Abraham, Part 4: Does Holiness Get Lost in the Fog of War?
Abraham’s first “political crisis” of sorts involves his nephew Lot, who has come with him to Canaan. Lot, too,
had flocks, and herds, and tents.
And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle….
Abraham, however, completely rejects this internecine conflict. He tells Lot:
Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
Instead he simply suggests that Lot relocate with his holdings to another part of the land; which Lot does, moving to the “plain of Jordan” while Abraham continues to live in Canaan.
That, of course, being essential to a democratic ethos — resolving internal conflict peacefully. Israel has mostly been very successful at it, despite having long been a mélange (less so recently) of fiercely competing ideologies. With some exceptions, it’s been understood across the board that “strife between brethren” is something to avoid.
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