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Todays Parsha #3: Lech Lecha (Get yourself out/Go to yourself)

1) In this Torah portion there is a clue about a very important Set-Apart object. What is

"Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and
shall cover it inside and out with pitch. (Genesis 6:14 NAU)
The word for ark is TEBAH which refers more to a box/chest than a ship shape and
it is covered (KAPHAR) with pitch, and this is the same word as KIPPUR
(atonement). Therefore even though another Hebrew word is used to designate the
Ark of the Covenant it is still the case that this line is describing the mercy seat on top
of the ark.
2) What does the time Noah spent in the ark tell us about the original Biblical calendar?
It tells us it cant be lunar based because Noah spent a total of 151 days in the Ark
between the 17th day of the 2nd month and the 17th day of the 7th month. This is
because the text says

and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and
fifty days the water decreased. 4 In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the
month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. (Gen 8:3-4 NAU)
You cannot fit 151 days in exactly 5 months in a lunar system, since the lunar month
is 29.53 solar days long, it will usually alternate between 29 and 30 days
occasionally though you could get 2 consecutive 30 day months and perhaps 3 30 day
months in a row in a longer while, very rarely 4 and never 5, which would be
MIKTSEH CHAMISHIM UMEAT YOM (8:3) = after 150 daysand
BACHODESH HA-SHVII BESHVA-ASAR YOM (8:4) = in the seventh month on
the seventeenth day of the month. Note first that the waters recede and the ark goes
on the mountains of Ararat AFTER 150 days, meaning at least 151 days. That means
the months here cannot be in lunar reckoning. The lunar month is 29.53 solar days
long and usually alternates between 29 and 30 days. In a normal 5 month count, there
would be at least TWO 29 day months. Now the 2nd month and 7th month are
fragments. So if the 2nd month was 30 days long, inclusive of day 17 leaves 14 days +
29 for month 3 + 30 for month 4 + 29 for month 5 + 30 for month 6 + 17 days for
month 7 = 149 days. In the most extreme case possible by physicsan incredibly
rare eventyou MIGHT get only 1 29 day month in the mix, which yields 150 days.

But it was AFTER 150 days AND on the 17th day of the 7th month that the ark rested
on Ararat mountains.
3) There is a numerical code that is repeated in Bereshit and this portion. What is it?
The answer is simpler than you may have thought. There are 10 generations between
Adam and Noah and then 10 generations from Noahs son Shem to Abraham. 10 is a
special number in Jewish mysticism, being the sum of two important numbers, 3 and
7. Also 10 is the number of witnesses to open a synagogue for services (a minyan).
4) Another number code predicts something critical about the Exodus. What is it?
Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg, for in his days the world became
And Eber lived 430 years after he had Peleg. These two statements belong together,
and are a huge hint that the land gets DIVIDED when the Hebrews begin their time
prophesied by Abraham, 430 years from that moment until the Exodus.
5) How does our Renewed Covenant portion shed light on the idea that the first
generation of believers thought Yshua would return in a handful of years?
Because of this also, you should be prepared, because in an hour that you do not
expect, the Son of man will come. Then who is the faithful and wise servant that
his master has appointed over his household to give them food in due time.
(Matthew 24:44-45, AENT)
So when Yshua seems to be saying Behold, I come quickly, the context is more like
Behold, I come SUDDENLY (like a thief in the night, the Flood, etc.)

1) Meaning of this weeks Torah portion and summary of contents:

Lech Lecha means get yourself out. It concerns the command Abba YHWH
gives Abram to move into Canaan and has a lot of great action surrounding that
main them. First, Abram has a bit of an adventure in Egypt when his wife
acquired by Pharaoh because Abram said she was his sister! The Abram had to do
some intricate planning to get ahead of a potential family dispute between himself
and his nephew lot. After that a whole bunch of kings go to war around Abram
and closer to home Abram is given the second most difficult test of his life and
Im just scratching the surface heretheres a ton of action I left out here.

2) Parsha (English-Genesis 12:1-17:26). This week we will read the entire portion.
3) Play by Play commentary where appropriate.

Vayomer Yahweh el-Avram lech lecha me'artsecha umimoladetecha

umibeyt avicha el-ha'arets asher ar'eka.
Ve'e'escha legoy-gadol va'avarechecha va'agadelah shemecha veheyeh
Va'avarechah mevarachecha umekalelecha a'or venivrechu vecha kol
mishpechot ha'adamah.
4) Point out key Hebrew words/terms. Color Commentary:
ABRAM (12:1) = exalted father. The addition of a HEH will change eventually his name
to ABRAHAM, father of many nations. RAM has always been associated with high
places of worship and power. In later times a city named RAMTHA will be built and
from it will come a powerful member of the Sanhedrin named Yosip (Joseph). The
Greek NT calls this man Joseph of Arimathea but the Aramaic Yosip of Ramtha. I
think it is no coincidence Abrams name links to this place and that also Yshuas tomb
would be in this villagei.e. that he is exalted thru resurrection in the exalted land.
LECH LECHA (12:1) = Derived from the word to walk (halakh) this is a double
amplifier indicating Abba YHWHs sense of urgency. Others like to translate the phrase
mystically or abstractly as go to yourself.
was 75 years old. Genesis chapters 12 through 15 all deal with events in this super
important 75th year. In particular, the 430 year count from Abrams vision to the Exodus
is based on this year, 1877 BCE, and is one the two most important time references tying
the events of Genesis with the rest of the Torah. The other one is Noahs 600th birthday
being 1,656 years after Adams creation. Abrams move to Canaan is given in 12:6, again
in his 75th year, leading to the next reference after 10 years, in Genesis 16:3, with the
birth of Ishmael when he was 86 years old (16:16). Finally, I now believe that this Ur
is in the north of Mesopotamia, not the south (Babylon), because the Chaldeans did not
take the southern area prior to about 700 BCE and the northern Ur location matches
details about a family group with identical names (Mari Tablets) and is much closer to
Haran than Babylon-Ur is.
ABAR (12:6) = cross over. This is the same root from which we get HEBREW, one who
crosses over. Abram is crossing over in obedience to Abba YHWH which will lead to
him being called the first Hebrew.

ELON MOREH (12:6) = teachers tree/oak. I just find it interesting that this is where
Abba YHWH appears to Abram to announce Himself. The terebinth or oak was an
exceedingly large tree that some believe could live to a thousand years or more. ELON
though is also evocative of ELYON (highest, a term describing YHWH). So is YHWH
the Highest Teacher coming to teach Abram about how he will be blessed.
on from there to the mountain of the east of Bethel. Please see 1 Kings 12. When
Jeroboam successfully split the kingdom into north and south and took the Northern
tribes into his rulership, he set up rival shrines at Dan and Bethel in an effort to
discourage visits to the Temple in the south. There is no reason for Jeroboam to do this
unless he too knew the history of Abraham from the book of Genesis!
Therefore, even in 931 BCE, it is clear that the Torah text was well circulated and
understood. Contrast this to the liberal view that priests in King Josiahs time wrote the
Torah and placed it in the walls shortly before Josiah found it, which happened about
300 years later. Therefore, it must be viewed as historical fact that the written Torah of
Moshe existed at least as far back as the establishment of the Monarchy, if not much
earlier than this, which is my view.
YAPHEH (12:11) = beautiful, but also can mean excellent, high quality. In modern
Hebrew one is more likely to express something being very good as YOFFI rather than
the more literal TOV MEOD. I think it is also possible Abram is referring to both
Sarahs inner and outer beauty even though where Pharaoh is concerned Abram is more
thinking about her physical appearance.
HA-ISHAH (12:14) = the wife, but literally the woman. Pharaoh is saying he didnt
know Sarah belonged to Abram in some way. It is possible he thought Abram had her as
a servant that was his possession.
PHARAOH (12:15 and elsewhere) = great house. This is one of 50 ancient Egyptian
words that survive in the Torah text un-translated. Such points well to Moshe as the
author of the Torah, he having been raised a prince of Egypt. Josephus records
pharaoh as a generic title for all Egyptian kings.
The Pharaoh that Abraham encountered was most definitely from the 12th dynasty, during
the Middle Kingdom, and is known to us today as Sensuret IIII (1878-1839 BCE, who
had been reigning just 1 year when he took Sarai in Abrams 75th year (1877 BCE, see
Genesis 12:4). The chronology for this period is very stable, thanks to attestation from
multiple sources and astronomical events dated to the reign of Sensuret III.
Interestingly enough, Genesis 12:16 tells us Sensuret IIII gave Abram livestock and
servants and treated Abram well for Sarais sake, and this Pharaoh was also well
known for expanding trade routes into Syria and Canaan. So it is possible Sensuret IIII
was actually also establishing a trade relationship with a regional leader like Abram.

HA-KNANI VEHA-PRIZI YOSHEV BEERETZ (13:7) = The Canaanites and the

Perizites were in the land. This is the first time in Scripture that the Perizites are
mentioned. These people lived in between the cities of Bethel and Shechem, near Bezek
(Judges 1:4), and also came near Jebusite and Amorite territory as well (Joshua 11:3).
HALO CHOL HAARETZ LEFANECHA (13:9) = literally, the whole land is before
your face. Abram is presenting the land to Lot as if he were introducing him to an
acquaintance. The land all belongs to Abram anywayhe is simply being proactive and
preventing strife from escalating by making Lot have ownership over his choice of
HI PARED NA MEALAY (13:9) = Please, why dont you separate from me? The
Hebrew word NA makes this a request rather than a command. Abram is showing great
humility, as he could have ordered Lot to take land and go. Instead he asks very nicely
and even formally for Lot to do so.
VAYEEHAL AD SEDOM (13:12) = literally, pitched his tents/packed away his tents
until (he reached) Sodom. Others, setting up his tents right near Sedom. Perhaps
migrated is the best we can do as all agree this phrase references moving the tents to
get closer to Sodom.
people of Sodom were very wicked and sinned against Yahweh a great deal. According
to the prophet Ezekiel however, the illicit sex was merely the byproduct of a greater
See, this was the crookedness of your sister Sedom: She and her daughter had pride,
sufficiency of bread, and unconcerned ease. And she did not help the poor and needy.
And they were haughty and did abomination before Me, and I took them away when I
saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50, The Scriptures 1998)
ELONEY MAMRE (13:18) = oaks of Mamre. In Genesis 14:13 this is known as an
Amorite ally of Abram. However by Genesis 35:27 the name of the area changed to
Kiryath HaArba, or City of the Four. However later still this will be renamed
Notes on 14:1 from Bible.ort.org:
Talmudic sources identify him with Nimrod (Genesis 10:8; cf. Targum Yonathan; Eruvin
53a; Rashi). Some identify him with the famed Hammurabi, who in ancient writings is
referred to as Ammurapi. This may have occurred at the beginning of his reign, before he
had built his famed empire, and hence, the leading king is seen as Chedorlaomer (Genesis
14:4,5,9). However, since he later became famous, the age is identified with him.
My opinion: I doubt the Torah text would give Nimrod such a flattering title in Hebrew

as my kinsman is a healer! Hammurabi is the right choice and there are a wide variety
of chronologies of Hammurabis 42 year long reign that are debated in the scholarly
community and span a total area of about 300 years. In my chronology, the Ultra High
reckoning works best, synchronizing the start of Hammurabis reign to 1933 BCE, when
Abram would have been about 21 years old. But since Hammurabi reigned 42 years, the
ending years of his reign fit better with the overall chronology in Genesis 14, at which
point Abram would have been in his late 50s to early 60s, depending on which year we
choose. In my chronology, Abram is born 1,948 years after Adams creation, which is
fixed to 3901 BCE, bringing us to 1952 BCE for Abrams birth. More research is needed
to fix the times of the other kings where possible.
Finally, my general approach is to look at all the generally accepted scenarios by
academic historians and see which ones go best with established and certain Biblical
dates. Other times, when there are deep issues that prevent this kind of precision (such as
the Second Intermediate Period for ancient Egypt), I have to independently research the
matters and come up with my own answera defensible one from the available source
I bring up this matter now also because I am researching the Second Intermediate Period
right now in trying to understand better some aspects of Josephs story. For example, why
does Genesis 38 (Judah and Tamar) take place after Joseph is sold in slavery but before
his arrival is given in Genesis 39? And since he is 17 when he is sold and the text in
Genesis 39-41 seems to be a seamless account, why is Joseph 30 years old when he
comes out of prison after just 2 years? It was beginning to look like there could be 8-10
years of Josephs life unaccounted for because the events in Potiphars house with his
wife seem to happen both immediately after he is brought to Egypt and immediately
before he is thrown into prison. But researching the Egyptian-Hyksos side did help me
figure outat least partiallywhat went on with Joseph in those years. And it also helps
us here, in figuring out who were the Egyptian kings who new Abraham.
This is identified with Sumer. The Targum Yonathan renders it as Pontus (see note on
Genesis 10:10). In some manuscripts, however, the reading is Bogtos, denoting Baghdad.
A city-state in the area of Shushan. See note on Genesis 10:22.
Literally 'nations' or 'hordes' (see Targum). This might indicate that he was the king over
a number of nations, or perhaps, a barbaric king. Others interpret Goyim as a place name
(Rashi). It may be identified with Gutium in Kurdistan. See Joshua 12:23.
It was around this time...
(Rabenu Meyuchas). Literally, 'It was in the days of Amraphel,' or 'It was in the days
when Amraphel....'

A king of Larsa by the name of Eriaku is found in ancient writings. It was later also a
popular name (cf. Daniel 2:14).
My opinion: Certain ancient Greek sources identify Arioch/Arus as the grandson of
Nimrod who founded Nineveh and I believe this is the most likely identification for this
king in Genesis 14. The Eriaku linkage given above has largely been discredited over the
last century or so.
This is the same as Larsa, a city just south of Erekh, and 100 miles south of Babylon. It
was a major power center in ancient times. See note on Genesis 10:10.
K'darla'omer in Hebrew. Some sources indicate that he was originally one of Amraphel's
generals, who rebelled and established an independent kingdom (Sefer HaYashar). The
name itself is a Hebraicized form of Kudur (servant of) and Lagamar, the name of an
Elamite deity.
My opinion: If this theory is true, then of course Amraphel and this king are
contemporaries and the links with Tidal and Abram also seem strong, so overall the
whole chronological system is being borne out in the archaeology.
He can be identified with the Tudghala or Tudhaliya of cuneiform texts, who was king of
the Northern Kurdish or Hittite nations.
My opinion: This is correct, as the first king with this name by the Ultra High
chronology also fits into the same time frame as Hammurabi/Amraphel and Abram.
EMEK HA SIDIM (14:3) = Siddim Valleyhas some other interesting associations.
Siddim is derived from sadad (fields). The Targums have different ways of rendering
the term though. Onkelos, the most literal Targum, calls it simply Valley of Fields.
However Targum Yonatan (on the Torah, not to be confused with the other Jonathan who
did the prophets) translated Siddim as Orchard Valley. The word for orchard though
is PARDES, which could then lead to the reading of PARADISE VALLEY!
REPHAIM (14:5) = giants or mighty men. Og of Deuteronomy 3:11, was supposed to be
from this group and was reputed to be even taller than Goliath. Another term is also in
this verse for them, EMIM or fearsome ones, even though there are two different
locations for each group at the time of this Scripture.
EYN MISHPHAT HI KADESH (14:7) = Well of Decision/Judgment that is now known
as Kadesh. It is interesting that the place this appears as the Amalekites are judged and
defeated, leading to KADESH (Set-Apartness) for Abba YHWHs people!

AVRAM HA IVRI (14:13) = Abram the Hebrew. This is the first time that Abram is
called Hebrew rather than a Chaldean or similar title. He has literally come out of
Babylon and crossed over into obedience. In fact, he had done this feat earlier but it is
only this part of the Torah that has Abrams title of Hebrew known by others.
CHANICHAV (14:14) = fighting men but more accurately dedicated men. Other
rabbis say students because the term in Hebrew implies devotion and loyalty to Abram.
From this word we also get HANUKKAH, the Feast of Dedication for the Temple.
MALKI-TZEDEK (14:18) = Righteous King. As most all of us know, Yshua is said to
be priest forever after Malki-Tzedek. The Rabbis though allege something interesting
that TZEDEK is not meaning righteous here but is another title for Jerusalem. This
may come from the influence of the book of Second Enoch 23:26 but to my mind
TZEDEK must mean righteous because the other name for Jerusalem SALEMis
already mentioned. There is no need for 2 titles of the same place.
ANOCHI MAGEN (15:1) = I am your shield. The word ANOCHI is the expanded form
of ANI, a form of I AM that only YHWH uses. Note also the term MAGEN, shield. If
Abba YHWH can be Abrahams shield, there is no reason He couldnt be for David as
well. This may be the inspiration for the six pointed star that would be later symbol of
BEN MESHEK (15:2) = not just heir. Although Eliezar of Damascus is not related to
Abram, this title indicates he is the steward of Abrams estate, which is why it is possible
for him to inherit without Abram having male offspring. The term can also mean
teacher. The name Eliezar also means, El is my help.
HINEY (15:4) = behold! This word is hard to translate. It seems to indicate a sudden
shift or that something urgent has just come up. It is much more intensive than saying,
for example, at that moment/time. Instead HINEY is kind of like saying, Just then
BAM!Abram got this Word from Abba YHWH. A more traditional rendering
BEHOLDalso works pretty well.
USEFOR HA-CHOCHAVIM (15:5) = and count the stars. The word SEPHAR is where
we get the words write, scribe and scroll. The verb itself means to record, reckon,
classify, study. Therefore, Abba YHWH is commanding Abram here to study the stars,
and this was a discipline well known and advanced in Ur. In fact, what we now call the
zodiac was arrived at in Mesopotamia, where Abram was from.
For more information, please see: http://www.onefaithonepeopleministries.com/freeanalytical-studies, under Teachings and then Free Analytical Teachings.
(Abram) believed YHWH and He counted it to him as righteousness. This is spun in a
very interesting way by the Rabbis and may be their response to the frequent quoting of
this phrase in the NT. The Rabbis point out that TZEDEKAH can also mean CHARITY.

Others then think the second he is not Abba YHWH but Abram, resulting in the
reading He believed YHWH and he (Abram) counted that belief as charity. It becomes
interesting to debate if the charity was counted by AbbaYHWH or Abram. If Abba
YHWH counted it as charity, then Abram could still be argued to be righteous here. If
Abram counted HIS BELIEF as charity though, that matter is less clear. In fact Yshua
would say that people who announce charity openly already have their reward!
VEAYL MESHULASH VETOR VEGAZAL (15:9) = (Elohim) said, bring to Me a
prime heifer, a prime goat, a prime ram, a prime dove and a young pigeon. This may
actually relate to the 430/400 year prophecy Abram is about to receive, with 4 broad
species (cow, goat, ram, bird) each equaling a century of time. However, there are also 2
species of bird given (dove, pigeon), and the YOUNG pigeon may simply relate to the
remainder of 30 years after the 400 years are over.
Similar time codes are in the book of Revelation with respect to 4 creatures and seasons:
The lion represents Messiah Yshua dying during the spring feast of Pesach, the calf
represents the Golden Calf worshipped during the summer, the man represents Adam
who was created in the fall and the remainder, the eagle and winter, are both symbolic of
times of deprivation and famine.
BATAR OTEM BATAVECH (15:10) = split them in half. From Bible.ort.org:
split them...This was the way of making a covenant (Rashi). Indeed, the words b'rith
(covenant) and bathar (split) appear to be closely related (cf. Radak, Sherashim, s.v.
Barath). It symbolized that just as the two halves of the animal were really one, so were
the two people making the covenant. Moreover, just as one side cannot live without the
other, so the two cannot live without each other (Ralbag; Ikkarim 4:45). It was also seen
as a malediction; anyone violating the oath would be torn asunder like the animals
400 years (15:13) = There is no contradiction between the 430 years given in Exodus 12
and this reference here. Genesis 15:13 is counting from Isaacs birth, not when Abraham
got the prophecy. According to Rashi, Abraham got to live in his own landIsaac did
not so the prophecy began counting from Isaac being out of the land. But the total
amount of years is given in Exodus 12 from when Abraham got the prophecy.
VEDOR REVII (15:16) = the fourth generation, counting Levi, Kohath, Amram and
then Moshe. However, DOR here also means a century, or 100 years because this is also
a 400 year period.
KI LO SHALEM AVON HA-EMORI AD-HENAH (15:16) = for the iniquity of the
Amorite is not complete. Certain critics suggest that the Masoretic text is giving a total of
645 years from Abrahams vision to Exodus, because it seems to say that it was 430 years
from when they entered Egypt only, and not Egypt and Canaan as other ancient sources

However, my position is that the traditional Masoretic text implies Canaan because of
this line about the Amorites. This is because the Amorites arent paid back for their guilt,
i.e. destroyed, until this moment in Deuteronomy:

It was in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, that Moses
told the Israelites everything that Yahweh had ordered him to tell them. 4 He had
defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon, and Og king of
Bashan, who lived at Ashtaroth and Edrei. (Deuteronomy 1:3-4 NJB)

"We captured all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we did not
take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in
Bashan. 5 "All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates and bars, besides
a great many unwalled towns. 6 "We utterly destroyed them, as we did to
Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of
every city. 7 "But all the animals and the spoil of the cities we took as our
booty. 8 "Thus we took the land at that time from the hand of the two kings
of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to
Mount Hermon. (Deuteronomy 3:4-8 NAU)
So if the Amorites are destroyed 40 years after Exodus, or about 1407 BCE, that cant be
645 years after Abrahams vision given in 1877 BCE, which it would be if we only
counted time from when Jacob entered into Egypt.
Instead, the total is 430 years, which includes 30 years from Abrahams vision to Isaac
being weaned at age 5, another 400 years from Isaac being weaned to the Exodus
(Exodus 12:40) and another 40 years after Exodus to this moment in Deuteronomy, and
so all the chronologies match in this way.
at the end of ten years of Abram living in the land of Canaan. So now Abraham is 85
years old; he got his first vision from Abba YHWH (Genesis 15) when he was 75. A year
later, Ishmael will be born, when Abram is 86 (Genesis 16:16).
ANOCHI NATATI SHIFCHATI BECHEYKECHA (16:5) = I gave my servant girl into
your bosom. Normally when we think of bosom it usually is evocative of the chest
area. However, this same Hebrew word is sometimes rendered arms, but that is not
accurate either. Rather arms is suggested because it avoids an overly sensual image, as
the actual word really means given to your lap.
BEDEREKH SHUR (16:7) = Road to Shurthat is the trade route straight back to
Egypt. Hagar was running away all the way back home.
VEHITANI TACHAT YEDEYHA (16:9) = and submit yourself to her, or literally,
bring yourself back under her authority. This word TACHATH or under is the same
word in the Aramaic NT that underlies terms like under the law. In that case it denotes


using ritual in Torah as an authority rather than Abba YHWH. In the same way, Hagar is
commanded to surrender to Sarah to be TACHATH or under her authority.
PEREH ADAM (16:12) = wild donkey of a man. Rashi interprets less literally as
outdoor man but that leads to another insult against Ishmael. In Greek those who
worship many gods were called outdoor men or forest dwellers. That word was
PAGANOS, from where we get PAGAN from! So Ishmael could be said to be fated to
worship many gods and that would also bring him in contention with his brothers, which
by the way is exactly what happened!
HITHALECH LEFANAY VEHAYEH TAMIM (17:1) = walk before Me and be perfect.
However TAMIM can also have a sense of being complete, so it may suggest
something along the lines of walk before Me in complete
faith/dedication/understanding. TAMIM is used, for example when saying that the
weeks that comprise the omer count must be TAMIM (complete).
HANEFESH HAHI MEAMEYHA (17:14) = shall have his soul cut off from his people.
There is a triple word play going on in this line. Circumcision denotes a cutting of flesh
obviously. But if the man is not circumcised HE IS CUT AWAY from his people, as if
to say, no matter what some cutting away will happen. Which kind do you want? The
small cutting of circumcision or your whole soul being cut away from your kin?
covenant can also be derived from a word that means to cut or inscribe into rock.
Circumcision is literally a circle of life and cutting off is a circle of death.
YITZCHAK (17:19) = he laughed. Isaac is named after his mother Sarah laughing that
she could conceive him in her old age and also that he brought a lot of joy to Abraham
and Sarah.
Torah Question of the Week:
What was Abrahams greatest mistake?



Torah Question of the Week:
What was Abrahams greatest mistake?
Abraham listened to his wife Sarah about going into Hagar. That instruction
did not come from YHWH. Quite the opposite because YHWH told Abraham
clearly that out of his seed would come one to inherit his legacy. There was no
other way for that to happen other than through his one wife Sarah. Heres
more on this topic, from the original Torah Thought of the Week:
Classic Torah Thought for the Week:
Abrahams Mistake
In our Torah Question of the week I asked what Abrahams greatest mistake was. Now I
want to expand a bit more on why this mistake was so devastating and how it is still
impacting the way we look at Scripture today.
As we saw earlier, the Torah says that Abraham hearkened UNTO HIS WIFE SARAH
rather than to Abba YHWH on the decision to take Hagar as second wife. But Abba
YHWH never sanctioned the union. In fact this is how Abba YHWH put the matter to
Sometime later, the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid,
Abram! I am your shield and shall give you a very great reward. 2 'Lord Yahweh,'
Abram replied, 'what use are your gifts, as I am going on my way childless? 3
Since you have given me no offspring,' Abram continued, 'a member of my
household will be my heir.' 4 Then Yahweh's word came to him in reply, 'Such a
one will not be your heir; no, your heir will be the issue of your own body.' (Gen
15:1-4 NJB)
The only way an heir could issue from his body was through a union between Abraham
and his wife Sarah. Hagar is nowhere in the picture here. Abba YHWH would not tell
Abram to cheat on Sarai! Instead, Abba YHWH met Abram where he was at that point in
his life. Abram should have known that Abba YHWH could make an old man virile and
an old woman fertile. The whole point of building a nation through these two elderly
people was to show Abba YHWHs powerso Abram should have let Him show it!
Instead, Sarai decided to follow orders in her own way, the worldly way. Abba YHWH
never said for her to give up her exclusive access to her husband. Abba YHWH never
endorsed such a thing EVER but counted it as wickedness.
It is because Abraham did not believe Abba YHWH here, did not believe that Abba
YHWH could bring a natural born son to him and his wife, that Abba YHWH had to
make the point with a final testthe sacrificing of Isaac. By the time that happens,
Abraham had to know that Isaac was his legacy for all future generations. So, if Abraham
kills Isaac under Abba YHWHs command, Abba YHWH would still keep his promise


about Isaac by resurrecting him. In essence, what Abraham did NOT learn here he
finally got down in spades by Genesis 22.
But the ramifications of this sin with Hagar would be felt for thousands of years in the
future. Abba YHWH had sworn that ALL of Abrahams seed would be blessed, including
that with Hagar. But only the OFFICIAL line through Isaac could INHERIT. Ishmael,
while having his own kingdoms, was separated out from Isaacs line of the Hebrew
people and not given Canaan but other lands instead. This is the root of all Arab Israeli
contentions to this day. Normally a first born WOULD inheritbut Abba YHWH said no
because the first born was not born to Abrahams first wife. Other times Abba YHWH
deliberately chooses the second sons over the expected firstborn for other reasons, but
thats outside of our scope today.
In any case, once Abraham sins, it gives license for others to do so who basically go,
Well ABE did it! It must be okay! It was NOT okay. It was NEVER okay. Jacob
certainly would have been happy to just have Rachel as first wife. When it didnt happen
and Rachel became number 2 we see that her children didnt do as well as those from
Leahs womb. Leah after all gave birth to Judah and Levithe kingly and priestly lines.
Rachel, while beloved greatly, became the iconic image of a grieving mother weeping for
her children and she dies giving birth to Benjamin. This is not to say SHE was at fault.
Both Rachel and Jacob were victims of Labans treachery. But nevertheless, every single
time Abba YHWH will always favor the family line from a first wife over that of a
second spouse (at the same time) or a concubine. These examples are all over the
placeSeth is favored over Lamech who has two wives and is the worlds first serial
killer. Isaac is favored over Ishmael and also over Lot, whose sons Amon and Moab
being born from incest with his daughters become dreaded enemies of Israel.
When the monarchy comes, no illicit one night stand proves more costly than David and
Bathsheba. First the baby in her dies. Then Davids children rise up in rebellion and
force him to kill them to keep the throne. Then David does a census that gets 75,000
people killed from an angered Elohim. All this, because David was not faithful to his first
wife and took the wife of another man.
Now granted, Eastern kings were expected to marry many wives to cement strategic
alliances with their neighbors. But Moshe also warned such kings in Deuteronomy NOT
to elevate themselves over their brethren, not to multiply wives and to keep a Torah scroll
near them at all times to meditate on day and night. The message was clear: You may
think your position gives you license to fool around but keep reading the Torah and see
that it is sin.
After David, his son Solomon started out as the wisest man on the planet, only to have his
kingdom slip away right after his death. The reason mostly: Multiple wives who
confounded him with their paganism. Solomon doesnt impart the right beliefs to
Rehoboam and because of that Rehoboam will split the kingdom in two making both
halves subject to judgment and captivity, some of which is still going on today.


And that is why we dont see the polygamy issue get resolved until the major prophets.
Abba YHWH spoke to Isaiah, Jeremiah and others and told them to proclaim that idolatry
was spiritual adultery and that let the people know that they could not take multiple
spouses any more than they could bow down to idols. And that is why also we see no
examples of polygamyNONE!with biblical figures after the time of the major
prophets. It simply drops from the record because Abba YHWH made Himself clear.
All this, simply because Abraham listened to his wife and not to Abba YHWH! As a
result, this mistake of Abrahams is one of the most far reaching of them all. Abraham
surely recovered from it and was fully restored in righteousness by Abba YHWH. But
now it remains to be seen if everyone today will draw the right lesson from what he did
1) Haftorah portion: (English- Isaiah 40:27-41:16) and discuss common themes with
the Torah portion. Read entire portion first.

Lamah tomar Ya'akov utedaber Yisra'el nisterah darki me'Yahweh

ume'Elohay mishpati ya'avor.
Halo yadata im-lo shamata Elohey olam Yahweh bore ketsot ha'arets
lo yi'af velo yiga eyn cheker litevunato.
Noten laya'ef koach ule'eyn onim otsmah yarbeh.
Veyi'afu ne'arim veyiga'u uvachurim kashol yikashelu.
2) Our linguistic commentary
way is hidden from Yahweh and my cause has been passed over by my Elohim.
The cause that is passed over is ABAR/EBER from which we get Hebrew. It
is meant to show injustice in juxtaposition with YHWHs grace. Jacob is clearly
foolish to say these words.
ME HEIR MIMZRACH (41:2) = who aroused {one} from the East. Abrams
name is not mentioned here but Rabbis assume it should be there. It could also be
a reference of Yshuas future coming, with the statement itself taking place in the
far future. This is also due to the next example
the first and also the last am I. This language is used both by YHWH and by
Yshua in Revelation.


CHARASH (41:7) = carpenter but also engraver, craftsman. This Hebrew term
is the cognate for TEKTON in Greek or NAGARA in Aramaic. All three terms
encompass more than being a mere carpenter in terms of a woodworker but also
someone well versed in stone work and perhaps other materials as well. This is
Yshuas actual occupation.
3) Renewed Covenant portion: (English). Romans 3:19-5:6 (all the way through with
applicable footnotes.)
Romans 3:20
26) Torah sets YHWH's boundaries as to what is good or evil behavior; therefore,
this cannot and does not make Torah a bad thing, but a very good thing! Rav
Shaul returns to this precise point again in the seventh chapter.
Romans 3:21
27) Y'shua qualified as Mashiyach because he fulfilled all Torah and Prophetic
requirements, and he became Torah. Torah is written upon the heart by the Ruach
haKodesh; the Spirit of Mashiyach is Torah which is the Spirit of Mashiyach, or
the Manifestation (Word) of YHWH which became flesh and dwelt among us.
Therefore, if we live "in" Y'shua we also become Torah. It is evil to posture that
Rav Shaul brought Torah down, when in fact Y'shua and Paul restored and
elevated Torah to be the foundation of a spiritual dialogue with Heaven.
Romans 3:28
28) The terms "works of Torah" and "under Torah" predate Paul by hundreds of
years. These terms were discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls (A Sectarian
Manifesto 4QMMT:4Q394-399); while originally referring to the ultra religious
halakha of the Essenes, the same principles apply to the Pharisees' halakha. These
two phrases are also mentioned in Rom_6:14-15; Rom_9:32; 1Co_9:20-21;
Gal_2:16; Gal_3:2; Gal_3:5; Gal_3:10; Gal_3:23; Gal_4:4-5; Gal_4:21;
Gal_5:18. "Under Torah" refers to the orthodox/traditional interpretation and
observance of Torah. Religious halakha is clearly NOT what Y'shua or Paul
followed in their observance of Torah. The Renewed Covenant promise in
Jer_31:33 is to write the Torah of YHWH upon the hearts of His people, not the
"Torah of men." The idiomatic expression "works of Torah" provides insight to
those of a "traditional" Jewish upbringing. Paul references Jews at the beginning
of this chapter; in Rom_3:19 he states "Now we know" referring to those who
understand Torah and halakha.
Romans 4:7
29) Quoting Psa_32:1 the Aramaic kasiyo (covered) here is the cognate kacah in
Hebrew, referring to the work of atonement and redemption.


Romans 4:10
30) Awraham confirmed his understanding and righteousness-credit by obeying
YHWH and getting physically circumcised. This is evident in the very next line,
that while righteousness was credited to him in uncircumcision, he received
circumcision as the sign and seal of the righteousness of his faith.
Romans 4:12
31) Rav Shaul is teaching that Awraham's physical circumcision came after he
believed, after he had faith, after his heart was circumcised, in opposition to a
contemporary false teaching that circumcision should come first before belief or
faith. At no time does Rav Shaul ever discount physical circumcision; he simply
rejects false religious traditions that turned circumcision into a device to control
new converts. This principle also applies to those who would hurriedly baptize
new converts in an effort to show strong numbers, or practicing "forced
Romans 4:15
32) Like the Hebrew word "Torah", the Aramaic namusa can refer to the entire
corpus of work or to an individual instruction for a person or group ("torah" with
a small "t"). This verse literally reads, "where there is no Torah provision
against an action, there is no transgression." The KJV reads "Because the law
worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression." Mainstream
Christianity translates this to mean that Torah is done away with, but Rav Shaul is
teaching the very opposite. Wherever Torah is NOT being taught, people will do
what is right in their own eyes, thus bringing the wrath of YHWH upon
Romans 4:16
33) Having Awraham as a father brings the responsibility of being honorable
children, worthy of his legacy! Contrary to Christian theology; faith, while
credited to Awraham as righteousness, was not the only component of his total
righteousness. It is what Awraham did with his faith that brings him near to
YHWH. As YHWH Himself declares: "I swore to your father Avraham. I will
make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all
these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,
because Awraham obeyed Me and kept My requirements, My commands, My
decrees and My laws" (Gen_26:4-5).
4) Highlight common themes in Aramaic (terms in footnotes which I will read):


5) Apply these themes/issues to modern issues in the Netzari faith. (This part of Romans
show the struggle of people who wanted to do Torah but had cultural pressures
against them doing so. Believers in this time had to hide underground or be killed.
Today, we dont have the threat of death over us but we do sometimes fear looking
too religious to the rest of the world. )
6) Relate to all or part of an Appendix portion of AENT or footnotes from a portion (NT
Misconception #14 Israel and the Church, p. 810-811).
1) How are the promises given in Genesis 12 twisted in much of mainstream
Christianity today?
2) If you know the complete answer for #1, how does Yshuas own teaching on this
point totally rebuke a main tenet of modern anti-Semitism?
3) How does one phrase in Genesis 15 relate to a popular symbol for Judaism today?
4) How does a word from Genesis 17:7 directly relate to Yshua?
5) What modern Jewish occasion may have its roots in this parsha?
Torah Thought for the Week:
The Abraham of Archaeology
Over the past 18 months or so, I have been immersing myself back in the field of Biblical
Archaeology. It was an interest I had back more than 20 years ago, but then my
linguistics and translation work kind of put a lot of that on the back burner.
However, since seeing a program that glorified Biblical skeptics known as Minimalists,
my interest in this area re-ignited. All of a sudden I was consumed with organizing a very
disparate group of my previous writings and augmenting it with new research.
Also, for a book I am writing on how our Scripture went from its most ancient origins to
its final form, all of a sudden there was an archaeology section that I never thought I
needed before.
So I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I found about the Abraham of
Archaeology, starting with a very common misconception that I have heard floated by
skeptics from time to time: There were no camels in the time of Abraham so any mention
of those beasts is an anachronism, allegedly proving the Torah text came much later (they
say, 7-6 centuries BCE). That is the chargebut what is the truth?
It turns out, this is really just guessworkthe archaeological data doesnt prove this at
all and it is a classic case of confusing finds that camels were not widely domesticated


in the time of Abraham and assuming that means there were no camels around during
Abrahams time or that small groups of people could NOT have domesticated camels.
The ironic thing about this idea is that it comes from one of the staunchest Biblical
Archaeologists of them all, William F. Albright, who made this unfortunate leap away
from logic, and nowadays the view is discredited but the skeptics apparently dont keep
up with the times. The following from www.christianthinktank.com summarizes nicely
my own independent findings:
Fortunately, in the case of the camel, there is an abundance of data in ANE
studies to show that the camel had been domesticated for a millenium or two
BEFORE Abraham.
But first, let's look at where the 'Genesis as anachronism' view originated and
why. [Several of the below quotes are from Bulliet's definitive work on the
subject The Camel and the Wheel, 1975, HI:TCAW].
"From these references [Genesis] a pattern of camel use can be
extrapolated that seems very much in consonance with later Middle
Eastern society: the camel forming part of a bride price, a small caravan of
camels crossing the desert from Palestine to Iraq, a woman perched atop a
camel loaded with camp goods, merchants carrying incense to Egypt. This
entire vision, however, both original text and extrapolated image, has been
categorically rejected by W.F. Albright, one of the foremost scholars
of Biblical history and Palestinian archaeology and the person whose
opinion on camel domestication is most frequently encountered.
According to Albright, any mention of camels in the period of Abraham is
a blatant anachronism, the product of later priestly tampering with the
earlier texts in order to bring more in line with altered social conditions.
The Semites of the time of Abraham, he maintains, herded sheep, goats,
and donkeys but not camels, for the latter had not yet been domesticated
and did not really enter the orbit of Biblical history until about 1100-1000
BC with the coming of the Midianites, the camel riding foes of Gideon."
The basic position of Albright (generally such a strong supporter of biblical
accuracy that he is not taken seriously by the Dever/Redford camp) was that the
archaeological data indicated no widespread use of camels during this period.
From this data, however, he jumped to the position that camels had not been
domesticated at this time. And, although his basic contention that usage was
widespread is quite accurate, his inference to non-domestication is not.
This distinction is sympathetically discussed by Bulliet, while at the same time
pointing out where the leap is invalid:


"There are no sound grounds for doubting Albright's contention that camel
domestication first became a factor of importance in the Syrian and north
Arabian deserts around the eleventh century B.C., and, as will be seen,
there is much to support the contention besides the absence of camelline
remains in Holy Land archaeological sites of earlier date, which was
Alrbight's primary datum. On the other hand, this date need not be taken
as the beginning date of camel domestication in an absolute sense. Closer
attention to the process of domestication indicates that the camel was
actually domesticated long before the year 1100 B.C..." [HI:TCAW:36]
Bulliet is carefully skeptical of most ancient artifacts that allegedly purport to
demonstrate the early usage of the camel, as a couple of quotes will show:
"To be sure, one or two representations of camels from early Mesopotamia
have been alleged, but they are all either doubtfully camelline, as the horsy
looking clay plaque from the third dynasty of Ur (2345-2308 B.C.), or else
not obviously domestic and hence possibly depictions of wild animals, as
in the case with the occasional Ubaid and Uruk period (4000-3000 B.C.)
examples" [HI:TCAW:46]
"These five pieces of evidence, needless to say, may not convince
everyone that the domestic camel was known in Egypt and the Middle
East on an occasional basis between 2500 and 1400 B.C. Other early
depictions, alleged to be of camels, which look to my eyes like dogs,
donkeys, horses, dragons or even pelicans, might be more convincing to
some than the examples described above." [HT:TCAW:64]
So, in light of this careful approach, the pieces of strong evidence that he
advances that he does consider convincing are all the more substantial. He
describes the evidence on pp. 60-64 of his book.


A 3.5 ft cord of camel hair from Egypt, dated around 2500 BC. Buillet
believes it is "from the land of Punt, perhaps the possession of a slave or
captive, and from a domestic camel"

The bronze figurine from the temple of Byblos in Lebanon. It is in a

foundation with strong Egyptian flavoring, and is dated before the sixth
Egyptian dynasty (before 2182 BC). Although the figure could be taken as
a sheep, the figure is arranged with items that would strongly require it to
be a camel (e.g., a camel saddle, camel muzzle, etc.)

Two pots of Egyptian provenance were found in Greece and Crete, both
dating 1800-1400 BC, but both in area so far removed from the range of
the camel as to suggest its presence in the intermediate areas (e.g., Syria or
Egypt) during an earlier time. Both have camels represented, and one
literally has humans riding on a camel back.

A final piece of strong evidence is textual from Alalakh in Syria, as

opposed to archaeological: a textual ration-list. There is a entry for 'camel
fodder' written in Old Babylonian. "Not only does this attest the existence
of camels in norther Syria at this time, but the animal involved is clearly
domestic." [HI:TCAW:64].

Other ANE/Egyptian expert's advance other/similar evidences for early

domestication as well, such as Cyrus Gordon and Kenneth Kitchen:
"Abraham did not want his son to marry a Canaanite, so he sent his
servant to Paddan Aram (as the Haran region of north Mesopotamia is
called) to secure a bride for Isaac. With ten camels and adequate
personnel, the servant heads the caravan towards his master's Aramean
kinsmen. The mention of camels here and elsewhere in the patriarchal
narratives often is considered anachronistic. However, the correctness
of the Bible is supported by the representation of camel riding on seal
cylinders of precisely this period from northern Mesopotamia"
[Gordon/Rendsburg, in BANE:120-12]. (They refer the reader to the
illustrations in the journal Iraq 6, 1939, pl. II, p. And to the general
discussion in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3, 1944, pp. 187-93.)
"It is often asserted that the mention of camels and of their use is an
anachronism in Genesis. This charge is simply not true, as there is
both philological and archaeological evidence for knowledge and use
of this animal in the early second millenium BC and even earlier. While
a possible reference to camels in a fodder-list from Alalakh (c. eighteenth
century BC) has been disputed, the great Mesopotamian lexical lists that
originated in the Old Babylonian period show a knowledge of the camel c.
2000/17000 BC, including its domestication. Furthermore, a Sumerian text
from Nippur from the same early period gives clear evidence of
domestication of the camel by then, by its allusions to camel's milk...For
the early and middle second millennium BC, only limited use is
presupposed by either the biblical or external evidence until the twelfth
century BC. " [Kitchen in AOOT:79-80]
One of the earliest pieces of data comes from Northeast Iran:
"The period [EB, NMG IV, 3000-2500 BC] is marked by technological
advances in pottery production, including the introduction and dominant
utilization of the fast wheel and the appearance of efficient, tow-tiered
pottery kilns; metallurgy with deliberate alloying and evidence for local
production in the form of copper smelting furnaces on the outskirts of
Khapuz-depe; stone working; and a development of wheeled vehicles
drawn by Bactrian camels and possible bulls as indicated by terra-cotta
models." [COWA1:186]


Bulliet agrees:
"This conclusion serves to corroborate the inference made by Soviet
archaeologists from their discovery of camel-headed wagons that as
early as the first half of the third millennium B.C. two-humped camels
were used in Turkmenistan for drawing wagons..." [HI:TCAW:155]
"As has already been mentioned, this type of utilization [camels pulling
wagons] goes back to the earliest known period of two-humped camel
domestication in the third millenium B.C." [HI:TCAW:177, 183]
The evidence for the early domestication of the camel is therefore strong, but
sparing. The general consensus today is that domestication definitely was early.


"A bronze figurine of a man on a crouching camel, found at Nineveh, in

Mesopotamia. Camels had been domesticated by the middle of the
second millennium BC, and it is likely that they expanded the possibility
of long-distance trade across the dry regions that border Mesopotamia."

"Both the dromedary (the one-humped camel of Arabia) and the

Bactrian camel (the two-humped camel of Central Asia) had been
domesticated since before 2000 BC." [TAW:176]

"Just as today the Hadhrami Arab is naturally inclined toward the sea and
tribal groups show no reluctance to pack themselves into dhows and ride
before the northeast monsoon, so 4,000 years ago some camel herding
group must have decided to migrate to a better land that they had heard
about from the dhow masters..." [HI:TCAW:50]

"As far as hard dates go, the 2500-1500 B.C. suggested earlier for the
introduction of the camel into Somalia is the best that can be done from
available data. Given the stage domestication had reached by the time the
camels and their owners crossed the sea, some additional time must be
allowed for earlier stages. Taking this into consideration, it is easily
conceivable that the domestication process first got underway between
3000 and 2500 B.C." [HI:TCAW:56]

"The practice of using domestic two-humped camels spread in all

directions from its original homeland...to the west there is an abundance
of evidence starting with the second millenium B.C. Mesopotamian
cylinder seal mentioned in chapter three. The Akkadian word udru is first
used in the reign of the Assyrian king Assurbelkala (1074-1057 B.C.) who

bought some two-humped camels from merchants with dealings in the

east. " [HI:TCAW:156]

Bulliet confronts this "strong versus sparing" issue and indicates the most
probable historical scenario:
"Yet it is very difficult to explain away all of the evidence pointing to
the camel's presence outside the Arabian peninsula prior to the year
1400B.C. The effort is better spent looking into the reasons why the
evidence from this early period is so very scarce.
"The archaeological record, as Albright affirms, shows no indication of
camel use in the Syrian area during the period in question, 2500-1400B.C.,
and this conclusion is corroborated by a thorough study of nomadism in
Mesopotamia in the eighteenth century B.C. made from the records of the
kings of Mari, a ctiy located on the Euphrates astride what was later to
become the primary caravan route from Iraq to Syria.' If camels were
present, then, as they appear to have been, they must have been
present in very small numbers. Indeed, they must have played little or
no part in the ordinary herding economy of the time.
"The most satisfactory explanation of this circumstance is that the
camel was known because it was brought into the area by traders
carrying goods from southern Arabia but that it was not bred or herded
in the area. It is worthy of note that whereas the citations from the Bible
associating camels with Abraham and his immediate descendants seem to
fit the generalized pattern of later camel use in the area, they could also fit
a pattern in which camels were very uncommon. The largest number of
animals mentioned in those episodes is ten, and those ten are probably
most of what Abraham had since they were sent with his servant with the
apparent intention of creating a sufficiently wealthy impression to
entice the father of a woman of good family into letting his daughter cross
the desert to marry Isaac. No man, incidentally, is described as riding a
camel, only women, who seem to have perched atop camp goods instead
of riding in an enclosed woman's traveling compartment as was later to be
the norm.
"This does not mean, necessarily, that Abraham or his descendants were
mixed up in the Arabian incense trade, although they lived in such great
proximity to the main route from Syria to Arabia that such involvement
might have been possible. It means simply that in the nineteenth and
eighteenth centuries B.C. when Abraham and his immediate
descendants appear to have lived, camels were already known in small
numbers in the northwestern corner of the Arabian desert where the
western Arabian trade route branched out to go to Egypt or further into


Syria. Local tribes in the area may have owned a few of the animals,
perhaps as articles of prestige, without being heavily involved in breeding
them. [HI:TCAW:64-65]
His point certainly fits the data: camels SEEMED to be a rarity (and therefore for
the leadership/elite) in the day, but most certainly was present for such
elite/recognition uses. Bulliet goes further and links the Semitic involvement to
the overland incense trade:
"The probable sequence of events seems to have been that by 2000 B.C.
incense was reaching Syria with some regularity along the western
Arabian land route. Some Semitic speaking tribes saw the potential
benefits of this trade and became interested in it at its northern extremity.
In Biblical parlance these would be the Ishmaelites who appear in the
story of Joseph as traders in incense. Other tribes, probably later,
undertook to follow the trade back to its source and thus became the
nucleus of Semitic settlement in southern Arabia. Again, in Biblical
parlance these would seem to be the children of Abraham's son Jokshan
(Arabic Yuqtan progenitor of the south Arabian tribes). When the Semites
had arrived in sufficient numbers, they overwhelmed the indigenous
inhabitants of southern Arabia and became themselves masters of the land
and the incense trade.
"This entire process, it has been argued, took place without the benefit of
camel transport, the camels making their appearance only at a much later
date from parts unknown. But it has been demonstrated that the camel
was already in use during the period in question and that its probable
homeland was southern Arabia. It is much more reasonable, therefore,
to assume that the camel was the main carrier on the incense route
from the very beginning, or nearly so, and that the Semitic tribes of the
north came to know the camel in this way in very small numbers. In other
words, the presence of camels in the Abraham story can be defended
and the story treated as primary evidence of camel use without
disputing Albright's contention that camel-breeding nomads did not
exist in Syria and northern Arabia at that time." (HI:TCAW:66-67)
What this would indicate was that the patriarchial narratives AND Albright's
contention of 'low usage' were accurate descriptions. If wholesale 'production' of
camel herds did not occur until the 1st millenium BC, then both the elite character
of the camel's appearance in the Bible and the paucity of the remaining evidence
make perfect sense. And indeed, camel breeding became an industry right about
the time of Albright's observation:
"Camel breeding on a large scale began after the twelfth century B.C.,
when Semites from the north took control of the Arabian frankincense
trade." [HI:AC:301]


Without getting into all the details of where the camel originated, when it made its
appearance in the various cultures, and when the various aspects of domestication
occurred (e.g., milk production, pack carrying, use as draught animals, riding,
food, textiles, etc.), it is very safe to say that the passages in Genesis are NOT
anachronistic, reflect well the milieu of the period, and are supported by
archaeological and textual data.
As an aside, I find it disappointing that some of the archaeological minimalists
seem to avoid this evidence or be unaware of this data. For example, Bulliet's
exhaustive work was published in 1976 but Redford's 1992 work doesn't even
mention it when asserting the late domestication of the camel! He refers to the
dated materials (would this be reverse-anachronism?) of Lambert and the Chicago
Assyrian Dictionary (ECIAT:271,n.63). Finkelstein, however, cites Bulliet as the
'most thorough treatment to date' in his 1995 work LOF:121, but omits any
reference to early evidence (although his argument is focused on widespread use
of the camel). It is perhaps understandable that normal college professors with
specialties elsewhere would not necessarily be aware of this data, but the
minimalists need to confront this issue if they intend to continue accusing the
bible of such errors. (Glenn Miller, April 18, 1998)
Another area that the skeptics attack is that they disbelieve that groups of Semites had
migrated from places like Ur to get to Egypt and Canaan during the time of Abraham.
Both Abram and Abraham names have been found in the Nuzi Tablets from the
approximately correct time (2000-1800 BCE). However, there is an active debate going
on as to which of a half dozen cities named Ur is the one Abraham came from.
In the 1920s archaeologist Leonard Wooley thought he had identified Ur in southern
Mesopotamia, but now some contenders in northern Mesopotamiaand one of these is
near Haran, where Abraham wasare being actively considered. Therefore we may find
even stronger evidence of the route of Abrahams migration in the future.
In the meantime however there is overwhelming evidence that Semitic-Bedouin groups
very much like Abrahams were in Egypt during the time we just went over in Genesis
While we have no direct mentions of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the discovery of ancient
tablets from Abrahams time in the cities of Mari and Nuzi throw much light on proving
that the data about his culture in this time period is neither anachronistic nor inaccurate,
but represent authentic details in the book of Genesis. Many of these same data points
were simply impossible for a 700 BCE Judahite author to know but have only been
reclaimed by us moderns in the last century or so of archaeology. I quote a small article
from http://www.gci.org/bible/torah/abrahm on this subject:
A hundred years ago, many Bible critics claimed that stories of the patriarchs
were nothing more than religious fiction. The silence of history concerning the


patriarchs, upon which these critics based their claims, was shattered with the
discovery of ancient tablets at Mari (in southeast Syria) and Nuzi (in modern-day
These tablets, although not directly mentioning the patriarchs, still constituted
such valuable testimony about their life-styles that the late Professor William F.
Albright (the then-acknowledged dean of Palestinian archaeologists) concluded
that the narratives of Genesis dealing with Abram may now be integrated into
the life and history of the time [the second millennium B.C.] in such surprisingly
consistent ways that there can be little doubt about their substantial historicity
(Biblical Archaeologist, July 1973, p. 10). Professor Albrights conclusion was
based on the following evidence from the Mari and Nuzi tablets:
1. Names like Abraham and Jacob were in common use among the Amorites in
northern Mesopotamia about 2000 B.C. and later.
2. Mari was the center of a vast network of trade routes ranging from Crete to
Elam, from Cappadocia to Megiddo. Merchants constantly traveled these
routes from one end to the other. Seen in this context, Abrahams journey
from Ur to Haran, then to Canaan and Egypt, is not as improbable as the
critics once thought.
3. Abrahams relationship with Hagar (Genesis 16) and Jacobs with Bilhah
(Genesis 30) can be better understood by a comparison with a marriage
contract from Nuzi, in which the wife was required, if she proved to be
barren, to provide a substitute for her husband.
4. Abrahams reluctance to drive out Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 16:6) is
understandable in the light of Nuzi customs governing such relationships.
5. Another Nuzi tablet revealed the adoption by a childless couple of a servant
born in their house. He became the heir if he cared for them in their old age
(see Genesis 15:2-3).
6. Jacobs relationship with Laban (Genesis 29) becomes more understandable
when compared to other tablets from Nuzi.
Overall, the patriarchs way of life conforms so closely to the cultural world
described by these tablets that there is no reason to doubt that they were real
people.-Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: Were They Real People?
These concordances led Professor Werner Keller, author of The Bible as History to
proclaim boldly on page 42, Abraham lived in the kingdom of Mari, and in fact that
was the title of his entire 5th chapter. Whether that idea can be provable or notit
certainly will not be so with skeptics like Finklesteinthe general historicity and
accurate cultural details of the Patriarchal Age as listed in Genesis are no fairy tale but
are proven as historical fact.
Similarly, Abrahams migration briefly into Egypt may also have parallels in Egyptian
records from the exact right time. As excerpted from The Bible as History, p. 59, a
nobleman named Sinuhe, sometime between 1965 and 1920 BCE during the reign of


Pharaoh Sensuret I (Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, p. 52), had an encounter with a

sand rambler or Bedouin that sounds eerily familiar. Listen to this mans own words as
he explains how after a political intrigue he feared for his life and moved to Canaan:
As I headed north, I came to the Princes Wall which was built to keep out the
Bedouins and crush the Sand Ramblers. I hid in a thicket in case the guard on the
wall, who was one patrol at the time, would see me. I did not move out of it till
the evening. When daylight cameand I had reached the Bitter Lake [Isthmus of
Suez] I collapsed. I was parched with thirst, my throat was red hot. I said to
myself: This is the taste of death! But as I made another effort I pulled myself
onto my feet, I heard the roaring of cattle and some Bedouins came in sight. Their
leader, who had been in Egypt, recognized me. He gave me some water and
boiled some milk, and I went with him to his tribe. They were very kind to me.
This account bears striking similarity to Abraham, who has recently been in Egypt and
additionally had been hospitable to three travelers in Genesis 18, just before he is told
that the city of Sodom is doomed.
However, in my chronology which is based on Biblical and external historical data, the
real Abraham could not have been more than 32 years old at the very latest when this
encounter could have happened, in 1920 BCE. The account in Genesis 18 then would
appear to have happened several decades later.
Nevertheless, the behavior of this Bedouin in the exact right place and at very nearly the
exact right time is yet another example of the accurate details in the book of Genesis, and
there is no reason to disbelieve the idea that a young Abraham could have done this very
act of kindness, or if not him someone in his extended family.
However, Egyptian records also yield another possible historical reference to Abraham,
from this same Bedouin group but much closer to the correct time period. Professor
Keller begins his account on page 69, where he talks of the tomb of a nobleman named
Khumhotep, who was a high official in the court of Sensuret III, putting the general time
frame to about 1897-1878 BCE, when Abraham was clearly the very close to the age that
he was called to divine service, from about 55 to 74 years old.
The name recorded on the tomb wall is Abishai, which is definitely a Semitic name, and
the tomb generously displays scenes from this Semites life, showing harvests, festivals
and hunting scenes, among others. Those details again concord very well with the general
background given in Genesis.
Once again though the main point is we have another Semite leader from the right area
and even closer to the days of the Biblical Abraham who not only visited Egypt, but
interacted with high royal officials as Abraham did in Genesis 12, when he was exactly
75 years old.


In any case, this Abishai and 36 other Semites (sand dwellers) in his entourage were
shown being formally introduced to Khumhotep because he came bearing gifts for that
nobleman and his wife, and every detail lovingly preserved in vibrant paint is accurate to
how the historical Abraham would have dressed and acted, including showing a series of
multicolored square blankets that could later have been used as a certain coat of many
colors given to Abrahams great grandson, Joseph.
However my point here once more is not to say absolutely that the historical Abraham
has been found directly mentioned in Egyptian records but that rather people very much
like Abraham and his extended family were certainly traveling through Egypt during the
time the Bible specifies.
And finally, we have this Scripture to consider for the Biblical Abraham and what may
have survived in Egyptian accounts:
10 And

there was a famine in the land. And Abram went down into Egypt to
sojourn there. For the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when
he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I
know that you are a fair woman to look upon. 12 And it will come to pass, when
the Egyptians shall see you, that they will say, This is his wife. And they will kill
me, but they will save you alive. 13 Say, I beg you, that you are my sister. That it
may be well with me for your sake, and that my soul may live because of you. 14
And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians
beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15 And the princes of Pharaoh saw her,
and praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16
And he dealt well with Abram for her sake. And he had sheep, and oxen, and
male donkeys, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and female donkeys, and
camels. 17 And Master YAH plagued Pharaoh and his house with great
plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and
said, What is this that you have done to me? Why didnt you tell me that she was
your wife? 19 Why did you say, She is my sister, so that I took her to be my wife?
Now therefore behold your wife, take her, and go your way. 20 And Pharaoh gave
men charge concerning him. And they brought him on the way, and his wife, and
all that he had. (Genesis 12:10-20-Matara)
In our quest for confirming Biblical events in the wider historical record, there is an
Egyptian account of a series of plagues that devastated the land. In fact, the similarities
between the Ipuwer Papyrus and the Exodus account are in some cases quite striking,
leading some Biblical scholars to believe the two sources are describing the same
moment in history.
However, there are also significant differences as well. Not all the plagues of Exodus are
listed in Ipuwer, and of those plagues the two documents share almost all are in a
different order. Whats more Papyrus Ipuwer has been dated to the Middle Kingdomi, a
period that is at least two centuries before the birth of Moses, and so I dont think there is
a connection between Ipuwer and Moses.


On the other hand, a connection between the Ipuwer Papyrus and Abraham is much more
likely. First, Ipuwer dates to the time of Abraham and second the Bible never tells us
what the plagues sent on Abrahams behalf were, leaving open the possibility that this
was the Egyptian account of the Biblical story. Some highlights from the Ipuwer Papyrus
as translated by Sir Alan Gardiner in 1909, are:
2: 5-6: Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere (Exodus 7:21).
2:10: Men shrink from tastinghuman beings thirst after water (Exodus 7:24).
2:13: He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere (Exodus 12:30).
3:14: It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations
(Exodus 12:12)
5:5: All animals, their hearts weep, their cattle moan (Exodus 9:3).
6:1: No fruits or herbs are foundhungeroh that the earth would cease from
noise and be no more (Exodus 9:25).
7:21: There was blood throughout the land of Egyptand the rivers stank
(Exodus 7:21; 8:10).
10:3-6: Lower Egypt weepsThe entire palace is without its revenues. To it
belong (by right) wheat, barley, geese and fish. The storehouse of the king is the
common property of everyone (Exodus 10:15).
Now these Bible quotes from Exodus that I have included alongside the Ipuwer quotes
are only for convenience and to show the broad alignments the text has with some of the
Ten Plagues.
However, both the timing and details in Genesis to my mind make this list better fit as the
plagues sent on Abrams behalf when his wife Sarai was taken by Pharaoh. At the very
least, I believe it is worth exploring these possible concordances.
In the meantime, we need to also be aware of the limitations of the archaeological
process, because many times the best it can do is simply confirm the background
culturally from where our Biblical men and women emerged, and if there is a mention of
someone we know, it will usually be very brief, and it may relate an incident either
outside the Bible or give a stripped down account of what the Scripture expands on.
So to me, whether Abishai was Abraham is not as important as proving that perhaps a
distant cousin of Abrahams was in the right place at the right time and acting in a way
that we know concords with what Abraham. In other cases, I do believe the sands of
Egypt and elsewhere have revealed the names of the actual Biblical people, such as
Yaqub-Hur (Jacob, Ruler of Canaan) and the Habiru (in this case Hebrew, but other
references are for other groups) leader Yashuya (Joshua), Beyt David (House of David)
and many others. Time will tell what greater evidence awaits beneath the earth of the
Middle East, but for now I think it is enough to know that Abraham was a real person, to
the fullest extent that archaeology can provide a factual basis for him to exist.


Im Andrew Gabriel Roth and thats your Torah Thought for the Week!
Next week we will be exploring Vayera or Genesis 18:1-22:24. Our Haftorah portion
will be 2 Kings 4:1-37 and our Renewed Covenant reading will be from Yaakov 2:1424. Stay tuned!

Van Seters, J. "A date for the "Admonitions" in the second intermediate Period". The Journal of Egyptian
Archaeology 1964; 50:1323. The only surviving copy dates broadly to the New Kingdom Period, but most
scholars believe the original composition comes from about 1850-1650 BCE.