I used to live near Washington DC. On weekends, I would grab my camera, go to the city, and wander around. The national mall is particularly good for seeing interesting things and people. Right in the center of the mall is the Washington Monument. The Capitol building is at one end, the Lincoln Memorial at the other end. Surrounding this wide open space are collection of other memorials, monuments, and museums where can get lost for days in the rich history of the United States and learn why our country is the way that it is.
I wonder if Genesis works as a prologue to the Torah (the five books of Moses), introducing us to all the people and places that are significant later. What if it’s 50 chapters of setting the stage for the story? What if it’s like the mall in DC telling us the story of significance for the plot of ground where we’re standing?
Something important happened here, and here’s the story.
If that’s true, than today’s reading tells the story of a nation (or people group) and a geographic place.
Again, we get an echo of a previous story: Hagar in crisis in the desert, visited by God. Again God meets this, by human standards, unimportant person at her place of desperation, but the resolution is very different from before.
And we see another story of Abraham & Abimelech. Back in chapter 12, when Abraham first hears from God, Abraham is to be a blessing to the nations. Yesterday, we read how Abraham was not a blessing but just the opposite, a curse, to Abimelech. But here we see conflict that ultimately becomes cooperation. And they call that geographic places Beersheba, which will show up 33 more times in the Story.
What about you? What do you see?