Food in the Bible: Genesis 26:1-3

Trying to get some focus back on what makes this blog an interesting voice in both the food and Jesus movements. We take a look at the continuation of Abraham’s promise to Isaac.

Genesis 26:1-3 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines. YHWH appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle in the land that I shall show you. Reside in this land as an alien and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.

The reiteration of YHWH’s promise to Abraham concerning both the land and descendants comes in a particular context, famine. The author points out that there was another famine during Abraham’s time as well. The promise itself is also important. Here’s what I gleaned from this particular reading.

Nature is not your friend. Humanity is created as a part of creation, therefore we are subject to the ups and downs of nature in much the same way that all other species are. The difference may be in the amount of control and manipulation that humanity has been able to achieve. We’ll see in the Joseph story that early in humanity’s story there is some attempt to mitigate the uncertain nature of food production.

Streams in the desert. It is interesting that the reiteration of YHWH’s covenant occurs within the context of a famine. Promise comes in the midst of despair and futility. While it is true in today’s context that famine is not really a cause of hunger (see Myth 2 in World Hunger; post forthcoming), this idea that God makes a way where there seems to be no way is the hope that we have to offer a broken world.

Land is important. No matter how “advanced” agriculture becomes, we are and always will be dependent on the land for our survival. It’s too easy for many people today to ignore this fact. Most Americans are clueless about where their food comes from. To understand the importance of this promise we should let the fact that land is important settle in. Land is also important in a Risk kind of way (as in world domination). Land still means power, control and some sort of security. As I go through the Bible and learn more about agriculture I think this point will become clearer. I hope to explore this further.