Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Genesis Chapter 15 v.1-21

(Abram was smoking something good.)

He had a vision that god was telling him
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
you very great reward."
But Abram had a beef about having no heir, and told god as much. And god again said he would have as many children as stars in the sky. Also, that he would have a son of his own that would take over. And Abram believed this. For some reason.

God reminded him that he brought him out of Ur and sent him to this land for it to be his. You know, the land that had the famine when Abram first came. Which, if I were Abram, I would've brought up, but whatever.

Abram said, yeah, but how can I know that I will have this land? The land that had the famine when you first sent me here?

And God said, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."

Well, when god tells you to bring him some livestock, by golly you better do it.

Abram, knowing, apparently, what god was about, brought the animals and cut all the big ones in half. And didn't let any vultures or anything eat them. And then as the sun was setting, he fell into a deep sleep (that was probably no small amount of work) and "a thick and dreadful darkness came over him." I like that line.

So the lord told him that his descendants would be "strangers in a country not their own" and they would be slaves, which sucks, but god would punish the enslavers, and anyway afterwards they would have lots of neat stuff. So that's okay, I guess. And god also said that Abram would live a long life and that after four generations his descendants would come back to this land (hoping there's no famine). Apparently because of the sin of the Amorites.

So the sun set, and darkness fell, and a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and went between the animal pieces. Which, I'm told by the footnotes, was a common practice in that day to seal a deal with someone. Well, to pass between pieces of slaughter, not to appear as a smoking firepot. I think.

So that's the covenant with Abram, that he will not only have descendants, which was dubious to begin with, but that the land from the Nile to the Euphrates would belong to all his descendants. This, the author explains, is the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites. So where all those people are gonna go is anybody's guess.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Genesis Chapter 14 v.1-24

There was a war where Abram settled, because of a rebellion of a people against King Kedorlaomer. King Kedorlaomer ganged up with other kings: Amraphel, Arioch and Tidal, and warred against King Bera (of Sodom), King Birsha (of Gomorrah), and King Shinab, Shemeber and Zoar. Okay:

Side A: Kedorlaomer, Amraphel, Arioch, Tidal

Side B: Bera, Birsha, Shinab, Shemeber, Zoar.

Side B all joined up in the Valley of Siddim (where the Dead Sea is) and rebelled against the rule of King Kedorlaomer. Maybe the economy sucked, who knows.

Not only did Side A squish the rebellion, they then got on a tear and defeated the Rephaites, the Zuzites, the Emites, and the Horites, and conquered the whole land of the Amelekites and the Amorites.

So when the stand off happened in the Valley of Siddim between the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, and other places (Side B) and King Kedorlaomer and his posse (Side A), Side B had to retreat after getting their asses kicked, and some of the men fell into the tar pits that were thereabouts.

Side A ransacked everything they could carry from the cities Sodom and Gomorrah (which, I believe, overlooked the battlefield) including Lot and his household. Silly Lot. You picked the wrong place to live, buddy!

Someone who escaped told Abram and his allies (when did Abram aquire allies? I don't know) that his nephew was now a POW.

Abram gathered up his "318" men in his household and, one assumes, his allies, and they all followed the pillagers. During the night, Abram divided the forces up to attack and got the jump on Side A. He got back Lot and everyone with him, and all the goods they had with them, and futhermore routed Side A and sent them packing.

When Abram got back, the king of Sodom came back, and some other king blessed and anointed him, and recieved a tenth of everything Abram had for his trouble.

The king of Sodom asked Abram to keep all the goods he had recovered and just return him his people, but Abram refused, saying that he would accept nothing from the king of Sodom, because he didn't want to be beholden to anybody. (Just the Phoaroh, I imagine). But he did ask that his allies get a share for fighting with him.

Does this story perhaps have something to do with why the author feels the men of Sodom sinned greatly against god? Is it that they were thought cowardly or weak because they didn't win the rebellion? That because of that weakness Abram had to get off his fat ass and go rescue his nephew? I think it does. But I'm not a biblical scholar by any means.