Do we trust God in His promises? We can come up with all sorts of ideas about God. But if we don’t really trust Him and His leading, why bother following? These are questions tackled in this discussion on the Torah portion וירא Vayera (“and He appeared”), covering Genesis 18-22. Abraham is shown to have trust issues up to his great test of faith. At that point, he sees something. This passage is all about the Promised One — the Mashiakh (Messiah) — represented by Abraham’s son Yitzkhak (Isaac).
This is the first part of a recap of Abraham’s life, looking at about two dozen key events that show why God picked him to be the start of a special group of people on Earth and to be a key example of trust in God being considered righteousness.
From threats of homosexual gang rape of two of God’s messengers to Lot’s offering his two virgin daughters to the mob to Lot’s wife dying from looking back at the destruction of Sodom to Lot’s daughters’ conspiring to get their father so drunk he would get them pregnant, chapter 19 is full of controversy for the modern mind. Actually, there are a lot of parallels between this account and Israel’s miraculous departure from Egypt after Passover.
God calls Abram to leave his father behind and continue traveling towards the land of Canaan. God promises to make Abram’s descendants numerous and make them a great nation. Abram’s name means “exalted father” based on the blessing God gave him in Gen. 12:1-3.
“And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3)
There are two different Hebrew words that are translated as “curse” in both parts of this verse. The first “curse” is קָלַל qalal (Strong’s lexicon No. H7043), which literally means “to slight or consider trifling.” The second “curse” is אָרַר ’arar (H799) which actually means “curse.” In other words, God is saying that He will curse anyone who considers Abram insignificant or slights him.
The first place Abram visited after God told him to leave Haran is a town called Shechem, which near a mountain ridge. The root of the town’s name is שְׁכֶם shekhem (H7926), which means “shoulder” or “backbone.” It’s near the Yarden (Jordan) river and at this time, it’s not a significant settlement but by the time of Jacob, there’s a sizable town at this place.
“The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ So he built can altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.” (Gen. 12:7)
Abram built this altar to commemorate the place where God spoke to him.
Shechem was also the place Ya’akov (Jacob) visited many years later when he wanted to ask God whether he should go to Egypt to see Yosef (Joseph). It’s an important city in the history of Abram and Ya’akov.
After this, he moved towards a mountain east of Beit-’El (Bethel, “House of God”), and built another altar. This is Abram’s second altar. Everywhere Abram went, something happened. God wants us to make note of these locations and to understand why God took Abram to these places.
At this second altar, we are told that Abram “called upon the name of the Lord” there. This time, Abram is starting a conversation with God, while at Shechem, God is the one who spoke with Abram.
Gen. 12:10-20 says Abram went from Bethel to the Negev and then got caught up in a severe famine so he decided to go down to Egypt to escape the brutal famine. God brought forth the famine upon the land of Canaan at this time.
We are told that Pharaoh coveted Sarai and took her into his household. In most English Bible we are told that Pharaoh’s household was struck with a “great plague.” The Hebrew word here is נֶגַע nega (H5061), which literally means “stroke” or “blow.” We are not told the exact nature of this great “blow,” but it was profound enough that Pharaoh threw Abram, Sarai and Lot out of the country as quickly as he could. This is the first time that we are told that Abram had great wealth.
This story is a microcosm of the later Exodus account. In both records, initially they were welcomed and exalted but then they were seen as a curse and cast out with many gifts and riches.
Did Abram make a mistake going down to Egypt in the first place? No, God had His hand in this story. There’s a reason it’s recorded for us. After all, many things Abram did were never recorded for us. We only know what God wants us to know.
After Abram, Sarai and Lot returned to the land of Canaan, Abram’s servants and Lot’s servants started arguing with each other because the land could no longer sustain their increased livestock. Abram made a deal with Lot that if Lot went to the left, he would go to the right and vice versa so that they could spread themselves out and share the land without argument.
The Bible tells us that this land was so beautiful that it was “like the garden of the Lord,” and we are told that Lot chose the more beautiful and prosperous side.
After Lot and Abram went their separate ways, God again dedicates the land to Abram. God tells Abram in Gen. 12:17, “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” Abram then sets out for the oaks of Mamre in Hebron and built God a third altar.
Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.
The first few chapters of Deuteronomy recount events previously recorded in Exodus and Numbers. However, key lessons for the new generation about to enter the Land were to trust God despite the seemingly invincible adversaries and remember His protection of the first generation out of Egypt and long before.
The Hebrew title for this book comes from the first phrase:
אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל
Eyleh ha-d’varim ’asher dibar Moshe el-kol-Yisra’el.
These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel.
Before studying the life of Yosef (Joseph), we look back at some of what we have learned about God and His interaction with some of His notable people. The Flood and the Tower of Babel were the two most monumental events in mankind’s history. Everything we experience today is the result of these two events.
Genesis 19 is one of the most disturbing passages in the Bible, with a righteous man offering his daughters to a rape mob to protect two strangers, God’s destruction of a whole valley and those daughters committing incest with their father. Why is this passage recorded? Continue reading Genesis 19 part 1 — Sodom, Gomorrah & environs are destroyed