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Why did Abraham refuse to accept Bera's proposal

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In Genesis 14:21-23, after Abraham returns, king of Sodom proposes him to take the riches, with him keeping the people. Abraham didn't accept it with a great vow before God and as such, avoiding to give the opportunity to the king of Sodom to think of himself the one who made Abraham rich. What would be there the reason for this behavior?


To make it a bit clearer, I would add this:

  1. Abraham took a vow or is taking a vow (but it seems more he already took it).
  2. Abraham gave a reason in plus to king Bera in verse 23:

you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Abram rich.’

So, what does this second reason imply (2.)? Why was this detail necessary to be mentioned? Which would be the possible explanation(s).

N.B. I'm not a jew. Hope the question was properly asked.

Why should this post be closed?

3 comments

Welcome to the community! We welcome questions from anybody, not just Jews. Verse 23 gives an explanation (Avram's words); are you asking why he said that, why he felt he needed to take a vow rather than just saying it, or something else? ‭Monica Cellio‭ 15 days ago

@Monica Cellio Thanks for welcoming. Verse 23 tells his reason for not accepting the possessions. I want to know what's the reason for his reason. The explanation for his decision not to accept the possessions. With other words: why would have Abraham have accepted the reaches from Pharaoh and not from Bera? The situations, in my opinion, are very similar. Why wouldn't have Pharaoh said the same thing as king Bera would, for instance. ‭artaxerxe‭ 15 days ago

@Monica Cellio The argument with Pharaoh is a bit weak. The same can be said about the case with Abimelech. (IMO). I wouldn't add any of this arguments in question because I feel it slightly brings the discussion in another topic. ‭artaxerxe‭ 14 days ago

1 answer

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While Sefaria.org translates this as

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I swear to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth:

Rav Hirsch translates this as

And Abram said to the King of Sodom: I have lifted up my hand to Hashem, the most high God the owner of heaven and Earth

Not only is it a matter of having already sworn but the language of הרימותי is specific in that it means that he has already removed any concept of accepting any of the wealth he is now being offered from the world. As Rav Hirsch says:

It is very doubtful what this really means. נשא יד certainly does occur with the meaning of taking an oath but only in God's Mouth. But הרים יד never occurs as swearing except perhaps here.נשא and הרים are different. In נשא it is only the relation to the height to which an object is to be raised which is stressed without any relation to any lower place from which it is to be raised. But this is just what is stressed in הרים. It is not merely a raising bu a "raising out of". Hence the word תרומה. It could therefore here very well mean: "When I went away I dedicated my hand to God, no self-interested motives directed me, but rather I withdrew my hand from all other purposes that are lower than God, and dedicated it solely to God, so that from all my victory I may take nothing for any other purpose, nothing for myself" But the אל ה is against this way of of taking it, in the sense of תרומה it should say לה. Perhaps this "up to God" which expresses was called for to contrast to Sodom, it was to express very definitely not only dedicationg the hand to Hashem, but just thereby the denial of any other selfish use.

With this word he raises his hand away from all the gods up to the Highest, who for him is the Only One. Had he sworn by one of their gods נשאתי would have sufficed.

4 comments

If he had sworn to God previously, why did he give the reason: " you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Abram rich.’ " N.B. What I'm trying to say is this: if Abraham already took the vow and only made it known now (which as you said can be a possibility), why did he give the second reason? As I already replied to @Monica Cellio's comment, this doesn't seem to me consisntent with his approach with Pharaoh for example. ‭artaxerxe‭ 15 days ago

@artaxerxe - the common explanation for the seeming inconsistency, is that Pharaoh could never have made such a statement that 'I made Avraham rich' as he was forced into releasing Sarah and offered riches as a form of remuneration for his offense upon fear of punishment (that had already begun). Same for Avimelech, as he himself indicated with his words. ‭PinnyM‭ 12 days ago

From Bera's words, it was apparent that he was taking the stance that he was 'compromising' with Avraham and offering of his own volition, hence he might make such a claim as to personally be the cause for Avraham's wealth. ‭PinnyM‭ 12 days ago

@PinnyM Abraham accepted gifts from Pharaoh before Pharaoh to know that Sarah was Abraham's wife. I think Pharaoh could have blamed him even more. Abimelech offered him gifts after punishment. Genesis 12:14-20 vs Genesis 20:14-16. Even in Abimelech's case, there's still place for arguing IMO. ‭artaxerxe‭ 11 days ago

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