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Genesis 12:1

Context
The Obedience of Abram

12:1 Now the Lord said 1  to Abram, 2 

“Go out 3  from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household

to the land that I will show you. 4 

Genesis 17:1

Context
The Sign of the Covenant

17:1 When Abram was 99 years old, 5  the Lord appeared to him and said, 6  “I am the sovereign God. 7  Walk 8  before me 9  and be blameless. 10 

Genesis 18:1

Context
Three Special Visitors

18:1 The Lord appeared to Abraham 11  by the oaks 12  of Mamre while 13  he was sitting at the entrance 14  to his tent during the hottest time of the day.

Genesis 26:2

Context
26:2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; 15  settle down in the land that I will point out to you. 16 

Genesis 26:24

Context
26:24 The Lord appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

Genesis 26:12

Context

26:12 When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown, 17  because the Lord blessed him. 18 

Genesis 35:1

Context
The Return to Bethel

35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once 19  to Bethel 20  and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 21 

Genesis 48:3

Context
48:3 Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God 22  appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me.

1 sn The Lord called Abram while he was in Ur (see Gen 15:7; Acts 7:2); but the sequence here makes it look like it was after the family left to migrate to Canaan (11:31-32). Genesis records the call of Abram at this place in the narrative because it is the formal beginning of the account of Abram. The record of Terah was brought to its end before this beginning.

2 tn The call of Abram begins with an imperative לֶךְ־לְךָ (lekh-lÿkha, “go out”) followed by three cohortatives (v. 2a) indicating purpose or consequence (“that I may” or “then I will”). If Abram leaves, then God will do these three things. The second imperative (v. 2b, literally “and be a blessing”) is subordinated to the preceding cohortatives and indicates God’s ultimate purpose in calling and blessing Abram. On the syntactical structure of vv. 1-2 see R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 37. For a similar sequence of volitive forms see Gen 45:18.

sn It would be hard to overestimate the value of this call and this divine plan for the theology of the Bible. Here begins God’s plan to bring redemption to the world. The promises to Abram will be turned into a covenant in Gen 15 and 22 (here it is a call with conditional promises) and will then lead through the Bible to the work of the Messiah.

3 tn The initial command is the direct imperative (לֶךְ, lekh) from the verb הָלַךְ (halakh). It is followed by the lamed preposition with a pronominal suffix (לְךָ, lÿkha) emphasizing the subject of the imperative: “you leave.”

4 sn To the land that I will show you. The call of Abram illustrates the leading of the Lord. The command is to leave. The Lord’s word is very specific about what Abram is to leave (the three prepositional phrases narrow to his father’s household), but is not specific at all about where he is to go. God required faith, a point that Heb 11:8 notes.

5 tn Heb “the son of ninety-nine years.”

6 tn Heb “appeared to Abram and said to him.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) and the final phrase “to him” has been left untranslated for stylistic reasons.

7 tn The name אֵל שַׁדַּי (’el shadday, “El Shaddai”) has often been translated “God Almighty,” primarily because Jerome translated it omnipotens (“all powerful”) in the Latin Vulgate. There has been much debate over the meaning of the name. For discussion see W. F. Albright, “The Names Shaddai and Abram,” JBL 54 (1935): 173-210; R. Gordis, “The Biblical Root sdy-sd,” JTS 41 (1940): 34-43; and especially T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 69-72. Shaddai/El Shaddai is the sovereign king of the world who grants, blesses, and judges. In the Book of Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he both blesses/protects and takes away life/happiness. The patriarchs knew God primarily as El Shaddai (Exod 6:3). While the origin and meaning of this name are uncertain (see discussion below) its significance is clear. The name is used in contexts where God appears as the source of fertility and life. In Gen 17:1-8 he appeared to Abram, introduced himself as El Shaddai, and announced his intention to make the patriarch fruitful. In the role of El Shaddai God repeated these words (now elevated to the status of a decree) to Jacob (35:11). Earlier Isaac had pronounced a blessing on Jacob in which he asked El Shaddai to make Jacob fruitful (28:3). Jacob later prayed that his sons would be treated with mercy when they returned to Egypt with Benjamin (43:14). The fertility theme is not as apparent here, though one must remember that Jacob viewed Benjamin as the sole remaining son of the favored and once-barren Rachel (see 29:31; 30:22-24; 35:16-18). It is quite natural that he would appeal to El Shaddai to preserve Benjamin’s life, for it was El Shaddai’s miraculous power which made it possible for Rachel to give him sons in the first place. In 48:3 Jacob, prior to blessing Joseph’s sons, told him how El Shaddai appeared to him at Bethel (see Gen 28) and promised to make him fruitful. When blessing Joseph on his deathbed Jacob referred to Shaddai (we should probably read “El Shaddai,” along with a few Hebrew mss, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the LXX, and Syriac) as the one who provides abundant blessings, including “blessings of the breast and womb” (49:25). (The direct association of the name with “breasts” suggests the name might mean “the one of the breast” [i.e., the one who gives fertility], but the juxtaposition is probably better explained as wordplay. Note the wordplay involving the name and the root שָׁדַד, shadad, “destroy”] in Isa 13:6 and in Joel 1:15.) Outside Genesis the name Shaddai (minus the element “El” [“God”]) is normally used when God is viewed as the sovereign king who blesses/protects or curses/brings judgment. The name appears in the introduction to two of Balaam’s oracles (Num 24:4, 16) of blessing upon Israel. Naomi employs the name when accusing the Lord of treating her bitterly by taking the lives of her husband and sons (Ruth 1:20-21). In Ps 68:14; Isa 13:6; and Joel 1:15 Shaddai judges his enemies through warfare, while Ps 91:1 depicts him as the protector of his people. (In Ezek 1:24 and 10:5 the sound of the cherubs’ wings is compared to Shaddai’s powerful voice. The reference may be to the mighty divine warrior’s battle cry which accompanies his angry judgment.) Finally, the name occurs 31 times in the Book of Job. Job and his “friends” assume that Shaddai is the sovereign king of the world (11:7; 37:23a) who is the source of life (33:4b) and is responsible for maintaining justice (8:3; 34:10-12; 37:23b). He provides abundant blessings, including children (22:17-18; 29:4-6), but he can also discipline, punish, and destroy (5:17; 6:4; 21:20; 23:16). It is not surprising to see the name so often in this book, where the theme of God’s justice is primary and even called into question (24:1; 27:2). The most likely proposal is that the name means “God, the one of the mountain” (an Akkadian cognate means “mountain,” to which the Hebrew שַׁד, shad, “breast”] is probably related). For a discussion of proposed derivations see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 70-71. The name may originally have depicted God as the sovereign judge who, in Canaanite style, ruled from a sacred mountain. Isa 14:13 and Ezek 28:14, 16 associate such a mountain with God, while Ps 48:2 refers to Zion as “Zaphon,” the Canaanite Olympus from which the high god El ruled. (In Isa 14 the Canaanite god El may be in view. Note that Isaiah pictures pagan kings as taunting the king of Babylon, suggesting that pagan mythology may provide the background for the language and imagery.)

8 tn Or “Live out your life.” The Hebrew verb translated “walk” is the Hitpael; it means “to walk back and forth; to walk about; to live out one’s life.”

9 tn Or “in my presence.”

10 tn There are two imperatives here: “walk…and be blameless [or “perfect”].” The second imperative may be purely sequential (see the translation) or consequential: “walk before me and then you will be blameless.” How one interprets the sequence depends on the meaning of “walk before”: (1) If it simply refers in a neutral way to serving the Lord, then the second imperative is likely sequential. (2) But if it has a positive moral connotation (“serve me faithfully”), then the second imperative probably indicates purpose (or result). For other uses of the idiom see 1 Sam 2:30, 35 and 12:2 (where it occurs twice).

11 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Or “terebinths.”

13 tn The disjunctive clause here is circumstantial to the main clause.

14 tn The Hebrew noun translated “entrance” is an adverbial accusative of place.

15 sn Do not go down to Egypt. The words echo Gen 12:10, which reports that “Abram went down to Egypt,” but state the opposite.

16 tn Heb “say to you.”

17 tn Heb “a hundredfold.”

18 tn This final clause explains why Isaac had such a bountiful harvest.

19 tn Heb “arise, go up.” The first imperative gives the command a sense of urgency.

20 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

21 sn God is calling on Jacob to fulfill his vow he made when he fled from…Esau (see Gen 28:20-22).

22 tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “sovereign God” in Gen 17:1.



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