God’s Friend, Abraham

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Genesis chapters 12-24


Alun Owen

This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


Chapter 12

Abram’s journey to *Canaan

v1 The *Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country. Leave your home. Leave your father’s house. Go to the country that I will show to you. v2 And I will make you become a great nation. I will bring many good things to you. I will make your name famous. You will bring good things to people. v3 I will be kind to those who are kind to you. I will do evil things to those who do evil things to you. All the families that are on the earth shall receive good things because of you.’

Verse 1

Abram was the person who was later called Abraham. (See Genesis 17:5.)

When Abram left Haran, his father Terah did not go with him. Terah lived in Haran for 60 years after Abram left. This is how we know that: Terah was 70 years old when Abram was born. (See Genesis 11:26.) And Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. (See verse 4.) Therefore, Terah was 145 years old when Abram left Haran. But Terah lived for 205 years. (See Genesis 11:32.) So Terah lived in Haran for 60 years after Abram left.

v4 So Abram went, as the *Lord *commanded him. Lot went with him. Abram’s age was 75 years when he left Haran. v5 And Abram took Sarai his wife. He took Lot, who was his brother’s son. He took all their possessions that they had gathered. He took all his relatives who had been born in Haran. They set off together. And they went to the country that is called *Canaan.

When they came to *Canaan, v6 Abram went through the region. He came to the big tree at Moreh. It was near to the town that is called Shechem. At that time the *Canaanites lived in that country. v7 Then the *Lord appeared to Abram. He said, ‘I will give this land to your *descendants who will live after you.’ So Abram built there an *altar to the *Lord, who had appeared to him. v8 From there he went to the mountain that is to the east of Bethel. He set up his tent there. Bethel was on the west of him. Ai was east of him. He built an *altar there for the *Lord. And he prayed to the *Lord. v9 After that, Abram travelled further toward the Negeb.

Verse 5

The distance from Haran to Shechem, which is in *Canaan, is about 600 kilometres (400 miles).

Verse 6

The country was called *Canaan because the *Canaanites lived there. The *Canaanites were the *descendants of Canaan, who was a grandson of Noah.

Verse 8

Many years later, Jacob gave the name ‘Bethel’ to this place. (See Genesis 28:19.) It probably did not have that name in Abram’s time. But the people who wrote Genesis used the name. It tells us where Abram went.

Verse 9

The Negeb is the southern part of the country that is called *Canaan. It is the part of *Canaan that is nearest to Egypt.

Abram visits Egypt

v10 There was not enough food in the country and so Abram went to Egypt. He stayed there, because the *famine was very bad in *Canaan.

v11 Before Abram entered Egypt, he spoke to Sarai his wife. He said, ‘I know that you are a beautiful woman. v12 The inhabitants of Egypt will see you. They will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me, but they will keep you alive. v13 Say that you are my sister. So they will not hurt me because of you. They will not kill me in order to take you.’ v14 Then Abram entered Egypt. The inhabitants of Egypt saw that the woman was very beautiful. v15 When the princes of *Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to *Pharaoh. And they took the woman into *Pharaoh’s house. v16 *Pharaoh loved Sarai and therefore he was kind to Abram. *Pharaoh gave to Abram sheep, cows, *donkeys, servants, maids and camels.

Verse 10

Egypt is a country in northern Africa. The river Nile provides water to Egypt. Therefore, crops grow in Egypt even if there is no rain. So there was no *famine (lack of food) in Egypt. There was a *famine in *Canaan because there had been no rain.

Verses 11-13

Abram went to Egypt, which was a foreign country. He did not know its customs. He was not confident that God would protect him and Sarai. He thought that someone might kill him in order to take Sarai as a wife. So he decided to say that Sarai was his sister. And, if anyone took Sarai as a wife, he would not kill Abram. And so perhaps Abram and Sarai would escape before the wedding. But the person who took Sarai was *Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Sarai was in *Pharaoh’s court, she could not escape.

When Abram called Sarai his sister, he did not tell the truth. But what he said was not completely wrong. Sarai was Abram’s half-sister. Sarai and Abram had the same father but they did not have the same mother. (See Genesis 20:12.) At that time, some people married their half-sisters. Later, the Bible said that a marriage with a half-sister is wrong. (See Deuteronomy 27:22.)

Verse 15

*Pharaoh was the king of Egypt. ‘*Pharaoh’ was not the name of this king, but all kings of Egypt were called *Pharaoh.

v17 But the *Lord made *Pharaoh and his family very ill. He did this because of Sarai, who was Abram’s wife. v18 So *Pharaoh called Abram. He said, ‘You have done an evil thing to me. You should have told me that she was your wife. v19 You should not have said, “She is my sister.” Because you said that, I took her as my wife. Now here is your wife. Take her and go away.’ v20 And *Pharaoh *commanded his men to guard Abram. And the men sent Abram away. Abram took his wife and everything that he had.

Verses 17-19

Sarai could not escape from *Pharaoh’s court, but God saved her. Abram should have told the truth about Sarai when he arrived in Egypt. If he had done that, this trouble would not have happened.

Verse 20

*Pharaoh realised that Abram’s God had punished him and his family. (See verse 17.) *Pharaoh wanted to prevent further trouble. So he told his men to make Abram leave Egypt. But Abram had gained many possessions that *Pharaoh had given to him. (See verse 16.) When Abram left Egypt, he took those possessions with him. So Abram became richer because he received goods from Egypt.

Many years later, a similar thing happened. Abram’s *descendants lived in Egypt for 400 years. And when they left Egypt, they gained many possessions. (See Exodus 12:35-36.) They took those possessions with them. So God’s people became richer because they received goods from Egypt.

Chapter 13

Abram and Lot separate

v1 So Abram left Egypt. He took his wife. He took everything that he had. And Lot went with him. They went into the Negeb.

v2 Abram was very rich. He had many animals. He had much silver and gold. v3 From the Negeb he went further. He went to Bethel, where his tent had been at the beginning. He stopped between Bethel and Ai. v4 He stopped at the place where he had made an *altar before. There Abram prayed to the *Lord.

v5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had sheep and cows and tents. v6 The land could not provide enough food for both of them if they lived together. Their possessions were so many that they could not live together. v7 Abram’s servants and Lot’s servants fought against each other. These were the servants who looked after the animals. At that time the *Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the country.

Verses 1-4

For the name ‘Negeb’ see Genesis 12:9 and the comment. For the name ‘Bethel’ see Genesis 12:8 and the comment.

Verse 6

Their possessions included many animals, which need grass. There was not enough grass in that region for so many animals.

Verse 7

They fought because each wanted their own animals to have the grass. The Perizzites were a *tribe that lived in the country called Canaan.

v8 Then Abram said to Lot, ‘You and I must not fight against each other. Your servants and my servants must not fight against each other. We are relatives. v9 The whole country is in front of you. Separate yourself from me. If you go to the left, I will go to the right. If you go to the right, I will go to the left.’

v10 And Lot looked. He saw that there was plenty of water in the valley of the river Jordan. It was like the *Lord’s garden. The region round Zoar was like Egypt. The *Lord had not yet destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. v11 Lot chose for himself all the valley of the river Jordan. So Lot travelled to the east. Abram and Lot separated from each other. v12 Abram lived in *Canaan. Lot lived among the cities that were in the valley. After that, Lot moved his tent near to Sodom. v13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked. They did many things that the *Lord had forbidden.

Verse 9

Abram was very kind to Lot. He allowed Lot to choose where he would live. Abram would live on the land that Lot did not choose.

Verse 10

‘The region round Zoar was like Egypt.’ Egypt was a flat country and the region round Zoar was flat. The river Nile provided plenty of water for Egypt so that crops grew well. And the river Jordan provided water for Zoar. Most of *Canaan was hilly and it was not like Egypt.

Verse 11

Later, Lot realised that this was a bad choice. (See Genesis 19:24-25.) Abram had better land.

Verse 12

When Lot left Abram, he began to move into bad company.

·     Lot chose the way that was easiest (in verses 10-11). That was a bad choice.

·     Lot moved his tent nearer to Sodom, where the inhabitants were wicked (in verses 12-13). That was not wrong. But he came nearer to evil companions.

·     Lot went into Sodom. (See Genesis 14:12.) He lived among wicked men. Because he did that, he needed Abram to rescue him. (See Genesis 14:14, 16.)

·     Lot took wicked men as his companions. (See Genesis 19:1. ‘Lot sat at the gate of Sodom.’ And the gate was the place where people talked together.) Because Lot did that, he needed God to rescue him. (See Genesis 19:15-16.)

Lot moved his tent nearer to the evil city, Sodom. And, when he had done that, he could easily move further. And, when he was in Sodom, he could easily take wicked men as his companions. We must not do what Lot did. We must not do little wrong things. If we do them, we can more easily do greater wrong things.

v14 After Lot separated from Abram, the *Lord spoke to Abram. The *Lord said, ‘Look at the things that are round you. Look from the place where you are. Look towards the north. Look towards the south. Look towards the east. Look towards the west. v15 I will give to you all the land that you see. I will give it to you and to your *descendants for all ages. v16 I will make your *descendants as the dust that is on the earth. Nobody can count the dust on the earth and nobody will be able to count your *descendants. v17 Get up and walk through the whole country. I will give all of it to you.’

v18 So Abram moved his tent. He went to the big trees at Mamre and he stayed there. Mamre is also called Hebron. At Mamre he built an *altar so that he could make *offerings to the *Lord.

Verse 15

The land that Abram saw was *Canaan. God had brought Abram from Haran to *Canaan. Abram had gone to Egypt, but he had returned to *Canaan. Later, Abram’s *descendants went to Egypt for 400 years. But they returned to *Canaan. *Canaan became the country of God’s people and it was called ‘the land of Israel’.

Chapter 14

The fight between 4 kings and 5 kings

v1 At this time there were 4 kings. One was Amraphel and he was the king of Shinar. Another king was Arioch and he was the king of Ellasar. Another one was Chedor-laomer and he was the king of Elam. The other king was Tidal and he was the king of Goiim. v2 These 4 kings fought in a war against 5 kings. One out of these 5 kings was Bera and he was the king of Sodom. Another one was Birsha and he was the king of Gomorrah. Another one was Shinab and he was the king of Admah. Another one was Shemeber and he was the king of Zeboiim. The last one was the king of Bela, which is also called Zoar. v3 These 5 kings joined their armies together in the valley that is called Siddim. That is the valley where the Salt Sea is.

Verse 1

The 4 kings came from countries that are east of *Canaan. They came with their armies to fight against 5 kings. These 5 kings ruled cities in the valley that is called Siddim. (See verse 3.) That valley is at the east edge of *Canaan. It is a part of the valley that Lot chose. (See Genesis 13:11.)

v4 For 12 years, Chedor-laomer had ruled over these 5 kings. In year 13, they refused to obey him. v5 In year 14, Chedor-laomer came. And the kings who were with him came. They overcame the Rephaim people who lived in Ashteroth-karnaim. They overcame the Zuzim people who lived in Ham. They overcame the Emim people who lived in Shaveh-kiriathaim. v6 And they overcame the Horites who lived in Mount Seir as far as El-paran. That is at the edge of the desert. v7 Then the 4 kings turned back and they came to Enmishpat. That is also called Kadesh. There they destroyed all the region where the *descendants of Amalek lived. They also overcame the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar.

Verse 4

Chedor-laomer had an agreement with the 3 kings that were with him. Together they forced the 5 kings to pay taxes to them. Perhaps these taxes were money or perhaps they were goods. They did that for 13 years. But after that time the 5 kings refused to pay taxes.

Verses 5-7

The 4 kings came for two reasons. They came in order to overcome several more nations. So they would rule over a larger area. And they came in order to seize money and goods from the 5 kings. The Horites were a tribe of people. For Amorites, see Genesis 10:16 and the comment on that verse.

v8 Then the 5 kings went out. One was the king of Sodom. Another one was the king of Gomorrah. Another one was the king of Admah. Another one was the king of Zeboiim. The last one was the king of Bela, which is also called Zoar. They fought in the valley that is called Siddim. v9 They fought against the 4 kings. One out of these 4 kings was Chedor-laomer, king of Elam. Another one was Tidal, king of Goiim. Another one was Amraphel, king of Shinar. The last one was Arioch, king of Ellasar. So 4 kings fought against 5 kings.

v10 Now in the valley that is called Siddim there were many deep holes. People had made these holes when they took bitumen from the ground. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah ran away and they hid in the holes. Other people ran away to the hills. v11 So the enemy took all the goods in Sodom and in Gomorrah. They took all the food that people had stored. v12 They also took Lot, who lived in Sodom. And they took all Lot’s goods. Lot was the son of Abram’s brother. The enemy took all these things and they went away.

Verse 8

The 5 kings did not wait until the 4 kings came. They heard that the 4 kings were near. So they joined their armies together (see verse 3). And they prepared to defend their land.

Verse 10

The armies of the 4 kings were more skilful fighters than the armies of the 5 kings were. So the armies of the 5 kings ran away.

Bitumen is a black substance that people find in the ground. In ancient times, builders used it. (See Genesis 11:3.) For ‘valley of Siddim’, see verses 1-3 and the comment.

Verse 12

They took Lot as a slave. And they also took other men and women as slaves. (See verses 16 and 21.)

Abram rescues Lot

v13 Then one person who had escaped came to Abram. He told Abram the *Hebrew what had happened. Abram the *Hebrew was near the big trees that belonged to Mamre. Mamre was an Amorite and he was the brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These people were Abram’s friends.

v14 So Abram heard that the enemy had made his relative Lot a prisoner. Abram had trained 318 men who were born in his house. He led these men and they followed the enemy as far as the place that is called Dan. v15 There Abram divided his men into two groups. Abram and his servants attacked the enemy at night. They defeated them and they pursued them to Hobah. Hobah is north of Damascus. v16 Then Abram brought back all the goods. He also brought back his relative Lot with his goods. And he brought back all the women and the people.

Verse 13

The Amorites were a *tribe of people. Mamre was the name of a town. (See Genesis 13:14.) But in this verse, Mamre is the name of a person who lived in that town. Genesis has other examples of this.

·     Haran was a man. He lived in the city that was called Ur. His relatives went to the city that was called Haran. (See Genesis 11:28, 31.)

·     Shechem was a man. He lived in the city that was called Shechem. (See Genesis 33:18-19.)

Verses 14-15

Abram usually lived at peace with his neighbours. He did not usually fight. But because Lot was a prisoner, Abram had a good reason to fight. And he fought wisely. He and his servants attacked when most of the enemy were asleep. They attacked as two groups. One group attacked from one side and the other group attacked from the other side. Abram had 318 men. The armies of the 4 kings were certainly much more than that. But God gave success to Abram.

Abram’s attack was successful for two reasons. He acted wisely and he trusted in God. We need to do the same. If we wish to succeed, we should trust in God. But we also need to act wisely.

From Dan to Sodom is a distance of 240 kilometres (150 miles).

v17 So Abram defeated Chedor-laomer. And he defeated the kings who were with him. Then he returned. The king of Sodom went out to meet Abram. He met him at the valley called Shaveh, which is also called the King’s Valley. v18 And Melchizedek also met Abram. He was the king of Salem and he was a priest of the great God. He produced bread and wine. v19 And he blessed Abram. He said,

          ‘I pray that the great God will be kind to Abram.

                      He is the God who made the heaven and the earth.

v20    Praise the great God,

                      because he has delivered your enemies to you!’

And Abram gave to Melchizedek a part of the goods that he had brought back. He gave to him one thing out of every 10 things.

Verse 18

‘Salem’ was probably the city that is also called Jerusalem. Melchizedek was the king of Salem. The word ‘Melchizedek’ means ‘*righteous king’.

‘He produced bread and wine.’ Bread and wine were ordinary food. It was natural that Melchizedek should welcome Abram after his fight. It was natural that he should give food to him. Melchizedek gave honour to Abram because Abram had overcome an enemy.

But these things have an extra meaning to us. ‘Salem’ means ‘peace’ and so ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace’. We might call Christ ‘king of peace and priest of the great God’. And Christ made bread and wine have a special meaning. So to know about Melchizedek helps us to know some things about Christ. (See Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:1, 17.)

Verse 20

‘He has delivered your enemies to you.’ Melchizedek knew that God had given success to Abram.

‘Abram gave one thing out of every 10 things.’ Abram had brought back all the goods. (See verse 16.) It was not possible to return all the goods to their owners. Some of the goods had come from other cities. (See verses 5-7.) So Abram shared the goods in a fair manner. He gave a share to Melchizedek, although Melchizedek’s people had not helped in the fight. Many years after this time, God told Moses to do a similar thing. After a battle, they shared the goods. And the people who fought the battle did not take all the goods. The people who did not fight also had a share. (See Numbers 31:27.)

People sometimes call one thing out of every ten things a ‘tithe’.

Hebrews 7:1-25 refers to Genesis 14:18-20.

v21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give the people to me, but take the goods for yourself.’ v22 But Abram spoke to the king of Sodom. He said, ‘I have made a firm promise to the great *Lord God, who made the heaven and the earth. v23 I promised that I will not take anything from you. I will not take anything that belongs to you. I will not take the smallest thing. I will not even take the string of a shoe. Otherwise, you might say, “I have made Abram rich.” v24 I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten. And I will take the share of the men who went with me. And let Aner, Eshcol and Mamre take their share.’

Verses 22-24

We do not know why Abram did not take his share. He accepted goods from *Pharaoh in Egypt. (See Genesis 12:16.) And he accepted goods from Abimelech. (See Genesis 20:14, 16.) But he did not accept these goods. Perhaps Abram knew that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked. (See Genesis 18:20.) And he did not want people to say that his wealth came from wicked people. Perhaps that was the reason.

Chapter 15

God makes promises to Abram

v1 After these things the *Lord appeared to Abram. The *Lord said, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am protecting you. I will reward you very greatly.’ v2 But Abram said, ‘*Lord God, your gifts are no advantage to me, because I still have no child. When I die, my possessions will belong to Eliezer of Damascus.’ v3 And Abram said, ‘You have not given a child to me. A man who is my servant will own my possessions.’

v4 Then the *Lord said to him, ‘This man shall not have your possessions. Your own son shall have your possessions.’ v5 And the *Lord led Abram out of the tent. He said, ‘Look towards heaven. Count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then the *Lord said to him, ‘So shall your *descendants be.’ v6 Then Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was *righteous.

Verse 2

God had not given a son to Abram. That was a worry to Abram. He wanted a son so that his family would continue. And he had many things that God had given to him. He wished that those things would become his son’s possessions.

Eliezer was Abram’s chief servant. If Abram died without a child, Eliezer would own all Abram’s possessions. That was the law of the country.

Damascus is a city north of *Canaan.

Verse 5

It was night and the sky was very clear. Abram could see very many stars. There were so many stars that nobody could count them. God told Abram that nobody would count his *descendants. Nobody could count them because they would be so many.

Verse 6

Abram was not perfect. Like everybody else, he had done wrong things. But God considered that Abram was *righteous (right with God). The reason was that Abram believed God. He believed that God would give him a son.

We are not perfect. We have all done wrong things. But we can believe God. We can put our trust in him. We can put our trust in Jesus. Then God will consider that we are *righteous (right with God). (See Romans 4:3, 24, 25.)

v7 And the *Lord said to Abram, ‘I am the *Lord. I brought you from Ur in Chaldea. I have given this country to you so that you may possess it.’ v8 But Abram said, ‘*Lord God, how can I know that I shall possess it?’ v9 The *Lord said to him, ‘Bring to me a young cow that is 3 years of age. Bring to me a female goat that is 3 years of age. Bring to me a male sheep that is 3 years of age. Bring to me a dove (a bird) and a young dove.’ v10 And Abram brought all these. He cut each of these into two pieces. He laid the two halves of each one opposite each other. But he did not cut the birds into pieces. v11 Some wild birds that eat meat flew down. They tried to land on the dead animals. Abram scared them so that they flew away.

Verse 7

God repeated a promise that he had made earlier. (See Genesis 13:15 and the comment.)

Verse 9

A dove is a kind of bird.

Verse 10

This was probably an ancient custom when people make a firm agreement with each other. Perhaps it was like this. Two people kill animals as an *offering to God and they cut the animals into two parts. They separate the parts and they walk between the parts. That shows that they must keep the agreement. Otherwise, someone will cut the people into two parts. God used this custom to show that his agreement with Abram was firm. So Abram separated the two parts of each animal. Then fire appeared and it moved between the two parts. (See verse 17.) The fire was a sign of God.

v12 When the sun set, Abram slept. He felt fear and there was great darkness. v13 Then the *Lord said to Abram, ‘Be certain about what I tell you. Your *descendants will live in a country that does not belong to them. They will be slaves there. They will have to work hard for 400 years. v14 But I will punish the nation that they serve. Afterwards your *descendants shall come out of that country. They shall take with them many possessions. v15 You yourself shall die in peace and then you shall be with your fathers. When people shall bury you, you will be very old. v16 And your *descendants shall come back to this country. The sons of the sons of the sons of your sons shall come back. But before they come back the Amorites must do still more evil things.’

Verse 16

‘This country’ was the country that was called *Canaan. The Amorites were *Canaan’s original inhabitants. Later, Abram’s *descendants lived in *Canaan. And God told them to kill the Amorites. (See Deuteronomy 20:17.) But God did not say that immediately. He waited for more than 400 years. If the Amorites did good things, he would save them. But if they continued to do evil things, he would kill them.

God does not kill people quickly. He waited for 120 years before he killed people by the flood. (See Genesis 6:3 and the comment.)

v17 The sun set and the sky was dark. Then a pot appeared, which contained fire. It produced smoke. Also a branch appeared, which burned with flames. They both moved between the pieces of meat. v18 On that day the *Lord made a firm agreement with Abram. The *Lord said, ‘I give this country to your *descendants. I give all the land from the river of Egypt to the great river, which is called Euphrates. v19 I give the Kenites’ land and the Kenizzites’ land. I give the Kadmonites’ land v20 and the Hittites’ land. I give the Perizzites’ land and the Rephaim people’s land. v21 I give the Amorites’ land and the *Canaanites’ land. I give the Girgashites’ land and the Jebusites’ land.’

Verse 18

God repeated a promise that he had made earlier. See Genesis 13:15 and the comment. And see Genesis 15:7.

‘The river of Egypt’ is a small stream that is on the border. It is between the two countries, *Canaan and Egypt. The river Euphrates is north and east of *Canaan.

Verses 19-21

Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Amorites, Girgashites and Jebusites were *tribes of Canaan’s original inhabitants.

Chapter 16

Sarai and her maid Hagar

v1 Sarai, who was Abram’s wife, had no children. She had an Egyptian maid, whose name was Hagar. v2 Sarai said to Abram, ‘The *Lord has made me unable to produce children. Lie with my maid and have sex with her. Perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram did what Sarai suggested. v3 Abram had then lived for 10 years in the country that is called *Canaan.

So Sarai, who was Abram’s wife, took her maid Hagar, the Egyptian. Sarai gave Hagar to Abram her husband so that Hagar could be his wife. v4 And Abram had sex with Hagar and she became *pregnant. When Hagar knew this, she did not respect Sarai. v5 And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Hagar does not respect me. I pray that the blame for this will be on you! I gave my maid to you to have sex with you. As soon as she became *pregnant, she did not respect me. I want the *Lord to be a judge. I pray that he will blame either you or me!’ v6 But Abram said to Sarai, ‘You may control your own maid. Do to her whatever you decide to do.’ Then Sarai was cruel to Hagar, and Hagar ran away from Sarai.

Verse 3

Genesis tells us that several of God’s ancient people had two wives. But that does not mean that to have two wives is right.

Abram’s wife was Sarai. Abram took Hagar as an extra wife. He did that because he had no son. God had promised that Abram would have a son. (See Genesis 15:4.) But Abram thought that he must do something. He thought that otherwise God’s promise would not happen. But God wanted Abram to trust him. God did not want Abram to marry Hagar. God gave Abram a son, by his wife Sarai, when the time was right. (See Genesis 21:1-2.) God wanted Abram to wait for that time.

Verses 4-6

Sarai was Abram’s wife and Hagar was only an extra wife. But Sarai had no child and Hagar was *pregnant. Hagar would soon produce a child for Abram. So Hagar thought that she was equal in rank to Sarai. Sarai blamed Abram for this, and Abram did not help her. Sarai wanted to show that Hagar was only a maid. So she was cruel to Hagar.

God rescues Hagar

v7 The *Lord’s *angel found Hagar by a well of water in the desert. That well is on the way to Shur. v8 And the *angel said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from? Where do you go?’ She said, ‘I have run away from Sarai, whom I served.’ v9 The *Lord’s *angel said to her, ‘Return to Sarai, whom you served. Serve her again and obey her.’ v10 The *Lord’s *angel also said to Hagar, ‘I will make you have a great number of *descendants. They will be so many that nobody will be able to count them.’

Verse 7

An *angel is a servant of God who brings messages from heaven. But in this verse ‘the *Lord’s *angel’ means God himself. He did not send a servant but he came himself. We know that because of the words in verse 13.

Verse 8

God already knew where Hagar had come from. He asked the question so that Hagar would speak to him.

Verse 9

God often says this to people who run away from difficulties. He says, ‘I know that things were difficult. But go back and overcome the difficulties. I will be with you and I will help you.’

Verse 10

God intended that Abram would have only one wife, Sarai. He did not tell Abram to take an extra wife, Hagar. (See the comment on verse 3.) So God did not intend that Abram should have *descendants by Hagar. But God loves people. So he looked after those *descendants. And he promised to make them a great nation.

v11 And the *Lord’s *angel said to her, ‘You are *pregnant and a son will be born to you. You shall call him Ishmael, because the *Lord has heard you in your trouble. v12 He shall live like a wild *donkey. He will be every man’s enemy and every man shall be his enemy. He will live in front of all his relatives.’

Verse 11

‘Ishmael’ means ‘God heard’.

Verse 12

God had promised that Abram’s *descendants by his wife Sarai would live in *Canaan. (See Genesis 12:7.) And God had also promised that Abram’s *descendants by Hagar’s son Ishmael would be a great nation. (See verse 10.) So Ishmael’s *descendants could not live in *Canaan because there was not enough space for both nations. Therefore Ishmael’s *descendants would live in the desert. We are not sure what the last sentence in verse 12 means. Sometimes in the Bible, ‘in front of’ means ‘to the east of’.

v13 So Hagar gave a name to the *Lord who spoke to her. She called him, ‘You are a God who sees.’ She said, ‘I have really seen the God who sees me.’ v14 Therefore people call the well Beer-lahai-roi. It is between Kadesh and Bered.

v15 And Hagar had a son for Abram. And Abram called his son Ishmael. v16 Abram was 86 years of age when Ishmael was born to Hagar for Abram.

Verse 14

‘Beer-lahai-roi’ means ‘the well of the one who lives and sees’. She may have meant, ‘I have seen God and I am still alive.’

Chapter 17

God makes an agreement with Abraham

v1 When Abram was 99 years of age, the *Lord appeared to him. The *Lord said to him, ‘I am God who can do anything. Stay near to me and have no blame. v2 And I will make my firm agreement between me and you. I will make you have a very great number of *descendants.’ v3 Then Abram fell down so that his face was on the ground.

God said to Abram, v4 ‘Listen to me! My firm agreement is with you. You shall be the father of many nations. v5 Now your name shall not be Abram. Your name shall be Abraham, because I have made you the father of many nations. v6 I will make you to have a large family. I will make nations out of you. Some of your family shall be kings. v7 And I will keep my firm agreement between me and you. I will keep it with all your *descendants who will be after you. It is a firm agreement that shall last for all ages. I will be your God. I will be the God of your *descendants who will be after you. v8 And I will give to you the land where you live. I will give it to your *descendants who will be after you. I will give all the country that is called *Canaan. It shall be for your *descendants a possession that shall last through all ages. And I will be their God.’

Verse 5

‘Abram’ means ‘high father’. ‘Abraham’ sounds like ‘father of nations’.

‘Stay near to me and have no blame.’ God did not say, ‘Do nothing that is wrong. So you will have no blame.’ Instead, he said in this verse, ‘Stay near to me.’ And Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was right with him. That was true about Abram and it is true about us. We have all done wrong things. We all deserve to have blame. So we must stay near to God. We must believe God. If we do that, God takes away our blame. Then, like Abraham, we are *righteous (right with God).

v9 And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my firm agreement. You yourself shall keep it. And your *descendants who will be after you shall keep it. Their children and their grandchildren shall keep it. v10 This is my firm agreement, which you shall keep. It is a firm agreement between me and your *descendants who shall live after you. You yourself shall be *circumcised. And every male person who is among you shall be *circumcised. v11 You shall *circumcise yourselves. This shall be a sign of the firm agreement that is between me and you.

v12 You shall *circumcise every male baby that is among you. You shall *circumcise him when he is 8 days old. You shall *circumcise every male who is born in your house. You shall *circumcise every male whom you buy with your money from any foreigner. You shall do it even if he is not your *descendant. v13 Every male person that is born in your house shall be *circumcised. Also every male person that you buy with your money shall be *circumcised.

So a mark of my firm agreement shall be in your body. It will show that my firm agreement shall last through all ages. v14 You shall separate from his people any male person who is not *circumcised. He has broken my firm agreement.’

Verses 10-12

To ‘*circumcise’ means to cut the skin from the end of a male person’s sex part. When someone has done that to a person, that person is ‘*circumcised’. It is a sign that God has made a firm agreement with that person. And it is a sign that that person is a member of God’s people. God’s people became a nation. Later, they were called ‘Israelites’ or ‘the children of Israel’. They are also called the ‘Jews’.

The firm agreement that God made with Abraham is called the old firm agreement. People were *circumcised as a sign of that agreement. But when Jesus Christ came, he made a new firm agreement between God and people. And now people who belong to God do not need to be *circumcised. (See Galatians 5:6; 6:15.)

God promises a son to Abraham

v15 And God said to Abraham, ‘Sarai is your wife. But now you shall not call her Sarai. Her name shall be Sarah. v16 I will bring many good things to her. Also, I will give a son to you by her. I will bring good things to her and she shall be a mother of nations. Kings of nations shall come from her.’

v17 Then Abraham fell down so that his face was on the ground. And he laughed. He said to himself, ‘A child will not be born to me. I am 100 years of age! And Sarah will not be the mother of a child. She is 90 years of age!’ v18 And Abraham said to God, ‘I wish that Ishmael might live near to you!’ v19 God said, ‘No! Your wife Sarah shall be the mother of a son for you. You shall call him Isaac. I will make my firm agreement with him. It will be a firm agreement for his family who shall live after him. It shall be a firm agreement that shall last through all ages. v20 But I have heard your words about Ishmael. I will bring good things to him. I will make him have a big family. And I will make him have very many *descendants. He shall be the father of 12 princes. And I will make him a great nation. v21 But your son Isaac shall be born to Sarah at this season next year. I will make my firm agreement with him.’

v22 When God had finished his talk with Abraham, God went up away from him.

Verse 15

‘Sarai’ means ‘laughter’. ‘Sarah’ means ‘princess’.

Verse 17

Many years before this, God promised that Abraham would have many *descendants. And Abraham believed God. (See Genesis 15:5-6.) But in this verse, Abraham does not believe what God says.

Verses 18-19

Abraham’s plan was this. Abraham thought that he was too old to have another son. He already had a son, Ishmael, whose mother was Sarah’s maid, Hagar. Therefore, Abraham thought that Ishmael must have the rights of the oldest son.

God’s plan was this. Abraham would have a son by his wife Sarah. That son would have the rights of the oldest son. God would make his firm agreement with that son.

Verse 20

Ishmael was not in God’s plan. But Abraham prayed for Ishmael. (See verse 18.) And God gave to Ishmael a place in his plan. Ishmael’s *descendants would be a great nation. God had already made this promise to Hagar. (See Genesis 16:10 and the comment.)

v23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son. He took all the slaves who were born in his house. He took all the slaves that he had bought with his money. He took every male person who was among the men of Abraham’s house. He *circumcised them on that same day, as God had told him to do. v24 Abraham was 99 years of age when they *circumcised him. v25 And Ishmael his son was 13 years of age when they *circumcised him. v26 On that same day they *circumcised Abraham and they *circumcised his son Ishmael. v27 And they *circumcised with him all the men in his house. They *circumcised with him those who were born in the house. And they *circumcised those whom Abraham had bought with money from a foreigner.

Verse 23

Abraham obeyed God. (See verse 10 and the comment on verses 10-12.) Every man must be *circumcised. That was a sign that there was a firm agreement between God and the man. It was only a sign. It did not bring a man to God. To come close to God, a man must put his trust in him. He must believe. Genesis tells us, ‘Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was *righteous (right with God).’ (See Genesis 15:6.)

Chapter 18

God visits Abraham

v1 The *Lord appeared to Abraham. Abraham was near to the big trees at Mamre. He sat at the door of his tent. It was in the hot part of the day. v2 When Abraham looked, he saw three men. They were standing in front of him. And when he saw them, he ran from the door of the tent. He went to meet them. He bent his head down very low. v3 He said, ‘Sir, if you are pleased with me, do not pass by me. I am your servant. v4 I will bring some water so that you may wash your feet. After that, please rest yourselves under the tree. v5 I will fetch a piece of bread so that you may eat. Since your journey brought you here to me, please eat here. After that you may continue your journey.’ So the men said, ‘Do as you have said.’

v6 And Abraham ran into the tent to Sarah. He said to her, ‘Prepare quickly a quantity of flour. Mix it, and make cakes.’ v7 And Abraham ran to the animals. He chose a young cow that was good for meat. He gave it to his servant and the servant prepared it quickly. v8 Then Abraham took cheese and milk. He took the young cow, which was ready to eat. He put these things in front of the men. He stood by them under the tree while they ate.

Verses 2-5

Abraham gave a friendly welcome to the three men. He would do the same for any visitors. That was the custom. Abraham thought that the three men were ordinary travellers. He did not know that two were *angels. And he did not realise that one was God.

Verses 6-8

The ‘quantity’ that Abraham said was ‘3 seahs’. That was a large quantity. And Abraham chose a young cow. He did not choose a young goat, which would be smaller. So this meal was a large one. Abraham was very generous to his guests. And he served his guests but he did not eat with them.

v9 The men said to Abraham, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘She is in the tent.’ v10 The *Lord said, ‘I will certainly return to you in the spring. When I return, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was behind him. She listened at the door of the tent.

v11 Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old. Women produce children until a certain age, but Sarah had passed that age. v12 So Sarah laughed to herself. She said to herself, ‘I have grown old and my husband is old. I cannot have a child. I cannot have that pleasure.’ v13 The *Lord said to Abraham, ‘Sarah should not have laughed. She should not have said, “I cannot have a child, since I am old.” v14 Nothing is too difficult for the *Lord. At the time that I have mentioned, I will return. In the spring, I will return to you. When I return, Sarah shall have a son.’ v15 And Sarah was afraid. Therefore she said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But the *Lord said, ‘No, you did laugh.’

Verse 9

The men already knew that Abraham was married. And they knew his wife’s name. Ordinary travellers would not know these things.

Verse 10

The ‘door of the tent’ was a curtain on the front of the tent.

Verse 12

Sarah still did not know who the men were. And she thought that they joked.

Verse 13

God knew what Sarah said. He knew that, although she only spoke to herself.

Verse 15

Sarah was afraid. But the reason for her fear was not that she might have a son. She was afraid of God. And she realised that the men came from God.

Abraham’s prayer

v16 Then the men set out from there and they looked toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them as they began their journey.

v17 The *Lord said, ‘I will not hide from Abraham the thing that I intend to do. v18 I remember that Abraham’s family shall become a great and powerful nation. And all the families that are on the earth shall receive good things because of him. v19 I have chosen him so that he may *command his children. He shall also *command his family who shall live after him. He will *command them to live in the *Lord’s way. He will *command them to do right things and good things. So the *Lord will bring to Abraham the things that he has promised to him.’

v20 Then the *Lord said, ‘I have heard very bad things about Sodom and Gomorrah. Their deeds are very evil. v21 Therefore I will go there. Perhaps they have actually done all the things that I have heard about them. I will know the truth.’

v22 So the men went further and they travelled toward Sodom. But Abraham stayed and he stood in front of the *Lord.

Verse 16

Abraham went with the men for a short distance. That was the custom. Abraham would do the same for any travellers who had visited him. But he knew that one traveller was God. Therefore, Abraham had another reason to go with them. He loved to be with God.

Verse 17

God wants us to know what he is doing. Jesus said the same thing to his followers. (See John 15:15.) He said, ‘I do not call you my servants. A servant does not know what his master will do. But I have called you friends.’ And Jesus told his followers what he was doing.

Verse 22

‘So the men set out.’ There were 2 men that went further. And they were *angels. (See Genesis 19:1.) The other man was God. He stayed and he talked with Abraham. Until Jesus was born, God seldom appeared as a man. But he appeared to Abraham. Abraham was called ‘God’s friend’. (See James 2:23.)

v23 Then Abraham came near to the *Lord. He said, ‘Will you really kill the good people with the bad people? v24 If there are 50 good people in the city, will you destroy the place? Please let it remain because of the 50 good people. v25 Do not do a thing like that! Do not kill the good people with the wicked people! If you do that, the good people will suffer with the wicked people. Do not do that! You are the judge of the whole earth. So you will certainly do the thing that is right!’ v26 And the *Lord said, ‘Perhaps I will find 50 good people in Sodom city. If I find them, I will let the whole place remain because of them.’

v27 Abraham answered, ‘I am only dust and ashes. But I have boldly decided to speak to the *Lord. v28 What will you do if 5 out of the 50 good people are missing? Will you destroy the whole city because 5 good people are missing?’ And the *Lord said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find 45 good people there.’

v29 Again Abraham spoke to him. He said, ‘If you find 40 good people there, will you let it remain?’ The *Lord answered, ‘If there are 40, I will not destroy it.’

v30 Then Abraham said, ‘Please do let not the *Lord be angry. So I will speak. Perhaps there will be 30 good people there.’ The *Lord answered, ‘I will not destroy it if I find 30 there.’

v31 Abraham said, ‘I have boldly decided to speak to the *Lord. Perhaps you will find 20 good people there.’ The *Lord answered, ‘If there are 20, I will not destroy the city.’

v32 Then Abraham said, ‘I pray that the *Lord will not be angry. I will speak again only once. Perhaps you will find 10 good people there.’ The *Lord answered, ‘For 10 good people I will not destroy the city.’ v33 And the *Lord finished his talk with Abraham. The *Lord went away and Abraham returned to his tent.

Verse 23

By this prayer, Abraham changed what God intended to do. Before Abraham’s prayer, God intended to destroy Sodom if some inhabitants were wicked. After Abraham’s prayer, he intended to save Sodom if there were 10 good inhabitants. So our prayers can change what happens. But Abraham could not have prayed like this if God had not told him his plan. So God and Abraham were working together.

Verse 25

Abraham said, ‘You are the judge of the whole earth. You will certainly do the thing that is right!’ That was a statement and a request.

·     It was a statement. Abraham said it because he trusted God to do the right thing.

·     It was a request. Abraham asked God not to destroy good people. He meant that to destroy good people would be a wrong thing.

Three different things were possible.

·     God might destroy the whole city because it was evil.

                        Abraham asked God not to do that.

·     God might save the city because some people were good.

                        Abraham asked God to do that.

·     God might save the good people and destroy the other people.

                        Abraham did not think of that. But that is what God actually did.

God does not usually give judgement on whole cities or on whole nations. And he does not usually save whole cities or whole nations. He does save single people. And he will give judgement on each person.

Verse 27

Abraham said, ‘I am only dust and ashes.’ He meant that he was worth nothing. And God was very much greater than he was. And Abraham meant that he was only a man. God had made man from dust. (See Genesis 2:7.)

Chapter 19

Two *angels go to Sodom

v1 The two *angels reached Sodom in the evening. Lot sat at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he stood up. He went to meet them. He bent himself down so that his face was toward the earth. v2 He said, ‘Sirs, please stop here. I will be your servant. Come to my house and spend the night there. Wash your feet. Tomorrow you may get up early and you may continue your journey.’ They said, ‘No. We will spend the night in the street.’ v3 But Lot persuaded them strongly. So they went with Lot and they entered his house. Lot prepared a meal for them and he baked bread. So they ate.

Verse 1

There was a wall round the city. So anyone who entered the city had to go through the gate. And anyone who left went through the gate. Therefore, people often met each other at the gate. And the gate became the place where people talked. Lot was sitting there when the two *angels came. He would give a welcome to any travellers, but he gave great honour to the *angels. He did not know that they were *angels. But perhaps he thought that they were very important men.

Verse 2

The ‘street’ was an open place that was in the city. A traveller might sleep there. The city’s walls would protect him. He would be safe from thieves, because they were not in the city. They were beyond the walls.

Verse 3

Lot knew that the men of Sodom were evil. He knew that they might attack the two travellers. Therefore, he persuaded the travellers to stay in his house.

v4 But when they were not yet lying down to sleep, the men in the city came. The young men and the old men in Sodom came. None of the men in Sodom stayed away. They surrounded Lot’s house. v5 They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us! We want to have sex with them.’

v6 Lot went out of the door and he shut the door behind him. He spoke to the men. v7 He said, ‘I ask you strongly, my brothers, not to do such a wicked thing. v8 I have two daughters who have not had sex with men. I will bring them out to you. Do to them what pleases you. But do not hurt these men, because they are guests in my house.’ v9 But the men of Sodom said, ‘Let us come in!’ And they said, ‘This man Lot came as a visitor. Now he wants to be a judge! So we will be crueller to Lot than we will to the men.’ Then they pushed hard against Lot and they nearly broke the door. v10 But the two men reached out of the door. They brought Lot into the house with them and they shut the door. v11 And they made the men who were at the outside of the door blind. All the men became blind. The leaders became blind and the younger men became blind. And so they could not find the door.

Verse 5

The men in Sodom tried to do a very evil thing.

Verses 6-8

Lot tried to protect the *angels because they were his guests. That was the custom. But he still did not know that they were *angels. Lot offered to give his two daughters to the men of Sodom. He thought that the men of Sodom would take his daughters. And so they would not take the two men. That was a foolish and evil thing. But Lot did not know what he should do.

Verse 11

‘The men became blind.’ This probably does not mean that they could not see. But they could not understand what they saw. The *Hebrew word is not the usual *Hebrew word that means ‘blind’. The Bible uses this *Hebrew word in only two places. The other place is 2 Kings 6:18. Elisha prayed that God would make the soldiers from Syria ‘blind’. Then they could see Elisha and they could follow him. But they could not see where Elisha was taking them.

Lot leaves Sodom

v12 Then the two men said to Lot, ‘Have you any relatives here? Bring out of this city your sons, your daughters and your daughters’ husbands. Bring out any relative whom you have in the city. v13 Very soon we will destroy this place. The *Lord has heard that its people are very wicked. Therefore the *Lord has sent us to destroy it.’ v14 So Lot went out. He spoke to the men who intended to marry his daughters. He said to them, ‘Get up! Leave this place, because the *Lord will very soon destroy this city.’ But these men thought that Lot joked.

Verse 14

‘They thought that Lot joked.’ They knew Lot, because Lot lived with them. They could see that he was not sincere. Therefore, they did not believe what he said. If we tell people about God, we must be sincere. And people must see that we live good lives. Otherwise, they will not believe us.

v15 When the morning came, the *angels urged Lot. They said to him, ‘Get up! Take with you your wife and your two daughters. Otherwise you will die when the *Lord punishes the city.’ v16 But Lot delayed. So the two men seized Lot and his wife and his two daughters. They took them by their hands, because the *Lord was saving them. The two men brought Lot safely out of the city.

v17 And when they had brought them out, one man spoke to Lot and to his family. He said, ‘Run to save your life! Do not look back! Do not stop anywhere in the valley. Run to the hills. If you do not do so, you will die.’ v18 And Lot said to them, ‘Oh, no, sirs! v19 I know that you have been pleased with me, your servant. You have been very kind to me. You have saved my life. But I cannot run to the hills. If I do that, the punishment will overcome me. So I will die. v20 Look! That city is near enough that I can run to it. And it is a little one. Let me escape there. It is only a little one. Then I will not die.’ v21 The man said to Lot, ‘Yes. I grant this request for you. I will not destroy the city that you mention. v22 Hurry! Escape to it. I can do nothing until you arrive there.’ Therefore, the city was called Zoar. v23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

Verse 16

‘Lot delayed.’ Lot told people that they should leave the city. (See verse 14.) But he himself was unwilling to leave. He did not believe his own message.

‘The *Lord was saving them.’ He was saving them because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He was saving them because Abraham prayed for Lot. (See verse 29 and the comment.)

Verses 17-21

The *angels told Lot to go to the hills. But Lot did not go there. The *angels allowed Lot to go to Zoar. Lot wanted to go there. But Lot soon had to go where the *angels had said. (See verse 30.)

Verse 22

‘Zoar’ means ‘little’. (See verse 20.)

God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah

v24 Then the *Lord sent burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. He sent it like rain that falls from the sky. v25 And he destroyed those cities. He destroyed all the valley. He killed all the inhabitants of the cities. He killed all the plants that grew on the ground. v26 But Lot’s wife looked back and she became a large lump of salt.

Verse 24

What happened may have been natural. It happens in many parts of the world. This valley is a place where it sometimes happens. Very hot rock rises from below the ground. The rock is so hot that it flows like water. Sometimes it rises so fast that it goes up into the sky. Then it falls like rain. This is called a ‘volcano’. Sulphur is a yellow substance that sometimes rises with the hot rock. So the sulphur that fell like rain should not surprise us. The wonderful things were these:

·     The volcano destroyed only the cities that were wicked.

·     It happened at the exact time that God had said.

God often uses natural things that he has made. He uses them like a man who uses his tools.

Verse 26

Lot’s wife delayed too long. She stayed too close to the cities. So some of the hot rock that fell from the sky fell on her. It became a solid lump. The salt was probably not the ordinary kind of salt that people eat.

v27 Abraham went out early in the morning. He went to the place where he had stood with the *Lord. v28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah. He looked toward all the land in the valley. He saw that smoke rose from the land. It was like the smoke that rises from a large fire. It was like the smoke of the fire that men use to bake pots.

v29 So God destroyed the cities that were in the valley. But God rescued Lot, because God thought about Abraham. But God destroyed the cities where Lot lived.

Verse 29

When God did these things, he had two purposes.

·     He had a purpose for the people at that time. He destroyed the cities in order to kill the wicked people and to save the good people.

·     He had a purpose to teach people who would live in later times. He did it to teach us how Christ would save us from God’s judgement.

The two men went into the wicked city of Sodom. In the same way, Christ came into our wicked world. The men persuaded Lot to leave the city. In the same way, Christ calls us to leave the ways of wicked men. The people who did not follow the two men died. In the same way, people who do not follow Christ will die.

‘God rescued Lot, because he thought about Abraham.’ Lot did not want God to rescue him. He delayed. (See verse 16.) But God rescued Lot because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. And God rescued Lot because Abraham prayed for Lot.

Lot and his daughters

v30 Lot went up out of Zoar into the hills. He lived there with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. v31 And the older daughter spoke to the younger daughter. She said, ‘Our father is old. There is no man here who might have sex with us in the normal way. v32 Let us make our father drink wine. Then we will lie with him. So we may make our family continue by our father.’ v33 So in the evening they made their father drink wine. The older daughter went to her father and she lay with him. He did not know when she lay down. And he did not know when she got up.

v34 And on the next day, the older daughter spoke to the younger daughter. She said, ‘Last night I lay with my father. Let us make him drink wine today also. Then you go to him and lie with him. So we may make our family continue by our father.’ v35 So they made their father drink wine on that evening also. The younger daughter went to him and she lay with him. He did not know when she lay down. And he did not know when she got up.

v36 So both Lot’s daughters were *pregnant by their father. v37 The older daughter had a son and she called him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites who live today. v38 The younger daughter also had a son and she called him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites who live today.

Verse 30

Lot was wealthy when he moved to Sodom. (See Genesis 13:12.) But when he left Zoar he had very little. He had lost all his possessions. He had done two things that were wrong. He chose to live among the inhabitants of Sodom, who did evil things. And when the *angels came to save him, he preferred to go his own way.

Verses 31-35

It was very important to people in those times that they should have *descendants. Lot’s daughters could not find husbands. The men who had intended to marry them were dead. (See verse 14.) So the daughters decided to produce a family in the only way that they could.

Verses 37-38

In later years, the Moabites were an important nation. Their country was called Moab. It was east of the Salt Sea. The Ammonites lived east of the river Jordan. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites were enemies of the nation of Israel.

Chapter 20

Abimelech takes Sarah

v1 Abraham travelled away from the big trees at Mamre. He went toward the region that is called the Negeb. He lived between Kadesh and Shur. And for a time he stayed in Gerar. v2 And Abraham said to the inhabitants of Gerar, ‘Sarah is my sister.’ But Sarah was his wife.

Now Abimelech was the king of Gerar. Abimelech sent men and they brought Sarah to Abimelech. v3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream at night. And God said to Abimelech, ‘You will die because you have taken this woman. She is a man’s wife.’ v4 But Abimelech had not touched her. So Abimelech said, ‘Surely, *Lord, you would not kill an innocent person! v5 Abraham himself said to me, “She is my sister.” And she herself said, “He is my brother.” My heart was honest and my actions were innocent.’ v6 Then God said to Abimelech in the dream, ‘Yes. I know that your heart was innocent when you did this. I prevented you so that you did not do a wrong thing. Therefore, I did not let you touch her. v7 Now give Abraham’s wife back to him. He is a man who knows God. So he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not give her back to him, you shall certainly die. You shall die and all your family shall die.’

Verse 1

The Negeb is the southern part of the country that is called *Canaan. Kadesh and Shur are in the Negeb. Gerar is at the northern edge of the Negeb. The people that lived in Gerar were *Philistines.

Verses 2-3

When Abraham went to Egypt, he said that Sarah was his sister. (See Genesis 12:11-13 and the comment. At that time, Abraham was called ‘Abram’ and his wife Sarah was called ‘Sarai’.) When Abraham went to Gerar, he said the same thing. On both occasions, it was a foolish and wrong thing. Abraham was not confident that God would protect him. But God did protect Abraham. And later, Abraham learned to trust God completely.

‘Abimelech’ means ‘my father is king’. Every *Philistine king was called ‘Abimelech’. It was not one king’s name.

v8 So Abimelech got up early in the morning. He called all his servants and he told them all these things. The servants were very much afraid. v9 Then Abimelech called Abraham. He said to him, ‘You have done a wrong thing to us. You have made me and my nation guilty. We did not deserve that. You have done to me things that nobody ought to do.’ v10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What were your reasons? Why did you do this thing?’

v11 Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, “The people in this place do not respect God. They will kill me because of my wife.” v12 And she is truly my sister. She is my father’s daughter but she is not my mother’s daughter. And she became my wife. v13 When God made me leave my father’s house, I spoke to her. I said, “Please do this thing for me. Say about me: He is my brother. Say this at every place that we come to.” ’

v14 Then Abimelech took sheep and cows. He took male and female slaves. He gave them to Abraham. Also, he gave back to Abraham Sarah, who was his wife. v15 And Abimelech said, ‘Look! My land is in front of you. Live wherever you choose.’ v16 Abimelech said to Sarah, ‘I have given 1000 coins of silver to your brother. This gift shows that you are innocent. It shows this to all the people who are with you. It shows it to everybody.’

v17–18 The *Lord had made all the women who were in Abimelech’s house unable to produce children. He did this because of Sarah, who was Abraham’s wife. So Abraham prayed to God and God cured Abimelech. He also cured Abimelech’s wife and his female slaves, so that they could produce children.

Verse 11

Abraham knew that Gerar’s inhabitants did not know God. So he expected that they would be wicked. But he discovered that they were honest and honourable.

Verse 12

The Bible has not told us before this verse who Sarah’s mother and father were. But this verse shows that Sarah’s father was Terah. (See Genesis 11:26, 29.)

Chapter 21

Isaac is born

v1 The *Lord had promised that he would visit Sarah. He did what he had promised to her. v2 So Sarah became *pregnant. A son was born to her for Abraham, when Abraham was old. This son was born at the time that God had promised. v3 Abraham called his son Isaac. Sarah was Isaac’s mother. v4 Abraham *circumcised Isaac when Isaac was 8 days old. God had *commanded him to do that. v5 Abraham was 100 years of age when his son Isaac was born for him. v6 Then Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ v7 And she said, ‘Nobody would have said to Abraham, “Sarah will give her milk to a child.” But I am the mother of Abraham’s son in his old age.’

Verse 2

‘At the time that God had promised.’ (See Genesis 18:10.)

Verse 3

God had chosen the name ‘Isaac’. It means ‘he laughs’. (See Genesis 17:19.)

Verse 4

‘God had *commanded him.’ (See Genesis 17:10-12 and the comment.)

Verse 6

God had promised that Sarah would have a son. And Sarah did not believe what God said. She laughed because she did not believe. (See Genesis 18:12.) After Isaac’s birth, Sarah laughed again. But then she laughed because she was very happy.

Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away

v8 The baby grew. And Sarah began to give solid food to him. So Abraham called many people to come to a big meal on the day when Isaac ate solid food. v9 Sarah saw Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar the Egyptian. Ishmael was laughing at Isaac. v10 So Sarah said to Abraham, ‘Throw out this woman and her son. She is a slave. This slave-woman’s son shall not get any part of your wealth. That belongs to my son Isaac.’

v11 Sarah’s words about Abraham’s son made Abraham very unhappy. v12 But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be unhappy about the boy and about your slave-woman. Do what Sarah tells you to do. Isaac’s *descendants will be called your *descendants. v13 And I will also make a nation from your slave-woman’s son, because he is your son too.’

Verse 9

‘Ishmael was laughing at Isaac.’ Ishmael knew that he was Abraham’s oldest son. He thought that he, Ishmael, would have the right of the oldest son. He thought that he would get Abraham’s wealth after Abraham’s death. And so, he thought that he was more important than Isaac. He showed that by his behaviour.

Verse 12

God had made a promise to Abraham, when his name was still Abram. (See Genesis 15:4-5.) God promised that Abraham would have a son. By that son, Abraham would have very many *descendants. And that son would be Isaac. So God intended that Isaac should have the rights of the oldest son. Isaac was the son of his mother, Sarah, whom God had chosen as Abraham’s wife. But Ishmael was older than Isaac. His mother was Hagar. If Ishmael remained, he would have the rights of the oldest son. Therefore, God told Abraham to send away Ishmael and his mother, Hagar. But Ishmael did not become completely separate from Abraham. When Abraham died, Isaac and Ishmael together buried him. (See Genesis 25:9.)

v14 So Abraham got up early in the morning. He gave bread to Hagar. He gave to her a bag that was an animal’s skin. The bag contained water. He put these things on her shoulder and he sent her away with the child. She went away and she wandered in the desert near Beer-sheba.

v15 When they had drunk all the water, she put her son under a bush. v16 Then she went and she sat down a little distance away from him. She was about as far away as an arrow goes. She said, ‘Let me not see the child die.’ While she sat there, she cried loudly. v17 But God heard the boy’s voice. So God’s *angel called from heaven to Hagar. He said to her, ‘Do not be so sad, Hagar. Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy’s voice from the place where he is. v18 Stand up and make the boy stand up. Hold him firmly with your hand. I will make him into a great nation.’

v19 Then God showed to her what she had not seen before. She saw a well of water. So she went and filled the bag of skin with water. She gave a drink to the boy. v20 God was with the boy. He became a man and he lived in the desert. He became a skilful hunter with a bow and arrows. v21 He lived in the desert of Paran. His mother chose for him a wife, who had come from Egypt.

Verse 14

Abraham gave to Hagar and Ishmael all that they needed. They could have gone to another family as servants. But Hagar chose to wander in the desert. This desert was not yet called Beer-sheba. Abraham and Abimelech named it at a later time. (See verse 31.)

Verses 15-17

Ishmael was not a young child. He was about 17 years of age. The heat and the lack of water affected him more than they affected Hagar. So Hagar led him to a bush and he sat in the shade. But Abraham had taught Ishmael to know God. And Ishmael could still pray. Hagar cried loudly because of her trouble, but Ishmael prayed quietly. God heard Ishmael and he saved them both.

Abraham and Abimelech make an agreement

v22 Then Abimelech and Phicol, who was the chief of Abimelech’s army, spoke to Abraham. They said, ‘God is with you in everything that you do. v23 So make a firm promise to me here in God’s name. Promise that you will not deal unfairly with me. Promise that you will not deal unfairly with my family or with my *descendants. I have dealt loyally with you. Promise that you will deal loyally with me. Promise that you will deal loyally with this country. This is the country that you live in.’ v24 And Abraham said, ‘I make a firm promise.’

v25 But Abimelech’s servants had taken a well that belonged to Abraham. So Abraham complained to Abimelech. v26 Abimelech replied, ‘I do not know who did this. You did not tell me. Until today I had not heard about it.’ v27–30 So Abraham separated 7 young female sheep from the other sheep. Abimelech asked Abraham, ‘Why have you put these 7 young female sheep apart from the other sheep?’ So Abraham replied, ‘Take these 7 young female sheep from me. That will be a sign. And we will both know that I made this well.’ So Abraham gave to Abimelech 7 sheep. He also gave to him some cows. In this way, the two men made an agreement together.

v31 Abimelech and Abraham made firm promises to each other there. Therefore, they called the place Beer-sheba. v32 So they made an agreement at Beer-sheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol, who was the chief of Abimelech’s army, set out. They returned to the *Philistines’ country, which was their own country. v33 Abraham planted a tree in Beer-sheba. There he prayed to the *Lord. He is the God who does not change. v34 Abraham stayed in the *Philistines’ country for many days.

Verses 27-30

The number 7 was a sign of an agreement. That was a custom at that time. Abraham gave 7 sheep and Abimelech received 7 sheep. So they knew that they had made an agreement.

Verse 31

This agreement was very important. Abraham had many sheep and cows and other animals. The animals needed water. Until this time, Abraham did not own a well. By this agreement, Abraham owned the well that is called Beer-sheba.

‘Beer-sheba’ means ‘the well of 7’.

Verse 33

Abraham planted the tree to show his thanks to God. God had promised to give the whole country to Abraham and to his *descendants. (See Genesis 12:7.) And this well was the beginning of the things that God had promised.

Chapter 22

God tests Abraham

v1 After these things, God tested Abraham. God said to him, ‘Abraham’. And Abraham replied, ‘I am here.’ v2 God said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love. Go to the region that is called Moriah. Kill Isaac there on a mountain. He will be an *offering. I shall show the mountain to you.’

v3 So Abraham got up early in the morning. He put a saddle on his *donkey. He took with him two young servants. He took also his son Isaac. He cut pieces of wood so that he could burn the *offering. Then he set out. He went to the place that God had mentioned.

Verse 2

This was an extremely hard test. God wanted to prove that Abraham trusted him completely.

‘Moriah’ was Jerusalem. We know that from 2 Chronicles 3:1. That verse tells us that, many years after this time, Solomon built a building for God. He built it on the hill called Moriah. And that building was at Jerusalem. People killed animals in that building as *offerings. And God told Abraham to kill Isaac at that same place.

Verse 3

Abraham probably expected that God would bring Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19 seems to mean this. But Abraham did not guess what God actually intended to do. If we serve God, we need to trust him completely. We expect that he will help us. But we may not guess what he actually intends to do. He may do something more wonderful than the thing that we expected.

v4 On the third day, Abraham looked and he saw the place a long way away. v5 Then he said to his young servants, ‘Stay here with the *donkey. I and the boy will go over there. We will praise God and we will return to you.’ v6 Abraham then took the wood for the fire. He put it on his son Isaac so that Isaac carried it. Abraham himself carried the fire and the knife. So they went together. v7 Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ Abraham replied, ‘I am here, my son.’ Isaac said, ‘Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb (young sheep) for the *offering?’ v8 Abraham replied, ‘God himself will provide a lamb for the *offering, my son.’ So they went on together.

Verse 7

Isaac was familiar with *offerings. God’s ancient people used to give animals to God as *offerings. Noah did that when the flood was over. (See Genesis 8:20.) Abraham did that at Mamre. (See Genesis 13:18.) So Isaac had seen Abraham kill a lamb (young sheep) as a gift to God. And he expected that Abraham would do the same thing again.

Verse 8

‘God himself will provide a lamb’. Abraham said this so that Isaac would not be afraid. He still did not know what would happen.

Abraham trusted God and Isaac trusted Abraham. And after this time, Isaac himself learned to trust God. Sometimes we are like that. An adult trusts God. A child has not yet learned to trust God. But the adult tells the child that God will provide for them. And the child believes the adult. As the child becomes older, he himself learns to trust God.

‘God himself will provide a lamb’. This had another meaning that Abraham did not know about. Many years later God provided the Lord Jesus as an *offering. (See John 1:29, 36.)

v9 They came to the place that God had mentioned. Abraham built an *altar there. He laid the wood on it. Then he bound his son Isaac. He laid Isaac on the wood that was on the *altar. v10 Abraham stretched out his hand and he took the knife. He was ready to kill his son. v11 But the *Lord’s *angel called from heaven. He said to him, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And Abraham answered, ‘I am here.’ v12 The *angel said, ‘Do not kill the boy and do not hurt him. Now I know that you respect God. You were ready to give to me your son, your only son.’

v13 Abraham looked up. He saw a male sheep that could not escape from a bush. Its *horns were in the bush’s thorns (sharp points). So Abraham went and he seized the sheep. He then burned it on the *altar. It was an *offering instead of his son. v14 So Abraham called the place ‘The *Lord will provide’. People still say today, ‘The *Lord will provide on his mountain.’

Verse 11

An *angel is a servant of God who brings messages from heaven. God wanted Abraham to stop immediately. So the *angel spoke Abraham’s name twice.

Verse 13

The sheep had horns. A horn is a hard point on an animal’s head. The bush held the sheep’s horns.

God tested Abraham. But God also did something for us. He taught us about Jesus Christ. And he did that very many years before Jesus came. This *offering helps us to know how Jesus saves us from God’s judgement.

This is how God teaches us about Jesus:

·     God had said that Isaac should die.

                        God provided a sheep.

                                    The sheep died instead of Isaac.

                                                So God saved Isaac.

·     God has said that we must die.

                        God provided his son Jesus.

                                    Jesus died instead of us.

                                                So God has saved us.

God has often used the deaths of sheep or cows to tell us about Jesus. Exodus 12:3-6 tells us about one example. Each family killed a young sheep. Because they did that, they did not die. The death of the young sheep was a picture of Jesus’ death. And John called Jesus ‘the young sheep that God provided’. (See John 1:29.)

v15 Then the *Lord’s *angel called again from heaven. v16 He said to Abraham, ‘The *Lord says, “By myself I have made a firm promise. You have done this thing. You were ready to give to me your son, your only son. v17 I will certainly make many good things come to you. I will make you have many *descendants. They shall be as many as the stars that are in the sky. They shall be as many as the sand that is by the sea. Your *descendants shall control their enemies’ gates. v18 By your *descendants I will make good things come. These good things shall come to all the nations that are on the earth. I will do this because you have obeyed me.” ’

v19 Then Abraham returned to his young servants. They set out and they went together to Beer-sheba. And Abraham stayed in Beer-sheba.

Verse 16

God used the words ‘by myself’ in this promise. These words meant that the promise was absolutely firm. God does not change and therefore the promise will not change. And these words meant that the promise was a very important one. God had not used these words before. He used them on only 3 other occasions in the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible). (For more explanation of this, see Hebrews 6:13-18.)

Verse 18

God said, ‘I will do this because you have obeyed me.’ Compare this with Genesis 15:6. ‘Then Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was *righteous.’ So Abraham believed God and Abraham obeyed God. Because Abraham believed God, God made him *righteous (right with God). Because Abraham obeyed God, God blessed him. It is like that for us. If we believe God, he makes us *righteous (right with God). But if we want him to bless us, we must also obey him. And if we obey him then he will also bless other people by us.

Abraham’s relatives

v20 After this, people said to Abraham, ‘Milcah has had children. Their father is your brother, Nahor. v21 Uz was born before the other brothers. Buz is his brother. After these was Kemuel, who became the father of Aram. v22 After him were Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.’ v23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. These were Milcah’s 8 sons. Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother, was their father. v24 His extra wife, whose name was Reumah, was the mother of Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.

Verses 20-24

Nahor and Milcah lived in the country that was called Mesopotamia. Abraham had lived there before he came to *Canaan.

This news told Abraham that he had many relatives in Mesopotamia. So Abraham waited until his son Isaac was old enough to marry. And then he sent his servant to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac. (See Genesis 24:4, 10.)

Chapter 23

Abraham buys a field

v1 Sarah lived for 127 years. That was the number of years of her life. v2 Sarah died in Kiriath-arba in the country that is called *Canaan. Kiriath-arba is also called Hebron. Abraham went into her tent and he wept for her. He showed that he was very sad for her.

v3 Then Abraham finished weeping for his dead wife. And he said to the *Hittites, v4 ‘I am a stranger among you. I live here only for a time. Give me some of your land as a grave so that I may bury my dead wife properly.’ v5 The *Hittites answered Abraham, v6 ‘Listen to us, sir. You are a great prince among us. Bury your dead wife in the best grave that we have. None of us will refuse to give you his grave. We will let you bury your dead wife.’

v7 Abraham stood and he bent himself down in front of the *Hittites. They were the people who lived in that country. v8 Abraham said to them, ‘If you are willing, I will bury my dead properly. Then listen to me and make a request to Ephron, the son of Zohar. v9 Ask him to give to me the cave at Machpelah. He owns the cave, which is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me in front of you. Let him sell it for the right price. It will be mine and I will use it as a grave.’

v10 Now Ephron was present and he sat among the *Hittites. So Ephron the *Hittite answered Abraham and the *Hittites listened. All who entered at the city’s gate listened. Ephron said, v11 ‘No, sir, listen to me. I give the field to you. I give the cave that is in it to you. In front of all my people, I give it to you. Bury your dead wife.’ v12 Then Abraham bent himself down in front of the *Hittites. v13 He spoke to Ephron and all the people listened. Abraham said, ‘Please listen to me. I will pay the right price for the field. Take the money from me, so that I may bury my dead wife there.’ v14 Ephron answered Abraham, v15 ‘Sir, listen to me. The price of the field is 400 *shekels of silver. The price is not important to you or to me. Do bury your dead wife.’ v16 Abraham agreed with Ephron. He weighed the amount of silver that Ephron had said. The *Hittites had heard him say this. He gave the silver to Ephron, 400 *shekels of silver. He used the kind of *shekel that merchants use.

Verse 3

The *Hittites were the people who lived in that country. (See verse 7.) They already lived there before Abraham arrived.

Verse 10

People often sat at the city’s gate. They talked to each other there. Abraham was speaking to the *Hittites at the city’s gate. So anyone who came into the city could listen. Anyone could hear what they said.

Verse 11

Ephron said that he gave the field to Abraham. He said that Abraham should not pay for it. But Ephron and Abraham both knew that Abraham would pay.

Verses 15-16

Ephron said that the price was 400 *shekels of silver. That was a very big price. But Abraham paid it and he did not argue.

v17–18 So Abraham became the owner of the field that had belonged to Ephron. This field was in Machpelah, which was east of Mamre. Abraham became the owner of the cave that was in the field. He became the owner of all the trees that were in it. Abraham bought all this in front of the *Hittites. He bought it in front of all who entered the city’s gate. v19 After that, Abraham buried Sarah his wife. He buried her in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah. It is east of Mamre, which is also called Hebron. It is in the country that is called *Canaan. v20 The *Hittites gave the field legally to Abraham. They gave it to him legally with the cave that is in it. It became Abraham’s possession and he used it as a grave.

Verse 20

God had promised that Abraham and his *descendants would own the whole country. At this time, Abraham owned one field and one well. (See Genesis 21:33 and the comment.)

Chapter 24

Abraham’s servant looks for a wife for Isaac

v1 Abraham was an old man. He had lived for many years. The *Lord had always been very kind to Abraham. v2 Abraham’s oldest servant managed everything that Abraham had. Abraham said to him, ‘Put your hand under my leg. v3 Make a firm promise to me. Make it by the *Lord who is the God of heaven and earth. Choose a wife for my son Isaac. Do not choose a daughter from the *Canaanites, among whom I live. v4 But go to my country and to my family. Choose there a wife for my son.’

Verse 2

The servant was probably Eliezer. (See Genesis 15:2.)

‘Put your hand under my leg.’ This was a sign of an important promise. (See Genesis 24:2.)

Verse 3

Abraham did not want his son Isaac to marry a foreign woman. He wanted Isaac to marry a relative. (See the comment on Genesis 38:2.)

Verse 4

When Abraham said ‘my country’, he meant west Mesopotamia. Abraham had lived there, in the city that was called Haran. (See Genesis 11:31.) Mesopotamia is the land that is between the river Tigris and the river Euphrates. Nowadays it is mostly in the countries Syria and Iraq.

v5 The servant replied, ‘Perhaps the woman will not agree to follow me to this country. Must I take your son back to the country that you came from?’ v6 Abraham said to him, ‘You must not take my son back there. v7 The *Lord, the God of heaven, took me from my father’s house. He took me from the country where I was born. He made a firm promise to me. He said, “I will give this country to your *descendants.” He will send his *angel in front of you. You shall choose a wife for my son there. v8 But if the woman does not agree to follow you, then you are free from this firm promise. You are free from the promise that you have made to me. But you must not take my son back there.’ v9 So the servant put his hand under the leg of his master Abraham. He made a firm promise that he would do these things.

Verse 5

‘This country’ was *Canaan. ‘The country that you came from’ was the west part of Mesopotamia. In verse 4, Abraham called it ‘my country’.

Verse 7

As in verse 5, ‘this country’ was *Canaan. God had made this promise on several occasions. (For the first occasion, see Genesis 12:7.)

‘He will send his *angel in front of you.’ Abraham did not mean that his servant would see an *angel. Abraham meant that God and his *angel would make the journey successful. And God would help the servant to choose his route so that he would arrive at the right place.

v10 So the servant took 10 camels. He took valuable gifts of many kinds. These things belonged to his master. And the servant set off and he went to Mesopotamia. He went to the city of Nahor. v11 He stopped by the well of water. The well was not in the city, but it was near it. He made the camels kneel. It was evening. At that time, the women go out of the city in order to fetch water.

Verse 10

He wanted to show that his master was wealthy. That is why he took so many camels. The valuable gifts were presents for the woman whom the servant chose. (See verse 53.) The camels carried the gifts and the camels were also presents.

For ‘Mesopotamia’, see the comment on verse 4. The length of the journey was about 700 kilometres (450 miles) and it would take about a month. Abraham’s servant had other men with him for the journey. (See verse 32.)

‘The city of Nahor’ probably means the city where Nahor had lived. Nahor was Abraham’s brother. (See verse 15.) It was probably the city that was called Haran. This is likely because Laban lived in this city. (See verse 29.) And later, Genesis tells us that Laban lived in Haran. (See Genesis 27:43.)

v12 The servant said, ‘*Lord, God of my master Abraham, I pray that you will give me success today. Show your love to my master Abraham. v13 I stand here by the well of water. The daughters of the men who live in this city come out. They come in order to get water. v14 I will say to one girl, “Please let down your pot into the well and give me a drink.” Perhaps she will say, “Drink. And I will give water to your camels too.” Let her be the woman whom you have chosen for your servant Isaac. In this way, I shall know that you have shown your love to my master.’

Verses 12-14

Abraham had said to his servant, ‘Choose a wife for my son Isaac.’ (See verse 3.) And he had said, ‘Go to my family.’ (See verse 4.) The servant did not know how to choose. And he did not know how to find Abraham’s relatives. He might have asked one of the city’s inhabitants, ‘Where do Nahor’s family live?’ But he knew that his task was important to God. And Abraham had said that God would guide him. (See verse 7 and comment.) So he prayed. And God answered the prayer while the servant was still speaking. (See verse 15.)

Abraham’s servant finds Rebekah

v15 While the servant was still speaking, Rebekah came out of the city. She carried her water pot on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was Milcah’s son. Milcah was the wife of Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother. v16 Rebekah was very beautiful. She had never had sex with a man. She went down to the well and she filled her pot. Then she came up.

v17 The servant ran to meet her. He said, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar so that I may drink.’ v18 She said, ‘Drink, sir.’ She quickly took down her pot into her hand and she gave him a drink. v19 After that she said, ‘I will give water to your camels too, until they have finished drinking.’ v20 So she quickly emptied her pot into the basin where the animals drank. She ran to the well and she filled the jar again. She fetched water until all his camels had enough. v21 The servant watched her silently. He wanted to know whether the *Lord had made his journey successful.

Verses 15-20

Events happened fast. Rebekah came while the servant was still praying. Both people ran. (See verses 17 and 20.) Rebekah worked quickly. (See verses 18 and 20.) God had prepared so that things happened immediately.

Verses 19-20

Rebekah gave a drink to Abraham’s servant. That was normal. But she also gave water to 10 camels. That was a big task because camels drink a lot of water. Rebekah lifted all the water from the well in her pot.

Verse 21

Rebekah had offered to give water to the camels. That was the answer to the servant’s prayer. (See verse 14.) So the servant believed that Rebekah was the right wife for Isaac. But he was not sure. Rebekah had not yet said that she was a relative of Abraham. Therefore the servant still waited to hear whether the *Lord had made his journey successful.

v22 The man waited until the camels had drunk enough water. Then he produced a gold ring, which weighed a half of a *shekel. He also produced 2 large gold rings, which weighed 10 *shekels. He put the large rings on her arms. v23 He said, ‘Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house where we may stay?’ v24 She replied, ‘I am Bethuel’s daughter. Bethuel is Nahor’s son and his mother is Milcah.’ v25 She added, ‘We have enough straw and enough food for the camels. We also have room where you may stay.’

v26 Abraham’s servant bent his head down and he gave honour to the *Lord. v27 He said, ‘Praise the *Lord, the God of my master Abraham. He still loves my master. He has continued to be kind to my master. And the *Lord has led me in the right way. He led me to the house of my master’s family.’

Verse 22

The rings were gifts to Rebekah as Isaac’s bride. But Rebekah probably did not realise that at the time.

Verse 23

Abraham’s servant said ‘we’. He meant himself and the men who were with him.

Verses 24-25

Rebekah might have said, ‘My father is Bethuel. You must ask him.’ But instead, she invited Abraham’s servant to stay at Bethuel’s house.

Verses 26-27

‘He gave honour to the *Lord.’ He had expected that he would have to search for Abraham’s relatives. And he did not know how to choose a wife for Isaac. But God answered his prayer immediately. So he thanked God aloud. Probably Rebekah heard what he said.

v28 Then the young woman ran to her mother’s house. She told everyone what had happened. v29–30 Rebekah had a brother, who was called Laban. Laban saw the ring. And he saw the large rings that were on his sister’s arms. He heard Rebekah his sister tell what the man had said to her. So he ran to the well. He found the man, who stood by the camels at the well.

v31 Laban said, ‘Come in. The *Lord has been kind to you. Do not stand outside. I have prepared the house and I have prepared a place for the camels.’ v32 So Abraham’s servant came into the house. Laban took the saddles off the camels. He gave straw and food to the camels. He gave water to Abraham’s servant so that he could wash his feet. He gave water also to the men who were with him. v33 Laban put food in front of Abraham’s servant so that he could eat. But Abraham’s servant said, ‘I will not eat now. I will tell you why I have come. After that, I will eat.’ And Laban said, ‘Speak.’

Verse 28

The house is called ‘her mother’s house’ and it is not called ‘Bethuel’s house’. Also, the following verses tell us that Laban, Rebekah’s brother, gave a welcome to the visitors. Bethuel did not do that, although Bethuel was the head of the family. Probably Bethuel was unable to do things. Perhaps he was old and perhaps he was very weak. So Laban did the things that the head of the family would usually do.

Verses 31-32

This welcome was more than the welcome that one would give to a stranger. Rebekah had heard the servant mention Abraham. (See verse 27.) Rebekah had told Laban. (See verses 29-30.) And so, Laban knew that the servant came from his relative, Abraham. Therefore, he gave a special welcome to the servant.

Abraham’s servant speaks

v34 So he said, ‘I am Abraham’s servant. v35 The *Lord has been very kind to my master so that he has become great. God has given to him many sheep and cows and silver and gold and servants and maids and camels and *donkeys. v36 And a son was born to Sarah, my master’s wife, when she was old. Abraham has given to his son everything that he has.’

v37–38 Abraham’s servant continued, ‘My master made me make a firm promise. He said, “Choose a wife for my son. Do not choose a daughter from the *Canaanites, among whom I live. But go to my father’s house and to my family. Take a wife there for my son.” v39 I said to my master, “Perhaps the woman will not agree to follow me.” v40 But Abraham said to me, “The *Lord, before whom I walk, will send his *angel with you. He will make your journey successful. You will choose a wife for my son from my own family. She will be one who lives in my father’s house. v41 When you do that, you will be free from your firm promise. When you reach my family, you will be free from your firm promise. If they do not give her to you, you will be free from your firm promise.” ’

v42 Abraham’s servant continued, ‘Today I came to the well. I said, “*Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please make my journey successful. v43–44 I stand here by the well. I will speak to a young woman who comes to fetch water. I will say: Please give me a little water from your pot to drink. Perhaps she will say: Drink and I will give water to your camels too. Let her be the woman whom the *Lord has chosen for my master’s son.” ’

v45 And Abraham’s servant continued, ‘While I was still praying in my mind, Rebekah came out. She carried her water pot on her shoulder. She went down to the well and she fetched water. I said to her, “Please give me a drink.” v46 At once she took down her pot from her shoulder. She said, “Drink. I will give water to your camels too.” So I drank and she gave water to the camels too. v47 Then I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” She said, “I am Bethuel’s daughter. Bethuel is Nahor’s son and his mother is Milcah.” So I put the ring on her nose and I put the large rings on her arms. v48 Then I bent my head down and I gave honour to the *Lord. I praised the *Lord, the God of my master Abraham. He led me in the right way. So I found the daughter of my master’s relative for his son. v49 Now tell me whether you will deal loyally and truly with my master. If you will not, tell me. In that case I will go to another place.’

Verses 34-49

Abraham’s servant told clearly all the good things that God had done. God made Abraham great and God made him rich. (See verse 35.) Abraham said that God would make the servant’s journey successful. (See verse 40.) God answered the servant’s prayer. (See verses 45-46.) And God brought the servant to his master’s relatives. (See verses 47-48.)

We should be like Abraham’s servant. We should be ready to tell people about all the good things that God has done.

v50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘The *Lord has done this. We cannot say any good thing or any bad thing to you. v51 See, Rebekah is here. Go and take her with you. Let her be the wife of your master’s son. The *Lord has said this.’

Verse 50

Laban and Bethuel realised that God was working. They could not decide that Rebekah should marry Abraham’s son. And they could not decide that she should not marry him. They could not make the decision, because God had already made it. God had already decided that she should marry him. The only thing that they could do was to agree.

Rebekah travels to meet Isaac

v52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words he bent himself down to the ground in front of the *Lord. v53 He produced valuable things of silver and gold. He produced clothes. He gave these things to Rebekah. He also gave valuable gifts to her brother and to her mother. v54 Then Abraham’s servant ate and drank. And those who were with him ate and drank. And they stayed there for the night.

Verse 52

He bent himself down to praise God. He thanked God because God had brought him to the right place. And God had made his journey successful.

When the morning came, they got up. Then Abraham’s servant said, ‘Send me back to my master.’ v55 Rebekah’s brother and her mother said, ‘Let the young woman stay here for a time. Let it be for 10 days or more. After that time she may go.’

v56 But Abraham’s servant said to them, ‘Do not make me delay. The *Lord has made my journey successful. Let me go and let me return to my master.’ v57 They said, ‘We will call the young woman and we will ask her.’ v58 So they called Rebekah. They said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, ‘I will go.’ v59 So they sent away Rebekah and her nurse. They sent away Abraham’s servant and those who were with him. v60 They asked God to be kind to Rebekah. They said to her, ‘Our sister, we pray that you will be the mother of many people. Be the mother of more people than anyone can count. We pray that your *descendants will control their enemies’ gates.’

v61 Then Rebekah and her maids set out and they rode on their camels. They followed Abraham’s servant. So the servant took Rebekah and he went on his journey.

Verse 58

They had already agreed that Rebekah would go. But they asked Rebekah whether she would go immediately. Rebekah’s answer meant that she wanted to go. And it meant that she did not want to delay for several days.

Verse 59

The nurse was called Deborah. (See Genesis 35:8.)

v62 Meanwhile, Isaac had left Beer-lahai-roi and he was in the Negeb. v63 Isaac went out into the field in the evening in order to think quietly. Then he looked. And he saw that some camels were coming. v64–65 When Rebekah saw Isaac, she got down from the camel. She said to the servant, ‘Who is the man who walks in the field over there? He is coming to meet us.’ The servant replied, ‘It is my master.’ So Rebekah covered herself with a cloth over her head. v66 The servant told Isaac everything that he had done. v67 Then Isaac took Rebekah into the tent. Isaac married her and he loved her. So Isaac had comfort after his mother’s death.

Verse 62

The Negeb is the southern part of the country that is called *Canaan.

Verses 64-65

Rebekah hid her face from Isaac because they were not yet married. That was the custom.

Word List

altar ~ a table where one burned an animal as an *offering to God. An altar is usually several large stones that form a pile.

angel ~ a servant of God who brings messages from heaven. The *Hebrew word that means ‘angel’ also means ‘*messenger’.

Canaan ~ the country where the *Canaanites lived. (See *Canaanites.) It is approximately the same land as the modern country Israel together with the land of the Palestinians.

Canaanites ~ Canaan’s *descendants. Canaan was a grandson of Noah. (See Genesis 9:18.) The word Canaanites included Amorites and Hivites and other nations. (See Genesis 10:16-17.) It sometimes also included other people who lived in the country *Canaan. These people were not *descendants of Canaan.

circumcise ~ to cut the skin from the end of a male person’s sex part. (See Genesis 17:10-12 and the comment.)

circumcised ~ without the skin on the end of his sex part. (See *circumcise.)

command ~ to tell people (or a person) that they must do something; to say to people (or to a person) something that they must obey; to control by means of commands. A command is an order that one must obey.

descendants ~ children and grandchildren and later members of the family.

donkey ~ an animal like a small horse. Donkeys can carry heavy loads on their backs. People ride on them.

famine ~ a period when crops do not grow. It may last for several years. There is a serious lack of food.

Hebrew ~ the Hebrew people were Abraham and his *descendants. The ancient Hebrew language is the original language of Genesis. It is also the original language of most of the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible). This language is like the modern Hebrew language, which people speak in the country Israel today.

Hittites ~ one of the *tribes that lived in Canaan before Abraham went there.

horn ~ a long, hard bone that grows on the head of some animals.

Lord ~ a lord is a person who has authority. ‘The Lord’ means God. It is a translation of God’s name. The *Hebrews wrote God’s name as YHWH. We may write it as Yahweh.

messenger ~ someone who brings a message.

offering ~ a gift to God. An offering may be an animal. People killed the animal and burned it on an *altar.

Pharaoh ~ every king of Egypt was called ‘Pharaoh’. It was not one king’s name.

Philistines ~ people who lived on the coast of the country that is called *Canaan. In the times of Genesis, few Philistines lived in *Canaan. And they were peaceful people. Very many years after that, many more Philistines arrived. They were not peaceful. The modern name ‘Palestine’ comes from the name ‘Philistine’.

pregnant ~ a woman is pregnant when she has a baby in her.

righteous ~ to be right with God; people whom God sees as clean and not his enemies; people who do what is right; just, good.

shekel ~ approximately 90 shekels are 1 kilo and approximately 40 shekels are 1 pound.

tribe ~ a large group of people who are relatives of each other. Judah’s *descendants were called ‘the tribe of Judah’. In a similar way, each of the 12 sons of Israel became a tribe. But Joseph’s *descendants were not called ‘the tribe of Joseph’. They were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim and Manasseh were Joseph’s sons.

Book List

G. Ch. Aalders ~ A Short Introduction to the Pentateuch ~ Tyndale Press

V. P. Hamilton ~ The Book of Genesis (NICOT) ~ Eerdmans

E. F. Kevan ~ ‘Genesis’, The New Bible Commentary ~ IVF (1953)

G. T. Manley ~ The New Bible Handbook ~ IVF

M. Salisbury (editor) ~ Skills for Translating and Exegeting the Primary Scriptures (STEPS) ~ SIL (CD-ROM)

J. A. Thompson ~ The Bible and Archaeology ~ Paternoster

G. J. Wenham ~ ‘Genesis’, New Bible Commentary 21st Century Edition ~ IVP

Chambers Concise Dictionary

Oxford Bible Atlas ~ Third edition

Logos Bible Computer Software 1.6

Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon

Bibles ~ KJV, NIV, REB, RSV, TEV


© 1997-2004, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

November 2004

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