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Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarai Abram's wife.1
And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol
1 In the received version of Genesis, this story of a king taking a patriarch's wife for his sister is told three times: (1) in the present place, as between Pharaoh and Sarai; (2) as between Abimelech and the aged Sarah, after the promise that she shall bear a son; and (3) as between Abimelech and Rebekah. The second and fullest account is here given in the text, at the place of the first, and consequently with a change of spelling in the names of Abraham and Sarah. The other two parallels are as follows:
Gen. xii. 10-20.
And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife: Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee." And it came to pass that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair; the princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house, and he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife; and Pharaoh called Abram, and said: "What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way." And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Gen. xxvi. 6-11.
And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: and the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said: "She is my sister; " for he feared to say, "She is my wife; lest," said he, "the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; " because she was fair to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said: "Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister ?" And Isaac said unto him: "Because I said, Lest I die for her." And Abimelech said: "What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us." And Abimelech charged all his people, saying: "He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
the chief captain of his host spake unto Abram, saying: "God is with thee in all that thou doest: 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." And Abram said, "I will swear."
And Abram reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 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." And Abram took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech ; and both of them made a covenant. And Abram set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abram, "What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?" 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." Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba ;1 because there they sware both of them. Thus
1 Beer-sheba. "Well of Seven" or "Well of the Oath." The story of Isaac has the following account of the origin and naming of this famous well and sanctuary, - parallel to the account above, in that the incident follows a deception of Abimelech about the patriarch's wife; has its occasion in a quarrel between Abimelech's and the patriarch's servants; and ends with a solemn oath:
And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, "The water is ours." And he called the name of the well Esek [Contention]; because they strove with him. And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah [Enmity]. And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth [Room]; and he said: "For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."
Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends. and Phichol the chief captain of his army. And Isaac said unto them: "Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?” And they said: "We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee. And we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; that thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the Lord." And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, "We have found water." And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.
they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.1 And Abram planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. And Abram sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.
Separation of Abram and Lot (Gen. xiii. 2-18). Now Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Ai, unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents; and the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together; and there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot: "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom; but the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.
And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him: "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever; and I will make thy seed as the 1 Philistines. See note, p. 191.
dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee."
Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.
Abram's Rescue of Lot (Gen. xiv.). And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel1 king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar,2 Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar.
And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar); and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; with Chedorlaomer the king
1 Amraphel has been identified with some probability with the famous Hammurabi, king of Babylon about 2150 B. C. A code of his laws, inscribed on broken block of diorite, was found at Susa in January, 1902, and, with other discoveries, confirms the view that Babylon at this era was already a civilized and powerful state.
2 Arioch... Ellasar. Identified with Eriaku, king of Larsa in southern Babylonia.
8 nations. R. V. takes Goiim, the Hebrew word here, as a proper name; but it may mean hordes,' that is, of northern invaders, such being mentioned on Assyrian tablets.
4 vale of Siddim . . . salt sea. The Dead Sea is cut nearly in two at its southern quarter by a tongue of land which doubtless once formed its southern shore. A subsiding of the land here may have changed a fertile vale into the present continuation of the sea, the extreme saltness of which (26 per cent. as compared with the ocean's 4 per cent.) is due to a hill of rock salt (Jebel Usdum) at its southwestern end.
of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar: four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's
Hammurabi (Amraphel), from a cast of the relief
showing the king receiving his laws from the Sungod Shamash. It surmounts the inscribed code found at Susa.
2 fell. Their armies fell, not the kings themselves. A spot, probably near Jerusalem, not identified.