In this chapter we get another turning point in the story of Abram. Having presumably passed all of God’s tests, Abram gets a little bit added to his name, and little bit taken off of his — well, you’ll see.
So begins the saga of Abram, the next big-hitter name in this book of all books. God tells Abram to “get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (12:1). This three-fold separation of Abram rhetorically singles him out for greatness as the chosen one, a parallel to Noah. Abram ‘hero’s journey’ is as old as storytelling itself, so we also know, at best, he will struggle greatly; at worst, it won’t end well.
Author’s Note: I decided to combine these chapters because they are part of the same story, and otherwise Chapter 7’s post would have been very short.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Genesis 7 shows the first indications of the importance of the number seven. The “clean beasts” and “fowls” are brought into the ark “by sevens,” as instructed by God, and it was “after seven days” that the floodwaters came upon the earth (7:8-10).
The number seven, of course, is already significant because that’s how many days it took for God to create the earth plus one day of rest. This motif of a single number is a classic literary technique, and I’m sure it’s why seven has been and still is an important number in Western culture. (Harry Potter, anyone?)
This first chapter oversees the creation of many binaries—heaven and earth, light and darkness, morning and evening, moon and sun, etc. There is an overarching sense of progressive division—one becomes two. Even so, with the creation of division comes the creation of binaries, and we all know the problem with binaries. (They are sometimes arbitrary, and one side always ends up being the “better” one.)