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woman desert aloneHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Abram impregnates Hagar, the slave of his barren wife Sarai. Sarai beats Hagar, who flees, and an angel informs Hagar that her son Ishmael will multiply greatly. Hagar returns to Abram and gives birth to Ishmael.

II. Photo

Hagar runs away: “Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.” (v.6)

III. Select Verses

1-6: Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And 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; and 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 the LORD 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 ran away from her.

7-12: The angel of the LORD 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 the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the LORD 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 kin.”

IV. Outline

1-6. Abram impregnates Hagar

    1a. Sarai was barren

    1b-2. Sarai tells Abram to have children with Hagar, Sarai's slave

    3-4a. Abram impregnates Hagar 

    4b-5. Sarai hates Hagar and blames Abram

    6. Sarai beats Hagar, who flees

7-14. Hagar and the angel

    7. An angel finds Hagar at a well

    8-9. Hagar is to return to Sarai

    10. Hagar's offspring will multiply greatly

    11. The child shall be named Ishmael (god has listened)

    12. Ishmael will be a stubborn, wild, nomad

    13-14. Hagar names the angel and the site of the vision 

15-16. Hagar gives birth to Ishmael when Abram was 86 years old

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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Telescope-006Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Abram is promised offspring as well as the land. As a sign of the covenant, Yahweh sends fire between the animal parts laid out by Abram.

II. Photo

Yahweh shows Abram the night sky: “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.'” (v. 5)

III. Select Verses

3-5: And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the LORD 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.”

13-14, 16:  Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall 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. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17: When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.

18: On that day the LORD 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,

IV. Outline

1-6. Promise of offspring

    1a. Yahweh reveals himself to Abram in a vision

    1b. Yahweh is Abram's shield

    2-3. Abram's complaint: the lack of an heir

    4-5. Yahweh promises Abram offspring as numerous as the stars

    6. Abraham believes Yahweh

7-21. Yahweh's sign that Abram will inherit the land

    7. Yahweh promises the land

    8. Abram asks for a sign

    9. Yahweh asks for a cow, a goat, a ram, a tutledove, and a pigeon

    10. Abram cuts the animals in half, save for the birds

    11. Abram drives away the birds of prey

    12. Abram falls asleep

    13-14. Abram's children will be foreign slaves for 400 years before leaving with wealth

    15. Abram will die peacefully in old age

    16. His descendants will return after four generations

    17. Flames passed between the animal parts at night

    18-21. Summary statement: Abram will inherit the land from Egypt to the Euphrates

 

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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bread-wineHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Lot is captured by the four kings of Mesopotamia, who defeat the five kings of the Jordan Valley. Abram saves Lot by defeating the four kings in the north past Damascus. Abram is blessed by the king of Salem and returns the plunder to the king of Sodom.

II. Photo

Abram is blessed: “And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.'” (vv. 18-19)

III. Select Verses

1-2: Now, when King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim made war on King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar,

11-12: [The invaders] seized all the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, and his possessions, and departed; for he had settled in Sodom.

14-16: When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. At night, he and his servants deployed against them and defeated them; and he pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the possessions; he also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, and the women and the rest of the people.

18-20: And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him, saying, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your foes into your hand.” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

22-23: But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I swear to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth: I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Abram rich.’

IV. Outline

1-9. A battle is waged between the 4 kings of Mesopotamia and the 5 kings of the Jordan Valley

10. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah hide in bitumen pits

11-12. Lot and the other Sodomites are captured

13. Abram is informed

14-15. Abram and 300 men defeat the 4 kings north of Damascus

16. Lot is returned

17. The king of Sodom meets Abram

18-20a. King Melchizedek of Salem blesses Abram and Yahweh (called “the highest God”)

20b. Abram grants the king a tenth of the plunder

21-24. Abram tells the king of Sodom that he will not keep the plunder for himself, though his servants may take

V. Comment

The primary purpose of this narrative appears to be Abram’s traveling to the north. The previous chapter ended with a blessing and commandment from Yahweh to travel the land:

And Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot had parted from him, “Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west, for I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be counted. Up, walk about the land, through its length and its breadth, for I give it to you.”

Having already travelled in the southern portion of Canaan called the Negev (Gen 12:9; 13:1), it was now up to Abram to head north. In this passage Abram travels to two northern sites. The first, Dan (v. 14), appears to be the limit of later Israelite settlement as depicted in the phrase “from Dan to Beer-sheba” found throughout the Hebrew Bible (Judg 20:1; 1 Sam 3:20; 2 Sam 3:10; 17:11; 24:2, 15; 1 Kings 5:5; Amos 8:14; 1 Chr 21:2; 2 Chr 30:5). The second, Hobah north of Damascus, appears to be a grand idealized vision of the land, as reflected in territorial descriptions found in passages such as Num 13:21; 34:8; Josh 13:5; Judg 3:3; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 14:25; Ezek 47:20; 48:1; 1 Chr 13:5; 2 Chr 7:8. The two sites are probably mentioned in order to correlate to the two competing visions of the land of ancient Israel, one limited at Dan and the other limited north of Damascus.

Abram Travels

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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flock-of-sheepHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Abram and Lot become wealthy herdsmen in Canaan, which leads to strife. Lot moves to Sodom and Abram moves to Hebron, where Yahweh blesses him with land and offspring.

II. Photo

Abram and Lot gain wealth: “Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were so great that they could not remain together. ” (v. 6)

III. Select Verses

2-4: Now Abram was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold. And he proceeded by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been formerly, between Bethel and Ai, the site of the altar that he had built there at first; and there Abram invoked the LORD by name.

10-11: Lot looked about him and saw how well watered was the whole plain of the Jordan, all of it — this was before the LORD had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — all the way to Zoar, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they parted from each other

14-17: And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had parted from him, “Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west, for I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be counted. Up, walk about the land, through its length and its breadth, for I give it to you.”

IV. Outline

1. Abram returns to the Negeb in Canaan

2. Abram’s wealth

3-4. Abram returns to his altar near Bethel and uses the name “Yahweh”

5-7. Strife between Abram and Lot

8-9. Abram offers to separate

10-13. Lot chooses to go east to the Jordan valley near Sodom; Abram remains

14-17. Yahweh blesses Abram with land and offspring

18. Abram moves to Hebron and builds an altar

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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famine crop failure dryHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh blesses Abram, who moves to Canaan and builds altars in the land. A famine strikes and Abram moves to Egypt where he presents Sarai as his sister. Pharaoh takes Sarai but returns her to Abram when a plague strikes.

II. Photo

A famine strikes the land of Canaan: “There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.” (v. 10)

III. Select Verses

1-3: The LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.”

7: The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “I will assign this land to your heirs.” And he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.

10-19: There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.”  If the Egyptians see you, and think, ‘She is his wife,’ they will kill me and let you live.  Please say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.” When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw how very beautiful the woman was. Pharaoh’s courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s palace. And because of her, it went well with Abram; he acquired sheep, oxen, asses, male and female slaves, she-asses, and camels. But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Abram. Pharaoh sent for 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 as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone!”

IV. Outline

1-9. Abram moves to Canaan

    1-3. Yahweh's command/blessing to go to a new land

    4-5a. Abram leaves Haran with his wife, nephew, and possessions 

    5h-6. Abram arrives at Shechem

    7. Yahweh appears to Abram, who builds an altar

    8. Abram builds an altar at Bethel

    9. Abram travels to the Negeb

10-20. Sarai is given to Pharaoh

    10. Abram travels to Egypt on account of famine

    11-13. Abram asks Sarai to say she is his sister

    14-16. Sarai is brought to Pharaoh while Abram gains wealth

    17. Yahweh afflicts Pharaoh with plagues

    18-19. Pharaoh confronts Abram

    20. Abram is sent off

 

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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stack of bricks tower  Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

The people of Babylon build a tower and Yahweh confuses the languages of the earth to prevent their unity. The generations from Shem to Abram are enumerated. Abram’s father Terah dies in Haran on his way to Canaan.

II. Photo

The tower of Babylon is built: “And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.” (v. 3)

III. Select Verses

1-9: Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the LORD said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

27-32: Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran.

IV. Outline

1-9. The tower of Babylon

    1. Introduction: there was only one language

    2-4. The easterners decide to build a city and tower for glory

    5-7. Yahweh feels threatened and decides to confuse their language 

    8. The people disperse and abandon the city

    9. Etymology: Babylon is named for the confusion (Heb. *) that Yahweh caused

10-. The generations and genealogy of Shem

    10-11. Shem: 600 years

    12-13. Arpachshad: 438 years

    14-15. Shelah:433 years

    16-17. Eber: 464 years

    18-19. Peleg: 239 years

    20-21. Reu: 239 years

    22-23. Serug: 230 years

    24-25. Nahor: 148 years

    26-32. Terah: 205 years

        26. Terah's sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran

        27. Terah's sons and grandson Lot

        28. Haran died in Ur

        29. Abram and Nahor took wives, Sarai and Milcah daughter of Haran

        30. Sarai was barren

        31. Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot settle in Haran on their way to Canaan

        32. Terah dies in Haran at the age of 205

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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cranes construction building citiesHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

The genealogy of Noah’s three sons is presented.

II. Photo

The cities of Mesopotamia are built: “From that land Asshur went forth and built Nineveh” (v. 11)

III. Select Verses

4-5: The descendants of Javan: Elishah and Tarshish, the Kittim and the Dodanim. From these the maritime nations branched out. [These are the descendants of Japheth] by their lands — each with its language — their clans and their nations.

8-10: Cush also begot Nimrod, who was the first man of might on earth. He was a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD; hence the saying, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD.” The mainstays of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar.

18-19: Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

IV. Outline

1. The three sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth

2-5. The genealogy of Japheth

    2-3. Japheth's sons

    4-5. Greece and the maritime nations

6-20. The genealogy of Ham

    6. Introduction

    7-12. The warrior Nimrod and his cities in Babylon and Assyria

    13-14. Egypt and the sea peoples

    15-19. The Canaanites and their shifting territory

21-31. The genealogy of Shem

32. Conclusion

V. Comment

Verse 21, which recounts the genealogy of Shem, contains a textbook case of syntactic ambiguity. An example of syntactic ambiguity is “big tractor sale”: is there a big sale of regular tractors or is there a regular sale of big tractors?  The Hebrew phrase שם… אחי יפת הגדול contains the following words: Shem + brother + Japheth + big one. One possible translation is “Shem, the brother of the big Japheth,” i.e., Japheth is the older brother of Shem. This approach fits the context of our chapter, which presents Japheth’s genealogy before Shem’s and Ham’s (vv. 2-5), and was taken by interpreters such as Numbers Rabbah 4:8, Rabbi Kahana quoted in BT Sanhedrin 69b, Tanhuma Buber Toldos 23, Ibn Ezra, Nahmanides, etc. However, Shem is the first brother mentioned in each enumeration of Noah’s sons in the Hebrew Bible (Gen 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 10:1; 1 Chr 1:4), which implies that he was the oldest. For this reason many commentators choose to interpret verse 21 to mean “Shem the big one, the brother of Japheth,” i.e., Shem is the older brother. This approach is taken by interpreters such as the Septuagint, Jubilees 4:33, Radaq, Rashi, etc. The Hebrew is ambigous and could be interpreted either way. This has led commentators to either suggest the birth order as Shem, Japheth, and Ham or Japheth, Shem, and Ham (Ham is explicitly called the youngest in Gen 9:24).

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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