The Story of a Long Journey
Genesis xi: 27, to
from the city of Babylon, where they began to build
the tower of Babel, was another city, called Ur of
the Chaldees. The Chaldees were the people who lived
in the country which was called Chaldea, where the
two rivers Euphrates and Tigris come together. Among
these people, at Ur, was living a man named Abram.
Abram was a good man, for he prayed to the Lord God,
and tried always to do God's will.
But the people who lived in Ur, Abram's home, did
not pray to God. They prayed to idols, images made
of wood and stone. They thought that these images
were gods, and that they could hear their prayers
and could help them. And as these people who
worshipped idols did not call on God, they did not
know his will, and they did many wicked things.
The Lord God saw that Abram was good and faithful,
though wicked people were living all around him. And
God did not wish to have Abram's family grow up in
such a place, for then they too might become wicked.
So the Lord spoke to Abram, and said:
"Abram, gather together all your family and go out
from this place, to a land far away, that I will
show you. And in that land I will make your family
to become a great people, and I will bless you and
make your name great, so that all the world shall
give honor to your name. If you will do as I command
you, you shall be blessed, and all the families of
the earth shall obtain a blessing through you."
Abram did not know just what this blessing meant
that God promised to him. But we know that Abram's
family grew after many years into the Israelite
people, out of whom came Jesus, the Saviour of the
world, for Jesus was a descendant of Abram: that is,
Jesus came a long time afterward from the family of
which Abram was the father; and thus Abram's family
became a blessing to all the world by giving to the
world a Saviour.
Although Abram did not know just what the blessing
was to be that God promised to give him, and
although he did not know where the land lay, to
which God was sending him, he obeyed God's word. He
took all his family, and with them his father Terah,
who was very old, and his wife, whose name was Sarai;
and his brother Nahor and his wife, and another
brother's son whose name was Lot; for Lot's father,
Haran, who was the younger brother of Abram, had
died before this time. And Abram took all that he
had, his tents, and his flocks of sheep, and herds
of cattle, and went forth on a long journey, to a
land of which he did not even know the name.
He journeyed far up the great river Euphrates to the
mountain region, until he came to a place called
Haran, in a country called Mesopotamia. The word
Mesopotamia means "between the rivers"; and this
country was between the two great rivers Tigris and
Euphrates. At Haran they all stayed for a time.
Perhaps they stopped there because Terah, the father
of Abram, was too old to travel further; for they
stayed at Haran until Terah died.
After the death of Terah, his father, Abram again
went on his journey, and Lot, his brother's son,
went with him; but Nahor, Abram's brother, stayed in
Haran, and his family, and children, and children's
children, whom they call "his descendants," lived at
Haran for many years.
From Haran, Abram and Lot turned toward the
southwest, and journeyed for a long time, having the
mountains on their right hand and the great desert
on their left. They crossed over rivers, and climbed
the hills, and at last they came into the land of
Canaan, which was the land of which God had spoken
This land was called Canaan, because the people who
were living in it were the descendants, or
children's children, of a man who had lived long
before, whose name was Canaan. A long time after
this it was called "the Land of Israel," from the
people who lived in it; and because in that same
land the Lord Jesus lived many years afterward; we
now call it "The Holy Land."
When Abram came into the land of Canaan, he found in
it a few cities and villages of the Canaanites. But
Abram and his people did not go into the towns to
live. They lived in tents, out in the open fields,
where they could find grass for their sheep and
cattle. Not far from a city called Shechem, Abram
set up his tent under an oak tree on the plain.
There the Lord came to Abram, and said:
"I will give this land to your children, and to
their children, and this shall be their land
And Abram built there an altar, and made an
offering, and worshipped the Lord. Wherever Abram
set up his tent, there he built his altar and prayed
to God; for Abram loved God, and served God, and
believed God's promises.
Abram and Lot moved their tents and their flocks to
many places, where they could find grass for their
flocks and water to drink. At one time they went
down to the land of Egypt, where they saw the great
river Nile. Perhaps they saw also the Pyramids, and
the Sphinx, and the wonderful temples in that land,
for many of them were built before Abram lived.
Abram did not stay long in the land of Egypt. God
did not wish him to live in a land where the people
worshipped idols; so God sent Abram back again to
the land of Canaan, where he could live apart from
cities, and bring up his servants and his people to
worship the Lord. He came to a place where afterward
a city called Bethel stood; and there as before he
built an altar and prayed to the Lord.
Now Lot, the son of Abram's younger brother who had
died, was with Abram; and Lot, like Abram, had
flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and many tents
for his people. Abram's shepherds and Lot's
shepherds quarreled, because there was not grass
enough in one place for both of them to feed their
flocks; and besides these people, the Canaanites
were also in the land, so that there was not room
for them all.
When Abram heard of the quarrel between his men and
the men under Lot, he said to Lot:
"Let there be no quarrel between you and me, nor
between your men and my men; for you and I are like
brothers to each other. The whole land is before us;
let us go apart. You shall have the first choice,
too. If you will take the land on the right hand,
then I will take the land on the left; or if you
choose the left hand, then I will take the right."
This was noble and generous in Abram, for he was the
older, and might claim the first choice. Then, too,
God had promised all the land to Abram, so that he
might have said to Lot, "Go away, for this land is
all mine." But Abram showed a kind, good heart in
giving to Lot his choice of the land.
And Lot looked over the land from the mountain where
they were standing, and saw down in the valley the
river Jordan flowing between green fields, where the
soil was rich. He saw the cities of Sodom and
Gomorrah upon the plain, near the head of the Dead
Sea, into which the Jordan flows. And Lot said, "I
will go down yonder to the plain."
And he went down the mountain to the plain, with his
tents and his men, and his flocks of sheep and his
cattle, leaving the land on the mountains, which was
not so good, to his uncle Abram. Perhaps Lot did not
know that the people in Sodom were the most wicked
of all the people in the land; but he went to live
near them, and gradually moved his tent closer to
Sodom, until after a time he was living in that
After Lot had separated from Abram, God said to
"Lift up your eyes from this place, and look east
and west, and north and south. All the land that you
can see, mountains and valleys and plains, I will
give it to you, and to your children, and their
children, and those who come after them. Your
descendants shall have all this land, and they shall
be as many as the dust of the earth; so that if one
could count the dust of the earth, they could as
easily count those who shall come from you. Rise up,
and walk through the land wherever you please, for
it is all yours."
Then Abram moved his tent from Bethel, and went to
live near the city of Hebron, in the south, under an
oak tree; and there again he built an altar to the