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by Wayne Blank
"For he had possession of flocks and possession of herds"
As might be expected, competition for good pasture land between different groups of nomadic people was often a problem. Conflicts even occurred between groups within the same family, as happened with Abraham (see On His Own Two Feet) and his nephew Lot - which resulted in Lot choosing the area around Sodom and Gomorrah.
"And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold."
Abraham's son Isaac (see Isaac's Faith And Obedience) also knew conflicts due to competition between nomads, although in Isaac's case, as with Abraham's, the problem was more a matter of other people's jealousy, or fear, of Isaac because The Lord had blessed him with large flocks and herds. Much in keeping with petty human nature, rather than to work to build themselves up to their competitor's level, they preferred simply to tear others down to their level.
"Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and The Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth." (Genesis 26:12-15 KJV)
Isaac's son Jacob (who The Lord later renamed Israel) was also a nomad, and like his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac, Jacob became wealthy in flocks and herds because The Lord blessed him, but in Jacob's case, at the expense of dishonest Laban (see Jacob and Laban):
"And The Lord [see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD] said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee."
When the Israelites arrived in Egypt, where they would remain for the next four centuries before the Exodus, they did so as nomads, with great flocks and herds:
"Then Joseph [see also Potiphar] came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen ... And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle." (Genesis 47:1,5-6 KJV)
Fact Finder: Was Moses a nomad in the years prior to his return to Egypt for the Exodus?