A Daily Genesis

Genesis 21:22-24

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[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:22a . . At that time[/B]

While Hagar and Ishmael were busy re-inventing their lives; a seemingly trivial event occurred in Abraham's life. I don't have any idea why Genesis records this incident. It doesn't seem to mean anything.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:22b . . Abimelech[/B]

It is very possible that Abimelech is a royal title rather than a personal name, sort of like Pharaoh or Caesar, since in the title of Psalm 34 the name Abimelech is applied to the king of Gath, who is elsewhere known by his personal name Achish. (1Sam 27:2-3)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:22c . . and Phicol, chief of his troops,[/B]

Phicol's name sounds funny in Hebrew. It's [I]Piykol[/I] (pee-kole') which means: mouth of all. His name, like Abimelech's, could also have been a title; especially since it implies that he was a spokesman. I'm sure you've heard people say: "And I think I speak for all when I say this; yada, yada, yada; etc, etc, etc." Maybe that's what his name "mouth of all" implies. At any rate, he was Abimelech's chief of staff and apparently his right hand man-- a military man, and trusted.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:22d . . said to Abraham: The gods are with you in everything that you do.[/B]

Abimelech knew first hand that Abraham could do no wrong. And even when he did, his god was right there to bail him out. That is an extremely envious position. What if you knew that God would protect you no matter how dumb, stupid, and clumsy you were in life-- that in spite of your bad investments, accidents, poor judgment, bad decisions, worthless friends, failed romances, and overspending, you still came out on top? Well . . that is just how it went for Abraham. He was bullet proof.
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†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:23a . .Therefore swear[/B]

(chuckle) Ol' Abimelech is nobody's fool. He was burned once by Abraham and wasn't about to be suckered again. From now on he will accept Abraham's word only if he gives his oath on it first. You know; trust is an easy thing to lose, and very difficult to regain.
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[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:23b . . to me here by the gods[/B]

The Hebrew word for "gods" is a nondescript label for any number of celestial beings; both real and imagined. But I kind of suspect the one Abimelech referred to was the god who appeared to him in the dream; in other words; Abraham's god: Yhvh.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:23c . . that you will not deal falsely with me or with my kith and kin, but will deal with me and with the land in which you have sojourned as loyally as I have dealt with you.[/B]

It's a non aggression pact. But why would Abimelech go to all the trouble? And why would he, a king, travel to Abraham's camp rather than summon him to appear? Did he fear that Abraham, a man befriended by a supreme being, might become so powerful that he would attempt to conquer Abimelech's kingdom? I think so.

Abraham's medicine was strong. He had a connection in the spirit world to a god with the power to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and to strike people with serious maladies. It would be perfectly human for Abraham to take advantage of his supernatural affiliation and use it to advantage.

With a man like Abraham, Abimelech probably figured a preemptive strike would be out of the question. It is better to strike a treaty while conditions permit. After all, Abraham owed Abimelech one for letting him off after lying to him about Sarah. Good time to call that in.
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[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:24 . . And Abraham said: I swear it.[/B]

[B][SIZE=2]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] There are Christians who would soundly condemn Abraham for swearing based upon their understanding of Matt 5:33-37.

I can almost hear Abimelech and Phicol start breathing again. I think both of those men were more than just a little worried about their safety on Abraham's turf.

That settled, Abraham has a matter of his own to discuss; and now's a good time for it, seeing as those men were being very humble; at least for the moment.
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[SIZE=2]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] There are well-meaning folk who feel it's wrong for God's people to be confrontational; and base their reasoning on Matt 5:3, Matt 5:5, Matt 5:9, and Matt 5:39. But other than Isaac, I don't think you could find a more gracious man in the Old Testament than Abraham. He didn't have a hair-trigger temper, a spirit of vengeance, nor did he declare war over every little disagreement.

Abraham picked his battles with care, and conducted them intelligently-- same with Moses, of whom the Old Testament says: was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Num 12:3). Jesus was meek too (Matt 11:29 and Matt 21:5) but could be very confrontational when the circumstances called for a heavy hand. (Matt 23:13 36)

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