Abraham in the Land of Canaan
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ABRAHAM In CANAAN
God calls Terah’s son Abram to “Leave your country… and go to the land I will show you.” God establishes a covenant agreement with Abram to give his family the ‘promised land’ of Canaan.
In c.1855BC, Abram and his nephew Lot set out for Canaan, about 400 miles / 640km away, with their tents and flocks.
Abram arrives in Canaan and builds an altar by the sacred tree of Moreh at Shechem. Shechem lay in a valley between Mount Ebal (to the north) and Mount Gerizim (to the south).
Abram moves to the hill country between Bethel and Ai. He prays to the LORD and builds an altar here, then moves south towards the Negev Desert.
Egypt Nile Delta
Driven by drought and famine in the land of Canaan in c.1853BC, Abram and his wife Sarai journey along the Way of Shur to the well-watered lands of the Nile Delta in Egypt. Sarai claims to be Abram’s sister rather than his wife and is accepted into the harem of the Egyptian Pharaoh - probably Pharaoh Khety IV. Abram receives sheep, cattle and servants in return. But the deception is uncovered and Abram and Sarai are forced to flee.
Abram and Sarai return from Egypt to the hill country near Bethel. The herdsmen quarrel because of insufficient pasture in this dry land. Abram and Lot decide to separate.
10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
Judaean Hill Country
Abram stays in the land of Canaan and settles in the Judaean hill country near Bethel. The grazing here is poorer, but Abram stays within the land where God's blessing was promised (see Gen 12:1-3).
God renews his covenant promise to Abram: “All this land that you see I will give to you and your descendents for ever” (Genesis 13:15).
Abram moves to the great oaks of Mamre near Hebron and builds an altar there. Hebron (meaning ‘confederacy’), at 3043 ft / 927 m, was the highest town in the area.
In c.1833BC, five local kings in the Valley of Siddim (the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea) - Bera of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (Zoar) - rebel against their four distant overlords - Amraphel of Shinar (Babylonia), Arioch of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer of Elam (southeast Mesopotamia), and Tidal of Goiim.
The four overlords march south defeating the Rephaites of Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites of Ham, and the Emirates of Shaveh Kiriathaim. They then carry out raids in the hill country of Seir (Edom).
defeat the five rebel kings in the Valley of Siddim, and carry off goods and prisoners from Sodom, including Lot, Abram's nephew.
The news of Lot's capture is taken to Abram at Hebron.
Abram, with 318 men, pursues the four kings along The Kings Highway north to Dan. Abram's men attack at night and pursue the four kings to Hobah, north of Damascus. Lot and his family and possessions are rescued.
On the return journey south, Abram is met by the King of Sodom in the Valley of Shaveh or The King’s Valley (the Kidron Valley to the east of Jerusalem), and Abram is blessed by Melchizedek, the priestly King of Salem (Jerusalem).
Click a red or green (capture of Lot) icon for a summary and scripture link.
The Abrahamic Covenant is from the book of Genesis and begins with chapter 12 as God calls upon Abraham to go the land of Canaan where he promises to “make of him a great nation,” a blessing unto to mankind through his descendants all families of the world shall be blessed.
Haran is one of the oldest cities on earth that is still inhabited today. Founded by settlers migrating west from Mesopotamia in the 18th century BC, the city was at its peak during the Hittite Empire, based on Central Anatolia in the 12th century BC. It was already centuries old when the Hittites fought Ramesses II of Egypt at the Battle of Kadesh in 939 BC.
Modern travellers to Harran (Haran), near Altinbaşak in eastern Turkey, can sense the antiquity of the settlement when they encounter its decaying walls, the ruins of the ancient 11th century citadel, and the remains of the Old Mosque. Haran is famous for its unique beehive-shaped mudbrick houses that originated in the 3rd century BC and which have been rebuilt in the same style many times during the intervening centuries.
Traditional bee-hive shaped houses at Harran (Glumik)
a community; alliance.
- A city in the south end of the valley of Eshcol, about midway between Jerusalem and Beersheba, from which it is distant about 20 miles in a straight line. It was built "seven years before Zoan in Egypt" ( Genesis 13:18 ; Numbers 13:22 ). It still exists under the same name, and is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Its earlier name was Kirjath-arba ( Genesis 23:2 ; Joshua 14:15 ; 15:3 ). But "Hebron would appear to have been the original name of the city, and it was not till after Abraham's stay there that it received the name Kirjath-arba, who [i.e., Arba] was not the founder but the conqueror of the city, having led thither the tribe of the Anakim, to which he belonged. It retained this name till it came into the possession of Caleb, when the Israelites restored the original name Hebron" (Keil, Com.). The name of this city does not occur in any of the prophets or in the New Testament. It is found about forty times in the Old. It was the favorite home of Abraham. Here he pitched his tent under the oaks of Mamre, by which name it came afterwards to be known; and here Sarah died, and was buried in the cave of Machpelah ( Genesis 23:17-20 ), which he bought from Ephron the Hittite. From this place the patriarch departed for Egypt by way of Beersheba ( 37:14 ; 46:1 ). It was taken by Joshua and given to Caleb ( Joshua 10:36 Joshua 10:37 ; 12:10 ; 14:13 ). It became a Levitical city and a city of refuge ( 20:7 ; 21:11 ). When David became king of Judah this was his royal residence, and he resided here for seven and a half years ( 2 Samuel 5:5 ); and here he was anointed as king over all Israel ( 2 Samuel 2:1-4 2 Samuel 2:11 ; 1 Kings 2:11 ). It became the residence also of the rebellious Absalom ( 2 Samuel 15:10 ), who probably expected to find his chief support in the tribe of Judah, now called el-Khulil.
In one part of the modern city is a great mosque, which is built over the grave of Machpelah. The first European who was permitted to enter this mosque was the Prince of Wales in 1862. It was also visited by the Marquis of Bute in 1866, and by the late Emperor Frederick of Germany (then Crown-Prince of Prussia) in 1869.
One of the largest oaks in Palestine is found in the valley of Eshcol, about 3 miles north of the town. It is supposed by some to be the tree under which Abraham pitched his tent, and is called "Abraham's oak." (See OAK .)
- The third son of Kohath the Levite ( Exodus 6:18 ; 1 Chronicles 6:2 1 Chronicles 6:18 ).
- 1 Chronicles 2:42 1 Chronicles 2:43 .
- A town in the north border of Asher ( Joshua 19:28 ).
beth'-el (beth-'el; Baithel and oikos theou, literally, "house of God"):
(1) A town near the place where Abraham halted and offered sacrifice on his way south from Shechem.
1. Identification and Description:
It lay West of Ai (Genesis 12:8). It is named as on the northern border of Benjamin (the southern of Ephraim, Joshua 16:2), at the top of the ascent from the Jordan valley by way of Ai (Joshua 18:13). It lay South of Shiloh (Judges 21:19). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 12 Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Neapolis. It is represented by the modern Beitin, a village of some 400 inhabitants, which stands on a knoll East of the road to Nablus. There are four springs which yield supplies of good water. In ancient times these were supplemented by a reservoir hewn in the rock South of the town. The surrounding country is bleak and barren, the hills being marked by a succession of stony terraces, which may have suggested the form of the ladder in Jacob's famous dream.
2. The Sanctuary:
The town was originally called Luz (Genesis 28:19, etc.). When Jacob came hither on his way to Paddan-aram we are told that he lighted upon "the place" (Genesis 28:11. Hebrew). The Hebrew maqom, like the cognate Arabic maqam, denotes a sacred place or sanctuary. The maqom was doubtless that at which Abraham had sacrificed, East of the town. In the morning Jacob set up "for a pillar" the stone which had served as his pillow (Genesis 28:18; see PILLAR, matstsebhah), poured oil upon it and called the name of the place Bethel, "house of God"; that is, of God whose epiphany was for him associated with the pillar. This spot became a center of great interest, lending growing importance to the town. In process of time the name Luz disappeared, giving place to that of the adjoining sanctuary, town and sanctuary being identified. Jacob revisited the place on his return from Paddan-aram; here Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under "the oak" (Genesis 35:6). Probably on rising ground East of Bethel Abraham and Lot stood to view the uninviting highlands and the rich lands of the Jordan valley (Genesis 13:9).
Bethel was a royal city of the Canaanites (Joshua 12:16). It appears to have been captured by Joshua (8:7), and it was allotted to Benjamin (Joshua 18:22). In Judges 1:22 it is represented as held by Canaanites, from whom the house of Joseph took it by treachery (compare 1 Chronicles 7:28). Hither the ark was brought from Gilgal (Judges 2:1, Septuagint). Israel came to Bethel to consult the Divine oracle (Judges 20:18), and it became an important center of worship (1 Samuel 10:3). The home of the prophetess Deborah was not far off (Judges 4:5). Samuel visited Bethel on circuit, judging Israel (1 Samuel 7:16).
With the disruption of the kingdom came Bethel's greatest period of splendor and significance. To counteract the influence of Jerusalem as the national religious center Jeroboam embarked on the policy which won for him the unenviable reputation of having "made Israel to sin." Here he erected a temple, set up an image, the golden calf, and established an imposing ritual. It became the royal sanctuary and the religious center of his kingdom (1 Kings 12:29; Amos 7:13). He placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made (1 Kings 12:32). To Bethel came the man of God from Judah who pronounced doom against Jeroboam (1 Kings 13), and who, having been seduced from duty by an aged prophet in Bethel, was slain by a lion. According to the prophets Amos and Hosea the splendid idolatries of Bethel were accompanied by terrible moral and religious degradation. Against the place they launched the most scathing denunciations, declaring the vengeance such things must entail (Amos 3:14; 4:4; 5:11 m; Amos 9:1; Hosea 4:15; 5:8; 10:5,8,15). With the latter the name Bethel gives place in mockery to Beth-aven. Bethel shared in the downfall of Samaria wrought by the Assyrians; and according to an old tradition, Shalmaneser possessed himself of the golden calf (compare Jeremiah 48:13). The priest, sent by the Assyrians to teach the people whom they had settled in the land how to serve Yahweh, dwelt in Bethel (2 Kings 17:28). King Josiah completed the demolition of the sanctuary at Bethel, destroying all the instruments of idolatry, and harr ying the tombs of the idolaters. The monument of the man of God from Judah he allowed to stand (2 Kings 23:4,25). The men of Bethel were among those who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:28; Nehemiah 7:32), and it is mentioned as reoccupied by the Benjamites (Nehemiah 11:31). Zechariah (Zechariah 7:2) records the sending of certain men from Jerusalem in the 4th year of King Darius to inquire regarding particular religious practices. Bethel was one of the towns fortified by Bacchides in the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc 9:50; Ant, XIII, i, 3). It is named again as a small town which, along with Ephraim, was taken by Vespasian as he approached Jerusalem (BJ, IV, ix, 9).
(2) A city in Judah which in 1 Samuel 30:27 is called Bethel; in Joshua 19:4 Bethul; and in 1 Chronicles 4:30 Bethuel. The site has not been identified. In Joshua 15:30 Septuagint gives Baithel in Judah, where the Hebrew has Kecil--probably a scribal error.