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Monday, April 16 2012
The Herds Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob
The English word "herd" may be defined as "a group of cattle or sheep or other domestic mammals all of the same kind that are herded by humans," or "a group of wild animals of one species that remain together: antelope or elephants or seals or whales or zebra" (The WordWeb Dictionary by Princeton University). The definition is correct, according to the source of the word; "herd" originated from an Anglo-Saxon word, heord, which meant a herd or a flock (keeping in mind that the word "shepherd" is merely an abbreviation of sheep herd). The English word "flocks" also came to be used (for birds and sheep), however the original word for "herd" meant cattle and sheep.
"Herd" is used to translate the Hebrew word, pronounced baw-kawr, which originated from a root word which meant to plow, but came to be used to refer to cattle, because they were used for plowing - hence the reason that flocks (sheep weren't usually used for plowing) were spoken of separately e.g. "Abram had flocks and herds" (verses below).
Abram, later named Abraham by the LORD (see Appearances Of The LORD God and What Does Word of God Mean To You?) after he left Iraq (see The Journey From Ur Of The Chaldees; also The Garden In Eden), came to own great herds of cattle, as did his nephew Lot. It was a dispute over grazing land for their herds ("for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together") that caused them to part company - with Lot (see also Why Did Lot's Wife Look Back?) making the unwise choice of the lush area around Sodom (in that case, "lush" accurately described not only the grazing land, but "characterized by extravagance and profusion" and "a person who drinks alcohol to excess habitually"; The WordWeb Dictionary by Princeton University).
"13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south [i.e. The Negev Of Israel]. 13:2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
Abraham's son Isaac also came to own great herds, but once again, competition for fresh water and grazing land caused strife - in Isaac's case, with the Philistines.
"26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 26:13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 26:14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 26:15 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.
Jacob had fled to his uncle Laban in Syria after his conflict with his brother Esau reached a near-deadly extreme (see Pottage). Jacob arrived in Syria with nothing, but when he left twenty years later, he had great herds and flocks - as attested by his gift to Esau on his return journey (see Where Jacob Became Israel): "two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine [i.e. "Domesticated bovine animals as a group regardless of sex or age"], and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals."
"32:1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 32:2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
"Abram had flocks and herds and tents"
Despite (as well as because of it) the extreme weather that drove them to Egypt (see Why Did They Go To Goshen?), Jacob/Israel had herds that he brought with him to Egypt, along with his flocks i.e. "they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have."
"46:31 And Joseph [see Joseph, Prime Minister Of Egypt] said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; 46:32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. 46:33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 46:34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians." (Genesis 46:31-34 KJV)
When the Israelites left Egypt four centuries later, one of the plagues upon the Pharaoh's kingdom was the destruction of his herds of cattle ("all the cattle of Egypt died"), while "there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead."
"9:1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 9:2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 9:4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel.
While the Israelites "borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment" at the time of the Exodus, with only their own cattle then left alive in Egypt, they took none of the Egyptian cattle with them because there were none - Egypt had thereafter to restore their herds from imports.
"12:35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 12:36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.
While Moses was up on Mount Sinai obtaining the Ten Commandments (see Paul's Geography Lesson and Moses Of Midian), the Israelites made for themselves their infamous "golden calf" idol. It was an inexplicable act of foolishness, considering the power of the LORD that they had just witnessed in the Exodus, as well as their direct experience with cattle - herds of cattle can be beautiful, but there is nothing worthy of worship about them, let alone to blasphemously call a calf idol a representation of the LORD. When Moses came down and saw their abomination, he smashed the original set of Ten Commandments and then destroyed the golden calf.
"32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Moses then returned to the LORD upon Mount Sinai where he received the second set of Ten Commandments (identical to the first - see the Fact Finder question below). Notice also an added instruction before Moses went up: "neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount."
"34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. 34:2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. 34:3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
Fact Finder: Did the LORD carve the first set of stones, upon which the LORD wrote the Ten Commandments? Did Moses carve the second set of stones, upon which the LORD wrote the Ten Commandments - identical words to the first set, but the appearance of the stones would have been different?
This Day In History, April 16
1457 BC: A Battle of Megiddo (an ancient "battle of Armageddon") between Thutmose III of Egypt and a Canaanite coalition under the King of Kadesh.
73: Masada fell to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the Jewish Revolt (see A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots).
1065: The Norman Robert Guiscard took Bari, ending 5 centuries of Byzantine rule in southern Italy.
1175: Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I ended the siege of Alessandria and signed the Treaty of Montebello with the Lombard League (see The Holy Roman Empire).
1521: Martin Luther, 34, arrived at the Diet of Worms (i.e. "Worms" is the English rendering for Vorms, a city in Germany), where he defended his "Ninety-Five Theses," first advanced in 1517. At the Diet (a term for a legislative assembly used some countries, "Diet" derived from the Latin word for day), Luther refused to recant his rebellion against the Papacy (while at the same time, Luther kept nearly all of the Papacy's antichrist doctrines, as do most "Protestants" to this day - see Antichristians and Is Your Religion Your Religion?; also The Cross Of Christ, Or The Cross Of Men? and Christ Died For Repentant Sinners).
1542: The Sieur de Roberval, France's first viceroy in Canada, sailed for the New World with 3 ships and 200 colonists. He explored the St. Lawrence as far as Montreal Island, searching for the legendary kingdom of Saguenay. The expedition returned to France in 1543.
1705: Queen Anne knighted Isaac Newton at Trinity College.
1746: Forces under the Duke of Cumberland fought the Jacobite Scots under Prince Charles Edward at the Battle of Culloden, near Inverness, Scotland.
1856: The Declaration of Paris was signed. It recognized the principle of free ships and free goods and defined contraband and blockade.
1912: Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, from Dover to Hardelot.
1942: The Island of Malta was awarded the George Cross in recognition for heroism under constant German air attack during the Second World War. It was the first such award given to any part of the British Commonwealth.
1953: The British royal yacht Britannia was launched, just months before Queen Elizabeth's coronation. The ship served the monarchy for 45 years before being decommissioned in 1998.
1982: Queen Elizabeth proclaimed Canada's new constitution, ending the last colonial links with Britain.
1995: Canada and the European Union settled a dispute over fishing rights in the north Atlantic after weeks of tense negotiations. The incident began when a Canadian Coast Guard ship fired upon and arrested a Spanish ship on the high seas.