Weekend Reading: Promise

After the idyllic beginning, the harsh coming-of-age, the tale of worship, sacrifice, and murder, and the gigantic reset...

We see a little housekeeping in the story world. Lots of family trees, a list of nations, a few names of people are mentioned in passing. Then there's a story that attempts an explanation for a legendary tower, and the diversity of languages.

God is given credit for a sudden explosion of different languages. Implicit in the story is a desire to not let humanity become too proud of their own accomplishments.

However, there is no direct interaction between Creator and Created in that story.

The next such interaction comes when the narrative moves to Abram. Abram is a nomadic herder of sheep, and reputedly a man of great wealth.

Abram and his father had started to travel from the region of their home. Sometime after Abram's father passes away, he receives a promise from God. A great promise, a promise of many descendants and world-wide influence, and Divine blessing. The blessing would fall on Abram, but would somehow flow out to all the world.

From such an auspicious beginning, the narrative goes on to...travels, an altar built to God in a few places. Intra-family and extra-family disputes. A regional war. After the war, Abram meets another king (uninvolved in the war), and takes part in a religious ritual led by that king**.

The common thread in all of this: God protects Abram. Sometimes, Abram lied to protect himself. Sometimes he was an ordinary man, doing ordinary things. Sometimes, he was exceptionally generous; after helping in a battle he forswears any of the plunder that he could have claimed.

It's a beginning. Maybe not the most auspicious of beginnings. But a beginning of something that might turn out to be very big...


* Abram is later on named as "Abram the Hebrew". This may be a reference to Eber, listed partway through the genealogy between Shem and Abram.

** Melchi-zedek, whose name means 'king of Righteousness'. He is also called a priest of "God Most High"...both Melchi-zedek and the Hebrew phrase translated "God Most High" don't show up very many times in Scripture.
There's an assumption that God had dealings with this man, even though he is only tangential to the narrative involving Abram.
Melchi-zedek himself is odd in another way. He is the first person in this narrative for whom we do not have an ancestry listed. He was respected in some fashion by many of the kings in the surrounding area.

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