Genesis 15 is the first time that we can see a dialog between God and Abram. Until this point God had commanded and Abram did according to his words. Even when Abram decided to go down to Egypt, since there was a famine in the land, he didn’t say anything to God. When Abram figured out that he is old and theirs is no biological successor to him, he approached God and suggested that Eliezer will be the one to inherit him.
However, we all know that God didn’t agree to this offer, since his plans were that Isaac will inherit Abram, though that in this point he wasn’t born. At this point after God had promised him a future child and the land, Abram didn’t hesitate and ask-” “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”- ( וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה בַּמָּה אֵדַע כִּי אִירָשֶׁנָּה).
This question caused God to show his plans for Abram by signing a covenant with him that is called the covenant of the pieces- ברית בין הבתרים- Berit Bein Habetarim. Abram needed to prepare animals and birds for this covenant. The animals were cut in the middle but the birds weren’t. Even when an eagle came to take the carcass Abram caused it to fly away. Let’s see what happened exactly afterwards-
|“When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces”(Genesis 15:17)
“וַיְהִי הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בָּאָה וַעֲלָטָה הָיָה; וְהִנֵּה תַנּוּר עָשָׁן וְלַפִּיד אֵשׁ, אֲשֶׁר עָבַר בֵּין הַגְּזָרִים הָאֵלֶּה”
Whenever I teach the commandment of God to Abram in Genesis 12 many questions arise. Perhaps the most immediate one is why. Why should a man- and maybe it’s better to say an old man- leave his homeland, some of his family, his past to a future that can disappoint him? Was it his character that caused him to say yes to a new God? Was it his father who started the way to land of Canaan as its’ reflected in Genesis 11:31? Could be it that the blessings that God promised him?
I think that sometimes we are getting used to have only one answer in our mind and for that reason we can’t understand that when we read a word in Hebrew or in another Language, not always the answer is one.
Let’s try to see it in the text. In Genesis 12:1-5 two roots are repeated and from them we can try to figure out what happened to Abram and why he chose to listen without any hesitation-
|“Now the Lord said to Abram, Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 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.”So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew …and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.”
“וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ. וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ; וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה. וַאֲבָרְכָה מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר; וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה. וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלָיו יְהוָה, וַיֵּלֶךְ אִתּוֹ לוֹט; וְאַבְרָם בֶּן-חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה בְּצֵאתוֹ מֵחָרָן.וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָם אֶת-שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת-לוֹט בֶּן-אָחִיו…וַיֵּצְאוּ לָלֶכֶת אַרְצָה כְּנַעַן וַיָּבֹאוּ אַרְצָה כְּנָעַן”
I hope you are all well!
I am thrilled to announce you that a third Biblical Hebrew Summit is soon to be held. On Sunday- 15/12/13- 7 P.M. Eastern time – my dear colleague, Sigal Zohar and I will host a joint lecture about the story of Cain and Abel and we would love for you to join us!
Today I would like to share with you a new, maybe previously unknown observation about the punishment of Cain, who will be one of the heroes of the Summit.
After the two brothers were born and grew, each one chose a different job for himself. Cain was the tiller of the ground – עֹבֵד אֲדָמָה- ‘ ōvēd ‘ădāmāh- and Abel was a shepherd- רֹעֵה צֹאן-rō’ēh tsō’n (see Genesis 4:2). It’s never mentioned whether their parents had any influence over their choice of job. Actually, Adam and Eve cease to mentioned after the children are born, but that’s something we will discuss further at the Summit.
When we study the end of the story following Abel’s murder by his brother, we understand Cain’s punishment to be that of an eternal wanderer-נַוָּד –navvād. Let’s take a look at the text:
|“Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”(Genesis 4:11-12)
“וְעַתָּה אָרוּר אָתָּה מִן-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה אֶת-פִּיהָ לָקַחַת אֶת-דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ מִיָּדֶךָ. כִּי תַעֲבֹד אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה לֹא-תֹסֵף תֵּת-כֹּחָהּ לָךְ; נָע וָנָד תִּהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ.”
A fairly common expression in Hebrew Language is “drunk as Lot” – Shikkor kalot“-שכור כלוט.” We never seem to say in Hebrew “as drunk as Noah”, although in truth, he was the first recorded drunkard in the Old Testament (see Genesis 9:21). That said, Lot wasn’t aware of the actions of his two daughters, while Noah became completely aware of what his youngest son had done. In short, the idea I’m looking at is using intoxication as an excuse for making bad decisions, and I would like to suggest that Lot acted like a “drunken man” even before he entered the cities of sin – Sodom and Gomorrah.
When grievances occurred between Lot’s shepherds and Abraham’s, Lot could have accepted the territory Abraham offered him, as written:
|“So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:8-9)
“וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל-לוֹט אַל-נָא תְהִי מְרִיבָה בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ וּבֵין רֹעַי וּבֵין רֹעֶיךָ: כִּי-אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים אֲנָחְנוּ. הֲלֹא כָל-הָאָרֶץ לְפָנֶיךָ, הִפָּרֶד נָא מֵעָלָי: אִם-הַשְּׂמֹאל וְאֵימִנָה, וְאִם-הַיָּמִין וְאַשְׂמְאִילָה”.
If I was Lot, I would say to Abraham, the uncle who practically raised me after the death of my father, that the first choice of land should be yours and not mine. In other words, Lot could have said, “You treat me like brother but you are actually my uncle, therefore your right to choose land comes before mine.”