The ABC of Scattering
Part 5:  From Beersheba to Machpelah

John Plunkett

February 20th 2016

Last time – in Part 4 – we finished in Genesis 22 and I left you with a question. Let’s repeat that question; but first, let’s just repeat a few of the verses that we finished on last time.

Genesis 22:
1:  And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt
{test} Abraham, and said unto him, “Abraham”: and he said, “Behold, here I am.”
2:  And He
{the LORD} said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of…
Abraham passed the test and did as the LORD commanded him, and then returned to Beersheba:
19:  So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

A round-trip hike of about 200 kilometres (120 miles).  Today that is not much of a drive.  But to walk it, with a donkey with a load of wood on it!  That was a long hike!

But why?  Why did the LORD send Abraham and Isaac all that way from Beersheba to Mount Moriah?  Why didn’t He just have Abraham perform the sacrifice right there at Beersheba – right in his own “back-yard – right behind his own tent?  Why did He send him all that way on this journey?

I believe that the reason why is because the location of that sacrifice was of primary importance.

Let’s take a look at the name that is anglicized as “Moriah” (Strong’s 4179).  I'm sure that we are all very familiar with the well-known term "Mount Moriah"; but it is only mentioned twice in the whole Bible.  It appears to be such an important location, yet it only appears twice.  Once here, and once in:

II Chronicles 3:1:
Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 

You can read all about this account of David in I Chronicles 21:15-28 and its parallel account in II Samuel 24:16-24, where Ornan is alternately named “Araunah”.

The Hebrew word for Moriah is “Mowriyah” or its alternate spelling "Moriyah."  The word means "Chosen by YHVH" and it stems from two words “Ra’ah” and “Yahh.”  I wonder if there might be any grammatical connection with “Rajah” which is the East Indian word for a King or Prince.

We’re all familiar with the word Yah (Strong’s 3050) which is the slightly shortened form of YHVH.  Ra’ah (Strong’s 7200) may not be so familiar to us; but is a root verb with many meanings that are relevant to our topic, including see, look, behold, show, appear, consider, seer, respect, perceive, provide, regard, enjoy, foresee, heed, inspect, perceive, have vision, learn about, observe, watch, find out, give attention to, discern, distinguish, gaze at, present oneself, be seen, be visible, look intently at, gaze at, exhibited, to face or to look at another.

Evidently, young Isaac was symbolic of Jesus, Abraham was symbolic of God the Father, and the sacrifice of Isaac was symbolic of the sacrifice of Jesus, perhaps to the extent that this supposed sacrifice of Isaac was to take place at the same location as Jesus’ crucifixion. 

If so, this raises a few more questions.  This mountain in the Moriah Range where Abraham (almost) sacrificed Isaac – was it exactly the same one on which Solomon built the LORD's temple (i.e. Mount Zion) – the temple where the brazen altar was located – the altar on which millions of animals were sacrificed over four centuries?  Or was it a nearby, at Golgotha (Greek: Calvary)?  Or, as the two are so close together – just a short distance across the Kidron Valley from each other – might they be considered to be one and the same?

I am not saying that I have all of the answers to these questions!  I am just asking the questions for your interest and consideration!

The LORD – with a scriptural link to Abraham – tells us of the place of His execution in:

Hebrews 13:
10:  We
{the New Covenant trainee priests of the Melchizedek order} have an altar, whereof they which serve the tabernacle {the Old Covenant Levitical/Aaronic priests} have no right to eat.
11:  For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without
{outside} the camp…

Outside the camp of Israel when they were on the road in the wilderness and outside the walls of Jerusalem once the Israelite people were settled there and the stone temples were built.

Please notice that, at the time this was written, these sacrifice procedures were still in place.  Yes, even after Jesus’ ultimate, anti-type sacrifice.  The Hebrews author was inspired to use this as a symbolic analogy:

12:  Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without {outside} the gate.
13:  Let us go forth therefore unto Him without
{outside} the camp, bearing His reproach…

As our predecessors, Abraham and Isaac did “go forth” – as commanded by the LORD – all the way from Beersheba to that place on one of the mountains in the Moriah Range – the one that the LORD led them to, in order to prefigure in symbolic form, the Father’s sacrifice of His Son.

In the very next verse, we see another very valid and significant link to Abraham and his commanded wanderings:

14:  For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

When I think of the words "city" and “without” in this context, it reminds me of an old hymn that includes the words:

There is a green hill far away
Without a city wall
Where our dear Lord was crucified;
He died to save us all

When I was a young choir-boy singing this hymn, because of the composer's use of the word "without," I used to think it meant that the city in question didn’t have a wall; and, living near the city of Liverpool, I remember wondering why a city would have a wall anyway!

So just where was that place – that hill or mountain that was outside of Jerusalem’s city walls?  According to verse 11, it was the place where “the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without {outside} the camp.”

There were three altars used by the Israelites in God’s temple.  The brazen altar is perhaps the best known.  It was located in the courtyard in front of the Holy Place. 
There was also the Altar of Incense, which may have been just inside the Most Holy Place; or, as some scriptures imply, just outside it in the Holy Place.

But there was also a third altar that was located outside of the camp, while the Israelites were on the road; and outside the city wall, once the temple was built in Jerusalem.  This third altar is mentioned in a couple of scriptures, including: 

Leviticus 4:
3:  If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering…
10:  As it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of the burnt offering
{i.e. the big, brazen altar}.
11:  And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung,
12:  Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without
{outside} the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.

This was commonly known as “the Place of Ashes” or “the Miphkad Altar.”  It was located on the other side of the Kidron Valley – on Zion’s neighbouring hill – Golgotha.

For the convenience of the officiating priests and Levites, there was also a special gate in the city wall called “the Miphkad Gate” and a kind of bridge or viaduct across the Kidron Valley, both of which were used for the specific purpose of transporting the items mentioned here to the Place of Ashes for burning.

The word “Miphkad” is only mentioned in its untranslated form in this one scripture:

Nehemiah 3:31:
After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith’s son unto the place of the Nethinim, and of the merchants, over against the gate Miphkad, and to the going up of the corner.

I’m not exactly sure of the significance of "the going up of the corner."  Some modern Bible versions render this as "the upper chamber."  It may have been an intermediate room between the brazen altar and the Miphkad gate, bridge and altar.

The Hebrew word “Miphqad” (Strong’s 4662 and 4663) in this one scripture means “command”; but it is translated in other scriptures as number, commandment and, perhaps most significantly, the appointed place, which would indicate that the Miphkad definitely seems to have been a very important location and to have had a very important function.

The word stems from the root verb paqad (Strong’s 6485) which has lots of meanings, many of them relevant to our study, including: number, visit, appoint, commit, charge, governor, officer, ruler, overseer, judgment, look after, care for, pay attention to, observe, attend to, seek, look about for, need, watch over, call to account, entrust and commit for care.

Keeping all this in mind, let’s go back to Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, and let’s re-read verses 4 and 5:

4: Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off

Remember, they were being guided to the appropriate place by the LORD, or by one of His angels.

They’d been travelling for three days all the way from Beersheba, and now they were within sight of “the place” on one of the mountains of the Moriah Range; but it was still “afar off” – perhaps as much as another day’s travel.

5: And Abraham said unto his young men, “Abide you here with the donkey; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

This is just my own personal speculation; but could it be possible, with the symbolism that we see here, that Abraham and Isaac might have left Beersheba on Abib 10 – the day that I call “the Behold the Lamb day” (from Exodus 12:3) – and that the sacrifice was timed to take place on Abib 14 – on Passover Day – perhaps in the afternoon?  Again, I am not being dogmatic on this idea; but if you think about how God does things according to His perfect timing, I believe that it is a possibility worth considering.

What next? 

Genesis 22:19:
So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together
{back} to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

Back to their camp at Beersheba.  But not for good!  Not as a permanent dwelling.  We don’t know how long that they stayed there; but the very next geographical mention of their location is this one:

Genesis 23:2: 
And Sarah died in Kirjath-Arba
{the City of Arba}; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan…

So they had relocated yet again – back to Hebron, which is about 30-odd miles north-east of Beersheba.  Here we see Abraham negotiating for a family tomb for Sarah and himself:

3: And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke unto the sons of Heth, saying,
4a: "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you:

God had told Abraham that all of this land was going to be his; but in this statement, he admitted that he was not yet a permanent resident there.

4b: … "Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight"…
Verse 9:  "That he may give me the Cave of Machpelah {Hebrew: Double Portion – which might perhaps have been prophetically significant}, which he has, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burying-place amongst you”…
Verse 19:  And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the Land of Canaan.

So now, at last, Abraham owned some real estate in the Promised Land!  But it was nothing to write home about – merely a grave-site for Sarah and himself!

The Russian author Tolstoy once wrote a short story which asked the question, “How much land does a man really need?” And for which he gave the answer at the end of his story: Six feet by six feet by two feet! 

Now we move on – to the next phase of the story.  Sarah-the-Beautiful had died, and Abraham recognized the fact that he, too, was getting old and, as a result, he then wanted his trusted chief servant to go out to arrange for a suitable wife for his beloved son, Isaac. 

This chief servant may have been Eliezer of Damascus who is mentioned back in Genesis 15:2. 

Although at this point, the aging Abraham was (as we shall see) still able to travel, he was likely too old to make this very long trip to Mesopotamia himself. 

From what we learn from this account, it is very likely that the LORD would not have allowed him to go anyway.  So Abraham sent his chief servant on his behalf – not only as his agent and representative; but also as a kind of "surrogate traveller."

Just as Abraham knew that he was not allowed to return to Mesopotamia, as we shall see, he strictly insisted that his son Isaac was not to go back there either.

It seems that the LORD’s commands for them to “keep on travellin’” sternly restricted them to the southbound route and, once they arrived there, to wandering around mid to southern Canaan and its environs.  It did not allow for them to back-track any major distance towards Mesopotamia.

Genesis 24:
1: And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
2: And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, "Put, I pray you, your hand under my thigh"...

No. Abraham wasn't getting weird in his old age.  This symbolic act – which apparently is still sometimes used in India and Ethiopia – was a recognized sign of a stern, unbreakable promise or oath. 

3: And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites {who may have still been subject to the curse that Noah put on their forefather Canaan} among whom I dwell:
4: But you shall go
{travel – as my representative} unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” …

What was the “my country” and who were the “my kindred” that Abraham was referring to here?  We’ll find out a few verses on; but first, he gives his servant another important and very significant caution:

5: And the servant said unto him, "Peradventure {i.e. What if} the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring your son again unto the land from whence you came?"
6: And Abraham said unto him, “Beware you that you bring not my son there again.

He firmly insisted that the servant definitely not take Isaac back to “his country.” Why not?

7: The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spoke unto me, and that swore unto me, saying, "Unto your seed will I give this land" {Canaan}; He shall send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife unto my son from thence… 

From thence?  Not from Canaan; but rather, from Abraham’s father’s house; from the land of his kindred; from the place where the LORD's angel would lead the servant up to the right place in Mesopotamia so that there could be no mistake.

It is interesting that Abraham wanted a daughter-in-law from his own “old country” – the country of his origin; but he did not want Isaac to go back there – not under any circumstances. 

Why not? Two clues (in addition to the possibility that the LORD made Abraham aware of his grandson Jacob's future trials there).

Our first clue is that the LORD God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham’s seed – including Isaac, of course.  So, although young Isaac would have been fit and able enough to make the long journey (probably even easier than Abraham’s chief servant, who may at that time have been getting along in years), to have Isaac back-track to Abraham’s place of origin would have been a huge symbolic step backwards after they had spent so much time and effort coming all this way from there. 

We’ll find our second clue shortly.  But for now, Abraham continues his instruction to his servant:

8: “And if the woman will not be willing to follow you, then you shall be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son there again.”

A stern repetition for emphasis!  Paraphrasing: “Whatever happens, even in the unlikely event that she won't come, do not take my son Isaac back to ‘my country’”! 

It seems that the LORD’s repeated commands for them to "keep on travellin'" sternly restricted them, initially, to a southbound route from Mesopotamia and, once they arrived in Canaan, restricted them to wandering around it, and even down into Egypt.  But He did not allow them to back-track towards Mesopotamia. 

I would like to just point out three quick scriptural examples about the dangers of looking back improperly:

In Genesis 19, when Lot’s wife looked back, perhaps longingly, at Sodom and Gomorrah, after being clearly warned by the angel not to do so, we all know what happened to her.

The second example is in the 13th and 14th chapters of the book of Numbers, which describe the LORD becoming so angry with the Israelites, when on the very eve that they were supposed to enter in to the Promised Land, they chickened out, and some of them even demanded that they return to Egypt.

The third example:

Luke 9:62:
And Jesus said unto him, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

Back again to chapter 24 of the book of Genesis – to the travels of Abraham, which were so symbolic in many different ways.

Once again, where was the “my country” that Abraham referred to in verse 8?

Genesis 24:10: 
And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.

There appear to be a couple of possibilities here because there were two men called Nahor.  One was Abraham’s late grandfather.  The other was Abraham’s brother who had evidently never moved out of Mesopotamia.  This verse is probably referring to the latter – to Abraham’s brother – as implied in subsequent scriptures, including this one describing a later event:

Genesis 29:
4: And Jacob said unto them, “My brethren, whence be you?”
{i.e. Where are you from?} And they said, “Of Haran are we.”
5: And he said unto them, “Know you Laban the son
{grandson actually} of Nahor?” And they said, “We know him.”

Abraham’s brother Nahor had a son named Bethuel.  Bethuel had a son named Laban and a daughter named Rebekah – the very girl to whom the LORD’s angel guided Abraham’s servant.  So Rebekah was Abraham’s grand-niece.

What was the second reason why Abraham did not want Isaac to return to his (Abraham’s) home area?  We find the answer by repeating Joshua 24:2:

Joshua 24:2:
And Joshua said unto all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor
{i.e. Nahor}: and they served other gods.

Because Abraham had talked with the LORD God face to face, he knew from the very depths of his understanding that his son Isaac was destined to carry in his loins, not only the royal genes of the kings of Israel; but also the genes of the human Jesus Christ – the very Son of the God the Father!  No wonder Abraham became so troubled and agitated at the mere suggestion of the mere possibility of Isaac going back there.

Again, perhaps the LORD inspired confidence in Abraham, that although surrounded by idolaters, his kin who were living there would not be serving other gods.  At least, not to the extent that most of their countrymen were.  Nevertheless, a later account (Genesis 31:26-32) shows that Rebekah’s brother Laban was something of an idolater, or was on the road to becoming one!

We’ll come back to that account in a future episode of this series; but for now, we’ll go back to Genesis 24 and we'll rejoin Abraham's servant at the completion of the first leg of his long, round-trip journey from Hebron all the way to Haran in Mesopotamia:

Genesis 24:
34: And he said, “I am Abraham’s servant.
35: And the LORD has blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and He has given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.
36: And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old: and unto him has He given all that he has.
37: And my master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell:
38: But you shall go
{Hebrew: yalak: travel or walk} unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.’
39: And I said unto my master, ‘Peradventure
{What if} the woman will not follow me?’
40: And he said unto me, ‘The LORD, before whom I walk
{Hebrew: halak} will send His angel with you, and prosper your way; and you shall take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house.’”

When Abraham said this, he was verifying that he had obeyed the LORD’s earlier commands – specifically for him to walk before the LORD. 

We touched on this aspect of walking a couple of weeks ago when we read these commands from the LORD to Abraham:

Genesis 13:17:
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto you.

Genesis 17:1:
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be you perfect.”

I’ve been thinking some more about this concept of walking.  As we shall see later in this series, it appears that Jesus seems to have liked walking.  During His human lifetime, He and His disciples spent much time walking between and around Galilee and Jerusalem.  Just maybe His penchant for walking may have gone all the way back to Eden:

Genesis 3:8:
And they heard the voice of the LORD God
walking in the garden in the cool of the day…

Also, way back at the beginning of our series, we mentioned righteous Enoch, who is mentioned twice that he “walked with God”:

Genesis 5:
22: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters…
24: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

We also spent quite a bit of time with Noah who also walked with God:

Genesis 6:9:
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

It should go almost without saying that walking with God is good!  Great, in fact!  But Abraham was specifically commanded to walk before the LORD!  And he obeyed that command. 

I was out for my daily walk a couple of weeks ago and I got to thinking about this concept of walking before the LORD.  I imagined myself literally, physically walking before – i.e. in front of – the LORD.  There I was, walking before Him – walking in front of Him.  There He was – walking behind me – perhaps watching what I was doing as I walked.

But He was likely also “watching my back” – as the saying goes – in a protective way, in case anyone tried to sneak up behind me with the intention of robbing me or harming me in some other way. 

When we think about the Israelites walking through the post-Exodus wilderness, we think of the pillar of cloud and fire going before them – rather than behind them:

Exodus 13:
21: And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
22: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

Yes. The LORD did go before them, in order to lead them.  But, if necessary, He could instantly change position from a leading position in front of them to a protective stance behind them:

Exodus 14:
19: And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
20: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them
{the Egyptians}; but it gave light by night to these {the Israelites}: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

This should be reassuring for God’s people today – first of all, that God will lead us; but also that He will walk behind us – if we will obey Him and walk before Him.

Does the LORD have the ability to do both – at the same time – if He wants to?  Of course He does!

Isaiah 52:12:
For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

Isaiah makes a similar statement half a dozen chapters later:

Isaiah 58:8:
Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be you rereward

“Rereward” is an old English word that means a military type of rear-guard.

I don’t want to stray too far off the main subject or to go too far off on a tangent; but I didn't want to pass over this verse without commenting just a little more on the term "your righteousness."  As our righteousness is no better than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), it can be of no value whatsoever unless it parallels the all-important righteousness of God. 

Let’s go back to Genesis 24, where we find Rebekah’s family asking her if she agrees to travel all of the way back to the land of Canaan, with Abraham’s servant.

In our time of speedy plane, train and automobile travel, I don’t think that we can easily comprehend what we read here. 

If they took basically the same route as Abram took on the way down to Canaan, they would have travelled between 900 and 1,000 miles.  This would be the equivalent of us taking a slow camel train journey from Vancouver down to Sacramento in California.  One way!  


Genesis 24:
50:  Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said... 
51:  "Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her, and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken."
52:  And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth...
54:  And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, "Send me away unto my master."
55:  And her brother and her mother said, "Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

Laban had a well-known, selfish proclivity for deferring events, one that becomes clearer in his later dealings with young Jacob.

56:  And he {Abraham's servant} said unto them, "Hinder me not, seeing the LORD has prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master."

As recorded here and in earlier verses, please notice the servant's keenness to get on the road again for the long trip back to Abraham's camp in southern Canaan.  

He and his camel train had travelled all the way there, and now they had miraculously found this young girl who didn’t know them from Adam, and asked her if she was willing to go with this stranger.  It is obvious that the LORD inspired her to agree:

57:  And they said, "We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth."
8: And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
59: And they sent away Rebekah their sister
{Hebrew: achowth: kinswoman or relative}, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.
60: And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, “You are our sister
{achowth again}, be you the mother of thousands of millions, and let your seed possess the gate of those which hate them.”

Right here in verse 60, we see a prophecy, which God appears to have inspired Rebekah's relatives to proclaim.  A mother of thousands of millions is exactly what she was going to be.  How did they know?  These words must have been inspired by the LORD.

61: And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

They followed him from Haran in Mesopotamia all the way back to the south end of the Land of Canaan, where we find Isaac waiting patiently.  

But where was Isaac waiting?  When the servant left on his long trip up north, Isaac's family had just buried Sarah at Machpelah, near Mamre and Hebron.  So, was that the area where the servant and Rebekah and their camel train returned to?   The Hebron area?

No! Although Isaac had travelled some distance to meet his potential bride, look where the camp was that he came out from.  It was not in the Hebron area:

62: And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi {Beer-Lahairoi}; for he dwelt in the south country. 

Yes. Hebron, Mamre and Machpelah were all in the “mid-south” country of the Land of Canaan – about 18 miles south of Salem (Jerusalem), as the crow flies.  But according to Genesis 16, this well called Beer-Lahairoi was located much further south – way down south, between Kadesh and Bered – possibly near Beersheba.

This was the same place that the angel caught up with Hagar after she left Abram’s camp the first time.  Let’s take a quick peek back there – in:

Genesis 16:
3:  And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife…
6:  But Abram said unto Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your hand; do to her as it pleases you.”  And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7:  And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water
{a natural spring or well} in the wilderness, by the fountain {evidently another natural spring or well} in the way to Shur…

Not necessarily at Shur; but “in the way to” or on the road to Shur.

Shur, meaning "wall," was a place southwest of Canaan on its eastern border – or perhaps even within the border – of Egypt.  Moses and the Israelites later passed through the Wilderness of Shur (also called ‘the Wilderness of Etham’) after crossing the Red Sea. 

Back to Hagar and the angel:

13:  And she {Hagar} called the name of the LORD that spoke unto her, “You God see me” {Hebrew: El Roi}: for she said, “Have I also here looked after {upon} Him that sees me?”
14:  Wherefore the well was called “Beer-Lahairoi”; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

The Beer part of this place-name means a well, a spring or a fountain.  You might remember from last time that the meaning of the better-known Beersheba was “The well of the sevenfold oath.”  In “Beer-Lahairoi”, the “Lahairoi” part means “the Living One that sees me.”

Going back to Isaac once again, patiently waiting the arrival of his affianced bride, let’s repeat:

Genesis 24:62:
And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.

Although he was dwelling in the south country, we don’t know exactly how far south.  The scripture says that he came "from the way of " (perhaps on the road from) Beer-Lahairoi”; but not necessarily all the way from the well itself.

This presents us with two possibilities:

1. Isaac had left his father’s camp at Hebron, was no longer living with them, and had moved to Beer-Lahairoi – or perhaps somewhere on the road between the two places. 

This is the least likely of the two possibilities, because of the later mention of Isaac’s mother’s tent in verse 67, which strongly indicates that Isaac was still with Abraham’s group at that time.

2. The much more likely of the two possibilities is that while Abraham's servant was making his long, round-trip journey to and from Haran, Abraham’s whole family group had relocated yet again – southward from the Hebron area.

This would imply that, as he grew older and older – even into his old, old age when most people would not want to travel at all – Abraham increasingly adhered to the LORD’s “Keep on travellin’” instructions – yes, more and more!

Not only had he grown in grace, knowledge and faith – but also in obedience!  What an example for us!

Here we see Abraham’s faithful servant, Rebekah and their party at the end of their long, arduous trek from Haran:

63:  And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
64:  And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
65:  For she had said unto the servant, “What man is this that walks in the field to meet us?”  And the servant had said, “It is my master.”
{Actually his master’s son; but soon to become his master}… Therefore, she took a veil, and covered herself. 
66:  And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
67:  And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

As we move into Genesis 25, we see right away that quite some time must have elapsed between Sarah’s death and Abraham’s.  Abraham had remarried – a lady by the name of Keturah – who bore him six more sons!  Perhaps some daughters too, although, if so, they are not mentioned.  But wow!  What a guy!

But Abraham’s energy did finally give out; and, as he entered his final days, some of his parting commands included these examples of more travel and scattering:

Genesis 25:
5:  And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
6:  But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

From this, it seems that perhaps Abraham didn’t want Isaac to suffer a repeat of what had happened between Sarah and Hagar!

7:  And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen {175} years.
8:  Then Abraham gave up the ghost
{i.e. the human spirit – the spirit in man}, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people {i.e. he followed their unavoidable lead – to the grave}.

And what grave did Abraham get gathered to?  Last time we read about him, he was down in the deep south, at “Beer-Lahairoi” and now we find him back up in the mid-south again, in Machpelah, near Mamre, near Hebron.

9:  And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;

I find it interesting that Isaac’s half-brother, Ishmael, travelled there to Machpelah for their father’s funeral – although we’re not sure of where he was living at the time and how far he needed to travel.  As there is much truth to the saying that “death is the great leveller,” funerals can often be good opportunities for formerly estranged friends and/or family members to reconcile.  Perhaps this was one of those.

10:  The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

So Abraham joined his beloved Sarah.  They were reunited in the only little piece of real estate that they ever owned this side of Ur of the Chaldees.

The important thing to remember here, as we finish off the sermon for today, is that as Abraham grew into his old age, when most people would not want to travel at all, and perhaps even right up to the time of his death, he increasingly adhered to the LORD’S instructions.  More and more he adhered to the LORD's instructions for him to "Keep on travellin.'"  This is a fine example for us.  Not only had he grown in grace, knowledge and faith; but he had also grown over the years in obedience.  Again, what a fabulous example for us!