Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lech Lecha Summary

G-d instructs Avram to leave his home in Charan, and go to the land of Canaan (Israel). G-d promises him that there he will become a great nation. Avram goes to Canaan, taking with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, his servants and possessions, and those whom he had converted to belief in monotheism. When they arrive in Canaan they find that there is a famine there and they are forced to leave for Egypt. Realising that Sarai is a very beautiful woman, and that the Egyptians would kill her husband in order to marry her, Avram asks her to pretend to be his sister. Upon hearing of her beauty, Pharaoh abducts Sarai to his palace, but G-d afflicts him and his court with a plague so that he is forced to return her to Avram. He also gives them riches of cattle, silver and gold to ensure that the plague will cease.
They return to Canaan laden with wealth, which leads to an argument between the shepherds of Lot and Avram, about who owns the pasture land. To avoid dispute Avram suggests to Lot that they separate and offers him the pick of the land. Lot chooses the abundantly fertile land of Sodom, despite the fact that the inhabitants of the city are great sinners. After Lot has departed, G-d promises Avram that he will give the land of Israel to his descendants, and shows him its borders.
A world war breaks out, known as the war of the Four Kings against the Five Kings. The king of Sodom is defeated, and his subjects, including Lot, taken hostage. Avram and his servants chase after the victorious four kings and rescue Lot and all the other captives from them. The king of Sodom offers Avram the spoils of war as his reward for saving them, but Avram refuses them in order to show that his wealth comes from G-d, and not through the gifts of men.
G-d shows Avram the future of the Jewish nation in the “Brit Bein HaBetarim” (the Covenant Between the Pieces). He tells him that his descendants will be sent into exile and enslaved for 400 years, but that the fourth generation will return to Israel with great wealth.
Because Sarai is barren, she gives Avram her maidservant Hagar so that he may have children from her. Hagar becomes pregnant, but this leads to her becoming arrogant, and Sarai is very harsh with her. Hagar flees to the desert, but an angel appears to her and tells her to return to Avram and Sarai. Hagar gives birth to her son Ishmael when Avram is 86 years old.
When Avram is ninety nine years old, G-d commands him to circumcise himself, all the male members of his household and all his descendants as a sign of His covenant with them. G-d changes their names to Avraham and Sarah, and promises that, despite their advanced ages, they will have a son. On that same day Avraham fulfils the commandment of circumcision.

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