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Genesis 13 -- Monday 04APR11

  • 1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

South of Egypt is Ethiopia. Or maybe the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Perhaps what the text really means here is that Abram went out of Egypt into the south of Canaan.

  • 2-4 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Bethel is about twelve miles north of Jerusalem where Abram had constructed an altar to God just to the east of town on a hilltop. How did he know how to build that, and why? Abram was part of the unbroken tradition of the Sons of God from Adam through Seth and Noah all the way down to Abram himself. Today Bethel has been settled by about 500 Palestinians and is called Beitin. There is a new city of Beit El, home to about 5,000 Jews just to the northwest.

  • 5-7 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

Lot went with Abram, and he had large flocks and herds and servants and camels and tents, and it was apparent that the land, rich though it was, could not support both teams. Some of Abram's cowboys were getting into tussles with some of Lot's cowboys.

  • 8-11 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Lot saw the well-watered valley of the Jordan, which was as green, Lot deemed, as the garden of Eden. So he chose the road to the right, and dropped down out of the hills into the big valley where the Jordan River loops and bends on its way to the Dead Sea. There Lot parked his tent in the suburbs of the infamous city of Sodom.

  • 12-17 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Abram stayed in the hill country and the plains nigh to the Mediterranean Sea. This was the land of Canaan, promised to him by Yahweh, who said to Abram that everything he could see to the north, south, east and west of here would someday belong to him and his descendants. And he bade Abram to take a walking inspection of his new digs.

  • 18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

When Abram had checked out the land as he was told to do, he built his second altar to God in Hebron, which is another West Bank town populated by Palestinians. Arabs, too, are the children of Abram by blood, not only the Jews. Their presence in the Holy Land fulfills God's promise to give this land to Abram's seed every bit as much as the presence of Israelis does. Some Christians, in order to cut out the Muslims, have told me the promise and the land deed only tracks with the Jews because they had the Blessing. But if that was true, then only the tribe of Judah would have been entitled to land in Canaan, not the other eleven tribes, because the Blessing passed from Jacob to Judah, and ten generations later to King David. No, the Blessing was essentially the right to rule.

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