Genesis Segment 15 (19:30-21:34)

Genesis 19:30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

Why was Lot afraid to remain in Zoar? The scriptures do not specifically tell us the reason. Perhaps the reason Lot feared to stay in Zoar was because of its association with Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of Zoar may have been familiar with Lot because he was a leading citizen of Sodom. Lot may have feared reprisals or perhaps the same treatment from them that the Sodomites had given to him and his guests. Perhaps after he arrived in Zoar he found it to be as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah and wanted to escape the wickedness. Some suggest that Lot may have feared flooding of the plain and of the city of Zoar in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lot had earlier (Gen 19:20) asked to go to the little city so that no evil would take him. But now that he had gotten to Zoar, he may have wanted to go up on the mountain as the angels originally suggested for the reasons stated above. God knew that Zoar was not the best place to go to and Lot had to admit that God was right. So he went up on the mountain and dwelt there in a cave, or a cavern, or some depression in the mountain that provided shelter from the elements. It was most likely a cave as they are common in that area. His daughters accompanied him.

Genesis 19:31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

The manner of all the earth is for a man to marry a woman and to be the father of her children. Their father had no heir and he was old and not likely to produce one since his wife was dead. The daughters perceived (incorrectly) that they were not likely to find a husband and have children because there was no man around after the destruction of their world. They may have feared that the whole world had been destroyed, or they may have feared that no man would marry the only survivors of the cities cursed by God.

Genesis 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

This was a desperate act based on their perception of desperate circumstances. They did this for altruistic reasons, viz. their father had no heir. However, incest is still incest. Of course, the Law of Moses had not yet been given. The existing law of the land at that time was the Law of Hammurabi. They broke the existing law of the land. Here is Hammurabi’s Code1 concerning this matter:

“154. If a man be guilty of incest with his daughter, he shall be driven from the place (exiled).”
“157. If any one be guilty of incest with his mother after his father, both shall be burned.”

Since Lot was already exiled by his own choice, the first code would not apply. The second code establishes death by burning for both Lot and his daughters had they been caught. Incest was not acceptable during Lot’s time and they had broken that law. For whatever reason, they were never prosecuted under that law.

Genesis 19:34-36 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. {35} And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. {36} Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

The moral? Ephesians 5:18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” It is obvious that drunkenness was nothing new with Lot. Don’t you think alcohol consumption was a considerable part of the social life in Sodom? Isn’t it in America today? Lot could have stopped drinking wine before he became drunk. That is simple self-control. If Lot did not imbibed to excess, this would not have happened.

Genesis 19:37-38 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. {38} And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

The Ammonites and the Moabites were both thorns in the flesh of Israel. They were conceived in sin and remained in sin. Both nations were pagan nations. To be fair we must not forget the Moabitess who was David’s great-grandmother. Her name was Ruth. She is in the line of Christ, proving that God’s forgiveness is available to all. (Ruth and Boaz begat Obed who begat Jesse who begat David who is the ancestor of Jesus).

The sound “m” is a preposition in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word, ab, means father. So “mab“, which is pronounced moab, means “of the father”, specifically, “of her father”. The implication is that it means “the son of my father”. That is exactly what Moab was, the son of his mother’s father, or the offspring of incest.

Benammi means “son of my people”. Ben means “son of,” and am means “people.” Adding the suffix mi makes ammi, or “my people.” Benammi is also known as Ammon, which means “inbred” or “tribal”.

Genesis 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

Abraham was at Mamre while all this was happening. Kadesh, that is, Kadesh Barnea, which could be translated “sanctuary for a fugitive in the desert” was the place that the Israelites camped for 38 years after leaving Mt. Sinai. Shur is the desert region north of Egypt. Gerar can mean “to drag away” or it can mean “rolling country”.

Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Abimelech can mean “father of the king,” “my father is king,” or “Melech (or perhaps Moloch) is my father.” This same story happened in Egypt, and again in Gerar when Isaac and Rebekah went through the area, though Abimilech did not take Rebekah to be his wife as he did Sarah. This is an example of Abraham not fully trusting God to take care of him and his wife. He was afraid of Pharaoh and Abimilech. He should have trusted God. These stories point out the fact that even Abraham sometimes doubted God, he was still blessed. God forgave him and even caused trouble to come on his enemies. Sarah was a woman of rare beauty. Pharaoh saw her and immediately took her into his harem and so did Abimelech. Sarah must have been extraordinarily attractive. She was noticed immediately and pleasantly.

Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.

Even though Abraham lied to Abimilech, and had not fully trusted God, God kept His promise to Abraham. God would have destroyed Abimelech if he had come near Sarah, for God had promised Abraham an heir from Sarah. Even when we doubt God, He keeps His promise to us that if we believe on Jesus Christ we will be saved.

God always gets glory. Though Abraham doubted God, He used this incident to further increase Abraham’s wealth (vv. 14-16); Abraham had left Egypt wealthier than he when he went there. Here again, God increased the wealth of the first household of his chosen people. This wealth was passed to Isaac and then to Jacob. This wealth was increased again by Joseph, and eventually by the Egyptians at the Exodus.

Genesis 20:4-7 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? {5} Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. {6} And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. {7} Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.

God is both just and fair. He actually protected Abimelech from sin.

Genesis 20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

The dream was powerful enough for Abimelech to take immediate action when he awoke; his fear was palpable.

Genesis 20:9-10 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. {10} And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?

Abimilech was rightly annoyed. Abraham had played a deadly serious trick upon him. Why? Had Abimelech touched Sarah, God would have punished him according to 1 Chr 16:8-22 or the identical Scripture in Psalm 105:1-15, where God said “Touch not mine anointed.”

God had chosen Abraham from among the people at Ur. He was a Shemite and therefore was in the blood line of Christ. What does the word “anointed” mean? The Hebrew word, mashiyach (Messiah in English) comes from the word mashach which literally means to rub with oil or anoint. It figuratively means to consecrate or to choose or to set apart. God chose Saul as king and had Samuel anoint him, that is, to pour olive oil on his head, to signify that he was chosen. After Saul disobeyed God, Samuel anointed David king. This anointing signified that David was now chosen. Anyone who has been chosen by God is anointed. God chose Abraham making him one of God’s anointed. Had Abimelech touched Sarah, the wife of God’s anointed, it would have been the same as touching Abraham (the two shall be one flesh—Genesis 2:24). God would have punished Abimelech for touching Sarah. Verse seven says that Abraham was also a prophet so this is a “double whammy” on Abimelech for he was not to touch God’s anointed, or His prophets.

If you are a believer in Christ, you are chosen and therefore anointed. The Bible says that we Christians were chosen before the foundation of the world. Being chosen, we are anointed. As long as we are in the will of God, no true harm may ever befall us. Yes we may be subjected to persecution and torture and physical death, but that can cause us no real eternal harm, For “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)” We can never be separated from God’s love or His anointing for “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) The command, “Touch not mine anointed,” applies to us Christians who are the children of God.

We believers are chosen and anointed. This does not mean that unbelievers cannot be chosen. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to Christ (2 Pet 3:9). And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom 10:13). Receiving the gift of salvation makes us God’s anointed. He has chosen all of us to be saved, but He will not force salvation upon us. We have a choice. We may choose to believe in Christ or we may choose to reject Him. If we choose him, we are God’s chosen. If we reject Him, we are God’s enemies. (see 1 Pet 2:9, Deu 30:19, Eph 1:4, Luk 11:23)

Genesis 20:11 “And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.”

He did not fully trust God in this matter. Have you found yourself in the same situation when it comes to your family? If your child is going out of town with friends of yours, don’t you worry? Trusting God meant trusting Him in all things and in whatever place your find yourself. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; all powerful, all knowing, present everywhere. In Abraham’s day, each nation had its own god or gods. Abraham apparently did not think Yehovah was present in the land of Gerar.

Genesis 20:12-13 “And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. {13} And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.”

Step-siblings could marry at that time. The only prohibition against incest in Hammurabi’s Code is that between a father and his daughter. The Code does not mention a brother and sister. Sarah was Terah’s daughter by a woman who was not Abraham’s mother. This is the only place in the Bible that we are told this. Eutychius, Egyptian Orthodox Christian historian tells us that Terah’s first wife was named Yona, who was Abram’s mother. His second wife was named Tehevita, Sarai’s mother. (See Eutychius in the Catholic Encyclopedia). This information from Eutychius is questionable at best, but interesting nonetheless. The Bible says that Terah had at least two wives, one the mother of Abraham and one the mother of Sarah, so why not give them names?

Genesis 20:14-15 “And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. {15} And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.”

This was tribute, or better yet, penance for doing wrong with Sarah. However, unlike Pharaoh, Abimelech allowed them free reign to stay in his land.

Genesis 20:16 “And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.”

She was chastened because she should have worn a veil to cover herself instead of letting her husband be her covering. Of course, the word rendered “reproved” might also mean she was correct or upright. If so, this statement was a tribute to her for her uprightness in obeying her husband’s wishes that she pose as his sister and not his wife.

Genesis 20:17-18 “So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. {18} For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.”

It was because Abimelech took Sarah to his wife that all of his other wives were barren. This was one of the curses God brought down upon him. It is a very significant thing that Abraham made intercession for Abimelech.

Genesis 21:1 “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.”

Make no mistake that God opened the womb of Sarah. With God all things are possible.

Genesis 21:2-3 “For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. {3} And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.”

Isaac (Yitschak in Hebrew) means laughter. He was named this because both Abraham and Sarah laughed when God told them they would have a son. Isaac was the son of the promise. Ishmael was the son of a slave woman, thus technically a slave himself. Paul said that these two children of Abraham, and their mothers Sarah and Hagar, were, in addition to being historical fact, an allegory of the two covenants, the Old Covenant of bondage to the law, and the New Covenant of grace. The son on the slave woman represents those under bondage to the law. Isaac, the son of the promise that Sarah would bear an heir for Abraham, represents the New Covenant of salvation by grace through Christ and not by works (Gal 4:22-31). Hagar and Ishmael represent bondage to the law; Sarah and Isaac represent freedom in Christ.

Genesis 21:4 “And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.”

Even though the law was not yet given (for Moses was still in the loins of Abraham) God commanded circumcision and commanded it be done on the eighth day (Gen 17:11-12). The circumcision had to wait eight days because the baby had passed through the birth canal, that is, the same place from when menstrual fluids flow, making the infant unclean (Lev 15:19). The baby had to be purified seven days (just like a woman after her period—Lev 15:19) before he could be circumcised and thus consecrated to the LORD.

Genesis 21:5 “And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.”

This is stated to prove that Isaac was the promised child of a miracle from God. At 100, Abraham was too old to father children and Sarah had past child-bearing age. God made him and Sarah fertile in their old age so that Sarah could conceive.

Genesis 21:6-7 “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. {7} And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age”

Sarah laughed in Mamre when she overheard the Angel of the LORD telling Abraham that she would conceive and bear a son. Then she laughed in disbelief and scorn because she was “old and well stricken in years.” But now she laughs in pleasure and others share her pleasure. The pleasure is because in her old age she is the mother of a newborn, which was her first child. Hence the name was Isaac, which is laughter.

Genesis 21:8 “And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.”

A child is weaned when he no longer nurses. My children and grandchildren were taken off the bottle by the time they were one year old (they didn’t nurse). My son was weaned at nine months. So I believe Isaac would have been at least nine months old and he was probably a toddler or child when he was weaned. Young Isaac was the light of the party at this feast. The Bible does not say this but common sense does. Toddlers and young children are extremely cute and lovable and Isaac would have been no different. The following apocryphal verse seems to indicate a child was weaned at three years: “So bending herself towards him, mocking the cruel tyrant, she said in her own language: My son have pity upon me, that bore thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee suck three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age” (2 Maccabees 7:27, DRB).

Genesis 21:9 “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.”

Ishmael would have been fifteen years old at this time. Hagar was probably taunting Sarah by claiming her son was the firstborn and therefore would received the inheritance. Of course Sarah did not see it that way because Hagar was a concubine and did not come up to the level of wife. It that society, where polygamy was normal, a concubine was a lower class wife. Hagar was a lower class wife to Abraham. That elevated her beyond the status of slave but still beneath he mistress.

Genesis 21:10 “Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”

This verse is quoted by Paul in Gal 4:30. Hagar was a concubine or secondary wife, but Sarah called her a slave and demanded that Abraham cast the slave out of the family. Sarah was jealous and that jealousy led to aversion.

Genesis 21:11 “And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.”

Ishmael was Abraham’s son. He was Abraham’s only son for fifteen years and Abraham loved him very much. I know, because I love my son very much. He is an adult but that does not lessen my love for him. If my wife wanted to send my son away when he was a child, I would have been grieved as well. The picture here is that Abraham is a loving father who does not want his son to go away.

Genesis 21:12-13 “And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. {13} And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.”

This is reminiscent of Philippians 4:6: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” And 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” There is no need to worry about anything at all, even the loss of your firstborn. God will take care of you. Psalms 54:4: “Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.”

God told Abraham that everything was OK because He has everything under control. God makes the unconditional promise to Abraham that Ishmael will become a great nation. He was so and is so unto this very day. A nation is a group of similar people and not necessarily a bordered state. The Sioux are a nation, but not a state. The nation of Islam is comprised of many states but they are one nation. The United States is one state but many nations. Ishmael is still a nation today. Many of the Arabs are Ishmaelites. Most of the Ishmaelites are a part of the nation of Islam.

Genesis 21:14 “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.”

This seemingly dreadful act was actually an act of great faith. Abraham knew that he had not given enough provision to Hagar, yet he sent her out into the desert anyway. He believed what the LORD had told him—that Ishmael would be a great nation, so he knew that the LORD would take care of Ishmael and not let him die. A seemingly horrid act was actually an act of faith.

Genesis 21:15 “And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.”

It seems like the end, but Abraham’s faith had not been misplaced. God would come through.

Genesis 21:16 “And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.”

I cannot blame her for not wanting to see her child die. No one would want that. But Hagar had not been a party to the promise God made to Abraham. She figured it was all over. Note that the verse states that the LORD heard the voice of the boy and responded to his voice. Of course, God heard her voice as well and also responded to her desperation. Can you begin to imagine Hagar’s desperation? She had been cast out of her family with her son. She had not been given enough provision to live. She was out in the cold all alone with her boy and unable to care for him or to do anything to help the situation. Then God stepped in. That is the same thing He did for us. When we were in desperate straits with no one to turn to, God stepped in and saved us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:6&8) When Hagar was without strength or hope, God saved her.

Genesis 21:17-19 “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. {18} Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. {19} And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.”

God is so wonderful. He showed Hagar a well to get water to keep them alive. There was another woman at a well and Christ told her about living water that gave eternal life. This picture of Hagar at the well is a type of that woman at Sychar. Read the story in John chapter 4.

Genesis 21:20-21 “And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. {21} And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.”

Paran is the wilderness in the land that would be given to the tribe of Simeon. It is south of Jerusalem and north of Kadesh Barnea. It is also known as the wilderness of Negev or Negeb. It is only a few days walk from Egypt, making it easy to find an Egyptian wife. Ishmael is the father of many Arab tribes, the Bedouins, and others. He is indeed a great nation.

Genesis 21:22-24 “And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: {23} Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. {24} And Abraham said, I will swear.”

Here we see a covenant between Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham had tricked Abimelech in the past, and now that Abraham was getting stronger and richer, Abimelech began to fear him. This covenant was a peace treaty between him and Abraham.

Genesis 21:25 “And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.”

Abraham complained about a well taken by Abimelech’s servants. This first test of the treaty between Abraham and Abimelech resulted in a further treaty:

Genesis 21:26 “And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.”

This sounds like the speech of a typical politician. Deny, deny, and deny! If that doesn’t work, obfuscate, obfuscate, and obfuscate. If that doesn’t work, loose your memory of anything connected with the event. Politics does not change! I would be willing to wager that Abimelech had full knowledge of the event.

Genesis 21:27-30 “And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. {28} And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. {29} And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? {30} And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.”

The covenant was sealed and consideration given, making it a valid contract. Abraham’s people had dug the well and Abraham was attesting to it. The giving of the ewes was an ancient affadavit.

Genesis 21:31-32 “Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. {32} Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.”

Beersheba means the “well of an oath.” After the oath took affect, Abimelech and the captain of his armies returned to Philistia. War had been avoided. Talk had replaced hostilities.

Genesis 21:33-34 “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. {34} And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.”

This is not the same as the grove God disliked. This was a grove of trees (though many commentators say it was a single tree). The grove the God dislikes is simply an Asherah pole or a fertility symbol (a phallus). That grove was used to worship Ahserah, or Baal and Ashtoreth, or Asteroth, or Aphrodite, Isis, Venus, etc. The significance of this grove or tree that Abraham planted is that he dwelt there for a long time while it grew.

  1. From the 1915 Translation of the Code by L.W. King
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