Genesis 26:24 - "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you ..."

That night the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham." (Genesis 26:24)

Is Isaac on a quest for posthumous power?

We can document clearly that God is not promising Isaac that He "will increase the number of your descendants."

What good will this do Isaac? Let's put this in practical terms. Does it really matter to anyone how many descendants they will have generations into the future? And if it did matter, why? Would that be because Abraham and Isaac want to be known as big patriarchs of a large family - even though it won't occur until after their bodies are long dead?

This would only matter to a person who was grossly egotistic and wanted to be a big patriarch for generations to come, long after their body was buried and decomposed. What kind of person would care about that? Only a conceited, self-centered person would care about something like that.

This would be saying that Abraham and Isaac were conceited, self-centered people who worshiped God so that they could become patriarchs of the future - even though they would be long dead by then?

This is a ridiculous supposition - and it illustrates just how manipulated these texts have become after centuries of institutional sectarianism and struggles for power.

We can see just how incorrect this translation is by simply looking at the next verse following this one:
Isaac built an altar there and called on the Name of the LORD. (Genesis 26:25)
This verse, as it directly follows God's statement, indicates Isaac's complete dedication and devotion to the Supreme Being.

This then would beg the question:

Did Isaac praise and worship God because God granted him many wealthy descendants in the distant future?

Was Isaac making a deal with God?

It would be ludicrous to suggest that Isaac was worshiping God in order to attain power and authority, lands and a large "nation" of descendants. Genesis 26:25 illustrates Isaac's love and devotion for the Supreme Being. Love and devotion do not calculate a reward. Love and devotion come without conditions.

For example, if we were loving and caring for our child, would we only love and care for them if they promised to become a doctor when they grew up? Certainly not. Our love and care for them would not have any conditions. And if it did, we would be pretty twisted parents.

In the same way, we know from Genesis 26:25 that Isaac did not care about how many descendants he would have in the future - long after his body would be dead and decomposed.

Is there a deeper meaning?

The key phrase mistranslated is: "I... will increase the number of your descendants."

And the key mistranslated word is זרע (zera`) - mistranslated to "descendants." זרע (zera`) means "a sowing," "seed" "sowing time" even "of moral quality" according to the lexicon. It can also mean "seed" or "semen," and this is where the translation goes wrong.

We must understand the context of the scriptures here. Yes, the scriptures do use many metaphorical uses of language. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, there are many words used to compare things. For example, we find in many verses, the words "light" and "darkness" being used to describe spiritual matters relating to spiritual enlightenment or the lack thereof. These are only a few examples of the many metaphors used in the Holy Bible.

Using "light" as an example, if a modern-day person said "the light guided my path" we might think they used a flashlight to walk down a dark path at night. That would be a literal translation.

But let's say that a disciple of Moses said this: "the light guided my path." We would most likely take that to mean that God's provided guidance for that person's life. Right? This is because these words "light" and "path" are being used metaphorically.

This is precisely how the word זרע (zera`) is being used throughout Genesis and much of the Old Testament. God is not talking about a "seed" as in descendants. The word זרע (zera`) is being utilized metaphorically to describe those who will be receiving the word of God stemming from Abraham's teachings, and essentially becoming followers of this teaching of devotion to God.

The metaphor of sowing

When the teachings of God are passed on from one person to another, this is often referred to as "sowing." This is because God's teachings are being "planted" - or "sowed" - into that person's heart.

This is a metaphorical term. Just as a plant will produce seeds that will provide new crops, when Truth is planted in a person's heart, that person will eventually spread that Truth to others. This would be metaphorically sowing a new crop.

Jesus used this same metaphorical use multiple times in his teaching, where he used planting seeds (sowing) metaphorically:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches." (Matthew 13:31-32)
We also see how this metaphorical terminology has influenced modern English, as we will use the word "dissemination" to describe the passing along of information from one person to another. Here the root of the word dissemination is semen. This is also one of the direct meanings of the Hebrew word זרע (zera`) - "semen" or "seed."

This paraphrasing from God does not refer to the family members of Isaac and Abraham. It is referring to their future followers. Those who would follow Isaac's and Abraham's teachings. זרע (zera`) is describing the effects of Isaac's and Abraham's devotional service to God - devotion that had been planted into their hearts.

And what was that devotional service? They were both missionaries. They traveled from place to place, and they built temples (Isaac built an altar there as noted in Genesis 26:25 above). They also held devotional services to God and praised God ('called on the Name of the LORD'). This means that during those devotional services they sang and praised God's Holy Names.

And it is obvious from this that they were also teaching to others about God. They were gaining followers who were learning about God from them. And these followers would then pass the knowledge onto the next generation of followers - and the next.

How many followers did they eventually have?

What resulted was millions and even eventually billions of people who have become followers of the teachings of Abraham and Isaac. As God predicted, they became "many."

And therein lies the answer to why this benediction from God - that Isaac and Abraham have many followers in the coming generations - was so attractive to Abraham and Isaac.

Because they were devoted to serving God. Their service was to teach to others. This is pleasing to Abraham and Isaac because it was pleasing to God.

What is the purpose of this sowing?

God wants us back. He wants us to give up our self-centered, empty, lonely lives and return to our natural positions as His loving family members. This is why we were created by Him, and what will make us happy. God loves us and wants us to be happy.

And because this is pleasing to God, Abraham and Isaac both wanted to serve God by helping pass on the teachings of loving service to God - worshiping God and singing/praising God's Holy Names - to others.

This is because worshiping God, and singing and praising God's Holy Names have the ability to change our hearts from being self-centered to being God-centered.

Yet this very philosophy - of worshiping God and singing/praising God's Holy Names - has been lost among many modern sectarian institutions. Despite the clarity from the scriptures, this teaching has often been all but ignored.

Nonetheless, the evidence for this teaching is very clear. Just consider these passages from the Holy Bible:
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 12:8)

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

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

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. (Genesis 26:25)

“You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his Name.” (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)

“...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 18:7)

“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 18:22)

“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 21:5)

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

“I will proclaim the Name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!” (Deuteronomy 32:3)

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 17:45)

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. (1 Samuel 20:42)

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 6:2)

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

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 3:2)

“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 5:3)

“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 5:5)

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

“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 8:20)

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 10:1)

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 18:24)

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 18:32)

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 ?” (1 Kings 22:16)

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 2:24)

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.” (2 Kings 5:11)

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

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

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 22:7)

“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.” (1 Chronicles 22:19)

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

“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 2:4)

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

“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 6:10)

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 18:15)

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. (2 Chronicles 33:18)

“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.” (Job 1:21)

“I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the Name of the LORD Most High.” (Psalm 7:17)

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

“The nations will revere the Name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere Your glory.” (Psalm 102:15)

“So the Name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem.” (Psalm 102:21)

“Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the Name of the LORD.” (Psalm 113:1)

“Let the Name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 113:2)

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

“Then I called on the Name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!” (Psalm 116:4)

“I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the LORD.” (Psalm 116:13)

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

“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 122:4)

“Our help is in the Name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)

“The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we bless you in the Name of the LORD.”“ (Psalm 129:8)

“Praise the LORD. Praise the Name of the LORD; praise Him, you servants of the LORD” (Psalm 135:1)

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

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

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

“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 18:7)

“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 24:15)

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

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

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

“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 3:17)

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

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 26:16)

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

“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 2:26)

“And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved” (Joel 2:32)

“...we will walk in the Name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” (Micah 4:5)

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

“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 3:9)

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

“Blessed is he who comes 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 the king who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38)

“Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (John 12:13)

“And everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

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

“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.” “ (2 Timothy 2:19)

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

“Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

The power of praising God

We can see from these many verses the absolute power God's Holy Names have. We see here an emphasis being put upon "calling on" "praising" and so on with regard to God's Holy Names. What does this mean in practical terms? It means reciting God's Names in prayer, chant, song or congregational worship.

We can see a shadow of this type of devotional service in modern Christianity, as Roman Catholics will say the "rosary" - a reciting of Mother Mary name on beads. This is actually a carryover of the ancient teachers who recited God's Names using prayer beads.

This ancient custom of repeated reciting of God's Names was supplemented with congregational singing of God's Names in the Temple during ancient times. God's Name was recited as Elohim, Yahweh and Jehovah as documented in the scriptures. They would also sing hymns of praise to God - as documented in David's Psalms.

The singing/reciting of God's Holy Names has the effect of purifying the heart because it brings us in contact with the Supreme Being. Here in the physical world, we are not our names, and our names are transitory. But in the spiritual world, there is no such duality. The Supreme Being is connected to His Holy Names, and by repeating them, we become connected to God, and our relationship with Him becomes gradually revealed.

With the context and the meaning of זרע (zera`), we can provide a more appropriate translation of this verse:
"I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your followers for the sake of my servant Abraham." (Genesis 26:24)
Such a scenario would be very pleasing to Isaac as well as Abraham. This is because these devoted personalities wanted others to become happy. They wanted others to be fulfilled, and have a close loving relationship with the Supreme Being.