Focus On [breaking up] The Family

Abram leaves Egypt, and the way the Bible says this is illuminating:

1 And Abram goeth up from Egypt (he and his wife, and all that he hath, and Lot with him) towards the south;

Abram’s wife, who just saved his ass by giving some ass to the Pharoah in exchange for asses, gets lumped into the “shit Abram schleps around with him” category. Abram is “exceedingly wealthy in cattle, in silver, and in gold” FROM SELLING HIS WIFE TO ANOTHER MAN. Important point the Bible leaves out. That is a horrible lesson: abandon your wife and lie to get rich.

He goes back to one of the altars he made and “preaches in the name of Jehovah.” That’s an easy passage to ignore, but it made me pause. What does that mean, at this point in the Bible, to “preach in the name of Jehovah.” What is he preaching? God has given them precious little guidance, so it can’t really be moral instruction. If he is retelling the stories we’ve seen in the Bible so far, it’s not a very glamorous portrait of Jehovah. The only personal experience he has is lying and selling his wife and holding slaves. To whom is he preaching? There are really no answers, just more questions.

There still isn’t enough food in the promised land for Abram and Lot to live together, or for all their animals to eat, and relations are increasingly fractious. In what is very quickly becoming a pattern, God has put them in a situation where the family unit cannot survive. Abram tells Lot that they need to head their separate ways. Lot sees Jordan has water, so chooses to go there. There’s also a weird parenthetical foreshadowing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and a notation that the men of Sodom are “evil, and “sinners before Jehovah exceedingly,” even though Jehovah has never explicitly defined anything as a sin except for eating from one tree in the Garden of Eden (which is now moot) and has strongly suggested (via worldwide destruction) that they shouldn’t have sex with angels and demons anymore.

When Lot leaves, God formally re-promises Abram all the land he can see, which is really not that much land. I found this formula for line of sight distance to the horizon: d = 1.22 x √h where d is in miles and h is in feet. That means that even if he were on a hill 100 feet tall when he was scoping out his land, he would only be able to see a bit more than 12 miles in any direction, or about 452 square miles of territory. That’s a pretty shitty promised land. 452 square miles of arid land that is already occupied. For comparison’s sake, the current state of Israel occupies roughly 8,500 square miles.

Abram accepts the promised shitty land and builds another fucking altar. Enough altars man. Just stop. xzibit-happy



1 And Abram goeth up from Egypt (he and his wife, and all that he hath, and Lot with him) towards the south;

and Abram [is] exceedingly wealthy in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

And he goeth on his journeyings from the south, even unto Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the commencement, between Bethel and Hai —

unto the place of the altar which he made there at the first, and there doth Abram preach in the name of Jehovah.

And also to Lot, who is going with Abram, there hath been sheep and oxen and tents;

and the land hath not suffered them to dwell together, for their substance hath been much, and they have not been able to dwell together;

and there is a strife between those feeding Abram’s cattle and those feeding Lot’s cattle; and the Canaanite and the Perizzite [are] then dwelling in the land.

And Abram saith unto Lot, `Let there not, I pray thee, be strife between me and thee, and between my shepherds and thy shepherds, for we [are] men — brethren.

Is not all the land before thee? be parted, I pray thee, from me; if to the left, then I to the right; and if to the right, then I to the left.’

10 And Lot lifteth up his eyes, and seeth the whole circuit of the Jordan that it [is] all a watered country (before Jehovah’s destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, as Jehovah’s garden, as the land of Egypt,) in thy coming toward Zoar,

11 and Lot chooseth for himself the whole circuit of the Jordan; and Lot journeyeth from the east, and they are parted — a man from his companion;

12 Abram hath dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot hath dwelt in the cities of the circuit, and tenteth unto Sodom;

13 and the men of Sodom [are] evil, and sinners before Jehovah exceedingly.

14 And Jehovah said unto Abram, after Lot’s being parted from him, `Lift up, I pray thee, thine eyes, and look from the place where thou [art], northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward;

15 for the whole of the land which thou are seeing, to thee I give it, and to thy seed — to the age.

16 And I have set thy seed as dust of the earth, so that, if one is able to number the dust of the earth, even thy seed is numbered;

17 rise, go up and down through the land, to its length, and to its breadth, for to thee I give it.’

18 And Abram tenteth, and cometh, and dwelleth among the oaks of Mamre, which [are] in Hebron, and buildeth there an altar to Jehovah.


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