Genesis 12:1-3 - "Leave your country, your people and your father's household ..."

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3)

God is speaking to Abraham

This statement is attributed to God, speaking to Abram - who later became known as Abraham. Abraham is typically referred to as the father of the nation of Israel, even though when he traveled "through the land," they found Canaanites already lived there.

These verses bring up several questions, the first of which is: What is the country that God asked Abram to leave? Why is he being asked to leave his family and people?

Secondly, how is a single person - who has left his family and people - made into a "great nation?" Is not a "great nation" made up of a large population of people? Why then would the Supreme Being say that Abram himself would become a "great nation?"

It may be assumed that God was saying that Abraham's descendants would become a great nation, but the verse does not say this.

Furthermore, why would God make Abram's or Abraham's name great? Why would God want to make a single person's name great? And how does a person become a blessing ("you will be a blessing")?

The reason these questions arise is because these verses - particularly the second verse - have been mistranslated.

Retranslating this statement

Let's decipher the second verse's true meaning. Here are the key Hebrew words of the second verse in order, together with their meaning in context, according to the lexicon:

עשה `asah - refers to something being done, produced, made or work
גדול gadowl - refers to greatness in magnitude, typically attributed to God
גוי gowy - refers to a nation or people, or other large population
ברך barak - refers to blessing, kneeling (as in prayer or praise) or to be blessed
גדל gadal - refers to growing, becoming great or powerful, with praise
שם shem - refers to name, reputation or glory, but also the Holy Name of God
גדל gadal - as above
ברכה Bĕrakah - blessing, often specific towards the praise of God

The meaning of this verse has been misconstrued by those with a view limited by political objectives and an orientation towards the physical realm. This prevented them from seeing the deep relationship of love existing between God and Abraham within this prose.

The only way this verse can be construed as a person becoming a nation is through a misguided attempt to create a meaning to fit an agenda.

Furthermore, there is no indication in the verses leading to this one that would prompt God to offer Abraham such a benediction of becoming a nation. The verses leading up to this verse review the ancestry of Abraham with no hint of any reason for such a special benediction. And even if they did, Abraham is being asked to leave his family and people.

Rather, this verse details that the Supreme Being is acknowledging Abraham's great commitment to the Supreme Being. He is detailing Abraham's devotion, specifically towards glorifying God and His Holy Name. As a result, He is blessing Abraham and his descendants.

The more appropriate translation of this second verse would then be something like:
"I will make your people great because you have glorified and praised the greatness of the Holy Name of God and offered me your devoted blessings."
This would make the entire three verses together:
"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make your people great because you have glorified and praised the greatness of the Holy Name of God and offered me your devoted blessings. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Devotional prose

Notice the circular nature of the prose within these verses. It is circular because the Supreme Being is illustrating that He returns the love of His devotees. When a person is devoted to the Supreme Being, the Supreme Being returns that love and devotion by giving that person special care and attention.

This care and attention is circular because both are caring and attentive towards each other. This is called love, and this is what exists between God and those who are devoted to God.

This is an ancient relationship of love that has been passed down through spiritual teachers - Prophets - for thousands of years.

This illustrates not only that we can love God, but that God returns that love.

The Supreme Being wants us to return to our loving relationship with Him. He knows this will make us happy, and He wants us to be happy, because He loves us and cares for us.

This is confirmed by the next verse, which is translated a little more fairly, illustrating that the Supreme Being will continue to protect Abraham, and because of Abraham, the earth is blessed.

Again, this extent of protection would not make sense out of the blue. God would not simply pick someone just because he was born in a particular family. This would mean that God is unfair, and essentially racist. Why would He have chosen Abraham for such a special privilege?

There was something special about Abraham. What was it? It was Abraham's devotion to God. This is what this second verse is suggesting. It is also suggested in the first verse, with God directing Abraham to leave his "people" and "father's household" and travel to another land on God's command.

This illustrates unflinching Abraham's commitment to God - that he would leave his family in the service of God.

Manipulating religion for power

Around 600 B.C., certain Judean emperors sought power and authority over people and the lands. So they took control over the Prophetic heritage of Abraham and employed scribes to create texts that presented the teachings in such a way to boost their right to rule over and control certain lands of Judea.

They also manipulated the dialogue to appear that they were rulers over the entire earth instead of regional, tribal rulers.

This is what became the Torah, which was eventually melded into the Roman Catholic Bible.

This is not a new strategy. Rulers have been using and manipulating scripture for thousands of years to accommodate and justify their power and authority. Indeed, this was the strategy of the Roman government as they created the Roman Catholic Church and put together the Bible, while burning most other circulating scriptures.

Unfortunately, in doing this, they virtually hid the greatest treasure of all: A glimpse into the tender loving relationship that exists between the Supreme Being and His loving servants, the Prophets, including Melchizedek, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, John the Baptist and Jesus.

We must understand that this is permitted by the Supreme Being, because He gives us the freedom to come to Him or abandon Him. In order to provide the ultimate in freedom, the Supreme Being permits the Truth to be hidden in plain sight, allowing those who seek the Truth to find it, while those who do not seek it to miss it.

Abraham builds an Altar to God

Abraham's devotion continues to be missed in later verses. For example, we find in Genesis 12:7 that Abraham built an altar to God. While it mentions little else about Abraham, it mentions this, though it has been downplayed. Why is this so important? Because this is what a devoted person does for someone they are devoted to.

Consider what many people do with respect to their families. They create an area - often on the mantle-piece above the fireplace - where they hang all their favorite pictures of their family members.

What is this? This is an altar. The family has created an altar to their family members.

Then as they sit around the living room they look at the pictures and they talk about what their family members are doing. They talk about how great their son is doing in his new job, or about how cute their grandchildren are. This is praising and glorifying their family members. They stare at their pictures and praise them. This is worship - family worship.

This is precisely what Abraham was doing, but his altar was to God and he was worshipping God. He created an altar to the Supreme Being because he loved the Supreme Being, and he was devoted to the Supreme Being.

And what did he do in this altar? Did he simply sit there and stare at the altar? No. He praised the Supreme Being. He glorified God. He sang and recited God's Holy Names. This is what שם (shem) means - the Holy Name of God. And when this is combined with גדל (gadal) and ברכה (Bĕrakah), it refers to glorifying and praising God and His Holy Names. This form of worship has been downplayed throughout the institutions that profess these scriptures. Yet it is there in the Old Testament. Consider these verses that illustrate the importance of God's Holy Names:
Genesis 12:8:
From there he [Abraham] went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the Name of the LORD.

Genesis 13:4:
...and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the Name of the LORD.

Genesis 21:33:
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the Name of the LORD, the Eternal God.

Genesis 26:25:
Isaac built an altar there and called on the Name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

Exodus 20:7:
"You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his Name."

Deuteronomy 5:11:
"You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his Name."

Deuteronomy 18:7:
"...he may minister in the Name of the LORD his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the LORD."

Deuteronomy 18:22:
"If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."

Deuteronomy 21:5:
"The priests, the sons of Levi, shall step forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the Name of the LORD and to decide all cases of dispute and assault."

Deuteronomy 28:10:
"Then all the peoples on earth will see that You are called by the Name of the LORD, and they will revere You."

Deuteronomy 32:3:
"I will proclaim the Name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!"

Samuel 17:45:
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."

1 Samuel 20:42:
Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the Name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'" Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

2 Samuel 6:2:
He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the Name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.

2 Samuel 6:18:
After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the Name of the LORD Almighty.

1 Kings 3:2:
The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD.

1 Kings 5:3:
"You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God until the LORD put his enemies under his feet."

1 Kings 5:5:
"I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God, as the LORD told my father David, when He said, 'Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.'"

1 Kings 8:17:
"My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel."


1 Kings 8:20:
"The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel."

1 Kings 10:1:
When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the Name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions.

1 Kings 18:24:
Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the Name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire — He is God." Then all the people said, "What you say is good."

1 Kings 18:32:
With the stones he built an altar in the Name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed.

1 Kings 22:16:
The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the Name of the LORD ?"

2 Kings 2:24:
He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the Name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

2 Kings 5:11:
But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the Name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy."

Jeremiah 20:13:
"Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked."

1 Chronicles 16:2:
After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the Name of the LORD.

1 Chronicles 21:19:
So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the Name of the LORD.

1 Chronicles 22:7:
David said to Solomon: "My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God."
1 Chronicles 22:19:

"Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD."

2 Chronicles 2:1:
Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself.

2 Chronicles 2:4:
"Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God and to dedicate it to Him for burning fragrant incense before Him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on Sabbaths and New Moons and at the appointed feasts of the LORD our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel."

2 Chronicles 6:7
"My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel."

2 Chronicles 6:10:
"The LORD has kept the promise he made. I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel."

2 Chronicles 18:15:
The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the Name of the LORD ?"

2 Chronicles 33:18:
The other events of Manasseh's reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel.

Job 1:21:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the Name of the LORD be praised."

Psalm 7:17:
"I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the Name of the LORD Most High."

Psalm 20:7:
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the LORD our God."

Psalm 102:15:
"The nations will revere the Name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory."

Psalm 102:21:
"So the Name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem."

Psalm 113:1:
"Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the Name of the LORD."

Psalm 113:2:
"Let the Name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore."

Psalm 113:3:
"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the Name of the LORD is to be praised."

Psalm 116:4:
"Then I called on the Name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!"

Psalm 116:13:
"I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the LORD."

Psalm 116:17:
"I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the Name of the LORD."

Psalm 122:4:
"That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the Name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel."

Psalm 124:8:
"Our help is in the Name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."

Psalm 129:8:
"May those who pass by not say, "The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we bless you in the Name of the LORD.""

Psalm 135:1:
"Praise the LORD. Praise the Name of the LORD; praise Him, you servants of the LORD"

Psalm 148:5:
"Let them praise the Name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created."

Psalm 148:13:
"Let them praise the Name of the LORD, for His Name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens."

Proverbs 18:10:
"The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."

Isaiah 18:7:
"At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers — the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty."

Isaiah 24:15:
"Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; exalt the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea."

Isaiah 50:10:
"Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the Name of the LORD and rely on his God."

Isaiah 56:6:
"And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve Him, to love the Name of the LORD, and to worship Him..."

Isaiah 59:19:
"From the west, men will revere the Name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory."

Jeremiah 3:17:
"At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the Name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts."

Jeremiah 26:16:
Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the Name of the LORD our God."

Jeremiah 26:20:
Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the Name of the LORD

Joel 2:26:
"You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the Name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed."

Joel 2:32:
"And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved"

Micah 4:5:
"...we will walk in the Name of the LORD our God for ever and ever."

Micah 5:4:
"He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the Name of the LORD his God."

Zephaniah 3:9:
"Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the Name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder."

Zephaniah 3:12:
"But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the Name of the LORD."

Matthew 21:9:
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Matthew 23:39:
"'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' "

Mark 11:9:
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!"

Luke 13:35:
"'Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.' "

Luke 19:38:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the Name of the Lord!"

John 12:13:
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!"

Acts 2:21:
"And everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved."

Acts 9:28:
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the Name of the Lord.

2 Timothy 2:19:
"Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." "

James 5:10:
"Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord."

Romans 10:13:
"Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved."

Missing the crucial meaning

Yet the ecclesiastical Jewish scribes, working under rulers that wanted to control Judea - and those temple organizations and their professional priests in the centuries following - all missed this crucial element of God's statement. Why?

Because they had no interest in praising God. They had no interest in glorifying God's Holy Names. Their interest was about their positions, their titles, and their nation's control of Judean lands. It was about proving to others that they had legitimacy, both personally and as a society.

This has nothing to do with one's personal relationship with the Supreme Being. Abraham was not devoted to creating a nation. He was devoted to the Supreme Being. He loved and cared for the Supreme Being. He could have cared less about having possession of some hot, barren landscape.

Let's face it: Very few people here on this planet really care about God. They could care less whether God is pleased. The interest of most of us is the survival of our physical body, in addition to wealth, recognition, sensual pleasure and so on. These goals are self-centered goals. They are focused upon ourselves.

Most of us could care less about the Supreme Being. The only time we care about the Supreme Being is when we want something from Him. When we want to heal our body or we want out of a jam. Then we pray to God - asking Him to give us what we want.

This is not a relationship of love. It's usury. We want God to serve us. We want God to be our order-supplier.

This has nothing to do with Abraham's relationship with God. Abraham loved the Supreme Being and wanted to serve Him and please Him.

That is the nature of love. Love means when we care about the other person more than we care about ourselves. And love for God means that we love God more than we care about ourselves. This is why Moses and Jesus both taught the most important commandment was:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27 and Deut. 6:5)