The Patriarch the Nephew His Wife & Her Lover

The last posting ended with Egypt’s Pharaoh, furious at Abraham’s lack of candour in matters concerning Sarai, expelling Abraham from Egypt where he had been sojourning, and telling Abraham to take Sarai with him.

Abraham had done well during his stay in Egypt, becoming rich in cattle, and in silver and gold. The Pharaoh allowed Abraham to take all this with him. The Pharaoh is to be commended for this, because, being an absolute ruler, he could easily have confiscated all of Abraham’s riches in revenge for Abraham’s lack of candour about Sarai.

With his gold, silver, cattle, sheep, and with Sarai, Lot, and the rest of his dependents and hangers-on, Abraham departed Egypt for the Negeb, from where he moved on to Bethel, and to the place between Bethel and Ai where he had pitched his tent long ago, and where he had set up an altar to God.

Did Abraham go back there just to check that no-one had torn down the altar? The altar would appear still to have been there because the Bible doesn’t say anything about it not being still there. If it hadn’t still been, we can be sure that the Bible would have said so, for its writers were big on things like altars, and the other symbols and edifices glorifying God.

Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was also rich in things like sheep cattle and tents. In fact, Abraham and Lot, between them, had so many animals, that the land simply couldn’t support them all, and both men knew it. Also, there was much strife between Abraham’s and Lot’s herdsmen. Add to this that Canaanites and Perizzites were also living on this land, it’s easy to see that Abraham and Lot had many tricky problems to solve.

So Abraham said to Lot, “Look, let’s have no more strife between us, or between my herdsmen and yours. We are family, are we not? The whole land is before us, so why don’t we just go our separate ways? If you go left, I’ll go right. If you go right, I’ll go left. How about it?”

Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all around him the Plain of the Jordan, and how well-watered it was, even as far as Zoar.

“I agree”, said Lot, “but only if I can choose the Plain of the Jordan”.

“OK OK”, said Abraham, “have it your way”.

It was good of Abraham to let Lot have first choice, for Abraham was, after all, the senior man, being Lot’s uncle. Perhaps he still felt guilty about having deceived the Pharaoh, and wanted to atone in some way. Was allowing Lot to choose first in where to go in the new land, Abraham’s way of atoning?

Lot duly went to the Plain of the Jordan, and Abraham to the land of Canaan. But Lot, when in the Plain of the Jordan, pitched his tent near Sodom, that was filled with men who were incorrigibly wicked, and therefore were always sinning against God.

God couldn’t have been happy about Lot living so near the men of Sodom. He may therefore have preferred Abraham to Lot. Hence God said to Abraham, “Lift up your eyes and look north, south, east, and west. All this land I will give to you and to your descendants for ever.”

“I’m not worthy of this”, said Abraham. “You know, of course, how badly I behaved in Egypt, both in respect of Sarai and the Pharaoh. I emotionally blackmailed Sarai into becoming a wife of the Pharaoh, just to save my own life. My lying to the Pharaoh, who was so good to me in letting me become rich in Egypt, led to him and his household being afflicted with the plagues which You sent upon them. Only a weak and cowardly man would do as I did. Please find another man to give these lands to. Give them to Lot.”

“We all make mistakes”, said God, “even Me. As for Lot, I just know he’s going to get into trouble with those wicked men in Sodom. You, Abraham, are far the better man than Lot, warts and all. So I’ll hear no more of your protestations of unworthiness. Now, where was I?”

“You were talking about giving me all this land to me and my descendants for ever”, said Abraham.

“Now I remember” said God. “I’m also going to make your descendants as countless as the dust of the earth, so that if a man counts all the particles of dust which cover the earth, he will also know the number of your descendants.”[1]

“This is too much”, said Abraham.

God, brushing off the interruption, said, “I want you now to arise, and to walk the length and breadth of the land, for I’m giving it all to you”.

Abraham obediently set off and walked the length and breadth of the lands that God had given him. In the course of his long walk, he came to the plain of Mamre [2]. Abraham liked it so much that he decided to live there when he was done walking. After the walk was finished, Abraham pitched his tent at Mamre, and there he dwelt. He also built yet another altar to God.

Source: Genesis 13

Notes:

[1] To equate the number of particles in the world’s dust with the numbers of Abraham’s future descendants does sound a bit rich to us today, for this means that Abraham’s future descendants would number at least in the many billions. However, because the human population in Abraham’s time was, at fifty million, tiny, compared with the seven billion today, it’s possible that Abraham is a distant ancestor of most of us, even of all of us. Hence Abraham may have as many as seven billion descendants – a number expected to rise to at least nine billion, maybe more.

[2] Mamre was a Canaanite cultic shrine dedicated to the supreme sky god of the Canaanite pantheon. It was situated near Hebron in southern Palestine.

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6 Responses to The Patriarch the Nephew His Wife & Her Lover

  1. I never realized that God did not want Lot to go towards Soddam in the first place.

  2. Christopher says:

    Thank you for visiting.

    Admittedly Genesis 13, 12-13 doesn’t say specifically that God didn’t want Lot to go towards Sodom in the first place. But, given Sodom’s reputation, it would be reasonable to assume that God would want non-Sodomites, like Lot, to stay as far from Sodom as reasonably possible.

    There’s nothing to suggest that Lot didn’t have the option of pitching his tent at a greater distance from Sodom than he did. We must therefore assume that Lot did have a choice, and that choice was to live closer to Sodom than he really needed to.

    We can also assume, then, that, since the men of Sodom were great sinners against God, God wouldn’t have liked it that Lot voluntarily chose to live close to these sinful men of Sodom.

    However, being not a biblical scholar, nor a theologian, nor a man of the cloth, I could be totally wrong on all this, and probably am!!!

  3. Richard says:

    We get so many of our words from the Bible, don’t we – like lot, as in auction.

  4. Richard says:

    Numbering the descendants of Abraham does depend on whether by “World” you mean “Universe” *http://physics.weber.edu/carroll/archimedes/sand.htm*

  5. Christopher says:

    I’m the most unsuitable person you could have referred this link to, since, being right-brained, I’m impervious to anything to do with numbers or mathematics!!

    Numbers, mathematics, I will, alas, always find to be a closed book.

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