Dr. Marion Taylor
13 December 2011
Land and Landlessness in Genesis-2 Kings
The theme of land and landlessness is central in the books of Genesis to 2 King. In fact, it might even be said that it is a central theme in the whole Hebrew Bible, as well as in Israel’s history in general. It would be quite difficult to give an account of the major points in Israel’s history without reference to the land, and the place it held in Israel’s identity as a people and even in relationship with the Lord. Abraham’s call in Genesis 12 is at the root of this. In verses 1 to 3, the Lord makes several promises to Abraham after commanding him to leave his homeland and to travel to the land which the Lord will show him. This land is revealed to be the land of Canaan, which the Lord also then promised to give to Abraham’s offspring.
And so, in these verses in Genesis, we can already begin to see the theme of land taking a central role in the history of the people of Israel even before it has even completely taken shape. We have an imperative from the Lord to go to this land, accompanied by several promises, essentially to be blessed and to be a blessing to the world. At this point in the story, however, land seems to have been of secondary consequence; that is, it would seem that the Lord’s promises of blessings came as a result of Abraham’s obedience to leave his family and his homeland to travel to Canaan. The story continues and Abraham does not stay there, but is forced to leave due to a famine. He travels to Egypt where he has an unfortunate incident (also unfortunate because it would not be his last) with lying about his wife. Upon his return to Canaan, he and his nephew Lot separate and he resettles in Canaan. At this point, the Lord seems to have elevated the land to be a part of his promise to Abraham. In Genesis 13:14-17 the Lord restates the promise to Abraham.