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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the January 22 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: January 22
<< Gen 11

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Genesis 12-15    Listen Podcast

 

Abram gets the call (Genesis 12:1-9)

1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

Abraham in Canaan MapWe see from Genesis 11:31 (see notes) that Abram and his family were originally from Ur, a place located in what is today southeastern Iraq. They had previously moved up to Haran, which was, by established roads, on its way to Canaan. Abram's father, Terah, had intended to go all the way into Canaan (according to Genesis 11:31, see notes), but stopped short in Haran. It was there that Abram gets the call from God in verses 1-3. Over the next 5 chapters there is a considerable expansion of detail regarding this call, but for right now, let's just consider these three verses. First of all, Abram is told to leave his home and family, pack up and head southwest to a yet-undisclosed land. That, in itself, took faith. He is told that out of him will come a great nation who will, in turn, be a blessing to many others. Now here's the really awesome part in verse 3, "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." That's a significant promise packed with implications. It becomes the core of what we know as the Abrahamic Covenant (see below).

In case you are wondering why Abraham is called "Abram" in this passage; the name change doesn't take place until Genesis 17:5 (see notes) when he is told by God that he will become "a father of many nations."

The destination was Canaan. This land was inhabited by the descendants of Ham's son, Canaan (verse 6), who had moved there after the dispersion following the debacle at Babel. This land would later become the nation of Israel. We aren't told in scripture, but it seems plausible that this move is the beginning of the fulfillment of the curse against the descendants of Canaan found in Genesis 9:25-26 (see notes); Abram was a descendant of Shem. Upon arrival, Abram gets this word from God in 12:7, "And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land:" That settles it; this land now officially belongs to the descendants of Abram, not the Canaanites. Oh, and two incidental facts need mentioning; he was 75 years old when he took off for Canaan, and he took his nephew, Lot, with him.

You'll notice in verse 8, and again in Genesis 13:3 (see below) a reference to a place named "Hai." The Hebrew letter equivalent to our English "H" is the definite article in the Hebrew language. The word "ai" is defined as "heap of ruins." When the definite article is placed in front of it, it becomes "the heap of ruins." Joshua reduced Ai to a "heap" in Joshua 8:28 (see notes), "And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day."

One more name merits a clarification. "Sichem" in verse 6 is later rendered "Shechem."

One little lie shouldn't be a problem; should it? (Genesis 12:10-20)

10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.
18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Abram ran into a little difficulty when the land experienced famine, so he decided to pack up and head to Egypt for some relief. One problem though - he was afraid for his life if the Egyptians thought Sarah was his wife. Sixty-five year-old Sarah must have been a very attractive woman - at least compared to the Egyptian women. What was he thinking when he introduced her as his sister instead? We see from Genesis 11:28-29 (see notes) that she was, in fact, his half sister, but first and foremost she was his wife. Well, the inevitable happened; she was a hit in Egypt and was invited to live in the BIG house - Pharaoh's house - what a life! Abram prospered in Egypt, but then the bad news in verse 12:17, "And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife." So, Abram, add this to your resume: kicked out of Egypt!

Sarah's name was originally Sarai, but was changed per God's instructions to Sarah in Genesis 17:15 (see notes) upon the announcement that she will bear Abraham a son who shall be his heir to the promise issued in Genesis 12:1-3 (see above).

I'm of the opinion that we shouldn't try to sugar coat Abraham's actions in this passage. He did what he did. The fact is, Abraham lacked the faith that his God, who had made him a promise of prosperity in verses 1-3, could follow through and deliver him safely through the famine. However, Abraham grows in his relationship with Jehovah God by the time we get to Genesis 22 (see notes). At that point in time, he is fully prepared to follow through with God's command to sacrifice Isaac because he was completely certain of God's promise to provide descendants through Isaac. Here's an example of faith growing through experience.

Perhaps this is a good time to point out that Egypt is apparently where Hagar joins Abraham's entourage. She was undoubtedly one of the "maidservants" seen here in verse 16. She's not actually mentioned by name until Genesis 16:1 (see notes).

Abram and Lot split up (Genesis 13:1-13)

1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
3 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;
4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

An accumulation of wealth became a problem for Abram and Lot as they moved back to Canaan; their people didn't get along - time to split up. Abram gives Lot the choice, and Lot chooses the really nice land east toward the Jordan River. Oh, by the way, Sodom and Gomorrah are over there - already known for their wickedness (verse 13). Abram chooses to stay around Bethel where he had originally built the altar upon arrival into Canaan. Incidentally, Bethel remained the let's-get-back-to-God location for the Hebrews for centuries after this. Oh...and Lot runs into problems with the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 (see notes).

God adds to the promise to Abram (Genesis 13:14-18)

14 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:
15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
16 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.
17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
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.

After Lot's departure, God speaks to Abram once again regarding his legacy. Look around Abram; all of this land belongs to you. We'll see more detail regarding the property allocation in Genesis 15:18 (see below). However, there's a particularly significant promise included here in Gen. 13:16, "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." Whoa! That's a lot of seed! The Apostle Paul makes a Messianic point about this seed in Galatians 3:16 (see notes). We'll have more to say about this in chapter 15 (see below), but hang on for the moment.

Abram leaves Bethel and makes a move south about 30 miles to Hebron. That's about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, the city that would later become the capital of Israel under King David.



Abram gets pulled into regional warfare (Genesis 14:1-16)

1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations;
2 That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.
3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.
4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
7 And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar.
8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;
9 With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.
10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

What pulls Abram into this battle is the capture of Lot (verse 12). Don't mess with my kin! From among his servants, he raises a substantial army and defeats the confederate forces of four warring factions, thus winning the release of his nephew, and he saves Sodom and Gomorrah while he's at it. Don't let the word "king" here give you a false impression. The Hebrew word translated "king" is simply the most common word for chief magistrate and is similar in meaning to several other words usually translated "lord, captain, ruler, prince, chief" and such like. If a man ruled over a city with 200 or 300 people, he called himself their king back then. Abram rounds up 318 of his "trained" servants and wins Lot's release...and he takes a nice spoil from the battle as well.

Enter: Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24)

17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

Abram gets a special visitor after his victory in winning the release of Lot against the aggressive kings. You will notice that Abram tithes to this person, and notice his description in verse 18, "he was the priest of the most high God." Melchizedek was more than just a person in my view; he was the incarnation of Jesus himself. Read the article to the right of this window regarding Melchizedek, or click here for full screen. Abram declines to accept the offer from the King of Sodom to retain the rescued spoil which had belonged to Sodom.

 

 

That "seed" issue comes up again (Genesis 15:1-6)

1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abram has another talk with God. He wants kids, or how about just one! Then God makes him a promise in Gen. 15:5, "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." Actually, that's a repeat of a previous promise (Genesis 13:14-18, see above), but this time Abram fully embraces it when it is said of him in Gen. 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." That's the definition of saving faith - a believing covenant relationship with God. People have never been saved by works; it's always been about faith just as in this verse.

God makes it official with a covenant ceremony (Genesis 15:7-17)

7 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.

The provisions of God's covenant with Abraham roll out over six chapters in Genesis (12-17). We know these promises as the Abrahamic Covenant. Here's the sacrifice that seals the covenant with Abraham. It's an animal sacrifice per God's specifications and God passes between the pieces of sacrifice to mark his acceptance and agreement. Apparently this was an ancient custom for sealing covenants (contracts) between two parties. Not much is known about this custom, but ancient extra-biblical sources indicate that the divided animals signified that if you break the provisions of this covenant, what has happened to the animals will happen to you. It is further worth noting that the term "make a covenant" is really "cut a covenant" in the Hebrew language. That seems to be a reference to the manner in which covenants were made - blood sacrifice with the dividing of animals. Later on, covenants between parties would not necessarily involve this kind of animal sacrifice, but the Hebrew word for "cut," which is "kaw-rath´," continued to be used to describe covenant transactions. Now notice the sealing of the covenant in verse 17, "And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces." Make no mistake about it, this formal ceremony clearly marked the establishment of the provisions of the covenant God made with Abraham.

There's a provision in this covenant in verses 13-16 which must have been a little unsettling to Abraham: His descendants would end up being servants for a period of time. That's right; it's a reference to the Egyptian captivity which really began when the family moved to Egypt in Genesis 46 (see notes).

Note: Abraham = Abram (the name change takes place in Genesis 17:5.

 

 

God awards land to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 15:18-21)

18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Here's the land grab. God made another promise to Abram on the day this covenant was made in verse 18, "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" That's from the Nile to the Euphrates. That passage has caused some confusion because the tribes of Israel did not inhabit all of that land when they arrived in the Book of Joshua. However, upon closer inspection, we see that David did, in fact, control the territory all the way over to the Euphrates. We see this in I Chronicles 18:3 (see notes) "And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates." So, while the Israelites did not choose to live that far away, nonetheless David's kingdom extended to that point, thus fulfilling the promise God made to Abram in Genesis 15:18. To see a map of Israel's promised land, click here. There was a downside to God's provisions that day - Egyptian captivity for 400 years in verses 13-14. Abraham knew about it before it would even happen.

There's one more issue that should be mentioned regarding Abraham's seed. There was, of course, the physical blessing of prosperity for Israel as a significant part of this covenant's provisions. There is an additional component which involves Believers. Look at Galatians 3:16 (see notes), "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Paul makes the point that we are all recipients of the promise God made to Abraham through Abraham's most notable descendant, Jesus Christ our Lord. When God said in Genesis 12:3, "...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed," that's talking about us - Christians! Specifically, the verse to which Paul was certainly making reference regarding the "seed" issue is Genesis 22:18 (see notes), "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." So, the physical descendants of Abraham got land and physical prosperity out of the covenant, but we all get Christ and eternal life out of it.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner