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12:1  Hashem said to Avram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

va-YO-mer a-do-NAI el av-RAM lekh l’-KHA may-ar-tz’-KHA u-mi-mo-lad-t’-KHA u-mi-BAYT a-VEE-kha el ha-A-retz a-SHER ar-E-ka

יב:א  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם לֶךְ־לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ׃

 12:1   Go forth from your native land

With the words lech l’cha (לך לך), literally ‘go for yourself,’ Avraham is commanded to leave everything behind and head to the Holy Land. It would have been enough for God to command him lech (לך), ‘go’; what is added by the word l’cha (לך), ‘for yourself’? According to Rashi, the word l’cha implies that the travel was for Avraham’s benefit. Though he is leaving his homeland, family, and father’s house, God promises Avraham that the journey will be beneficial to him. As a result of his relocation, he will merit the children he has always wanted and will become influential throughout the world, so that he will be able to accomplish his mission to positively influence the world. A journey to Eretz Yisrael is not always simple, but the impact it can have is immeasurable.7 comments

2  I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing.

ב  וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה׃

3  I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.”

va-a-va-r’-KHA m’-VA-r’-KHE-kha um-ka-lel-KHA a-OR v’-niv-r’-KHU v’-KHA KOL mish-p’-KHOT ha-a-da-MAH

ג  וַאֲבָרֲכָה מְבָרְכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה׃

 12:3   I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you

Avraham is commanded to travel to a land unknown to him. To assuage his fears that he would not find friends or supporters in his new home, Hashem promises that He will remain on Avraham’s side by blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. He concludes with the promise that Avraham and his descendants will become a source of blessing to the entire world. This promise has remained in effect through the generations. History has shown that whenever a nation persecutes the Jewish people, curses ultimately befall it. However, wherever the Children of Israel have been welcomed, they have made immeasurable contributions to society, thus earning divine favor for their host nation. On an individual level as well, many non-Jews look to this verse as an important reason to stand with the People of Israel and the Land of Israel.13 comments

4  Avram went forth as Hashem had commanded him, and Lot went with him. Avram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

ד  וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלָיו יְהֹוָה וַיֵּלֶךְ אִתּוֹ לוֹט וְאַבְרָם בֶּן־חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה בְּצֵאתוֹ מֵחָרָן׃

5  Avram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in the land of Canaan,

ה  וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָם אֶת־שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת־לוֹט בֶּן־אָחִיו וְאֶת־כָּל־רְכוּשָׁם אֲשֶׁר רָכָשׁוּ וְאֶת־הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן וַיֵּצְאוּ לָלֶכֶת אַרְצָה כְּנַעַן וַיָּבֹאוּ אַרְצָה כְּנָעַן׃

6  Avram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, at the terebinth of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land.

ו  וַיַּעֲבֹר אַבְרָם בָּאָרֶץ עַד מְקוֹם שְׁכֶם עַד אֵלוֹן מוֹרֶה וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי אָז בָּאָרֶץ׃

7  Hashem appeared to Avram and said, “I will assign this land to your offspring.” And he built a mizbayach there to Hashem who had appeared to him.

va-yay-RA a-do-NAI el av-RAM va-YO-mer l’-ZAR-a-KHA e-TAYN et ha-A-retz ha-ZOT va-YI-ven SHAM miz-BAY-akh la-do-NAI ha-nir-EH ay-LAV

ז  וַיֵּרָא יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהֹוָה הַנִּרְאֶה אֵלָיו׃

 12:7   Hashem appeared to Avram 

This is the first time that the Bible describes God revealing Himself to Avraham. Even at the beginning of this chapter when Hashem commanded Avraham to leave his land, it does not say that Hashem appeared to him. The Kli Yakar, a biblical commentator who lived in Prague in the early seventeenth century, explains this by reference to the principle that Hashem does not reveal Himself prophetically outside the Land of Israel. The command given in Haran at the start of this chapter was heard, but not seen. Only once he arrived in Israel did God actually appear to Avraham, which then prompted Avraham to build an altar to mark the occasion. God’s presence is felt most intensely in Eretz Yisrael.

 2 comments

8  From there he moved on to the hill country east of Beit El and pitched his tent, with Beit El on the west and Ai on the east; and he built there a mizbayach to Hashem and invoked Hashem by name.

ח  וַיַּעְתֵּק מִשָּׁם הָהָרָה מִקֶּדֶם לְבֵית־אֵל וַיֵּט אָהֳלֹה בֵּית־אֵל מִיָּם וְהָעַי מִקֶּדֶם וַיִּבֶן־שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהֹוָה וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה׃

9  Then Avram journeyed by stages toward the Negev.

ט  וַיִּסַּע אַבְרָם הָלוֹךְ וְנָסוֹעַ הַנֶּגְבָּה׃

10  There was a famine in the land, and Avram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.

י  וַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וַיֵּרֶד אַבְרָם מִצְרַיְמָה לָגוּר שָׁם כִּי־כָבֵד הָרָעָב בָּאָרֶץ׃

11  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

יא  וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה־נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת־מַרְאֶה אָתְּ׃

12  If the Egyptians see you, and think, ‘She is his wife,’ they will kill me and let you live.

יב  וְהָיָה כִּי־יִרְאוּ אֹתָךְ הַמִּצְרִים וְאָמְרוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ זֹאת וְהָרְגוּ אֹתִי וְאֹתָךְ יְחַיּוּ׃

13  Please say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.”

יג  אִמְרִי־נָא אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב־לִי בַעֲבוּרֵךְ וְחָיְתָה נַפְשִׁי בִּגְלָלֵךְ׃

14  When Avram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw how very beautiful the woman was.

יד  וַיְהִי כְּבוֹא אַבְרָם מִצְרָיְמָה וַיִּרְאוּ הַמִּצְרִים אֶת־הָאִשָּׁה כִּי־יָפָה הִוא מְאֹד׃

15  Pharaoh’s courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s palace.

טו  וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה׃

16  And because of her, it went well with Avram; he acquired sheep, oxen, asses, male and female slaves, she-asses, and camels.

טז  וּלְאַבְרָם הֵיטִיב בַּעֲבוּרָהּ וַיְהִי־לוֹ צֹאן־וּבָקָר וַחֲמֹרִים וַעֲבָדִים וּשְׁפָחֹת וַאֲתֹנֹת וּגְמַלִּים׃

17  But Hashem afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Avram.

יז  וַיְנַגַּע יְהֹוָה אֶת־פַּרְעֹה נְגָעִים גְּדֹלִים וְאֶת־בֵּיתוֹ עַל־דְּבַר שָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם׃

18  Pharaoh sent for Avram and said, “What is this you have done to me! Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?

יח  וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה לְאַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִּי לָמָּה לֹא־הִגַּדְתָּ לִּי כִּי אִשְׁתְּךָ הִוא׃

19  Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone!”

יט  לָמָה אָמַרְתָּ אֲחֹתִי הִוא וָאֶקַּח אֹתָהּ לִי לְאִשָּׁה וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה אִשְׁתְּךָ קַח וָלֵךְ׃

20  And Pharaoh put men in charge of him, and they sent him off with his wife and all that he possessed.

כ  וַיְצַו עָלָיו פַּרְעֹה אֲנָשִׁים וַיְשַׁלְּחוּ אֹתוֹ וְאֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ׃

13:1  From Egypt, Avram went up into the Negev, with his wife and all that he possessed, together with Lot.

יג:א  וַיַּעַל אַבְרָם מִמִּצְרַיִם הוּא וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ וְלוֹט עִמּוֹ הַנֶּגְבָּה׃

2  Now Avram was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold.

ב  וְאַבְרָם כָּבֵד מְאֹד בַּמִּקְנֶה בַּכֶּסֶף וּבַזָּהָב׃

3  And he proceeded by stages from the Negev as far as Beit El, to the place where his tent had been formerly, between Beit El and Ai,

ג  וַיֵּלֶךְ לְמַסָּעָיו מִנֶּגֶב וְעַד־בֵּית־אֵל עַד־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר־הָיָה שָׁם אהלה [אָהֳלוֹ] בַּתְּחִלָּה בֵּין בֵּית־אֵל וּבֵין הָעָי׃

4  the site of the mizbayach that he had built there at first; and there Avram invoked Hashem by name.

ד  אֶל־מְקוֹם הַמִּזְבֵּחַ אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה שָׁם בָּרִאשֹׁנָה וַיִּקְרָא שָׁם אַבְרָם בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה׃

5  Lot, who went with Avram, also had flocks and herds and tents,

ה  וְגַם־לְלוֹט הַהֹלֵךְ אֶת־אַבְרָם הָיָה צֹאן־וּבָקָר וְאֹהָלִים׃

6  so that the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were so great that they could not remain together.

ו  וְלֹא־נָשָׂא אֹתָם הָאָרֶץ לָשֶׁבֶת יַחְדָּו כִּי־הָיָה רְכוּשָׁם רָב וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לָשֶׁבֶת יַחְדָּו׃

7  And there was quarreling between the herdsmen of Avram‘s cattle and those of Lot’s cattle.—The Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land.

ז  וַיְהִי־רִיב בֵּין רֹעֵי מִקְנֵה־אַבְרָם וּבֵין רֹעֵי מִקְנֵה־לוֹט וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי אָז יֹשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ׃

8  Avram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, between my herdsmen and yours, for we are kinsmen.

ח  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל־לוֹט אַל־נָא תְהִי מְרִיבָה בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶיךָ וּבֵין רֹעַי וּבֵין רֹעֶיךָ כִּי־אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים אֲנָחְנוּ׃

9  Is not the whole land before you? Let us separate: if you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go north.”

ט  הֲלֹא כָל־הָאָרֶץ לְפָנֶיךָ הִפָּרֶד נָא מֵעָלָי אִם־הַשְּׂמֹאל וְאֵימִנָה וְאִם־הַיָּמִין וְאַשְׂמְאִילָה׃

10  Lot looked about him and saw how well watered was the whole plain of the Yarden, all of it—this was before Hashem had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—all the way to Zoar, like the garden of Hashem, like the land of Egypt.

va-yi-sa LOT et ay-NAV va-YAR et kol ki-KAR ha-yar-DAYN KEE khu-LAH mash-KEH lif-NAY sha-KHAYT a-do-NAI et s’-DOM v’-et a-mo-RAH k’-gan a-do-NAI k’-E-retz mitz-RA-yim bo-a-KHA TZO-ar

י  וַיִּשָּׂא־לוֹט אֶת־עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא אֶת־כָּל־כִּכַּר הַיַּרְדֵּן כִּי כֻלָּהּ מַשְׁקֶה לִפְנֵי שַׁחֵת יְהֹוָה אֶת־סְדֹם וְאֶת־עֲמֹרָה כְּגַן־יְהֹוָה כְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בֹּאֲכָה צֹעַר׃

 13:10   How well watered was the whole plain of the Yarden

After conflict arises between their shepherds, it becomes clear that Avraham and Lot must separate. Lot chooses the fertile, well-watered plain of the Yarden, leaving Canaan, a land with meager water sources of its own, to Avraham. The area that Lot chooses, though lush and bountiful, was filled with cruel and corrupt inhabitants who are ultimately destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah. Avraham, on the other hand, settles in the holy Land of Israel, where he begins to fulfill his spiritual calling. Though other places can be attractive, when it comes to sanctity and Godliness there is no better place on earth than Eretz Yisrael.6 comments

11  So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Yarden, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they parted from each other;

יא  וַיִּבְחַר־לוֹ לוֹט אֵת כָּל־כִּכַּר הַיַּרְדֵּן וַיִּסַּע לוֹט מִקֶּדֶם וַיִּפָּרְדוּ אִישׁ מֵעַל אָחִיו׃

12  Avram remained in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the Plain, pitching his tents near Sodom.

יב  אַבְרָם יָשַׁב בְּאֶרֶץ־כְּנָעַן וְלוֹט יָשַׁב בְּעָרֵי הַכִּכָּר וַיֶּאֱהַל עַד־סְדֹם׃

13  Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked sinners against Hashem.

יג  וְאַנְשֵׁי סְדֹם רָעִים וְחַטָּאִים לַיהֹוָה מְאֹד׃

14  And Hashem said to Avram, after Lot had parted from him, “Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west,

יד  וַיהֹוָה אָמַר אֶל־אַבְרָם אַחֲרֵי הִפָּרֶד־לוֹט מֵעִמּוֹ שָׂא נָא עֵינֶיךָ וּרְאֵה מִן־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּה שָׁם צָפֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה וָקֵדְמָה וָיָמָּה׃

15  for I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever.

טו  כִּי אֶת־כָּל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּה רֹאֶה לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה וּלְזַרְעֲךָ עַד־עוֹלָם׃

16  I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be counted.

טז  וְשַׂמְתִּי אֶת־זַרְעֲךָ כַּעֲפַר הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אִם־יוּכַל אִישׁ לִמְנוֹת אֶת־עֲפַר הָאָרֶץ גַּם־זַרְעֲךָ יִמָּנֶה׃

17  Up, walk about the land, through its length and its breadth, for I give it to you.”

יז  קוּם הִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּאָרֶץ לְאָרְכָּהּ וּלְרָחְבָּהּ כִּי לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה׃

18  And Avram moved his tent, and came to dwell at the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Chevron; and he built a mizbayach there to Hashem.

יח  וַיֶּאֱהַל אַבְרָם וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא אֲשֶׁר בְּחֶבְרוֹן וַיִּבֶן־שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהֹוָה׃

14:1  Now, when King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim

יד:א  וַיְהִי בִּימֵי אַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ־שִׁנְעָר אַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם׃

2  made war on King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar,

ב  עָשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה אֶת־בֶּרַע מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וְאֶת־בִּרְשַׁע מֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה שִׁנְאָב מֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וְשֶׁמְאֵבֶר מֶלֶךְ צביים [צְבוֹיִים] וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִיא־צֹעַר׃

3  all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the Dead Sea.

ג  כָּל־אֵלֶּה חָבְרוּ אֶל־עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים הוּא יָם הַמֶּלַח׃

4  Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

ד  שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה עָבְדוּ אֶת־כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר וּשְׁלֹשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה מָרָדוּ׃

5  In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim at Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim at Ham, the Emim at Shaveh-kiriathaim,

ה  וּבְאַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בָּא כְדָרְלָעֹמֶר וְהַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת־רְפָאִים בְּעַשְׁתְּרֹת קַרְנַיִם וְאֶת־הַזּוּזִים בְּהָם וְאֵת הָאֵימִים בְּשָׁוֵה קִרְיָתָיִם׃

6  and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.

ו  וְאֶת־הַחֹרִי בְּהַרְרָם שֵׂעִיר עַד אֵיל פָּארָן אֲשֶׁר עַל־הַמִּדְבָּר׃

7  On their way back they came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and subdued all the territory of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazazon-tamar.

ז  וַיָּשֻׁבוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל־עֵין מִשְׁפָּט הִוא קָדֵשׁ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת־כָּל־שְׂדֵה הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְגַם אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי הַיֹּשֵׁב בְּחַצְצֹן תָּמָר׃

8  Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, went forth and engaged them in battle in the Valley of Siddim:

ח  וַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ־סְדֹם וּמֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה וּמֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וּמֶלֶךְ צביים [צְבוֹיִם] וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִוא־צֹעַר וַיַּעַרְכוּ אִתָּם מִלְחָמָה בְּעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים׃

9  King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar—four kings against those five.

ט  אֵת כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם וְאַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ שִׁנְעָר וְאַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר אַרְבָּעָה מְלָכִים אֶת־הַחֲמִשָּׁה׃

10  Now the Valley of Siddim was dotted with bitumen pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, in their flight, threw themselves into them, while the rest escaped to the hill country.

י  וְעֵמֶק הַשִׂדִּים בֶּאֱרֹת בֶּאֱרֹת חֵמָר וַיָּנֻסוּ מֶלֶךְ־סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה וַיִּפְּלוּ־שָׁמָּה וְהַנִּשְׁאָרִים הֶרָה נָּסוּ׃

11  [The invaders] seized all the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their provisions, and went their way.

יא  וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־כָּל־רְכֻשׁ סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה וְאֶת־כָּל־אָכְלָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ׃

12  They also took Lot, the son of Avram‘s brother, and his possessions, and departed; for he had settled in Sodom.

יב  וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־לוֹט וְאֶת־רְכֻשׁוֹ בֶּן־אֲחִי אַבְרָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב בִּסְדֹם׃

13  A fugitive brought the news to Avram the Hebrew, who was dwelling at the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, kinsman of Eshkol and Aner, these being Avram‘s allies.

יג  וַיָּבֹא הַפָּלִיט וַיַּגֵּד לְאַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי וְהוּא שֹׁכֵן בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא הָאֱמֹרִי אֲחִי אֶשְׁכֹּל וַאֲחִי עָנֵר וְהֵם בַּעֲלֵי בְרִית־אַבְרָם׃

14  When Avram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

יד  וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת־חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת וַיִּרְדֹּף עַד־דָּן׃

15  At night, he and his servants deployed against them and defeated them; and he pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

טו  וַיֵּחָלֵק עֲלֵיהֶם לַיְלָה הוּא וַעֲבָדָיו וַיַּכֵּם וַיִּרְדְּפֵם עַד־חוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר מִשְּׂמֹאל לְדַמָּשֶׂק׃

16  He brought back all the possessions; he also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, and the women and the rest of the people.

טז  וַיָּשֶׁב אֵת כָּל־הָרְכֻשׁ וְגַם אֶת־לוֹט אָחִיו וּרְכֻשׁוֹ הֵשִׁיב וְגַם אֶת־הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת־הָעָם׃

17  When he returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh, which is the Valley of the King.

יז  וַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ־סְדֹם לִקְרָאתוֹ אַחֲרֵי שׁוּבוֹ מֵהַכּוֹת אֶת־כְּדָרלָעֹמֶר וְאֶת־הַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ אֶל־עֵמֶק שָׁוֵה הוּא עֵמֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ׃

18  And King Melchizedek of Shalem brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of Hashem Most High.

u-mal-kee TZE-dek ME-lekh sha-LAYM ho-TZEE LE-khem va-ya-YIN v’-HU kho-HAYN l’-AYL el-YON

יח  וּמַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן׃

 14:18   And King Melchizedek of Shalem

The Sages explain that Melchizedek, King of Shalem, is actually Shem, the son of Noach, and that Shalem is an early name for Yerushalayim. After Avraham emerges victorious from war, Melchizedek greets him with bread and wine and blesses him and the God who delivered him, thereby attributing Avraham’s success to divine justice. Even before knowledge of one God and His righteous ways had spread throughout the world, the concept of divine justice was present in Shalem, Israel’s future capital.

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19  He blessed him, saying, “Blessed be Avram of Hashem Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.

יט  וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ וַיֹּאמַר בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ׃

20  And blessed be Hashem Most High, Who has delivered your foes into your hand.” And [Avram] gave him a tenth of everything.

כ  וּבָרוּךְ אֵל עֶלְיוֹן אֲשֶׁר־מִגֵּן צָרֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וַיִּתֶּן־לוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר מִכֹּל׃

21  Then the king of Sodom said to Avram, “Give me the persons, and take the possessions for yourself.”

כא  וַיֹּאמֶר מֶלֶךְ־סְדֹם אֶל־אַבְרָם תֶּן־לִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהָרְכֻשׁ קַח־לָךְ׃

22  But Avram said to the king of Sodom, “I swear to Hashem, Hashem Most High, Creator of heaven and earth:

כב  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל־מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם הֲרִימֹתִי יָדִי אֶל־יְהֹוָה אֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ׃

23  I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Avram rich.’

כג  אִם־מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ־נַעַל וְאִם־אֶקַּח מִכָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת־אַבְרָם׃

24  For me, nothing but what my servants have used up; as for the share of the men who went with me—Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre—let them take their share.”

כד  בִּלְעָדַי רַק אֲשֶׁר אָכְלוּ הַנְּעָרִים וְחֵלֶק הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הָלְכוּ אִתִּי עָנֵר אֶשְׁכֹּל וּמַמְרֵא הֵם יִקְחוּ חֶלְקָם׃

15:1  Some time later, the word of Hashem came to Avram in a vision. He said, “Fear not, Avram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”

טו:א  אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה הָיָה דְבַר־יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם בַּמַּחֲזֶה לֵאמֹר אַל־תִּירָא אַבְרָם אָנֹכִי מָגֵן לָךְ שְׂכָרְךָ הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד׃

2  But Avram said, “O Hashem, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless, and the one in charge of my household is Dammesek Eliezer!”

ב  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֲדֹנָי יֱהוִה מַה־תִּתֶּן־לִי וְאָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ עֲרִירִי וּבֶן־מֶשֶׁק בֵּיתִי הוּא דַּמֶּשֶׂק אֱלִיעֶזֶר׃

3  Avram said further, “Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir.”

ג  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם הֵן לִי לֹא נָתַתָּה זָרַע וְהִנֵּה בֶן־בֵּיתִי יוֹרֵשׁ אֹתִי׃

4  The word of Hashem came to him in reply, “That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir.”

ד  וְהִנֵּה דְבַר־יְהֹוָה אֵלָיו לֵאמֹר לֹא יִירָשְׁךָ זֶה כִּי־אִם אֲשֶׁר יֵצֵא מִמֵּעֶיךָ הוּא יִירָשֶׁךָ׃

5  He took him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He added, “So shall your offspring be.”

ה  וַיּוֹצֵא אֹתוֹ הַחוּצָה וַיֹּאמֶר הַבֶּט־נָא הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וּסְפֹר הַכּוֹכָבִים אִם־תּוּכַל לִסְפֹּר אֹתָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ כֹּה יִהְיֶה זַרְעֶךָ׃

6  And because he put his trust in Hashem, He reckoned it to his merit.

ו  וְהֶאֱמִן בַּיהֹוָה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לּוֹ צְדָקָה׃

7  Then He said to him, “I am Hashem who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to assign this land to you as a possession.”

ז  וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאוּר כַּשְׂדִּים לָתֶת לְךָ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לְרִשְׁתָּהּ׃

8  And he said, “O Hashem, how shall I know that I am to possess it?”

ח  וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי יֱהוִה בַּמָּה אֵדַע כִּי אִירָשֶׁנָּה׃

9  He answered, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young bird.”

ט  וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו קְחָה לִי עֶגְלָה מְשֻׁלֶּשֶׁת וְעֵז מְשֻׁלֶּשֶׁת וְאַיִל מְשֻׁלָּשׁ וְתֹר וְגוֹזָל׃

10  He brought Him all these and cut them in two, placing each half opposite the other; but he did not cut up the bird.

י  וַיִּקַּח־לוֹ אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה וַיְבַתֵּר אֹתָם בַּתָּוֶךְ וַיִּתֵּן אִישׁ־בִּתְרוֹ לִקְרַאת רֵעֵהוּ וְאֶת־הַצִפֹּר לֹא בָתָר׃

11  Birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Avram drove them away.

יא  וַיֵּרֶד הָעַיִט עַל־הַפְּגָרִים וַיַּשֵּׁב אֹתָם אַבְרָם׃

12  As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Avram, and a great dark dread descended upon him.

יב  וַיְהִי הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לָבוֹא וְתַרְדֵּמָה נָפְלָה עַל־אַבְרָם וְהִנֵּה אֵימָה חֲשֵׁכָה גְדֹלָה נֹפֶלֶת עָלָיו׃

13  And He said to Avram, “Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years;

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי־גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה׃

14  but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end they shall go free with great wealth.

יד  וְגַם אֶת־הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר יַעֲבֹדוּ דָּן אָנֹכִי וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכֻשׁ גָּדוֹל׃

15  As for you, You shall go to your fathers in peace; You shall be buried at a ripe old age.

טו  וְאַתָּה תָּבוֹא אֶל־אֲבֹתֶיךָ בְּשָׁלוֹם תִּקָּבֵר בְּשֵׂיבָה טוֹבָה׃

16  And they shall return here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

טז  וְדוֹר רְבִיעִי יָשׁוּבוּ הֵנָּה כִּי לֹא־שָׁלֵם עֲוׂן הָאֱמֹרִי עַד־הֵנָּה׃

17  When the sun set and it was very dark, there appeared a smoking oven, and a flaming torch which passed between those pieces.

יז  וַיְהִי הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בָּאָה וַעֲלָטָה הָיָה וְהִנֵּה תַנּוּר עָשָׁן וְלַפִּיד אֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר עָבַר בֵּין הַגְּזָרִים הָאֵלֶּה׃

18  On that day Hashem made a covenant with Avram, saying, “To your offspring I assign this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates:

ba-YOM ha-HU ka-RAT a-do-NAI et av-RAM b’-REET lay-MOR l’-zar-a-KHA na-TA-tee et ha-A-retz ha-ZOT mi-n’-HAR mitz-RA-yim ad ha-na-HAR ha-ga-DOL n’-har p’-RAT

יח  בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא כָּרַת יְהֹוָה אֶת־אַבְרָם בְּרִית לֵאמֹר לְזַרְעֲךָ נָתַתִּי אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת מִנְּהַר מִצְרַיִם עַד־הַנָּהָר הַגָּדֹל נְהַר־פְּרָת׃

 15:18   To your offspring I assign this land

In this monumental covenant between Hashem and Avraham, God states that on this day He has given the Land of Israel to Avraham’s descendants. While Hashem uses the term natatee (נתתי), ‘I have given,’ in the past tense, in reference to generations that have not yet been born, Rashi explains that this is not a grammatical error. Since God’s word is the ultimate truth, it is as if it has already been done. Though it took more than four hundred years until this promise was fulfilled, the children of Avraham waited with faith. This patient waiting served as good practice for the nearly two thousand years of waiting that preceded our present return to Zion. With the birth of the State of Israel, another promise to Avraham has been fulfilled.8 comments

19  the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,

יט  אֶת־הַקֵּינִי וְאֶת־הַקְּנִזִּי וְאֵת הַקַּדְמֹנִי׃

20  the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,

כ  וְאֶת־הַחִתִּי וְאֶת־הַפְּרִזִּי וְאֶת־הָרְפָאִים׃

21  the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

כא  וְאֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי וְאֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְאֶת־הַגִּרְגָּשִׁי וְאֶת־הַיְבוּסִי׃

16:1  Sarai, Avram‘s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

טז:א  וְשָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם לֹא יָלְדָה לוֹ וְלָהּ שִׁפְחָה מִצְרִית וּשְׁמָהּ הָגָר׃

2  And Sarai said to Avram, “Look, Hashem has kept me from bearing. Consort with my maid; perhaps I shall have a son through her.” And Avram heeded Sarai‘s request.

ב  וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרַי אֶל־אַבְרָם הִנֵּה־נָא עֲצָרַנִי יְהֹוָה מִלֶּדֶת בֹּא־נָא אֶל־שִׁפְחָתִי אוּלַי אִבָּנֶה מִמֶּנָּה וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם לְקוֹל שָׂרָי׃

3  So Sarai, Avram‘s wife, took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian—after Avram had dwelt in the land of Canaan ten years—and gave her to her husband Avram as concubine.

ג  וַתִּקַּח שָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת־אַבְרָם אֶת־הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית שִׁפְחָתָהּ מִקֵּץ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים לְשֶׁבֶת אַבְרָם בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וַתִּתֵּן אֹתָהּ לְאַבְרָם אִישָׁהּ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה׃

4  He cohabited with Hagar and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was lowered in her esteem.

ד  וַיָּבֹא אֶל־הָגָר וַתַּהַר וַתֵּרֶא כִּי הָרָתָה וַתֵּקַל גְּבִרְתָּהּ בְּעֵינֶיהָ׃

5  And Sarai said to Avram, “The wrong done me is your fault! I myself put my maid in your bosom; now that she sees that she is pregnant, I am lowered in her esteem. Hashem decide between you and me!”

ה  וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרַי אֶל־אַבְרָם חֲמָסִי עָלֶיךָ אָנֹכִי נָתַתִּי שִׁפְחָתִי בְּחֵיקֶךָ וַתֵּרֶא כִּי הָרָתָה וָאֵקַל בְּעֵינֶיהָ יִשְׁפֹּט יְהֹוָה בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶיךָ׃

6  Avram said to Sarai, “Your maid is in your hands. Deal with her as you think right.” Then Sarai treated her harshly, and she ran away from her.

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל־שָׂרַי הִנֵּה שִׁפְחָתֵךְ בְּיָדֵךְ עֲשִׂי־לָהּ הַטּוֹב בְּעֵינָיִךְ וַתְּעַנֶּהָ שָׂרַי וַתִּבְרַח מִפָּנֶיהָ׃

7  An angel of Hashem found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur,

ז  וַיִּמְצָאָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה עַל־עֵין הַמַּיִם בַּמִּדְבָּר עַל־הָעַיִן בְּדֶרֶךְ שׁוּר׃

8  and said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” And she said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”

ח  וַיֹּאמַר הָגָר שִׁפְחַת שָׂרַי אֵי־מִזֶּה בָאת וְאָנָה תֵלֵכִי וַתֹּאמֶר מִפְּנֵי שָׂרַי גְּבִרְתִּי אָנֹכִי בֹּרַחַת׃

9  And the angel of Hashem said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and submit to her harsh treatment.”

ט  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה שׁוּבִי אֶל־גְּבִרְתֵּךְ וְהִתְעַנִּי תַּחַת יָדֶיהָ׃

10  And the angel of Hashem said to her, “I will greatly increase your offspring, And they shall be too many to count.”

י  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה אֶת־זַרְעֵךְ וְלֹא יִסָּפֵר מֵרֹב׃

11  The angel of Hashem said to her further, “Behold, you are with child And shall bear a son; You shall call him Ishmael, For Hashem has paid heed to your suffering.

יא  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה הִנָּךְ הָרָה וְיֹלַדְתְּ בֵּן וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ יִשְׁמָעֵאל כִּי־שָׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֶל־עָנְיֵךְ׃

12  He shall be a wild ass of a man; His hand against everyone, And everyone’s hand against him; He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.”

יב  וְהוּא יִהְיֶה פֶּרֶא אָדָם יָדוֹ בַכֹּל וְיַד כֹּל בּוֹ וְעַל־פְּנֵי כָל־אֶחָיו יִשְׁכֹּן׃

13  And she called Hashem who spoke to her, “You Are El-roi,” by which she meant, “Have I not gone on seeing after He saw me!”

יג  וַתִּקְרָא שֵׁם־יְהֹוָה הַדֹּבֵר אֵלֶיהָ אַתָּה אֵל רֳאִי כִּי אָמְרָה הֲגַם הֲלֹם רָאִיתִי אַחֲרֵי רֹאִי׃

14  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it is between Kadesh and Bered.

al KAYN ka-RA la-b’-AYR b’-AYR la-KHAI ro-EE hi-NAY vayn ka-DAYSH u-VAYN BA-red

יד  עַל־כֵּן קָרָא לַבְּאֵר בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי הִנֵּה בֵין־קָדֵשׁ וּבֵין בָּרֶד׃

 16:14   Therefore the well was called Beer-lahairoi

No longer able to bear her suffering in the home of her mistress Sara, Hagar runs to the desert in search of relief and solitude. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, when Hagar subsequently encounters the angel she realizes that one is never alone or out of God’s sight. The well where this encounter takes place is therefore named be’er lachai ro-ee (באר לחי ראי), the ‘well of the Living One who sees me.’ Specifically in Eretz Yisrael, God’s presence and watchful eye is felt strongly, as it says in Devarim (11:12) “on which Hashem your God always keeps His eye.”2 comments

15  Hagar bore a son to Avram, and Avram gave the son that Hagar bore him the name Ishmael.

טו  וַתֵּלֶד הָגָר לְאַבְרָם בֵּן וַיִּקְרָא אַבְרָם שֶׁם־בְּנוֹ אֲשֶׁר־יָלְדָה הָגָר יִשְׁמָעֵאל׃

16  Avram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Avram.

טז  וְאַבְרָם בֶּן־שְׁמֹנִים שָׁנָה וְשֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים בְּלֶדֶת־הָגָר אֶת־יִשְׁמָעֵאל לְאַבְרָם׃

17:1  When Avram was ninety-nine years old, Hashem appeared to Avram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless.

יז:א  וַיְהִי אַבְרָם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִים שָׁנָה וְתֵשַׁע שָׁנִים וַיֵּרָא יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי־אֵל שַׁדַּי הִתְהַלֵּךְ לְפָנַי וֶהְיֵה תָמִים׃

2  I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous.”

ב  וְאֶתְּנָה בְרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ וְאַרְבֶּה אוֹתְךָ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד׃

3  Avram threw himself on his face; and Hashem spoke to him further,

ג  וַיִּפֹּל אַבְרָם עַל־פָּנָיו וַיְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ אֱלֹהִים לֵאמֹר׃

4  “As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the father of a multitude of nations.

ד  אֲנִי הִנֵּה בְרִיתִי אִתָּךְ וְהָיִיתָ לְאַב הֲמוֹן גּוֹיִם׃

5  And you shall no longer be called Avram, but your name shall be Avraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations.

ה  וְלֹא־יִקָּרֵא עוֹד אֶת־שִׁמְךָ אַבְרָם וְהָיָה שִׁמְךָ אַבְרָהָם כִּי אַב־הֲמוֹן גּוֹיִם נְתַתִּיךָ׃

6  I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and kings shall come forth from you.

ו  וְהִפְרֵתִי אֹתְךָ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד וּנְתַתִּיךָ לְגוֹיִם וּמְלָכִים מִמְּךָ יֵצֵאוּ׃

7  I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be Hashem to you and to your offspring to come.

ז  וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ לְדֹרֹתָם לִבְרִית עוֹלָם לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ׃

8  I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God.”

v’-na-ta-TEE l’-KHA ul-zar-a-KHA a-kha-RE-kha AYT E-retz m’-gu-RE-kha AYT kol E-retz k’-NA-an la-a-khu-ZAT o-LAM v’-ha-YEE-tee la-HEM LAay-lo-HEEM

ח  וְנָתַתִּי לְךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ אֵת אֶרֶץ מְגֻרֶיךָ אֵת כָּל־אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן לַאֲחֻזַּת עוֹלָם וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים׃

9  Hashem further said to Avraham, “As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant.

ט  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל־אַבְרָהָם וְאַתָּה אֶת־בְּרִיתִי תִשְׁמֹר אַתָּה וְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ לְדֹרֹתָם׃

10  Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.

י  זֹאת בְּרִיתִי אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְרוּ בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵיכֶם וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ הִמּוֹל לָכֶם כָּל־זָכָר׃

11  You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

יא  וּנְמַלְתֶּם אֵת בְּשַׂר עָרְלַתְכֶם וְהָיָה לְאוֹת בְּרִית בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵיכֶם׃

12  And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days. As for the homeborn slave and the one bought from an outsider who is not of your offspring,

יב  וּבֶן־שְׁמֹנַת יָמִים יִמּוֹל לָכֶם כָּל־זָכָר לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם יְלִיד בָּיִת וּמִקְנַת־כֶּסֶף מִכֹּל בֶּן־נֵכָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא מִזַּרְעֲךָ הוּא׃

13  they must be circumcised, homeborn, and purchased alike. Thus shall My covenant be marked in your flesh as an everlasting pact.

יג  הִמּוֹל יִמּוֹל יְלִיד בֵּיתְךָ וּמִקְנַת כַּסְפֶּךָ וְהָיְתָה בְרִיתִי בִּבְשַׂרְכֶם לִבְרִית עוֹלָם׃

14  And if any male who is uncircumcised fails to circumcise the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his kin; he has broken My covenant.”

יד  וְעָרֵל זָכָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יִמּוֹל אֶת־בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעַמֶּיהָ אֶת־בְּרִיתִי הֵפַר׃

15  And Hashem said to Avraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her Sarai, but her name shall be Sara.

טו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל־אַבְרָהָם שָׂרַי אִשְׁתְּךָ לֹא־תִקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמָהּ שָׂרָי כִּי שָׂרָה שְׁמָהּ׃

16  I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she shall give rise to nations; rulers of peoples shall issue from her.”

טז  וּבֵרַכְתִּי אֹתָהּ וְגַם נָתַתִּי מִמֶּנָּה לְךָ בֵּן וּבֵרַכְתִּיהָ וְהָיְתָה לְגוֹיִם מַלְכֵי עַמִּים מִמֶּנָּה יִהְיוּ׃

17  Avraham threw himself on his face and laughed, as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sara bear a child at ninety?”

יז  וַיִּפֹּל אַבְרָהָם עַל־פָּנָיו וַיִּצְחָק וַיֹּאמֶר בְּלִבּוֹ הַלְּבֶן מֵאָה־שָׁנָה יִוָּלֵד וְאִם־שָׂרָה הֲבַת־תִּשְׁעִים שָׁנָה תֵּלֵד׃

18  And Avraham said to Hashem, “O that Ishmael might live by Your favor!”

יח  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים לוּ יִשְׁמָעֵאל יִחְיֶה לְפָנֶיךָ׃

19  Hashem said, “Nevertheless, Sara your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Yitzchak; and I will maintain My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring to come.

יט  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֲבָל שָׂרָה אִשְׁתְּךָ יֹלֶדֶת לְךָ בֵּן וְקָרָאתָ אֶת־שְׁמוֹ יִצְחָק וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי אִתּוֹ לִבְרִית עוֹלָם לְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו׃

20  As for Ishmael, I have heeded you. I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and exceedingly numerous. He shall be the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation.

כ  וּלְיִשְׁמָעֵאל שְׁמַעְתִּיךָ הִנֵּה בֵּרַכְתִּי אֹתוֹ וְהִפְרֵיתִי אֹתוֹ וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֹתוֹ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂר נְשִׂיאִם יוֹלִיד וּנְתַתִּיו לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל׃

21  But My covenant I will maintain with Yitzchak, whom Sara shall bear to you at this season next year.”

v’-et b’-ree-TEE a-KEEM et yitz-KHAK a-SHER tay-LAYD l’-KHA sa-RAH la-mo-AYD ha-ZEH ba-sha-NAH ha-a-KHE-ret

כא  וְאֶת־בְּרִיתִי אָקִים אֶת־יִצְחָק אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד לְךָ שָׂרָה לַמּוֹעֵד הַזֶּה בַּשָּׁנָה הָאַחֶרֶת׃

17:21   But My covenant I will maintain with Yitzchak

Avraham was chosen to be God’s emissary in this world, to live in the Land of Israel, and to establish a nation with a unique mission. But who would be Avraham’s heir, Ishmael or Yitzchak? This ambiguity is eliminated when Hashem declares that, although a great nation will emerge from Ishmael’s lineage, Yitzchak is the chosen heir to Avraham’s legacy and Eretz Yisrael.5 comments

22  And when He was done speaking with him, Hashem was gone from Avraham.

כב  וַיְכַל לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ וַיַּעַל אֱלֹהִים מֵעַל אַבְרָהָם׃

23  Then Avraham took his son Ishmael, and all his homeborn slaves and all those he had bought, every male in Avraham‘s household, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that very day, as Hashem had spoken to him.

כג  וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָהָם אֶת־יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנוֹ וְאֵת כָּל־יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ וְאֵת כָּל־מִקְנַת כַּסְפּוֹ כָּל־זָכָר בְּאַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אַבְרָהָם וַיָּמָל אֶת־בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתָם בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אִתּוֹ אֱלֹהִים׃

24  Avraham was ninety-nine years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin,

כד  וְאַבְרָהָם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִים וָתֵשַׁע שָׁנָה בְּהִמֹּלוֹ בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ׃

25  and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

כה  וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנוֹ בֶּן־שְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בְּהִמֹּלוֹ אֵת בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ׃

26  Thus Avraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on that very day;

כו  בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה נִמּוֹל אַבְרָהָם וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנוֹ׃

27  and all his household, his homeborn slaves and those that had been bought from outsiders, were circumcised with him.

כז  וְכָל־אַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ יְלִיד בָּיִת וּמִקְנַת־כֶּסֶף מֵאֵת בֶּן־נֵכָר נִמֹּלוּ אִתּוֹ׃

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