A Daily Genesis

Genesis 21:25-34

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:25-26 . .Then Abraham reproached Abimelech for the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. But Abimelech said: I do not know who did this; you did not tell me, nor have I heard of it until today.[/B]

Abraham may have previously reported the incident to a bureaucrat, who then tossed the complaint in a file cabinet somewhere and soon forgot about it because this is the very first time Mr. Abimelech has been made aware of the problem. Sometimes you just have to cut through the red tape and go straight to the top.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:27-29 . . Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a pact. Abraham then set seven ewes of the flock by themselves, and Abimelech said to Abraham: What mean these seven ewes which you have set apart?[/B]

This was not a local custom; whatever it is, because Abimelech is totally puzzled by it.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:30 . . He replied: You are to accept these seven ewes from me as proof that I dug this well.[/B]

A reasonable assumption is that Abraham-- thoroughly disgusted with Gerar's bureaucracy, and having no confidence in Abimelech's oath --shrewdly purchased a water right so the government's thugs would have to step off and leave him be.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 21:31-32 . . Hence that place was called Beer-sheba [well of seven], for there the two of them swore an oath. When they had concluded the pact at Beer-sheba, Abimelech and Phicol, chief of his troops, departed and returned to the land of the Philistines.[/B]

Abraham swore to live peaceably with Abimelech. And he in turn swore to let Abraham keep the well that he dug. Did Abimelech swear by a god or just give his word? Genesis doesn't say. But only Abraham's god is named in this pact. Possibly they both swore by that one.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 21:33 . . Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the name of The Lord, the Everlasting God.[/B]

Actually, that verse is supposed to read like this: "and invoked there the name of Yhvh, the everlasting god."

[B][SIZE=1]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] It's commonly assumed that because of Ex 6:2-3, Abraham wasn't supposed to have known the name Yhvh; but obviously he did.

The word for "tamarisk" is [I]'eshel [/I](ay'-shel) which can mean a tamarisk tree; and it can also mean a grove of trees; of any kind. The grove was probably somewhat like a private garden where Abraham could have some solitude in prayer. Groves were popular as places of religious devotion and worship and of public meetings in both Canaan and Israel. It was in a garden where Jesus prayed his last great prayer in John 17 just before being arrested.

Backyards can serve as "gardens" too. Here in the part of Oregon where I live, row houses have become a common style of residential housing construction; which is really sad. The people living in them don't have any backyard to speak of like my wife and I do in an older home.

When we look out the big windows on the east side of our house, we see trees and shrubs and grass and an old mossy playhouse I built for my son and his friends many years ago; and lots of urban wildlife too: birds, raccoons, skunks, huge banana slugs, and squirrels and such. That backyard gives us a feeling of escape and privacy: it's very soothing; like a week-end getaway except that it's every day.

The planners of New York City's central park had the very same idea in mind. Opponents of the park groused about the valuable real estate that would be lost to public recreation; but many of the residents of Manhattan wouldn't trade their park for all the thousands and thousands of diamonds the De Beers company is hoarding in their vaults.

Not long ago one of Manhattan's abandoned elevated rail lines was converted into a park and it's already immensely popular as an escape. Human beings need their tamarisks; even holy human beings need them. (cf. Mark 6:46 and John 6:15)
[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 21:34 . . And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.[/B]

It wasn't actually the Philistines' land in Abraham's day; but was theirs during the times when one of the authors of Genesis edited this chapter.

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