This Hebrew text of this week’s Torah portion, Genesis 12:1-17:27, begins with the phrase ( לֶךְ־לְךָ֛) Lech-Lecha. The word, לֶךְ (Lech) is from the Hebrew root ( הלכ) and means to walk or to go. Thus the Hebrew phrase lech-lecha literally means, “You go!” In the KJV, it is translated as, “Get thee out”.
Genesis 12:1-3 is known to Bible scholars as the Abrahamic Covenant because here God first made His covenant with Abram:
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Note that God had a definite plan for Abram and his descendants. First of all, God set Abram upon a new path – commanding him to, “Get thee out of thy country” (Gen. 12:1a). Abram must leave his home of Ur, located at the southern end of the fertile crescent. It is always difficult to launch out in the unknown – esp. when our current status is very comfortable. Ur was located in Mesopotamia – the very cradle of civilization. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews reminds us that it was by FAITH that Abram was able to do this. (Hebrews 11:8)
God was sending Abram to a new place, “unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Gen. 12:1b) God chose the land of Israel as Abram’s new home because of the plan that God had for Abram’s descendants – the Jewish people. In Genesis 13:15-17, God tells Abram that this special land that He is giving to his descendants is a permanent gift: “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.“
Dr. Jonathan Lipnick says, “The physical setting of the Bible plays a major role in the theology of the Bible. To understand the God of the Hebrew Bible, you must understand the place where He has that relationship with His people. The Bible would not be the book we know if it were situated anywhere else.” In the case of Abram and the history of Israel, Genesis must be read with map in hand or it makes no sense.
God also promises to Abram a special progeny: “I will make of thee a great nation.” (Gen. 12:2) The Hebrew word for ‘nation’ is – גוֹי (goy), but the text says, גוֹי גָּדוֹל (goy gadol) – great nation. [Note: the plural – גוֹיֵהֶם (goyim) – nations.] In Genesis 17:19, God tells Abram that He will also establish this covenant with Isaac: “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”
God’s purpose in giving Abram’s descendant’s the land of Israel is also found in the Abrahamic Covenant – “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) God chose the ‘great nation’ (Israel) to be a special blessing to all the other nations of the earth. And truly, the Jewish people have been a blessing to the nations both physically and spiritually. Physically, God has used the Jewish people to give great gifts in the fields of science, music, – in every field really, Jewish people excel. Spiritually, God used the Jewish people to give the greatest gift to mankind – the Word of God. Penned and preserved by Jewish, hands, “the Book of Books” is truly an eternal gift. We must study many other verses beyond the scope of this Nugget, but suffice it to say the Messiah that God promised the Jewish people, Jesus Christ, has also been a blessing to the nations (goyim) also. I know for sure that He has been a blessing to me!
Finally, God promised Abram that He would bestow upon his descendents special protection – “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” (Genesis 12:3) God knew that many from the nations would come against Israel and so He promised to protect them in a special way. I could produce a long list of nations that have tried to destroy Israel down through the millennia … Egypt, the Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, Germans – just to name a few. But today, over 3,500 years later, the nation of Israel is with us!
God has kept His ancient promise made to Abraham, His friend and He will continue to keep it! He has not cast away His people. God is a faithful God and when He gives His word on something, you can depend upon it. God’s constant faithfulness to Israel in the past is a great reminder to me that He will always keep His word. In these uncertain times when it seems permanence is lacking, this is a promise for all to cling to.