From My Life: Poetry and Truth - Book 4, pages 151-156

and the content of the holy scriptures eventually produced lively pictures in my imagination concerning the beautiful and precious land, its surroundings and neighborhoods as well as the people and events which glorified this piece of the earth for millennia.*

From this small realm one could witness the origin and growth of the human race. From here one gained the first reports of ancient history. Such a locale should lie in our imaginations as a simple yet complex place joined together in its many facets by the wondrous migrations and settlements of its people. Here in this pleasant corner of the world, between four so-called rivers separated from the rest of the livable planet, rose young humanity. Here man developed his first abilities and then suffered the Fall which determined the future for his progeny. In striving for awareness he loses his peace.* Paradise was lost; mankind multiplied and deteriorated. Elohim grew impatient with the depravity of the race and struck it from the ground. Only a few were saved from the flood and as the waters receded this fatherly earth stood once more only in the sight of the grateful survivors. Two rivers of the four, the Euphrates and the Tigris, still flowed in their beds.* The name of the first remained the same; the second was changed to indicate its course. After such great upheaval there were few signs of paradise left. The new human race left Eden for a second time. There were all kinds of opportunities for nourishment and employment,

the greatest of which was gathering the great herds of tame animals and drawing them together on all sides.

This form of existence, along with the increase of the various species, soon required that the people spread out from each other. However they could not reconcile themselves with having their relatives and friend gone forever, so they came up with the idea of building a high tower which would show them the way back from remote distances. Like their first endeavor, this one failed. They could not be happy and insightful, distinct yet united at the same time.* Elohim confounded them.* The construction came to a halt and the people scattered. The world was populated but divided.

Our attention remains for some time on this particular area until the father of one race leaves and then imprints a distinctive character upon his progeny, forming one united nation for all time despite great changes in fortune and region.

With a sign from God Abraham goes west out of the Euphrates valley. The wilderness does not place any particular impediment in his way. He reaches the River Jordan, crosses and sees before him the beautiful, midday expanse of Palastine. This land is already taken and populated. Mountains, not very high but stoney and unfruitful, are bisected by irrigated and arable valleys. Cities, towns and individual settlements lay scattered about the plains on slopes of the great valley where the Jordan gathers its waters. The land is well populated and developed, but this world is still large enough and the people who inhabit it are not attentive, needy or active enough

to make full use of all their surroundings.There are great expanses between various settlements in which grazing herds can comfortably roam. Abraham stops at one such spot. His brother, Lot, is with him.* However they can not stay long. With population increase then sudden decrease in a land where production never equals demand a famine results in which the immigrant suffers along with the native. The immigrant's accidental presence spoils the balance in the food supply. The two Chaldean brothers moved to Egypt and thus the stage is set for the world's most important events over the next several centuries. We see the world populated from the Tigris to the Euphrates, from the Euphrates to the Nile and in this expanse a man, well-known to us as one of worth and beloved by the gods, travels back and forth with his herds and his possession, which have increased dramatically within a short time. The brothers return, but being aware of pressing need, they decide to part. For a while they linger in southern Canaan. Abraham remains in Hebron near the grove of Mamre while Lot moves to the Siddim Valley. If our imaginations are active enough we can see a subterranean outlet to the Jordan, site of the contemporary Dead Sea, which at the time was dry land and must have seemed all the more like a second paradise because the inhabitants and those residing nearby, notorious for their soft and wanton existences, live comfortably and luxuriously. Lot lives among them though separated.

However Hebron and the Mamre Grove seem a more important stage because here the Lord speaks with Abraham and promises him all the land for as far as his eyes can see reaching to all four corners of the world. From these quiet regions and from these herding people, who associate with celestial beings, treat them as guests and have many conversations with them, we find it necessary to turn our gazes towards the east and contemplate the world nearby, which in toto may actually resemble the makeup of Canaan.

Families stay together; they unite and the lifestyle of the race is determined by the locale, which they have enjoined, or perhaps it has enjoined them. From the mountains, which send their water to the Tigris, we find warrior tribes, who very early in their existences point to the world conquerers, who in their horrible campaigns will give us an overture of future great deeds. Kedor Laomor, king of Elam, had great influence among the allies. He ruled for a long time. Twelve years before Abraham's arrival in Canaan he was collecting tribute from the people all the way to the Jordan. Eventually they revolted and the allies prepared for war. Unexpectedly we find them on the route Abraham probably used to reach Canaan. The people on the left and lower side of the Jordan were defeated. Kedor Laomor directs his troops southward against the tribes in the desert then he turns northward, battles the Amalekites and defeats the Amorites. He approaches Canaan, descends upon the kings of the Siddim Valley, fights and scatters them, seizes a huge amount of plunder and takes it up the Jordan with him in order to extend his victory march to Lebanon.

Among the imprisoned, the dislocated and those packing their possessions we find Lot, who shares the fate of the land in which he is a guest. Abraham learns of this and here we see the father of the race as a warrior and hero. He gathers his servants, divides them into groups, descends upon the heavy plunder train, confounds the victors, who never suspected an enemy would attack from the rear, and brings back his brother, his possessions and many of those of the defeated kings. By means of this brief campaign Abraham takes possession of the land. The inhabitants see him as their protector and savior, plus due to his magnanimous nature they see him as their king. The kings of the Valley receive him with gratitude. Melchisedek, king and priest, blesses him.

Prophecies of unending prosperity are renewed; in fact they go much further. Abraham is promised the stretch of land from the waters of the Euphrates to the Egyptian river. However the endowment seems dubious because he has no one to inherit it. Abraham is eighty years old and he has no son.* Sara, less trusting in the gods than her husband, grows impatient. Exercising the eastern custom she will provide offspring through her maid. No sooner is Hagar given to the master of the house and a son expected when contention divides the house. The wife maltreats the servant she is supposed to protect and Hagar flees in order to find a better position among other tribes. Only a sign from heaven makes her return and Ismael is born.

Abraham is now ninety-nine years old and the prophecies of numerous descendants continue to be repeated until in the end the couple find them ridiculous. Eventually Sara

becomes pregnant and brings forth a son, who is named Isaac.

For the most part history depends upon the legitimate propagation of the human race.* It is necessary to trace the most important world events down to the family secrets so the marriages of the patriarchs give us cause for consideration. It's as if the deities, who love to determine the fates of men, wish to represent every kind of conjugal arrangement. Abraham, for so many years locked in a childless marriage to a beautiful wife who was pursued by many suitors, finds himself in his second century of life the husband of two women and the father of two sons and at this time the peace of his household is destoyed. Two women living together and two sons by two different mothers make for an impossible situation. The parties less favored by law, rules of inheritance and sentiment, must yield. Abraham must offer up his inclinations towards Hagar and Ismael. Both are released and Hagar finds it necessary to flee on the path which she had once taken voluntarily but which now she takes reluctantly and it seems this will be to the destruction of her and her child. However the angel of the Lord, who had instructed her earlier, now saves her and Ismael becomes the head of a mighty race. Thus the most improbable of prophecies comes to fruition and overfills its banks.

Two parents in their senior years and one son born late in their lives: here one should expect peace in the household and earthly fortune! No way. * The celestials still prepare the patriarch for the most difficult test, of which we can say nothing until we put forth certain considerations.

Go to pages 157-162

Text provided by the Lockwood Library, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks