Genesis 17: Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

-Abram was now 99 years old. It has been 24 years since Abram first got the call while in Ur to go to Canaan and was given the promise by God. Ishmael was now 13 years old as Abram was 86 years old when he was born. We are not given anything in scripture to suggest Abram didn’t still assume that Ishmael was the promised heir and had been raising him with that thought in mind up to this point. After such a long time and God not appearing to say otherwise, Abram must have figured he did what he was supposed to. Hagar had returned with the child and stayed and all seemed to work out. Hagar was the only one spoken to and she was told to return and her child would have innumerable offspring. If Hagar shared these events, it would appear to be confirmation that this was God’s plan. Why else would God appear before Hagar? He had never appeared to Sarai before, perhaps Hagar was the intended mother all along? We obviously have limited details of this story but if we are to assume we are getting all the major details of this story and with human nature being what it is, they all must have been thinking this at the time. Given everything appeared to go as planned, Abram probably did not expect to hear from God again. The lesson here is we all know what happens with Abram but given his and everyone else’s perspectives, they must have thought they had it all figured out. This is the danger in assuming you understand God’s intention. You start to guess and fill in the blanks and then in the end, you end up looking like an idiot! This is why the old saying of taking things “one day at a time” is so essential in our journeys as Christians. If we try to see the whole plan, it is a guarantee that we are going to be wrong. Our tendency to want to see the whole picture and know all the details is a sin of pride. We think we are entitled to know everything and be omniscient like God. Only God is omniscient and can see the whole of time, we can’t. It’s a hard thing for many to accept, including myself. I am writing this while serving as a missionary in Mexico and yet I have no specific ministry that I am attached to. In a sense, I am wandering around Canaan as Abram did, waiting for God to make His move and carry out whatever His plan is. I sincerely hope it does not take 24 years until God’s plan for myself comes into fruition but it may. This is why it’s vital for me and anyone else in a similar position to not try and see the whole picture, because I most definitely will be wrong. We must learn to live in the present, not the past, and not the future. After all, in heaven there is no time and God is not bound by time but rather rules over it. If we are truly to be more like Christ, more like God, we must live as God does…in a constant “present” time. No dwelling on the past and letting it hold you back, but also not living always in the hope of some future blessing. We do have a future blessing in heaven to look forward to but that should not define how we live. Eternity has already started right now here on Earth.

3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.

-The name “Abram” in Hebrew means “exalted father” in Hebrew and “Abraham” literally means “father of a multitude”. Abram’s name must have been a source of great irony considering he was childless in an age where likely everyone else had dozens and dozens of children. And now, with only one son, he is dubbed “father of a multitude”. Those who knew him must have considered him a total joke. God never changes His mind but we have seen that He repeats Himself a lot for our benefit. It seems reasonable to assume Abram forgot this promise and this is in part why God appeared again to remind him by changing his very name. It would be easy to imagine settling into life after 13 years of nothing. The changing of the name may also have additional significance as well. God has been working with Abram, molding him, teaching him patience and trust. Even if he had settled into life and forgot, he is much more mature and much closer to a godly man than he was 24 years ago. When we are saved as Christians, we become born-again. We are no longer living in sin for ourselves but our lives change and we now begin living a new life for God. Being given a new name just before Isaac, the long-waited for heir, is born may signify to that Abraham is now living for God and has been born again and this is the start of the rest of his life. This may be why God said “walk before me, and be blameless”. This is God’s command that with his new name, Abraham start now as being born-again before God.

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

-This is an “everlasting” covenant. We need to pay attention to this word because “everlasting” means forever. Remember that nothing God says is hyperbole or an exaggeration unless stated like when God said Abraham’s offspring “so shall be” like the number of stars. This wasn’t literal. God was showing him the stars so that Abraham would have an image as a metaphor to understand what it will be like. In this case though, God clearing says that this is an “everlasting” covenant. This is not a temporary covenant. So everything being told to Abraham is true for ALL ETERNITY. Not even when the end times occur and Earth ends as we know it will this covenant end. The land of Canaan on earth will always belong to Abraham’s descendants as their possession and God will always be their God. Many Christians mistakenly believe that when Jesus came and the veil was torn upon Jesus’ death that this signified and end to God’s covenant with Israel. This is not so because God says that this is an everlasting covenant. To this day, God still protects the nation of Israel. The veil being torn was a sign that we no longer required priests and sacrificial rituals to go before God because Jesus’ sacrifice covered over all sin and no sacrifice is necessary anymore to cover sin. Jesus serves as our priest and is our mediator between us and God. This is why all we must do to come before God is pray in Jesus’ name. Because we are sinners, we cannot come before God because our sin is the opposite of God and offends Him at a level we cannot even understand. Jesus being 100% God and 100% man and having been the sacrifice for us, serves as mediator so that we can always come before God because we our washed clean as if “blameless” and pure. This is what God commanded of Abram in verse 1, “walk before me, and be blameless”. We cannot walk before God and be blameless without Jesus.

9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

-This seems a rather bizarre practice to signify belonging to God. Why in the world would God choose this seemingly barbaric practice to signify that we belong to Him? . There are a number of things the mark of circumcision signifies:

1) Being done to a private part, it is done to an intimate, private area, signifying that nothing is kept from God, even that which is most personal and private.

2) The area also suggests God is very close to us such as the bond between lovers when their parts are intertwined.

3) This is a mark that is always hidden unless the man is naked which should never happen in public. God is not about boasting or bragging. If the mark was on the forehead, we could boast and show off our mark as belonging to God. I can’t imagine anyone running around showing off this!

4) The fact that this is a mark for the male and there is no mark for a woman shows that God’s covenant is generational. This does not mean that God favors men that they should have a mark, but that heredity and blessing are always passed down from father to son just as God is passing down this covenant to every son. Again this mark is not for showing off, hence why women don’t also need one. Even though this mark is a physical mark, there is no physical significance in it. Circumcision is something done in the heart, the physical mark is for our benefit because we will fail to understand this and always see things through our own physical and worldly perspective.

5) Although this does not signify physical things, it is a physical mark. But the decision to have this physical mark as opposed to another was not random. As it turns out, there are actual health benefits for men to be circumcised and this is a mark that, when done properly, does not leave a scar. In fact, one would never know without being told or seeing what it looks like uncircumcised that one that is circumcised wasn’t the way it naturally looked. Not only this but a mind-blowing scientifically proven fact that if a baby were to be given a circumcision, the eighth day just so happens to be the safest: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1118 . Should we really be surprised God knew the medical information ahead of time when choosing the eighth day? For millenia, we could never answer this question until this was able to be proven.

Isaac’s Birth Promised

15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

-Sarai was not forgotten and here God finally tells Abraham that the child will come through his first wife, Sarah. The name “Sarai” means “Princess” in Hebrew and “Sarah” means “noblewoman”. God is saying kings will come from her and even names her “Noble Woman” signifying that she is now of noble blood. Sarah has been following her husband the entire time through this 24 year journey believing in and trusting her husband when scripture only says that Abraham and Hagar were ever spoken to. It was her idea to give him Hagar in an attempt to, what she thought, satisfy God’s will and her husbands desire for an heir. We can look at her as foolish or we can also see a loving supportive wife who has been with him all this time and all this craziness. They have been roaming around Canaan and won’t even stay in one place. She is said to be quite beautiful, why did she not ditch the bum? Sarah showed an incredible amount of faith as well.

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

-Many have interpreted this two ways: as a laugh of joy or as literally laughing at God. Given that Abraham suggests Ishmael be the one I tend to side with the latter. It’s possible too a bit of frustration being that Abraham probably thought the ordeal was over, he had Ishmael, that was it! What more, God?!? The laugh may have been more like madness at this point. We just got done reading about father’s who have had sons at 100 years old so the genetic degradation or whatever was causing people not to live as long probably gave Abraham and Sarah the white-haired, wrinkly appearance as someone in the latter stages of life who were certainly to old to father children. Given how long they live, their age equivalents to today may have been in their 60’s. It would still be possible for a man but not for a woman to conceive at this age. As mentioned before, Abraham is obviously not accustomed with miraculous acts by God that defy the very nature of the way the world works and doesn’t realize that God has no limitations in this regard.

20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

-We see God clarify too that the “everlasting” covenant will be done through Isaac and his descendants, not Ishmael’s. Ishmael’s blessing is in numbers only. Ishmael’s descendants will make up a great nation of peoples. But Ishmael’s blessing is not “everlasting”.

22 When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

-That must have been a hard one to explain…”Look out, Grandpa Abram has gone insane! He’s calling himself by a different name and wants to take a knife to our private parts!” All the more trust it must have required on Abraham’s part to carry out. Abraham was the head of the household, but there must have been limitations to the obedience of his servants and herdsmen. Perhaps God helped him through this ordeal. We do know that in this day in age, there were tattoos, piercings, and various other forms of bodily mutilation including those with religious significance. This idea may not have been as bizarre as it seems to us today. Perhaps other households have done something similar when that household decided on following a particular god or set of gods that are said to require something like this.

Spanish Words:

todopoderoso = almighty

rostro = face

perpetuo = perpetual

linaje = lineage, class, kind

ojalá = hopefully

ciertamente = certainly

establacer = to establish, set

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Genesis 15: God’s Covenant with Abram

1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

-This time we are told how God spoke to Abram, through a vision. In the bible a vision can be many different things. Sometimes a vision is something someone sees while asleep, sometimes while awake, sometimes while walking or doing something. It does not seem to matter what the individual is doing at the time, what happens is the person sees images in their minds-eye and they can’t seem to control it because it is from God. We learned that when the world was created, God spoke the command, Jesus was the command, and the Spirit carried out the command. Going by this structure, we can claim the Abram was visited by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit was with Him showing him this vision.

2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”

-Poor Eliezer. It’s reasonable to assume he was probably Abram’s most loyal servant.

4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

-Pay attention to the wording here. “The word” of the Lord came to him and then it says God brought him outside. In John 1:1, Jesus is referred to as “The Word” and then we are given a picture of a man-like individual guiding Abram outside like a host guides a guest. Could this have been another appearance of Jesus? It does not say the vision guided him outside, it says he was “brought” outside. The Hebrew word used here is “yatsa” which means “to go or come out”. So Abram was “go’ed” out, not guided in a Spiritual sense. A reasonable interpretation is that God was in the form of a man guiding him outside. Fun fact: to date, scientists have been able to number 300 sextillion starts as of an article from 2010: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/01/scientists-sextillion-stars/ . Does this mean that literally Abram’s descendants are 300 sextillion in number? In this case I would not define this literally because the wording is “So shall your offspring be”. In other words, God is saying “Its like this”. Abram’s descendants will be like the number of stars in the sky which at the time, everyone would probably assume there was some 2,000 because that’s about how many you can see without any kind of telescope. Its amazing that in time we have both learned that Abram’s descendants really are in the billions to this day and we’ve discovered such an incalculable number of stars has given this verse new meaning. Abram could not have imagined life on earth existing this long because at this point it had been less than 400 years since the flood and we know Shem was still living at the time somewhere near 480 and he lives until he is 600.

6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

-This is one the most important verses in the entire bible! These 13 words explain exactly how it is we can go to heaven despite being horrible sinners. Because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, all it takes is faith in the Lord and God counts that the same as if we never sinned and did good deeds. Faith in God washes over sins. Keep in mind, this is being told at the same time the Israelites are being given the law. Even then, they are told that the most important thing to have is faith, not to do everything perfect. We’ve already seen a number of examples even with these first 15 chapters of Genesis of God showing great mercy even to horrible sinners. Cain seemed to go on and have success in life despite living as a fugitive against God and he was not killed immediately for killing his own brother. Lamech was not struck dead for taking on two wives and declaring a new curse as if he were God. When the flood happened, there had been 100 years of warning where it can be assumed Noah told people what he was doing and why and no one believed him. God waiting until the world was sufficiently evil, giving them a chance to turn around. We see grace, after grace, after grace. God has never been one to immediately enact justice and He always seems to show compassion and give people a chance to change. And no matter what we’ve done, as long as we have faith, God counts that as righteousness. Abram has seemed like a very righteous man up to this point but we’ve seen him not completely obey God’s original plan by taking his family and possessions with him and lying while in Egypt. But that did not disqualify him in God’s sight and we see Abram becoming more and more like God. Abram’s very life is an example of the Christian life of today. We start out as babies and over time, we learn to walk and to talk. Eventually, some of us may learn to be fully grown and sprint and teach others. Abram is on this journey and the fact that he now trusts God shows how far he has come.

7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”

-The fact that God identifies Himself as the one who originally lead Abram away from Ur must mean that Abram did not know it was from God and may have only assumed or just decided to obey a strange voice or instinct out of fear. Maybe there was no decision at all and he simply found himself doing it. However, if that was the case he probably would have gone straight to Canaan instead of stopping in Haran and taking his father and household so it seems most reasonable to assume a free will choice here. This gives Abram some credit for his incomplete disobedience because he did not know the source of this strange message he was getting and probably wasn’t sure whether to obey it. He may have doubted his sanity. This is important to take note in case you, the reader, ever think God may have told you something but are not sure and may be hesitant. The fact that this happened to Abram way back when shows that it could happen today and this is quite normal. Go before the Lord and ask him for confirmation and tell him you would like to obey this if it is from Him and do it anyway as long as there is nothing sinful. If there’s even a chance God has told you to do something you need to do it. Better you think you’re serving the Lord and be wrong than to be afraid and not do what the Lord commands out of fear of humiliation. As we learned, God counts faith as righteousness. Faith is not about being given all the information or knowing for sure. Faith in itself is a risk, it is a blind jump. That is the very definition of faith, doing something even if it doesn’t make sense or the reward doesn’t seem worth the risk. I’ve heard one philosopher claim that “faith is the antithesis of reason”. I don’t have a problem with this definition because it does seem to be true. The bible itself does have evidence that can be verified in terms of history, archeology, names of people and places, but in terms of “proof” that all this is real? You will never find it scientifically. Once you are a believer and you study the word, you will start to see and understandings that are proof to you but there will never be any kind of scientific proof that what the bible says is real. It can only be believed on faith, there is plenty of reason to doubt it, its fantastical. The world does not experience the things talked about in the bible every day like huge miracles and because are brains are natural wired to sin, we more often see what the world identifies as “the real world” rather than the Spiritual side of things. A person can never truly reason their way to and understand of God or anything like visions. It all comes down to faith. Just believe!

8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

Well, so much for faith, right? Not completely because the fact that Abram asks means he does indeed believe he’s talking to God and that God can give him a sign. As mentioned before, Abram is on a journey and he is growing into the believer that he will one day be as Abraham, a man willing to sacrifice his son because God tells him to. Abram is not there yet and while he believes in God and God guiding him, he still questions God’s ability to give him a son because there is still a fleshly nature within him fighting. From a worldly perspective, it doesn’t make sense. Abram and Sarai have been trying for years and they are getting to old to physically be capable of having children. It just seems so outrageous and aside from Abram’s military victor and the ( possible) visit from God in the flesh when he was brought outside, Abram has not witnessed miracles of this type. He may truly not no that nothing is impossible with God and may only be viewing Him as a super-powerful deity that does indeed have limitations instead of God the creator that has no limitations aside from sinning against Himself or changing.

9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.

-These seems bizarre and gruesome but this was actually a common practice of the day. Men would draw covenants and contracts in this manner, a “blood” contract if you will. The idea being if either side broke this contract, they would end up like this animal. God is essentially swearing on His own life, on pain of death, that He will do as He has promised to Abram. This is not necessary for God to do because anything He declares happens, period. But God is doing this for Abram’s benefit to give Him a gift of faith that He will do what has been promised. One animal was usually enough for this kind of contract so the number of animals may have been a sign of the importance of the contract to use so many. It’s interesting the bird were not cut in half. We are not given the reason why. This would mean between the five animals there were 4 halves and the turtledove and pigeon would have been on either side of the other as halves. Note that all these animals are clean animals. No unclean animal can ever be sacrificed to God.

11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12a As the sun was going down,

-This implies that there was a great amount of waiting, probably several hours while Abram sat there waiting for God to show up. The patience must have made him doubt his sanity again but patience is a Godly virtue and impatience is a result of our sinful nature. God may have waiting as part of Abram’s journey teaching him patiences or perhaps it symbolized to Abram that this was going to take a long time.

12b a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

-Abram is given a vision in a dream this time. Notice it says dreadful and great darkness fell on him. While would there be dread and darkness when Abram is being told that the promise will be fulfilled? I have a possible explanation from my own experience. When I was 16 years old, I truly believe I had not one but two visions in my dreams. I remember the feeling and what I saw, it was something like described in the bible and while strange, I had absolutely no doubt as to their meaning. I was shown that nothing is more important than what was done on the Cross in one and I was flat out told in another that God loves me. Even though these were wonderful positive messages and I was blessed far beyond anything I could ever deserve to be given these confirmations of my faith, I felt a deep dread and fear unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I woke up sweating and more terrified then at any other point in my life. The fact that something was happening beyond my control and I somehow knew that this was from God gave me a deep terror. It may have done something else as well. If as mentioned before that the Spirit visits people when they have visions and this is what happened, the Spirit also does something else…it reveals truth. The Holy Spirit bestows gifts and one of those gifts are faith, another is wisdom, another is discernment. These things help us in our faith and in our journey to God. It makes sense that if God’s very nature is honesty and the truth that the Holy Spirit when touching someone would reveal the truth. My feeling, and perhaps Abram’s feeling of darkness and dread, may have been us feeling our own sin. Temporarily, we felt how horrible we are to God and our entire bodies had a physical reaction. Again, I have no wish to try and inject my own personal experience into scripture and wish to draw from scripture blindly to accept the truth. But this description is so much like my own experience before I ever looked at this passage closely to know before hand that I cannot help myself but draw from it. But I advise the reader to take what has been written here with a grain of salt. As stated before, nothing of the Spiritual can be proven and its still possible I just had a weird dream and the fact that I thought it was from God scarred me and it wasn’t. Even without my experience, the Holy Spirit revealing the truth of Abram’s nature while the vision occurred seems a reasonable theory on its own.

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

-This occurred while Abram was asleep. This is most unlike a contract because in such a ritual, both parties would cross between as a sign of the blood oath. But Abram was not making a deal with God, God was simply giving his promise. Abram is not required to do anything as part of this contract and so he was taken completely out of the deal. The contract is simply God vowing that He will do something. An image of a pot suggests a contained fire and the torch is being held as if by an invisible hand. God later is seen in the image of burning fire in several instances and this seems to be symbolic of the presence of God. If one believes that God walking in the form of a man was God the Father and not Jesus then its a reasonable question to ask why God did not come in the flesh and perform this ritual as He may have done before when guiding Abram? Or why didn’t Jesus come either? The reason is that this is a promise from God the Father and God the Son, Jesus, is the word and the voice that submits to God. God the Father is the authority in their relationship and only He can make promises. The Son does nothing apart from the will of the Father who sent Him. Jesus cannot make a contract in His own name or on behalf of God the Father, He can only submit to God as does the Holy Spirit and they do not have a will of their own. So God the Father Himself had to be present to do this but God the Father does not visit in the form of a man. So God was present but the visible sign that human eyes see is fire.

18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

-Some of these people’s have been mentioned and genealogies given, some genealogies are unknown, and some are only ever mentioned in this one passage in the whole of the bible. These could be descendants from others sons that are not mentioned in scripture or we may be getting already to a time when groups are no longer named based on their common ancestor but by a King or a description of who they are. We talked about before how the term “Perizzites” has come to be known as a term meaning “belonging to a village”. One would assume given this is Canaanite territory that all these groups are descended from Canaan but we can no longer assume this. One of the few details we have of Kenites it that Moses father-in-law was a Kenite so presumably his wife was of this bloodline as well. Kadmonites is a term in Hebrew that has come to mean “easterners” so perhaps these people migrated from the Caldeans or even farther East. Rephaim is a term that means “giants” and whoever these people descended from seem to be from Golan in Israel. The Hebrew root “rapha” actually means to heal so perhaps these people were called this because as Giants, they were considered super healthy. The others are Canaanite tribes. Interesting that God says this nation will stretch from the Nile river to the Euphrates river, a much larger territory than the nation of Israel that began and exists today. Does this mean Israel will be much larger and the promise has yet to be completely revealed? This territory would encompass the modern nations of eastern Egypt, Israel, all of Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia, half of Iraq, all of Lebanon, most of Syria, and possibly a small stretch of Turkey too. Here is a picture to illustrate: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Greater_Israel_map.jpg/1024px-Greater_Israel_map.jpg . Given that some of the peoples who were identified and did not settle within the confines of what we think of as Israel also fortifies this thought. Are we still, even today, going to witness a war between Israel and these nations that would eventually cause the territory of Israel to actually stretch this far? God said it and this does not appear to be hyperbole. God is never given to hyperbole. This must be that at some point in time, Israel truly will have these boundaries some day. This leads members of these nations to be extremely fearful and on high conspiracy alert to this day that “The Zionists” will go to war and take this land because it is identified as Abraham’s promised land in the bible. It could also simply be that another of Abram’s descendants, Ishmael, may be in the blood of the citizens of these nations today as the Muslims believe and in that sense, the promise was fulfilled already and descendants of Abram do exist from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Spanish Words:

escudo = shield
galardón = award, prize
prole = offspring
heredero = heir
becerra = calf
heredar = to inherit
rapiña = robbery
esclava = slave, bracelet
ajena = alien, someone different
juzgar = to judge
puesto = position

Genesis 13: Abram and Lot Separate

1 So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

-”The Negeb” is the Southern-most region of Israel which borders the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4a to the place where he had made an altar at the first.

-This is the place where “the Lord appeared” as opposed to when it stated he was spoken to.

4b And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

-When he got here he “called” upon the name of the Lord. Shortly after, we are told about a problem between Abram and Lot’s men (not they themselves) because of the wealth and the fact that they were living together but had separate possessions. In the next few verses, Abram has what seems like the ideal solution. Interesting that it mentions he came before God and that had the right solution to this problem. Even in this time, prayer works. The Perizzites are mentioned yet of all the people’s we were given names for, there is no mention of Perizzites or anyone with the name Perizz. Given that they are mentioned separate from Canaanites, they man not be descendants of Canaan. The term has come to mean “people who dwell in villages” in Hebrew so perhaps these were random scattered people from varying genealogies living in unwalled cities and villages who happen to settle near the other Canaanite tribes and they were grouped together with this name.

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.

-This was an incredibly generous offer by Abram to allow Lot to choose which way he would rather go. We don’t know why he decided to do this, but it certainly ended up working in his favor. Lot saw the green Jordan valley and how well taken care of the land was and saw a much better deal. Lot’s decision was self-centered and he let his eyes decide for him. Abram on the other hand showed humility. As it seems to indicate in this account, Abram essentially took Canaan or what would become Israel and Lot took what would become the nation of Jordan. Zoar is one of the five cities in Jordan that God states that He would like to destroy along with Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim. Zoar is the one city spared on Lot’s plea and where he goes to take refuge.

12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.

-It seems reasonable to assume Lot had become, or perhaps was always, quite worldly and was attracted to the big city and the wickedness didn’t bother him. Lot appears to have been privileged his whole life, having inherited his father Haran’s possessions, having much under Abram and his father Terah, and then also getting the “royal treatment” in Egypt. We are never given Lot’s age in terms of how much younger he is than Abram but it seems reasonable to assume he has been quite privileged his whole life as was Abram.

14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

-Once again, God repeats His promise to Abram with a little more information this time. He is now told to “walk through the length and the breadth of the land”. So now he is given the command to travel “by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron”. Hebron is a city in the West Bank of Israel today and Mamre is just to the north. http://bibleatlas.org/valley_of_hebron.htm . Mamre is also the name of an Amorite ally of Abram later on and so it is assumed this place was called this because this was Mamre’s land.

Spanish Words:

subir = to go up, climb, get on

riquísimo = very rich, wealthy

ganado = cattle

habitar = to inhabit, live

morar = to dwell

contienda = contest

delante = in front of, before

ruego = request

apartar = to set aside, separate

llanura = plain

escoger = to choose

acampo = pasture

levantar = to pick up, lift, raise

ancho = wide

remover = to stir, remove, oust, revive

Genesis 12: The Call of Abram

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you

-From my own recent history I know this call well. I too left my country, my kindred, and my father’s house to a land that God showed me through the mission trip with my church. Once I saw this place, I knew this was where I was suppose to be. I can’t help but wonder if this is how it happened with Abram. I think we all tend to think more along the lines of God speaking with a voice that can be heard audibly to Abram with this story but I wonder if it was more like my own experience. In my experience, there was no audible voice or a visitation by an angel, there was simply a feeling of assurance. Logically, I could not explain why I would want to sell everything and go to Mexico. I was not impressing anyone, I was not doing it to try to earn favor with God. I simply “knew” like an instinct what to do and was not able to question. I feel like I had no choice, I could not imagine not doing it. And that’s it. No magic, no nothing. I do not want to be guilty of injecting my own personal experience and perspective into the word of God, but I would describe my experience as “the Lord said” as well. So when it it written that “the Lord said”, we shouldn’t assume it was audible although it may very well have been.

2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

-According to the genealogy last chapter, it really hasn’t been that long since the flood. Even though Abram is multiple generations after and 75 years old at the time of leaving Haran, Noah’s son Shem is still alive during this time as he would be 465 years old now. Shem lives until he’s 600 years old. So the idea that a nation will descend from someone at this time probably wasn’t all that shocking since it was happening everywhere in the world. What made this so shocking was the direct communication from God and then the age of Abram. Even though Shem and the earlier generations were living a very long time, we’ve already gotten close to the point where mankind is living closer to the lifespan of today. Abram’s father Terah lives 205 years and Abram 180 years. We see most of Abram’s ancestors have the particular descendant in their 30’s except Abram’s father Terah had all three sons by 70 so being already 75 years old, it was a little on the old side to be having children already. We don’t know how the aging worked at this time if 75 was similar to 75 today and they stayed “old” longer or if it was closer to about 40 or 50 compared to today. But compared to everyone after Shem, it seems like Abram should have got his start sooner. This is what makes this story truly miraculous.

3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

-This is the verse that is used when suggesting gentile nations should support Israel. When God is speaking to Abraham, He also seems to be speaking to the nation that will come from him as well when He says “all the families of the earth”. We don’t see that “all the families of the earth” are blessed during Abram’s lifetime so God definitely seems to be speaking about the nation not specifically him. We see later in the bible that through Israel, we receive the promised Messiah who takes away the sin of the world and we see the role Israel will play in the new earth. We see this play out during the nation of Israel’s time in the old testament, but does it still apply today? Does supporting the nation of Israel today still mean blessing for the nation that does? I think we have to ask ourselves what “supporting Israel” means exactly. Are we talking about the country or are we talking about God and His will? Israel was created to be an example to the nations. So when we support Israel, we are honoring God and declaring our faith in what He has revealed as being “good”. This does not mean that everything Israel does is right. After all, it is a secular country today and most of those who are religious are Orthodox Jewish who deny Jesus as the Son of God. There are many lies and misinformation about Israel, but Israel also has committed sins themselves. So does this verse suggest it is wise to blindly support the country of Israel no matter what they do, even when they are morally wrong and against God themselves? Of course not. In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” I will not get into the specifics and the Greek here but the word “hate” in this instance means “forsake” or to let go. NOTHING is of importance except following God. If Israel does something contrary to what God has declared morally right than do not suport this action. But do not curse her, instead, just like God does for us, forgive in love and go right back to giving nurturing support and aid to her. Love should be the motivation here, not the blessing upon your nation. Enabling bad behavior does nothing to support Israel except to enable her to sin against God more.  Think of it as a parent-child relationship.  When your rebellious teenager does something wrong, you point it out as wrong and you may issue a punishment if appropriate.  But does that mean you have turned your back on your child?  No.  You love your child, that is why you will not condone a sin.  But this is not the same as telling your child everything they do is right because you love and support them.  That will do incredible harm.  When supporting Israel, we must keep in mind to put God first.

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

-Last chapter it says Abram left Ur to go to Canaan but instead stopped in Haran and settled there. Piecing the two bits of information together, it seems Abram disobeyed God and went to Haran first or at the very least stopped short on this not-so-straight path towards Canaan. In Acts 7:2-4 it states, “And Stephen said: ‘Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.’” So Abraham did obey God, but was delayed because his father was with him. It says Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran but we aren’t given any other information other than his father died at the age of 205 in Haran. Either Abram ended up leaving his father in Haran and he died there by himself at a later date having stayed there the rest of his life or his father was already nearly 205 and in poor health and ended up dying there during the journey and Abram left once he was buried and the affairs were settled. In either case, verse 1 of this chapter said to “go from your kindred and your father’s house”. Even if “father’s house” refers to just the place of Ur and not literally his father’s dwelling place, Abram still did not leave his relatives because he took both his father and Lot with him. Abram was still obedient in the end because after all Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” I am only pointing out the obedience was not perfect to show how Abram’s life is a journey of being molded into the image of an obedient servant to God or the image of Jesus. Abram did obey, but there is evidence of some hesitation and signs Abram obeyed but just in his own way. We see later he tells a lie to the Egyptians. God did not tell him to do so and would never tell him to lie which is a sin, but Abram decides to do it his own way.  One other interesting question is the name of the place “Haran” itself.  That happens to be the name of Abram’s brother, Lot’s father as well.  The name “Haran”  means “mountaineer” in Hebrew.  It might be possible that the group named this area Haran after their loved one since he had passed away in Ur where they were from but this is unknown.

5a And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.

-He may have left his father’s house, but it seems he took it all with him when he left. Not only that but they had “acquired” people in Haran. Given that Abram had servants, it stands to reason he and his father’s family were quite wealthy in those days. It seems too soon in history for there to be masters and servants rather than simply family clans but some families and nations of people likely faired better than others. Even with only 10 generations from Shem to Abram, we are only seldom told how many children each descendant had. When not stated, they could have had dozens upon dozens who all themselves had dozens upon dozens over the course of a few hundred years and there could be tens of thousands living on the Earth already. There is no telling how many daughters each could have had even when the amount of sons were stated and you would only need one man to impregnate many different women. It’s also possible with so few people, everyone essentially moved in herds. Perhaps if for some reason one person was not welcomed in one family, they joined another and this is where the people came from that Abram acquired. Those who were not blood were servants.

5b When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

-Shechem is an area in Israel and was the first capital city. The “oak of Moreh” mentioned here could very well be the terebinth tree that Jacob hid all the foreign gods and earrings in Genesis 35:4. Even though we haven’t got there yet, the Israelites in the desert hearing this story may have had that passed down through the generations in Egypt and new this bit of information already.

7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

-As mentioned before with Noah, alter building must have been something passed down going all the way back to Adam and Eve when Cain and Abel made their offerings otherwise how is it that Abram knew to do this without the law? Either that or this became perverted with other teachings and Abram was merely doing what he thought “gods” liked. This is the first time it says the Lord “appeared” to Abram rather than spoke so this could have been the first time Abram knew for sure he was really being told something and wasn’t just going crazy. It is uncertain why he did this.

8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

-Despite the fact that the Lord actually appeared to him as a confirmation, it still stands to reason he was being lead by what felt like instinct or else why is he still moving? He was told to go to Canaan and then when he got to Shechum and the Lord said “I will give this land”, why didn’t he stay there and assume this was the land right there where he built the alter? After all, the Lord said to go to the land “that I will show you”. Didn’t He just show him? Instead he keeps moving and ends up building another alter. Did he see the Lord again? There’s so much that we just aren’t told. The only thing important to keep in mind is that God is guiding him to where He wants him to go but what he is being told is very limited. It is vague as to where he is supposed to go. He is wandering around a foreign and probably dangerous land with a whole caravan of people, animals, and supplies not knowing where God wants him to go.

Abram and Sarai in Egypt
10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.

-This is a flash forward to some unstated time after the second alter construction. It could have been shortly after or it could have been years later. The question here is, was Abram disobeying God to go to Egypt? Abram was not told to go to Egypt but he was only told to go to Canaan and that God will give him that land. But if God is to give him that land, he certainly needs to survive long enough to acquire it, doesn’t he? It is important when being lead by the Lord to consider what we know for sure to be of God. God is in control of all things, so if there was a famine so severe that Abram had to temporarily head to Egypt for food just to survive then that must be part of God’s plan, otherwise, God would have prevented or told Abram not to do that. It seems God gives us only enough information to know what to do and as long as we are obedient to that information, we can decide other things for ourselves. This verse says Abram “sojourned” there which means a temporary stay so Abram was not moving on or deciding to permanently settle in Egypt. So there is no reason to assume he is in the wrong yet. Although it could be argued that had he not had such a huge household to feed, he may not have needed to go to Egypt in the first place and there may have been more than enough for just him and his wife.

11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”

-Here Abram decides to tell a lie to ensure his own safety. Technically, it is not a total lie since she is his half-sister. But a technicality is still a lie and he didn’t say half-sister, he said sister which implies a full sister. The important thing to notice is Abram has not yet learned to trust God in his life completely yet. He knows because God told him that he will have a nation descend from him so therefore he cannot be killed. So Abram forgot his faith to fear that he would be killed on account of his wife.

14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.

-”Taken into Pharaoh’s house” meant that she was added to his harem as his concubine. This would mean the Pharaoh and his princes and whoever else was included in his house had sex with her and the “great plagues” came in the form of a vunerial disease. Why couldn’t he had said that she was his wife? Instead, he allows his wife to become a sex object to a foreign ruler all to save his own life which he should have known was protected by God given the foreknowledge he was given of having descendants. Not only that but while she’s being forced to sleep around against her will (one would assume), Abram is treated like a fellow prince because of her. Not only is he able to get plenty of food, but his household grows substantially from the Pharaoh’s gifts. It seems this was in God’s plan all along to ensure Abram has plenty of wealth for his households health and security until Israel’s sons end up in Egypt. Had Abram not taken is original possession as it seemed God was commanding him to do, God would have provided an abundance anyway.

18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

-How did Pharaoh find out that she was his wife? Did Abram come clean after the plagues started or did Pharaoh somehow know or guess? We are not told but its very odd that Pharaoh would simply say “take her and go” instead of executing them both or at least Abram like he original feared. We see that God was indeed protecting them both and ensuring His plan will be carried out. Given the lavish gifts, perhaps Abram would have decided to stay and disobey God had this not occurred. I suppose if you ever want to truly know if what you think God’s plan is for you is true, try doing the opposite. God will always ensure his plan works out no matter what. The fact that the Egyptians got these plagues was because had they not, they would have never given up Sarai so that Abram and she could birth Isaac and Abram may have never left without her. If you think God has revealed a plan for your life then rejoice! Because no matter what, that plan will happen. It may not happen the way you think and it may happen at a much later time than you want, but it will happen, so there is never any reason to worry.

Spanish words:

parentela = relatives, kin
engrandecer = to exalt, increase, enlarge
maldecir = to curse
bienes = goods (property)
invocar = to invoke, incite, call
reserve = to book, reserve, set aside
oveja = sheep
asno = donkey
criada = maid
herir = to hurt, injure, inflict with
acompañar = to accompany, keep company

Genesis 9: God’s Covenant With Noah

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.

-I did not bring it up in my Genesis 3 study but its interesting to realize the parallel between what Adam and Eve are told when leaving the garden and what we as Christians were told when Jesus left Earth. We are told to “be fruitful and multiply” in both cases. Adam and Eve and now Noah and his sons families are told to multiply in the physical sense and Jesus tells us to multiply in the spiritual sense and make disciples. This commanded is repeated to show that despite everything that has changed about the earth, the command and mans purpose still applies.

3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

-Here we see the first mention of eating meat. There’s reason to believe that mankind were all vegetarian before the flood and this is when eating meat began. Noah was commanded to bring “every kind” of food on the ark but that does not mean any of those clean animals were consumed. If there is no mention, we can’t assume. Given mankind’s sinfulness, it is hard for me to believe people didn’t try eating meat like the animals but this might be the first time it was not considered ungodly to do so and righteous individuals like Enoch and Noah may not have desiring to walk with God.

4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

-Now its saying don’t eat meat? No, God is saying, “cook your food before you eat it!” There are certainly many health reasons to do this.

5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

-These two verses seem to be saying, whether it is a person or an animal, anyone or anything that kills a man will suffer consequences. The word “reckoning” in English essentially means “pay back” or “eye for an eye” and this is how it is written in Hebrew. Whoever sheds blood, their blood shall be shed. Some have taken these verses to mean God’s condoning of capital punishment. We find out later in the bible particularly Romans 13 when Paul writes that God has given governments authority on earth so this would seem to be a reasonable argument. Regardless, there are certainly consequences to sin and there seem to be more severe consequences to murder, death, and war than any other sins which is why it is often regarded as “the worse” sin. All sins are equally 100% offensive to God and this is no degree; however, there does seem to be a difference in the effects and God is saying the effects of this sin, even to animals, is more severe on this Earth.

7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”

-Whenever something is repeated in scripture, its important. This is our reason for being. Being fruitful or “successful” in life which recall God measures success by our willingness to submit to him not acquiring wealth and abundance (Remember Cain’s misunderstanding?), and having children. This is of course a general command and you are not sinning by not having children, but it is God’s greater desire for all mankind as a whole.

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

-This is repeated because Moses is essentially saying, “Remember how I just said God made a promise not to do this again? Well when He said that He also did this that I did not mention earlier:”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

As children, we probably recall a picture of a rainbow and think that God made a pretty, peaceful symbol to show this bad thing would not happened again. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and that may well be part of it but what this passage is actually saying is God “hung up His bow”. A bow is a weapon, for firing arrows. God is essentially saying that He will not go to war with mankind in this way again. God has established a “ceasefire”. Does this mean that before this there were no rainbows in the sky? A rainbow is a refraction of light and its hard to believe the very law of physics changed and there wouldn’t have been small rainbows seen in the mist that came up to water the earth. The only other explanation would be if somehow this water layer in the sky that was there effected how light came down to earth to where rainbows would not happen. Regardless, giant rainbows in the sky would not have happened until this because it had not rained. The bible is clear that there was no rainfall before the flood so no rainbows in the sky. Because not much is known about what this water layer in the sky must have been like, its difficult to answer whether literally no one had ever seen a small refraction of life before and it could not be produced until after the flood.

Noah’s Descendants

18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

-We will learn all about the Canaanites later but we find out here that they descend from Noah’s son Ham. The name Canaan means “lowlands” in Hebrew or could possibly mean “humiliated” and is a word used for a merchant or trader. In history, we know the Phoenician people are descendants of Canaan.

20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.

-Many have interpreted that the atmosphere of Earth changed so much that there was no fermentation and therefore no way to get drunk before the flood. So it is claimed here that Noah simply drank to much “grape juice” not knowing it would make him drunk. If there truly was no fermentation before the flood, its still an assumption to say Noah “accidentally” got drunk. Noah may have discovered this and he felt good so he kept drinking it, so why not? There was no law or even concept of drunkenness and what the consequences of it could be. The term “planted a vineyard” suggests he knew what it was and what it was going to be when he planted it instead of simply experimenting with grapes. In the end, it is too easy to make assumptions so I believe it is wiser to simply read the story as it is written. The account just says that this happened. Noah planted a vineyard, drank to much wine, and became drunk. This is all we need to know at this time. Whether it was intentional or an accident, we know Noah, while righteous in God’s sight, was not perfect and inclined to sin just as all of us are. I do know that if I just spent a year on a smelly boat with animals and in-laws, I’d probably feel like celebrating being free of it myself. Archaeological findings have actually discovered signs of a vineyard dated possibly near this time near Mt. Ararat: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-places/did-this-winery-get-noah-drunk/

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

-It seems Ham was what we would call “immature”. He saw his father in this state and must have found it quite the hilarious site. If this truly was the first case of drunkenness I can only imagine. But with Shem and Japheth we see something truly beautiful. We see them showing their father the utmost respect and they never even laid eyes on their father while covering him and taking care of him. Shem and Japheth had been raised well and most likely tried to live righteously like their father. Ham was more carnal and of the world. There are some commentators that have tried to imply Ham as having some kind of homosexual tendencies but that is a lot to assume from a single sentence in the bible. We are not told anything like that and so cannot assume something like this. It just says Ham saw him. It doesn’t say “curious” or “filled with delight”. The lesson is obvious that one should show respect for their father especially in a time of need instead of humiliating and make fun of someone else, especially your own father, for one’s own pleasure.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

-Many have grossly misinterpreted this passage as an explanation for why (and I’m quoting here) “black people are slaves”. This is so utterly idiotic that I feel dirty just bringing it up. Only in American and European counties in a specific period of time have “black people” been slaves. Not only that, there is an assumption that Ham or at least Canaan had darker skin given where it states Hamitic people settled. We are never told what any of these people looked like and what their genetic traits were like and skin color may have actually changed over time given the warmer regions they were traveling through. We know and can prove the concept of “micro-evolution” as fact which is simply the change in variation of a species over time. Perhaps in certain cultures, more black or more white was considered desirable and so this trait was bread depending on the culture whether intentional or not. Not only this but the Canaanites that are dealt with in the bible were more likely olive-skinned anyway and not black. Throughout all of world history, it was standard practice to enslave people that were conquered and this was considered normal. It did not matter who these people are or what they looked like, if you conquered a nation they become your slaves. When the more developed technologically Americans and Europeans went to Africa, they took the tribal people as slaves simply because they considered themselves better given their technology and education. It would not have mattered what these African people looked like. This very discussion about appearance is worldly and physical. This is part of the reason God destroyed life with a flood to begin with, because we were thinking in these terms. If what Noah stated to Ham truly was a prophesy about Canaan and his descendants then it was only that the Israelites, which are considered to be descendants of Shem, will conquerer the land of Canaan and take many of these people as slaves. It could simply be that just as Ham, Noah’s son, dishonored his father, Noah could have been cursing Canaan as one day dishonoring his father in the same way. In other words, “Like father, like son”. What kind of example was Ham setting for his son in not honoring his own father? It’s thought that descendants of Jepheth may be where “white people”come from given where his descendants settled and so its argued that’s what “enlarged” means in terms of technological success. But this has only been true more recently in world history. Babylon and Persia were the first two great empires more likely made up of descendants of Shem and we know ancient Chine had many wonders and advancements and Asians are considered more likely to be descendants of Ham. To assume this is a prophecy that Europeans would enjoy blessings in life is a stretch at best.

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

-Noah living an additional 350 years after the flood is one of the reasons why I don’t interpret Genesis 6:3 as God declaring mankind would only live 120 years in total from now on. Otherwise, Noah would have lived a much shorter time afterwards. Being 600 years old when the oldest person lived to 969 would probably be the equivalent of Noah being 55-60 years old at the time of the flood at the youngest. So if suddenly lifespans were like they are today, Noah probably would have only lived 30 more years after the flood at most and died at 630 years old. This is why it seems more likely mankind itself was more genetically “perfect” and because of our genes lived a lot longer and it has degraded over time to the point of the oldest people only living to about 100 and very rarely beyond this today. It makes sense that we had much longer lifespans at this time so that we get multiply more and get a population on earth going much quicker. The differences with the planet before the flood still could have effected our height and other factors as well though.

Spanish words:

temor = fear
movar = to move
entregar = to deliver
legumbre = vegetable
derramar = to spill, pour
arco = arch, rainbow
señal = signal, sign
nube = cloud
embriagar = to get drunk, enebriated
hombro = shoulder

Genesis 8: The Flood Subsides

1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated,

-The bible often says “God remembered” and that does not mean that God had forgotten something and then went “Oh, yeah, that Noah guy, right, I should do something about that!” The word remembered in this case is more along the lines of “brought to attention”. God simply chose to bring to attention and act on Noah’s predicament at this time but was perfectly aware of his situation, literally, and did not forget or get distracted.

4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

-Recall last chapter that the rain started on the second month, on the seventeenth day. The ark came to rest on the seventh month on the seventeenth day, 150 days total. The second month on the Hebrew calender is Iyyar and the seventh month is Tishrei. The mountains of Ararat are a known place at the very Eastern edge of Turkey bordering Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Ararat

5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

-The length of time was 73 days from the time the ark touched land and the tops of the mountains were seen. The tenth month on the Hebrew calender is Tevet.

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.

-We’re now up to a total of 263 days since the flood started. Noah sent forth a Raven but it did not say it came back, verse 7 says it went to and fro until the waters dried up. It seems likely the Raven went out and found dead carcasses to feed off of and perch on to where it saw no need to return to the ark. This is why a Raven is an unclean bird, it is a scavenger that eats anything and has no loyalty.

8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him.

-Dove’s being a clean animal are not scavengers and can be trained so they are considered clean.

10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

-We’re now at 270 days total. How did the dove know to bring back an olive leaf as a sign of dry land? God may have been guiding the animal or the dove may have simply been bringing the leaf back to build a nest.

12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore. 13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.

-With seven more days that makes a total of 277 days from the start of the flood. The first month on the Hebrew calendar is Nisan which also just so happens to be exactly 227 days from the seventeenth of Iyyar.

14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out.

-Total time of start of rain to new life: 1 year and 10 days.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.

-What an amazing act of obedience that Noah and his family still did not leave the ark even though the dove they sent out had not returned after providing proof of dry land and it appeared to be dried out. Wouldn’t they want to explore? They patiently waited until God told them it was OK. We also see the command given to Adam and Even repeated with Noah and his family to be fruitful and multiply the earth. God’s intentions for us have not changed despite the physical changes of earth and “starting over” with Noah’s line.

God’s Covenant with Noah

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

-We aren’t told why Noah did this but the last time we were told of someone doing this was Cain and Abel. So perhaps in Seth’s line over the generations the idea of making animal sacrifices to God as Abel did was passed down to those who chose to live righteously. We also don’t know if Noah realized that was what the clean animals were for or was told that God is pleased by sacrifices of clean animals.

21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

-This doesn’t say that the Lord changed His mind based on being sufficiently appeased it just says that He smelled it and afterwards stated the Noahitic covenant. Its a stated order of events, not a cause and effect. This is an important pronouncement because God does not lie or exaggerate which means the earth will never again be wiped clean of life nor will the seasons or way the Earth functions be altered as it was when the layer of mist fell altering the amount of foreign elements that can get in and its effect on the decay rate of elements here on earth. We do know Earth really will be destroyed once and for all in the Book of Revelation but verse 22 says “while the earth remains”. The earth will not remain when God’s final plan for mankind begins.

Spanish words:

acordar = to agree, reward, remind
bestia = beast
cerrar = to close
decrecer = to decrease, decline,go down
retirar = to remove, take back, retract
reposo = rest
suceder = to happen
cuervo = raven
paloma = dove, pidgin
percibir = to perceive
juventud = youth
cesar = to stop, cease