Genesis 12:1-4a

Genesis 12:1-4a
Lent A15


Now the LordA said to Abram,B “GoC from your country and your kindredD and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 

Notes on verse 1

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “Abram” = abram. From the same as Abiram (exalted father, a high father – lofty) {from ab (father literal or figurative) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Abram, exalted father.
C “go” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
D “kindred” = moledeth. From yalad (to bear, bring forth, beget, calve, act as midwife, show lineage). This is kindred, offspring, birthplace, lineage, native country, or family.

2 I will make of you a great nation,E and I will blessF you, and make your nameG great, so that you will be a blessing.H 

Notes on verse 2

E “nation” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.
F “bless” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
G “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
H “blessing” = barakah. Related to “bless” in v2. From barak (see note F above). This is blessing, which implies prosperity or peace.

I will bless those who bless you, and the one who cursesI you I will curse;J and in you all the familiesK of the earth shall be blessed.”

Notes on verse 3

I “the one who curses” = qalal. This is to be little, insignificant, or swift. It is to bring down in esteem, create contempt, curse.
J “curse” = arar. This is to curse or to bitterly curse.
K “families” = mishpachah. From the same as shiphcah (maid, maidservant); root means to spread out. This is one’s circle of relatives – clan, family, kindred.

4 So Abram went,L as the Lord had told him; and LotM went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.N

Notes on verse 4

L “went” = halak. Same as “go” in v1.
M “Lot” = lot. From the same as lot (envelope, covering, veil); from lut (to enwrap, envelop). This is Lot, meaning covering.
N “Haran” = charan. 12x in OT. From Assyrian arranu (road, crossroads, junction of trade routes) OR from charar (to be scorched, burn, glow, dry up; figuratively, to show passion). This is Haran, meaning crossroads. It is also a proper name meaning parched.

Image Credit: “God’s Promises to Abram” by James Tissot, between circa 1896 and 1902.

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