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Social Distancing in Genesis

Social distancing’—a term unheard of two weeks ago—today deemed as vital as breathing air. Read Genesis to see examples of it. Having a whole bunch of animals seems to be all you need to do the trick.

Now Lot, who was traveling with Abram, also owned sheep, cattle, and tents. So the land did not allow for all of them to stay in the same place; their goods had become so many that they could no longer dwell together. As a result, a quarrel arose between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock....So Aʹbram said to Lot: “Please, there should be no quarreling between me and you and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land available to you? Please, separate from me. If you go to the left, then I will go to the right; but if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:5-9)

Today it would be called social distancing. You do it by having so many animals that your neighbor can’t stand to be around you.

Suppose he can stand it. How do you get him to move on in that case? You shut off his water:

The man [Isaac] became wealthy, and he continued to prosper until he became very wealthy. He acquired flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and a large body of servants, and the Philistines began to envy him. So the Philistines took soil and stopped up all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham. Abimelech then said to Isaac: “Move from our neighborhood, for you have grown far stronger than we are.” So Isaac moved from there and encamped in the valley of Gerar and began dwelling there. And Isaac again dug the wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham but that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death, and he called them by the names that his father had given them.” (Genesis 26: 13-18)

But what happens if you haven’t moved away far enough? Then you argue over the pipes, and even name them:

When the servants of Isaac were digging in the valley, they found a well of fresh water. And the shepherds of Gerar began quarreling with the shepherds of Isaac, saying: “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they had quarreled with him.”  (vs 19-20)

Esek means ‘contention.’ It is the definition of the Hebrew word.

And they started digging another well, and they began quarreling over it also. So he named it Sitnah.” (21)

Sitnah means ‘accusation.’

Later he moved away from there and dug another well, but they did not quarrel over it. So he named it Rehoboth and said: “It is because now Jehovah has given us ample room and has made us fruitful in the land.”  (22)

Reboboth means ‘broad places.’ Ahh—at last—enough room between you and the scoundrels.

Imagine—naming the wells! We don’t name faucets, yet they named wells. It was that important—water. What causes social distancing in this case, besides loads of animals? Water. We really are ‘people of the dirt,’ aren’t we? Not to mention ‘people of the water.’

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