“And Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and there he called on the name of Jehovah, the Eternal God.” (Genesis 21:33)
After the conception of Isaac, the promised seed of God, Abraham sojourned in Beer-sheba, living by a well he dug and redeemed back from Abimelech, the king of Gerar. The account in Chapter 21 indicates that Isaac grew up in Beer-sheba and Abraham was there for a long period of time (Gen 21:34). But the Scripture only mentions two things that Abraham did: 1) he planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and 2) he called on the name of Jehovah, the Eternal God. The conjunction “and” in verse 23, inserted between Abraham’s planting and calling implies that these two things are deeply related.
A tamarisk tree is a type of willow tree that has very fine leaves and often grows near water. As wind blows against its long, slender branches, it gives the impression of the flowing of the riches of life. It was after planting such a tree that Abraham “called on the name of Jehovah, the Eternal God (Heb. El olam).” The Hebrew word olam means eternity or eternal. However, the root of this Hebrew word means to conceal, hide, or to veil from sight, which implies secrecy and mystery for anything veiled from sight spontaneously becomes secret and mysterious.
Genesis 21:33 records the first use of olam, the Hebrew word for eternal, in the Scriptures. Prior to this account, we cannot find another person who called Jehovah, the Eternal God. Even though Abraham called on the name of Jehovah, prior to Genesis 21, he did not call Him the eternal God. This indicates that Abraham called on the name of Jehovah in Genesis 21 with a fresh realization and a subjective experience of God as the eternal One, the eternal life, who is hidden and mysterious.
Although God was concealed, He was real to Abraham. The planting of the tamarisk tree accompanied by Abraham’s calling indicates a rich expression and firm testimony of Abraham’s hidden experience of God as the eternal and mysterious One.
As those who walk in the steps of Abraham (Rom. 4:1), we can subjectively experience God as the eternal, hidden and mysterious One in our Christian life. In fact, the Eternal God experienced by Abraham is the Lord Jesus Christ who has become our life today.
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