ABRAHAM’S DISTRESS at being childless was caused by his concept of the afterlife. In the Amorite culture that dominated his world, it was believed that one’s quality of life after death depended on your descendants performing a monthly ritual to provide your food and drink.
We explain the Amorite kispum ritual and why Abraham’s servant Eliezer was not necessarily from Damascus. According to scholar Nicolas Wyatt, the Hebrew phrase hû dammešeq was “a scribal gloss, explaining what was felt to be a damaged text, since the meaning of mešeq was lost until the Ugaritic texts were found [in 1922]. It may be translated ‘that is, Damascus,’ but is an ill-directed attempt to explain an obscure term, and should be omitted. Ben mešeq, ‘son of the cup,’ alludes to the elder son’s ritual duties at the obsequies [funeral rites] of his father.”
We also discuss God’s covenant with Abraham, which was sealed with a ritual that’s strange to our modern eyes: Abraham cut in half a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, added a dove and a pigeon, and waited for God to send a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch between the pieces of the sacrificed animals. In Abraham’s day, this ritual would have been a common thing (although the pagan Amorites would have sacrificed a donkey).
Finally, we discuss God’s promise in Genesis 15:5 that Abraham’s descendants would be as the stars of heaven, and why that didn’t just mean “numerous,” but that they would someday be restored to the divine council alongside the angels.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.1 Cor. 15:51-52, ESV
[T]hose who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.Luke 20:35-36, ESV
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