hagar then asked: are you El-roi, the God who sees all and yet I am still alive?  This well between Kadesh and Bered, which this is the only mention became known as Beer-lahai-roi, a living well that sees.  Actually Isaac, the son of Sarai will live at this Beer-lahai-roi.  Hagar bore Abram’s son and called him Ishmael when Abram was 86 years old. Thus we have another name for God. This vision comes to a pregnant woman where she told the name of the person to be born, who will be something special but troublesome.

The promise of a divine alliance (Gen 15:1-15:21)

“After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.  Your reward shall be very great.’  But Abram said, ‘O Lord Yahweh, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’  And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, so that a slave born in my house will be my heir.’ But the word of Yahweh came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir.  No one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’  He brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’  And he believed Yahweh.  And Yahweh reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

This is the calling of Abram in the Yahweh tradition. Yahweh appeared in a vision to Abram and said to him not to be afraid because Yahweh would be his shield.  Abram said that he was sterile and the inheritor of his estate was to be his household slave, Eliezer of Damascus.  Yahweh said that Abram would have his own heir and that his descendants would be like the stars in the heaven. Abram believed and Yahweh reckoned him as righteous.

“Then he said to him, ‘I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’  But he said, “O Lord Yahweh how am I to know that I shall possess it?’  He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’  He brought him all these, cut them in two, laying each half over against the other.  But he did not cut the birds in two. When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.”

Yahweh said that he had brought Abram from Ur of the Chaldeans to have this new land. So Yahweh asked for a sacrifice: a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, all each three years old, with a turtledove and a young pigeon.  This is much like the Mosaic Law which came later. Abram cut the big animals in two but left the birds alone.  He then chased off the birds of prey when they came for the animal carcasses.

 “As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and a deep and terrifying darkness fell upon him.  Then Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Know this for certain that your offspring will be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace.  You shall be buried in a good old age.  They shall come back here in the fourth generation.  For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’”

Abram fell asleep and darkness descended upon him. Yahweh said to Abram that your offspring will be aliens and slaves in a land that is not theirs for 400 years.  This is a prediction after the fact.  However, they shall come out of there and return here with great possessions.  Abram, like many others, was to die in a good old age.  The Amorites were in for some trouble.

“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

There was a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch that passed by.  Then the Yahweh covenant with Abram took place.  Yahweh gave him the land from the Nile to the Euphrates for him and his descendents.  The enemies list is very clear.  The land owning enemies are the Kenites, a nomad tribe; the Kenizzites, a group that integrates with the Canaanites; the Kadmonites, a group only mentioned here; the Hittites, the descendents of Heth; the Perizzites, like the Canaanites; the Rephaim, the tall ones; the Amorites; the Canaanites; the Girgashites; and the Jebusites.  Wow, this is a lot of land and a lot of people who are going to be disappointed when they find out that Abram’s descendants are claiming their land.

Melchizedek (Gen 14:17-14:24)

“After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh, that is, the King’s Valley. King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine.  He was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’”

After this great victory, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram in the Valley of Shaveh, north of Jerusalem.  King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine because he was the priest of the God Most High (El Elyon).    He then blessed Abram.  This episode has another name for God other than Yahweh. Many have seen Salem as Jerusalem.  This combination of a king priest of Jerusalem, Melchizedek, with his bread and wine, became a figure or allegory for Christ with his bread and wine within the priestly order of Melchizedek.

“Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.  Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.’  But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to Yahweh God Most High, maker of heaven and earth,  that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, `I have made Abram rich.’  I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me.  Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.’”

            Abram gave 10% of everything to King Melchizedeck.  Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of things to come or was already in place concurrently at the time of the author. The king of Sodom said he wanted the people, but the not the goods that had been conquered. Abram refused to take any goods because he did not want to be known as someone who got rich out of this battle, since he already was rich.  Abram took nothing except what his men had eaten and the Amorite men’s share.

The battle of the four great kings (Gen 14:1-14:16)

“In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar.  And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim, that is, the Dead Sea area.  Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.  In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,  and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness.  Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat, that is, Kadesh, and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar.  Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar, went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five.  Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits.  As the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.  They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”

Who are these guys?  It is four kings against five. Apparently Chedorlaomer of Elam, perhaps a place in Persia, was the chief ruler for twelve years, when a rebellion occurred. He got his three friendly kings, Amraphel of Shinar, which may have been in Babylonia, Arioch of Ellasar, and Tidal of Goiim, and defeated the Rephaim, who were the tall warrior people, at Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim, some kind of stout warriors, at Ham, the Emim, tall warriors, at Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites, the cave dwellers of Seir. Then they turned back and subdued the Amalekites, the tent dwellers, and the Amorites, the hill people. This was an invasion from the east on the plains around the Jordan River.  Most of those defeated were considered to be large tall warriors.

The four kings then had a war with five other kings, King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is Zoar, that took place in Siddim by the Dead Sea.  This is the only mention of these five kings, who were the local leaders around this Dead Sea area.  The four kings won the battle as the defeated ones fell into the bitumen tar pits or fled.  The victors took the possessions of Lot and the land around Sodom and Gomorrah.

 “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and  Aner.  These were allies of Abram.  When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.  He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus.  Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.”

Somehow, Abram gets involved in some fighting, which seems to be out of character for him.   Here is first time that Abram is called a Hebrew.  One of the Amorites, who was an ally of Abram, went to Abram to tell him what had happened. Both Eschol and Aner had places named after them.  So Abram got 318 trained men who were born in his house, probably slaves, and went after them as far as Dan, but Dan did not exist until after the conquest of Canaan.  He then pursued them and routed them at Hobah, north of Damascus.  That was a long way to go.  He brought back his nephew Lot, all his people and all his goods.  Abram had a large household and was quite a fighter to defeat the four kings. Anyway, this is the strange story of Abram the warrior.

The separation of Abraham and Lot (Gen 13:1-13:18)

“So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.  Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.  He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made the first altar.  There Abram called on the name of Yahweh.”

Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold, so they all returned to the place of the altar between Bethel and Ai.  Obviously, it did not take 40 years.

“Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them living together.  For their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock.   At that time, the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land.”

Lot also had flocks, herds, and tents.  The land, however, could not support both of them because of their great possessions.  The livestock herders of Abram and Lot did not get along in this land of the Canaanites and the Perizzites, who were like the Canaanites, but more warlike, who always appear in any list of enemies.

“Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders.  We are kindred.  Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right.  Or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”

Abram said let’s separate.  You go right or left and I will go the other way, so that we do not have any strife between our families and our herders.  Here were two rich guys splitting up the land without concern for the local people.

“Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar.  This was before Yahweh had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan valley, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom.  Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against Yahweh.”

Lot decides to go east to the plain of Jordan, a fertile land like the garden of Yahweh and the Egyptian Nile valley, in the direction of Zoar, southeast of the Dead Sea. Sodom, which was north of the Dead Sea, had great sinners. There is no indication of what their sins were, but they were wicked.  Abram, however, settled in Canaan.  We will see how this is going to work out.

 “Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward.  For all the land that you see I will give to you and to your descendants forever.  I will make your offspring descendants like the dust of the earth.  So that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring descendants also can be counted.  Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’  So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron.  There he built an altar to Yahweh.”

After they were separated, Yahweh said to Abram, all the land that you can see in any direction, east, west, north, and south, is yours and your descendants.  Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, unable to be counted.  Abram then moved his tent and settled at the Oaks of Mamre, Hebron, and built a third altar there. Hebron is further south of Jerusalem while Shechem is north.  Both Shechem and Hebron had oaks nearby.

The call of Abraham (Gen 12:1-12:9)

Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your kindred and your father’s house into the land that I will show you.   I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.  In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Yahweh calls Abram to leave his county and family to go where he will show him.  There is no indication why Abram was especially chosen to be blessed.  However, this is a common biblical theme, go where you know not what is going to happen, because you trust in Yahweh.  There is the promise of getting land in order to make a great nation.  Anyone who blesses Abram will be okay and anyone who curses Abram will be cursed. The blessing from God is having land, material possessions, including slaves, and many descendants, as well as living to an old age.

“So Abram went, as Yahweh had told him.  Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran. They set forth to go to the land of Canaan.”

Abram at age 75 with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, left Haran.  However, they were not poor beggars since they had all their possessions and slaves that they had acquired.  This was a huge group with lots of provisions. Abraham becomes a symbolic origin for later Jews, Christians, and some Muslims.

“When they had come to the land of Canaan,  Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.  Then Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your descendants and offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to Yahweh, who had appeared to him. From there he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and invoked the name of Yahweh.  Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.”

They stopped in Canaan at Shechem, at the oak of Moreh, about 35 miles north of Jerusalem, a place that will be important in later actions.  Yahweh said that he was going to give Abram this land, so Abram built an altar there, just like Noah had done.  Abram also built another altar between Bethel and Ai, as he got closer to Negeb, the dry parched land.

Abraham goes to Egypt (Gen 12:10-12:20)

“Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land.  When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance.  When the Egyptians see you, they will say, `this is his wife.’  Then they will kill me, but they will let you live.  Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.’  When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.  When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh.  The woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.  And for her sake he dealt well with Abram.  He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.”

When a famine occurred in this land of Canaan, where Abram was, he decided to go to Egypt.  This is the first mention of famine and Egypt, which will be a recurring theme.  Here we see the first of many deceptions.  Abraham tells his beautiful wife to say that she is his sister because he is afraid that he will be murdered if they find out that he is her husband. The Egyptians see that Sarai is very pretty so that they take her to Pharaoh’s palace home.  Thus Abram was treated well as her brother, getting a variety of animals and slaves.

“But Yahweh afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.  So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, `She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife?  Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone.’  Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him.  They set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had.”

Then great plagues fell on the Pharaoh and his household, another reoccurring theme.  Does this sound familiar? Pharaoh got upset and asked Abram, why he did not say that Sarai was his wife. He told Abram to take her, with all their belongings, and get out of there. So they left under the protection of the Egyptians.  This is a strange tale of a visit to Egypt because of a famine.