Day 4: Genesis 13-17

Genesis 13-14: Abram and Lot

When we last left Abram, he was being kicked out of Egypt. He traveled with his wife and Nephew, Lot, to Negev, which in our modern world, is actually part of Egypt.

Apparently space was a little tight and “their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.” They quite literally had too much stuff.

So they decided to split up (Scooby Doo would not approve). Abram let Lot pick which way he wanted to go. Lot picked the direction that had the most food, water, and other sustenance. Abram went the other way.

Can you guess what happened next? Spoiler alert: It was bad for Lot.

There was a war in the area Lot chose. Chapter 14 is full of names of kings and locations and I had a hard time understanding what was happening beyond the fighting. Eventually, Lot got captured and all of his possessions were stolen. Abram sent in a bunch of men, and they recovered Lot and all of his possessions.

 

Genesis 15: Abram’s Son

God was praising Abram for his work in the previous chapter. Adam took this opportunity to have a chat with the Lord about the fact that he still didn’t have offspring. It uses the term “childless,” so I’m going to assume he doesn’t have sons OR daughters. Abram was worried about his whole estate going to one of his servants.

God told Abram that he would have kids and be given land. Abram focused on the land thing. God said he’d guarantee the land to Abram if Abram did very specific, very detailed, and very graphic animal sacrifice that I won’t document here.

That night, God came to Abram in a dream and told him that while he would die happy, his descendants would live rough lives for four generations…but they’d own the land.

 

Genesis 16: Abram’s Offspring

This chapter was hard for me to get through because of the overwhelming amount of pronoun reference errors. Here’s the most glaring example:

“Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.”

I’m not even going to debate the semi-colon.

Both “she” and “her” could refer to either or both Sarai and/or Hagar. Contextually, I can guess that Hagar is the one who ran from Hagar. But with this phrasing, it could technically be the other way around.

Sorry, turned this into a grammar podcast for a short moment there.

Onward with the actual story.

Abram was promised offspring, but Sarai didn’t give him any. So Sarai offered up her maidservant, Hagar. Hagar and Abram got married (because no sex before marriage), and the story makes it sound like she got pregnant instantly after Abram finished in their first encounter.

The chapter doesn’t address whether Abram and Sarai stayed married or got divorced. Who’s to debate which is worse between divorce and bigamy? I thought they were both against the rules, but I’m not to that part of the Bible yet.

Once Hagar was pregnant, she started hating Sarai. Which kind of surprises me because I figured Sarai would be the one most likely to be envious of Hagar.

Hagar runs away (the chapter does later clear up the pronoun error and explicitly state that Hagar is running away from Sarai). While on the run, Hagar approached by the angel of the Lord (new character alert) who tells her to return to Sarai and submit. If she does, she will be blessed with son, who she must name Ishmael, and lots of other descendants.

The angel of the Lord tells Sarai that Ishmael will be “a wild donkey of a man.”

As promised, Hagar had a son and Abram named him Ishmael. TBD on his donkey-ness, but we’ll probably find out soon.

 

Genesis 17: The Covenant of Circumcision

The chapter title alone is enough to intrigue.

First, God wants to reconfirm his covenant with Abram, so God has Abram’s name changed to Abraham and Sarai’s name changed to Sarah. Got promises Abraham possession of the whole land of Canaan for Abraham’s lifetime and the lifetime of his descendants. So, basically, forever.

One caveat, though.

God says Abraham’s side of this covenant is that every male shall be circumcised at eight days old.

This story also presents our first pun in the Bible: “Any uncircumcised male…will be cut of from his people.” Cut off! I’m not making this up, I swear.

I’m also wondering how this conversation may have happened. How did God even explain circumcision to Abraham? Just imagine the conversation! “I’m sorry, you want me to what?”

After the circumcision conversation, God tells Abraham that Sarai will bear a son, to be named Isaac, who will be the father of 12 rulers.

Abraham heads right out and circumcises every male in his household. There aren’t details on if Abraham conducted the act himself or hired a qualified professional.

 

Extra Research!

I was curious about the religiosity of circumcision, so I did some quick research.

Yes, my internet search history is now much more interesting than it was before.

I thought circumcision in Judaism happened when the boy turns 13 and goes through a mitzvah. (Fair warning, I’m highly uneducated on Judaism. Maybe it’ll be my next project since I’ll have already read the book.)

I realized I was wrong when I read the eight days instruction in chapter 17. Most boys have the circumcision performed at the age of eight days. A boy is only circumcised at age 13 if the father fails to have the son snipped at eight days.

In Christianity, circumcisions are not considered a covenant with God like they are in Judaism. This is because Judaism only considers the old testament of the Bible whereas Christianity is both the old and new testaments. The new testament is wishy washy on circumcision, so Christians don’t require the practice. (I have a feeling I’ll run into plenty of similar contradictions as I go through this project.)

Again, crude, quick research. So if you know more, do share.

From this basic research, it looks like circumcision will come up again in this project. But for now, I have to cut you off. (Not sorry.)

 


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About Megan Horn

I'm spending portions of the next 365 days reading the Bible. And document my thoughts as I work through the Holy Book.

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