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The Lord Chooses Abram

12 The Lord said to Abram:

Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.[a]

4-5 Abram was seventy-five years old when the Lord told him to leave the city of Haran. He obeyed and left with his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all the possessions and slaves they had gotten while in Haran.

When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram went as far as the sacred tree of Moreh in a place called Shechem. The Canaanites were still living in the land at that time, but the Lord appeared to Abram and promised, “I will give this land to your family forever.” Abram then built an altar there for the Lord.

Abram traveled to the hill country east of Bethel and camped between Bethel and Ai, where he built another altar and worshiped the Lord. Later, Abram started out toward the Southern Desert.

Abram in Egypt

10-11 The crops failed, and there was no food anywhere in the land. So Abram and his wife Sarai went to live in Egypt for a while. But just before they got there, he said, “Sarai, you are really beautiful! 12 When the Egyptians see how lovely you are, they will murder me because I am your husband. But they won’t kill you. 13 Please save my life by saying that you are my sister.”

14 As soon as Abram and Sarai arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians noticed how beautiful she was. 15 The king’s[b] officials told him about her, and she was taken to his house. 16 The king was good to Abram because of Sarai, and Abram was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, slaves, and camels.

17 Because of Sarai, the Lord struck the king and everyone in his palace with terrible diseases. 18 Finally, the king sent for Abram and said to him, “What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me Sarai was your wife? 19 Why did you make me believe she was your sister? Now I’ve married her. Take her and go! She’s your wife.”

20 So the king told his men to let Abram and Sarai take their possessions and leave.

Abram and Lot Separate

13 Abram and Sarai took everything they owned and went to the Southern Desert. Lot went with them.

Abram was very rich. He owned many cattle, sheep, and goats, and had a lot of silver and gold. Abram moved from place to place in the Southern Desert. And finally, he went north and set up his tents between Bethel and Ai, where he had earlier camped and built an altar. There he worshiped the Lord.

Lot, who was traveling with him, also had sheep, goats, and cattle, as well as his own family and slaves. 6-7 At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the same area, and so there wasn’t enough pastureland left for Abram and Lot with all of their animals. Besides this, the men who took care of Abram’s animals and the ones who took care of Lot’s animals started quarreling.

Abram said to Lot, “We are close relatives. We shouldn’t argue, and our men shouldn’t be fighting one another. There is plenty of land for you to choose from. Let’s separate. If you go north, I’ll go south; if you go south, I’ll go north.”

10 This happened before the Lord had destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And when Lot looked around, he saw there was plenty of water in the Jordan Valley. All the way to Zoar the valley was as green as the garden of the Lord or the land of Egypt. 11 So Lot chose the whole Jordan Valley for himself, and as he started toward the east, he and Abram separated. 12 Abram stayed in the land of Canaan. But Lot settled near the cities of the valley and put up his tents not far from Sodom, 13 where the people were evil and sinned terribly against the Lord.

Abram Moves to Hebron

14 After Abram and Lot had gone their separate ways, the Lord said to Abram:

Look around to the north, south, east, and west. 15 I will give you and your family all the land you can see. It will be theirs forever! 16 I will give you more descendants than there are specks of dust on the earth, and someday it will be easier to count the specks of dust than to count your descendants. 17 Now walk back and forth across the land, because I am giving it to you.

18 Abram took down his tents and went to live near the sacred trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar in honor of the Lord.

Abram Rescues Lot

14 About this time, King Amraphel of Babylonia,[c] King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim attacked King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, also known as the city of Zoar. 3-4 King Chedorlaomer and his allies had ruled these last five kings for twelve years, but in the thirteenth year the kings rebelled and came together in Siddim Valley, which is now covered by the southern part of the Dead Sea.

A year later King Chedorlaomer and his allies attacked and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth-Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, and the Emites in Shaveh-Kiriathaim. They also defeated the Horites in the hill country of Edom,[d] as far as El-Paran, near the desert.

They went back to the city of Enmishpat, better known as Kadesh. Then they captured all the land that belonged to the Amalekites, and they defeated the Amorites who were living in Hazazon-Tamar.

8-9 At Siddim Valley, the armies of the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela fought the armies of King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Babylonia, and King Arioch of Ellasar. The valley 10 was full of tar pits, and when the troops from Sodom and Gomorrah started running away, some of them fell into the pits. Others escaped to the hill country. 11 Their enemies took everything of value from Sodom and Gomorrah, including their food supplies. 12 They also captured Abram’s nephew Lot, who lived in Sodom. They took him and his possessions and then left.

13 At this time Abram the Hebrew was living near the oaks that belonged to Mamre the Amorite. Mamre and his brothers Eshcol and Aner were Abram’s friends. Someone who had escaped from the battle told Abram 14 that his nephew Lot had been taken away. Three hundred eighteen of Abram’s servants were fighting men, so he took them and followed the enemy as far north as the city of Dan.

15 That night, Abram divided up his troops, attacked from all sides, and won a great victory. But some of the enemy escaped to the town of Hobah north of Damascus, 16 and Abram went after them. He brought back his nephew Lot, together with Lot’s possessions and the women and everyone else who had been captured.

Abram Is Blessed by Melchizedek

17 Abram returned after he had defeated King Chedorlaomer and the other kings. Then the king of Sodom went to meet Abram in Shaveh Valley, which is also known as King’s Valley.

18 King Melchizedek of Salem was a priest of God Most High. He brought out some bread and wine 19 and said to Abram:

“I bless you in the name
    of God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 All praise belongs
    to God Most High
for helping you defeat
    your enemies.”

Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “All I want are my people. You can keep everything else.”

22 Abram answered:

The Lord God Most High made the heavens and the earth. And I have promised him 23 that I won’t keep anything of yours, not even a sandal strap or a piece of thread. Then you can never say that you are the one who made me rich. 24 Let my share be the food that my men have eaten. But Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre went with me, so give them their share of what we brought back.

The Lord’s Promise to Abram

15 Later the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision, “Abram, don’t be afraid! I will protect you and reward you greatly.”

But Abram answered, “Lord All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own.[e] You have not given me any children, and this servant of mine will inherit everything.”

The Lord replied, “No, he won’t! You will have a son of your own, and everything you have will be his.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and see if you can count the stars. That’s how many descendants you will have.” Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord was pleased with him.

The Lord Makes Another Promise to Abram

The Lord said to Abram, “I brought you here from Ur in Chaldea, and I gave you this land.”

Abram asked, “Lord God, how can I know the land will be mine?”

Then the Lord told him, “Bring me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove, and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram obeyed the Lord. Then he cut[f] the animals in half and laid the two halves of each animal opposite each other on the ground. But he did not cut the doves and pigeons in half. 11 And when birds came down to eat the animals, Abram chased them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and everything became dark and frightening. 13-15 Then the Lord said:

Abram, you will live to an old age and die in peace.

But I solemnly promise that your descendants will live as foreigners in a land that doesn’t belong to them. They will be forced into slavery and abused for four hundred years. But I will terribly punish the nation that enslaves them, and they will leave with many possessions.

16 Four generations later,[g] your descendants will return here and take this land, because only then will the people who live here[h] be so sinful that they deserve to be punished.

17 Sometime after sunset, when it was very dark, a smoking cooking pot[i] and a flaming fire went between the two halves of each animal. 18 At that time the Lord made an agreement with Abram and told him:

I will give your descendants the land east of the Shihor River[j] on the border of Egypt as far as the Euphrates River. 19 They will possess the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaites, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Footnotes

  1. 12.3 Everyone. . . you: Or “Everyone on earth will ask me to bless them as I have blessed you.”
  2. 12.15 The king’s: The Hebrew text has “Pharaoh’s,” a Hebrew word sometimes used for the king of Egypt.
  3. 14.1 Babylonia: See the note at 10.6-20.
  4. 14.6 Edom: The Hebrew text has “Seir,” another name for Edom.
  5. 15.2 And. . . own: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  6. 15.10 cut: In Hebrew “cut” sounds something like “agreement.” What follows shows that the Lord is making an agreement with Abram.
  7. 15.16 Four generations later: This may refer to the “four hundred years” of verses 13-15.
  8. 15.16 people who live here: The Hebrew text has “Amorites,” a name sometimes used of the people who lived in Palestine before the Israelites.
  9. 15.17 smoking cooking pot: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. The smoke and fire represent the presence of the Lord.
  10. 15.18 Shihor River: See Joshua 13.2-7.