Sunday, February 14, 2021

Genesis 17.1-16: Multitude

 "This is my covenant with you," God says to Abraham. "You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations." (Genesis 17:4) We are familiar with the concept and with the promise stated several chapters earlier that Abraham's descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky and grains of sand on earth. That's a lot - though the question of whether there are more stars or more grains of sand has yet to be authoritatively answered. If you are team star, read here. If you are team sand, read this. There are many other articles, calculations, and rationalizations. 

What makes a multitude? The Century Dictionary splits some hairs about what is and isn't a multitude. According to their definition a multitude gives ample room to each person, however great the number may be. A throng or crowd is smaller than a multitude but gathered together. A throng presses together or forward. A crowd is close enough together to be uncomfortably in contact with one another. 

By a strict definition Abraham will be the ancestor of lots of people who all have ample room. Think about what that means for life on earth. Everyone has ample room. 

In 2012, based on 2010 data, mapmaker Derek Watkins developed a picture of the density of the world's population. Where do people live? Where are people most crowded? The image above is a still image, but at Watkins' website, the image has a slider that changes the areas on the map. The slider moves from areas where there is a population density of at least 5 people per square kilometer to areas where there are more than 500 people per square kilometer. The website is here.

Is there ample room for each one of Abraham and Sarah's descendants?

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