Reminders of Patriarchal Life

The Bible paints a clear picture of the life of the patriarchs, especially Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Just type the words tent and tents in your computer Bible search engine. Here are a few things said about the biblical patriarchs. (You need to remove the hits referring to the “tent of meeting” or tabernacle.)

  • Lot and Abraham had flocks and herds and tents (Genesis 13:5).
  • Numerous references mention moving the tent (see Genesis 13:18).
  • Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents (Genesis 25:27).
  • Even as late as the time of David many were living in tents (2 Samuel 18:17).

The writer of Hebrews describes the faith of Abraham this way:

By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. (Hebrews 11:9)

One of the values of travel to the lands of the Bible is to see many customs reminiscent of Bible times. In 2002 I spent nearly a week in Syria with a colleague visiting biblical and historical sites. North of Latakia, almost to the border with Turkey, we saw a settlement of what appeared to be at least three families living in tents. One man was clearly the “patriarch” of the group. Several women were busy working. One was milking the sheep. The tents were spread out over about an acre or more of land.

Shepherd settlement in northeastern Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shepherd settlement in northeastern Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I think one could envision Abraham and his family in much the same way.

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