Eternal contract

When Abram was nearly a hundred years old, God appeared and said, “I’m God Almighty. Walk before me and be perfect, and I’ll promise you a kingdom of abundance.”

Abram fell on his face.

God continued, “Here’s the promise: I’m making you the father of many nations. Your name is now changed to “Abraham,” Father Of Nations. Kings and priests will come from you. This promise is established forever through every generation. I’ll give you and your offspring this foreign land, all of Canaan forever, and I will be their God.”

Abraham remained flat on the ground with his forehead jammed into the dirt.

“As for you and your side of the promise,” God said, “you and every male among you, through every generation, will have their foreskin removed. This is the sign of our contract. When each boy is eight days old, including slaves born in your house or any other male purchased with money, they will be circumcised. Why? This is a formal contract, and for it to be irrevocable, it must cut into the most intimate part of the flesh. Anyone who has not had his foreskin cut off will himself be cut off from your people because he will have broken the promise.”

Abraham flinched uncomfortably as the reality of the command set in.

“As for Sarai,” God continued, “she is now Sarah, and she will give you a son. I will bless her, and nations and kings will issue from her womb.”

Abraham laughed and muttered, “We’re too old to have children.” Then he lifted his head toward heaven. “Bring Ishmael into the blessing. He’s my son.”

God answered, “Sarah will bear you a son next year, and you’ll call him Isaac. Through him, my eternal contract will be secured and fulfilled, not with Ishmael. As for Ismael, I will bless him for your sake and give him a large family. He will be a great nation, the father of twelve princes.”

Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the male slaves born or purchased in his house, and he cut off their foreskins. Then he had Eliezer cut off his master’s foreskin.

Ishmael was thirteen years old when his foreskin was removed.

Inspiration: Genesis 17

Salem’s visit

So Lot and his family settled at Sodom, where King Bera, along with the kings of Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela, were all growing tired of paying tribute to Chedorlaomer, King of the Elamites.

Chedorlaomer and his band of loyal kings went down to the Valley of Siddim to quell the rebellion and to force tribute, if only by the tip of the sword.

The valley was peppered with tar pits. As Bera and the other rebel kings fled the imposing wrath of Elam, some fell prey to these inescapable holes while the rest found safety in the hills. Chedorlaomer went and claimed the spoils of Sodom and Gomorrah, including Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions.

One of the Sodomite rebels who escaped by the skin of his teeth fled to Mamre Oaks for help. When Abram learned of his nephew’s capture, he rallied all his blood relations together, those who had been trained, not only in the fledgling Hebron religion, but also in the art of war. Their men totaled 318 Hebrews, an impressive mob, but a menacing army, they were not.

So Abram called in a few favors with territories who had benefitted from the blessing of Abram’s presence in the region. The leaders of Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner, banded together to pursue the armies of Chedorlaomer as far away as Dan. There they hung back and regrouped. At nightfall, Abram ordered the men to divide their ranks and flank Elam at Hobah.

This strategy brought Chedorlaomer and his mighty armies to their knees. Abram rescued Lot and all his possessions. Although he was under no obligation, Abram liberated the Sodomite captives along with their goods.

After their victory, Abram and his men were camped down at King’s Valley when the king of Sodom came out to meet him.

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, also came and presented refreshments of bread and wine to Abram and his men.

Melchizedek blessed Abram, saying, “God Most High, maker of all things, blesses you, Abram. May He be blessed for delivering your enemies to you.”

As a token of his gratitude, Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the spoils of war.

King Bera of Sodom pulled Abram aside and said, “As long as you’re divvying up the spoils, give me the people, and you can have the goods.”

Abram grimaced and answered sharply, “I swore to my Lord, God Most High, maker of all things, that I’d not take a single thread or shoe. I’ll not have it said by anyone, ‘I have made Abram rich.’”

The king slumped, and Abram left him in a blank stare.

Abram concluded the kings’ conference. “I’ll take nothing except what my men have eaten. Let my allies, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their fair share.”

When they had finished dividing everything amongst them, the men disbursed.

Inspiration: Genesis 14